Friday, April 2, 2010

Scratch That

Alright, honesty time, I wasn't able to continue with it! UGH! For the past couple of days, after I have told Abbie, "Alright, school's done, go play," I have felt upset and she has seemed happy, as if she won. That's not the goal! The goal is to remove control, which usually will upset a kid with RAD, not bring them pleasure. It is not that I WANT to make her miserable. I just have learned through experience that when you successfully remove the battle there is a reaction, a sign that you are getting to the heart of the matter--and literally, the child's heart. Abbie's skipping away gleefully to play, having not done school did not seem to be therapeutic, but a victory for her in her mind. I could almost hear her thinking, "Well, I outlasted her!".

So, I stewed about it all evening and prayed about it a lot this morning and asked God for wisdom. I DO still think I need to take away the battle and just shut the book and end school for the day. But the no consequence thing? I just don't feel settled. I feel like it is NOT going to help our relationship because it causes me to be angry that she seems so smug that she got away with something. I have to also wonder if it is actually hurting our relationship because I know that if she thinks she won, she must be smarter than me and I am not a strong-enough person to attach to! Could I actually be sabotaging her trust of my ability to parent her by letting her get away with something? Hmmmm . . . I don't know the answer to that.

As I was praying this morning, I was reminded that in every situation we have encountered with Abbie in which there was a battle, we won because we DID battle her, sometimes by taking control away, sometimes through logical consequences, and sometimes through discipline. So, why should this be any different? If she wins (doesn't have to do school, if indeed this is what it is about) will that not only strengthen her un-broken will? (I am reminded again: Broken spirit, un-broken will) This is an area of control. I have to take control away (stopping school) but then showing her that she cannot get away with it. However, the part that I am unsure of is that if she knows that there are consequences she will do school wrong on purpose to gain the negative consequences and lose the rewards! Do I change up the consequences, making them unpredictable?

All I know is that it left me a tired, irritated mess at the end of the day, feeling like I hadn't taken away control but GIVEN it to her. She was satisfied with not having to do school and getting to do what she wanted. In the past, when I tried the same tactic, she would become angry when I took control away in a similar fashion.

In addition to all this, Cameron and I never want to give Abbie the impression that her sin is okay. As an adult, she can't just not do something and get away with it! I would also never let my biological children get away with this behavior, so I need to be careful what message I am sending.

However, I have to also ask myself if maybe it is MY issue that I just can't let it go; that I can't just let Abbie not do school. Is it MY pride that has been wounded because I feel like I lost, that I am giving up and giving in? If it is my sin, and God does want me to just let it go, and revert back to yesterday's plan, I know He will make it clear.

See? There is just no set formula. It is difficult to predict what will at the same time remove the battle, remove control, facilitate the attachment process, show love and cause a child to trust instead of hold you in contempt because they bested you and won! What a balance!

Here is one thing that I recently learned (one of those things that I think I should have known better) that HAS helped:

When Abbie is in rebellion, I validate her emotions and empathize with her, but then still hold her accountable. For example, Abbie was disobedient this morning and had a consequence. So, I said, "I can tell that you are really angry. You know what, I would be angry, too, if I had to do X (as a result of her disobedience). However, the fact is that you CHOSE to do X and you KNEW what the consequence was." By doing this, I showed that I was not the enemy, but cared for and understood her and knew what she was feeling. I also gave a name to her feeling, something that I am sure she is not able to do because I don't think she knows most of the time WHAT she is feeling and why. I also showed her that I was on her side fighting sin. It really worked to pull her out of that spiral of rebellion and turn her day around! It also helps to say, "I know you are angry because of what you have been through! I would be angry, too! However, you are not allowed to do school wrong on purpose. It is not me with whom you are angry! You can come to me, instead of fighting me, and you can tell me all about how you are angry. I want to help you and I am on your side." It SO helps me to have the "script" to say in those tense moments!

Pressing onward . . .

In Christ, Laura

30 comments:

Corey said...

I am not going to pretend to know the answer.. we struggle with this same issue and do not have resolution as Vivi digs in SO HARD.

I wonder if you can (somehow) allow her the choice of doing the work or not doing the work on a given day.. based on whether she feels "strong enough".. but then the understanding is that if she does not feel "strong enough" to do her work with a good attitude and good effort, she does not have play time (for a certain time period) either, and needs to stay close by Mom, so that you can help her make good choices. And have that time be "towel time" where she sits near you on a towel and can only look at books or something similar.

