Friday, May 23, 2008

"Time" Is the Foundation of New Memories

From the moment we started our journey as adoptive parents and especially as the adoptive parents of an older child--of a sibling set--with special needs, I recognized the most important dynamic of our future would be "TIME."

I realized very early that it was going to take me time to learn the unique qualities of both children. Time would be needed for all of us to "fall into" normal day in and day out lives. I know that it was going to take time for healing, development and attachment.

It helped me to keep things in perspective and allow the most important element to come to our lives. That was the element of time. With each day that passes we have had the opportunity to create a new memory. Not just a new memory for our child--but, a shared new memory as a family. The simple act of living life and sharing common memories can build the bond of trust, love and attachment.

Time is more valuable then anyone really gives credit. But, along with time as adults the world seems to pass by so fast we often overlook the little moments in the lives of our children--where we have opportunity to help "Write a Memory" in their minds and hearts. With children who have suffered broken bonds, along with a list of other issues to overcome in their lives adoptive parents can use time to help build memories that will make a difference.

Adoptive parents need to recognize that every moment is a new memory for our children. When we are parenting a child with special needs every moment matters a thousand times more. Regardless of the actual diagnosis our children have, the primary issues many adoptive parents deal with has to do with behavior management.

When we are trained, supported and living the daily life of behavior management for a child it's easy to fall into the "Control Freak" mode. Actually, it's a difficult balance because children with behavior issues NEED a parent who is able to provide consistant, day in and day out boundaries and supports. Parents can begin to feel a little like a prison guard--depending on the child's actual behaviors.

Our children need us to be in control and many children with emotional, psychological, mental, or medical disabilities have behaviors that require constant attention and control. Some will test every limit and cross any boundary. Parents may wonder how long this will go on, how many times will the same behavior play out?

The key is however, that with most of the issues our children are dealing with they also have a need for Repetition... Parents need to recognize that some of our children do not know how to have their basic needs met, they don't know how to get our attention. They many need to see us respond the same way, over and over.

If a child learns that eventually mom will break down and lose it. Mom will yell, cry or fly into a fit then the child will have a memory that Mom will go there. Until mom goes there the child knows that things can deteriorate. When mom is out of control the child is in control. It doesn't matter how much effort it takes the child feels something when they are in control.

The key is to use time to PROVE as a parent that we will NOT get out of control. When the behaviors occur--we write a memory and remain consistant, loving and in control. We might have to do this a thousand times for the same behavior but, eventually our child and our family will have MORE memories of a healthy and supportive home with parents who remain in control at all times.

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