Monday, May 10, 2010

Make it Work Monday: Be the Grown-Up

I'll be honest; this one is born largely out of a frustration that has been growing for years. Lately the frustration has reared its ugly little head again as I read adoption blogs, particularly those in which there is some sort of This is so hard and I am so frustrated type of confessional. Now, I do believe that it can be healing to share the hard parts of a great undertaking, but I often feel that the frustrations shared have more to do with the parent taking a child's words and actions personally. And here's the thing: it's not personal. Whether a child is acting out because they are hurting or confused or simply because it's developmentally appropriate to do so, it's not personal. I know that when you are tired and overwhelmed, it can feel personal, but that very moment is where it's important to rise above it and be the grown-up.

Being the grown-up means that we recognize that we have more years on the planet and more capacity for understanding than our children's limited time (and often trauma) allows them to have. We have to be able to be the ones to rise above personal hurt because we are the only ones who can. We need to be able to be the ones to look beyond the moment and figure out what need is behind the hurtful words or actions and do our best to meet that need. Kids will test you to find out a variety of things: if they are loved even if they behave horribly, if they can control you by saying unkind things that they likely don't mean, if you mean what you say.

To be honest, I don't have specific recommendations as to how to be the grown-up except to always bear it in mind and do your best to consider as opposed to reacting. Consider what your child has said and why they might have said it. Consider that what you decide to do with a difficult situation will carry great weight as to how they process what is going on (whether it be a bid for power or a developmental step or something more weighty). Consider that you have the capacity to choose to love and be consistent when their concrete minds have little grasp on these things. Consider that you can do research to ease your mind and reach out to others for support, and the person your child has for support is you.

Be the grown-up.

You can do it.