I don't know.. this is totally tough.

We Are Family said...

I looked for your email address and couldn't find it. Please hear my heart when I ask you this question. I am not judging or trying to be critical but I have noticed in many of your posts that you refer to Abby seperate from your "biological children"....For instance in this post when you said that you wouldn't let your biological children get away with this. Why is there a difference in children? Aren't they all your children? A gift from God? Could it be that part of the issue or struggle you are having is that you don't view all of your children the same? POssibly Abby is trying to 'read' you? Testing your love for her as ONE of your children, not the adopted child. PLEASE know I am not trying to be harsh or pretend to know what goes on behind your closed doors. Just an observation from an outsider looking in.

Acceptance with Joy said...

I have no wise words to offer... except keep on pressing on. Christ will give you the wisdom as you continue to seek His will.

Jodi said...

Hi,
I just stumbled on your blog. I so empathize with you. We have been fighting the school fight with our 13 yr old son for 1 and 1/2 yrs( he plays the I forgot how thing all the time). We have fought other fights and won such as, the battle of sneaking and hoarding food..it was terribly out of control, we had to set up a survalence system and the police got involved.
For about 3 m we have been trying to make him learn his address...he simply refuses and will make our life a nightmare to stop us. We love the Lord with all of our hearts...he does not. So we got with God and away from our son for 24 hours. Here is what we came up with. Fabson is Gods son, God did not bring Fabson here to torture our family. Maybe he will not learn what we expect or hope but it is not worth destroying the peace in our home. We are not willing to give our whole lives to fight for 1 son while 5 of our other children are pushed aside.

Train up a child in the way he should go.. alot of Fabson's training had all ready taken place before he came to be our son..no ones fault just how it is. We verbally in front of Fabson committed him to Jesus Christ. We said ok you do not want to be our son we understand,we accept that. Now here is how we are going to make the best of the next 5 years. There are alot of details but pretty much he has to follow the house rules, sit with his bible and school work but we will not be hounding him or checking him or prying into his heart or asking him WHY WHY WHY did you do this or that or trying to uncover a lie for like 8 hours at a time. It has consumed our life really the good fight is not the Fabson fight. We have panned, plotted, carried out, written down every idea known to man and all of it works for a few weeks then the cycle begins again..like being blind sided. We have taught, talked, trained, teared, hugged, loved, had fun, prayed, cast out demans, wept, written down, anything and nothing helps.

Now that he was given the option to just co exist with us and foloow the "house rules" he is happy go lucky and has what he wanted in the first place. In fact he is actually studying his books, has written his address 100 times, is asking all sorts of questions about nouns, short vowels, English speaking etc. He is plesant and does all that is on his chore chart.
Now since he does not want to come under our authority as a son then he is treated differently than our other children. More as a long term guest. So for an example Easter... he was given some socks and a candy bar. The rest of the kids get baskets tom. he was great with that as long as he does not have to conform to being our son. This is not a punishment but it is important that in the home we distinquish those that are under our authority and those that are not. God does the same.
Now did he win in his mind yes, did we loose no not at all. We adopted Fabson for God, we continue to love him and uphold holy living in our home..we will care for Fabson but we can not change his heart, God can. Once he quit fighting us he could think and focus on himself. Did and does it hurt yes, but we are leaving our feelings out of it. God wins when we keep peace in our home, when we are focused on what is pure, noble and of good repute...nothing is worth giving up the good fight not even our own children. I am not sure how old your daughter is and am not saying this is for eveyone but 3 months ago we had a family lined up to disrupt, but I personally could not go through with it...what we are doing now is a workable solution. It is most certainly not how I thought our family would look but there is a super natural peace that has come upon our home...I am not angry in the slightest as I would of been before. I have no hard feelings only peace and joy. When God wins we win, it doesnt matter what the child thinks we can let God deal with them.
Email me anytime jodijepson @ yahoo.com Many prayers, Jodi

His Hands His Feet Today said...

What about...
She has a choice (we give our kids choices whenever possible - always with the outcome WE want/desire for them). "Abbie you can do school correctly/try your best OR you can experience one of the consequences in this jar. Either one is fine with me. You choose."

You can be SURE that she will "gamble" on the jar at least once or twice to test it out. Put LOTS of VARIED things in the jar.... everything from a spanking to scrubbing all the floors to the work "grace" or "mercy". I wouldn't tell her what is written on the papers... just "consequences" that are not all the same.

Praying for you with empathy :)
Kim

Lauren said...

Hang in there! Your sharing your struggle is encouraging to me and it is helpful to read your thought process. I know that the Lord is pouring down Grace upon you as you seek Him and how to love His little one as He does. Praying for your relationship with Abbie and your parenting of her in trying to develop her character in the Lord and model relationship with Him.

Kami said...

I dont have any advice, just prayers. Lifting you up to the Father this morning.

Happy Easter to a precious friend.

I love you!

laura mouro said...

Thank you for all of your kind words of encouragement, your advice and your prayers. Kim, I really like that idea about the jar with consequences. I am going to pray about trying that.

We are family: Thank you for caring enough to ask me tough questions. I think the reason why I blog so much about Abbie in the first place is because I DO care so much and see her as my daughter. Indeed, if I didn't, I don't think this would be such a struggle, and if I didn't view her as the same, I don't think it would burden my heart so much. For purposes of the blog I distinguish between the 2 groups, but there aren't 2 groups in my home. :) Winning this little girl's heart is my passion. She IS my daughter and I am fighting for her. When I said that I wouldn't let my bio kids get away with it, it showed my conviction that if I wouldn't let my bio kids do it, why would I put her in a separate category and let HER get away with it? Indeed, because she IS the same, I believe I can't let her get away with something that they cannot. In addition, how I view her and how she views herself (not as my daughter) plays a HUGE part of this (read Jodi's comment). I can call her my daughter, but if she will not accept me as her mother it is really really hard. I hope this all makes sense.

Know that I understand your heart in asking me this. :)

In Christ, Laura

We Are Family said...

It does makes sense. I think you have a beautiful family. I am encouraged and challenged by your posts. MANY blessings! We will be bringing home a 7 year old very soon. I'm sure I will be referring to your older posts and suggestions.

laura mouro said...

Jodi, Know that I totally understand your situation. I know the struggle, the pain, and the desire for peace and how the battle just can take over family life. It is so difficult to know what to do. Abbie is only 8. Our prayer is that by her teen years she will . . . I don't know, heal, be whole, be able to give love and receive love and submit to our authority. At times, I see it and at other times I think she has just learned to go through the motions of being in a family, has just become more clever, and it breaks my heart. To be rejected again and again--it is hard to not lock away your heart. But for Christ, I would think this is hopeless, but I know it isn't! That all is possible with Christ and He would not have us adopt for naught! I will try to email you.

Laura

Christy said...

Something very interesting happened when we stopped giving out consequences for every bad behavior. It bugged me to to death (like you were saying) to let my son "get away" with something but I felt like disciplining only to make me feel better wasn't a right motive either.

A few months ago after a couple of months of offering way more grace and mercy and letting the "battle" go all of a sudden our son seemed to develop a conscience of his own. Even though now he still has some inappropriate behavior he is always so quick to apologize and I can tell that he is genuinely sorry. He always wants to make it right and hug and make up with whoever he has wronged. This is from a 5 year old special needs who was labeled retarded when we brought him home so to us this is an absolute miracle. I know that confusion of not knowing what to do in certain situations of having new techniques work for a couple months and then stop working. The best advice I ever received that completely revolutionized our parenting with our son was the "Love Never Fails". No matter what you do do it in love and it will never fail. Don't worry about if you are doing the right technique in that particular moment just focus on loving the child and the Lord will work on their heart. It is the perfect love of Christ that will cast out fear and fear is what drives so much of these hurting childrens' behavior.
Meditating on verses such as "It's his kindness that leads us to repentance" and parables such as the prodigal son can be life changing in the way you relate to others. Thinking and meditating on how God related to his children, full of grace, truth, mercy, long-suffering and patience.
It's not easy, I know. We have/had a very difficult child who I almost gave up on several times. If we had found a home we would have but by the grace of God we carried on and are now seeing amazing fruit in our child's life. The bonus for us is that we have learned so much more about God's character in the process and our relationship with the Lord has grown and deepened as we understand his extravagant love towards us.
I did write a little about this on my blog if you are interested.
http://youcanneverhavetoomany.blogspot.com/2010/03/love-vs-fear-and-how-adoption-has.html
Blessings and happy resurrection day.
~Christy

laura mouro said...

Christy,

This is so encouraging to me. Basically, what you are saying is to stop worrying about parenting techniques and really just focus on loving the child as Christ would, in each situation. In each situation, it may look different. I think the thing I struggle with is this: Isn't love "tough" sometimes? Isn't it loving to discipline as God disciplines us as his sons and daughters? Just processing here. I struggle between balancing grace and law--between loving discipline and lovingly offering grace.

I think I oftentimes attribute motives to her behaviors, trying to figure out the why. When we do this, it doesn't help us to love, but causes us to become angry!

You are right, "love never fails".

Thank you SO much for commenting!

In Christ, Laura

Christy said...

Laura,
I was so bound up in doing the "right" thing and worrying about my technique and trying to figure out my son's motives that the best thing for me was to just stop and focus on loving him. And honestly I couldn't love him properly until I had a right understanding of the depths of God's love toward me.
This is how he deals with me:
From Psalm 103
"The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust."

That is what I want my child to see of God and from me and that may look different in different times and situations. It is not a quick fix. In fact when we started parenting in this way it was very difficult because I thought that it just wasn't right that he was "getting away" with some of his behavior. It was VERY difficult for me to let it go but that was the "tough love" that I needed to show him. It would have been easier for me to discipline him in those situations because his behavior made me so upset.

The thing I don't like about the consequence jar (sorry Kim) is that it really is just behavior modification at it's core. Sure it may work and you may see results but any secular psychologist can get the same results. (thank you B.F. Skinner) You don't need the love of God nor his grace and mercy. It doesn't address the heart or help lead the child in the directions of wanting to obey because of their relationship with you and/or God. Does that make sense? The obedience then is only done because the child does not want the consequence. God wants way more from us than that. He doesn't want us to love and obey him just because we are afraid of hell. That is pretty pathetic. What kind of love is that? He wants us to love and obey him because of how great glorious and forgiving and gracious he is. And knowing him is beyond anything we could ever imagine.

I hope this doesn't make us sound like wimpy, wishy-washy parents. That couldn't be further from the truth. We are very firm and we we still expect obedience. There are still consequences for actions but we try to keep them logical. For instance, my son wants to scream and throw his food at dinner (hasn't happened in ages but just as an example). Not a problem honey. You can sit on the stairs (or wherever) until you are ready to come back and try this again the right way. You don't want to do your school work.? That's o.k. I still love you but you can sit at the table until everyone else is done or help mommy cook or whatever else works for you in your situation. Kind of like what Corey said.

Ultimately just remember and keep this as your focus that love and mercy are what will reach her heart. Forgiveness and grace are what will cause a sinner to weep in repentance. It's a beautiful thing.

Lisa H. said...

Laura and All:

Thank you to you all for your comments and wisdom....It helps me to hear details of how other moms are struggling thru parenting a child from a "hard place". We've adopted 4 children, and two of our children have/had significant attachment issues. Our daughter came home at 33 months and was a hurricane on wheels for about the first two years. Fortunately, we've made HUGE progress with her and she is SO precious to us! She still has her moments, but she is a very tender and compassionate little girl now and we are SO thrilled to be her parents. Our next adoption was our son who came home at approx. age 9.5 (we were told 8) His adoption has been one of the hardest assignments we've ever received from God. Long story short is that our son has never truly attached to anyone...He doesn't have a clue what that type of relationship is like and he VERY much resists it. He doesn't like to be touched, and his goal in life is to grow up and live by himself, be a garbage man, to eat all the pizza he wants, and to buy all the legos he wants. He's been home for 3 years and is now completing puberty....but he acts like a 6 year old. He also has significant developmental delays from neglect. I love my son, and I want the best for him, but on many days, I can't stand him. He is the most self-focused person I've ever been around and it's maddening....and then I feel horrible about myself that I can't get past my feelings and have compassion for this child who has been SO hurt by life.

Here's where I struggle. Christy, I so appreciate your comments about the power of love and that we can't really love our children the way they need until we get how much God loves us. I've been thinking these same things, and it was cool to see you express them as well....So I recognize a need for me to grow in grace, and then extent that grace to my son. But on the other hand, I think truth plays a part of healthy relationships too. If he doesn't learn not to lie or steal, to share with others, that he can't break things when he's angry, then life is not going to go well for him. So how do you all balance the truth with the grace? And how do you deal with the feelings you feel toward your children for their selfishness and their rejection of you?

Struggling to love well,

laura mouro said...

Christy, SO well-said! However, I struggle with the same quetions that Lisa raised. God is a God of mercy AND justice, truth AND love. He disciplines those He loves BECAUSE He loves us and wants us to be more like Christ. However, I also see that consequences often don't work with Abbie and maybe it is because she never had the foundation of love built into her life from which she CAN receive discipline and have it mean something? It sounds like you still give consequences that are more logical, not punitive. It is encouraging that you have seen progress in your son. How did you deal with your own anger when you decided to let things go?

I really hope we can all keep this dialogue going . . . I am processing so much.

In Christ, Laura

Christy said...

Laura, you said:
"maybe it is because she never had the foundation of love built into her life from which she CAN receive discipline and have it mean something"
I think that is exactly it. She has to learn that you accept her no matter what. In the same why we understand that "while we were still sinners Christ died for us". BEFORE we cleaned ourselves up. BEFORE we loved him.

How did I love him in his ugliness? It wasn't easy. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I screamed and fought it every step of the way. I thought it was impossible. I would pray and pray and pray and cry out to God for the grace but it wasn't until I saw myself in my son that I was able to have compassion. Like it say in Psalm 103 "he remembers that we are but dust". How beautiful! It wasn't until I saw myself as that same unlovable rebellious antagonistic person without Christ whom Christ stepped down from his throne to die for that I was able to see my son with new eyes. How could Christ do that? I would never have died for my son. This is going to sound terrible but I literally despised him. But I was him without Christ and Christ did that for me! And here I was as the older brother in the story of the prodigal son appalled that such grace was offered to the younger son. I was the man who owed much who could not forgive the debt of one who owed so little. Who am I? What I owe God is so much more than what my son owes me but I couldn't see it until I saw the depth of my own depravity.
Was it a quick overnight thing? Definitely not. It was over a period of about 6 months of meditating on God's love and forgiveness. Of making mistakes along the way but coming back again and again to resting in his love.
Yes there is judgment but mercy triumphs over judgment. Yes, sin deserves punishment but he does not treat us as our sins deserve. Goodness and mercy will follow me all my life not the rod.
Yes God disciplines those he love but it looks different for different people. You look at the way Christ treated people in the N.T. and you will see that it was always different. He treated the situation differently with different people because he knew their heart. I don't know my child's heart I only see the behavior.
They do still have a choice though. They may never choose God no matter how hard I try but I can't make them. The only thing I can do is to continually hold out the grace love and mercy that Christ offered me.

Again, it's not a formula. There is no parenting book I would recommend besides the bible and no parenting expert I would reference except the Holy Spirit. I know I'm no expert. I all I know is that I have freely received and I now need to freely give.

Christy said...

Oh and one other thing.....
Audibly rebuking the devil in Jesus name. He wants that child and he does not want you to love them and bond with them. He does not want healing to happen but wants to wreak havoc. You have to realize who you are fighting against. It isn't the child it is the enemy of their soul. He is defeated though and he has no power unless you give it to him. Like Kim has mentioned before these little Liberians come from a very spirit filled evil place and who knows what baggage they are bringing with them. For us it wasn't a once and done thing but something that needed to be done repeatedly. Some of the behavior could only be explained as demonic activity it was that bizarre. I felt like I was being attacked as well because of the strange thoughts that came into my head. I absolutely had to understand who I was fighting

Resist him and he will flee.

Christy said...

I just had a thought about Abbie's school work. (sorry if I am "talking" too much)

Imagine if one of your bio kids were having a hard day with school and were crying in frustration. I would imagine that at some time or other you may have said that it wasn't worth pushing through with them and just let them have the day off. Would it make you angry that they "got away" with not doing their work? Of course not. You would understand their frustration and see that they needed a break.

Now to Abbie. We know that adopted kids with RAD (we don't like the label but just to clarify) become anxious when asked to perform. Their brain can shut off because of the fear of failure and/or rejection. They literally freeze. However because they do not know how to express those feelings it comes out looking like rebellion and defiance. They really don't even know why they are doing it. It reminds me of a story I heard Karyn Purvis tell on Family Life Today (author of The Connected Child). She told the story of being with a family when the Mom was making dinner. The little girl (with attachment issues) asked for food and the Mom said she needed to wait 5-minutes until dinner was ready and the girl threw the biggest temper tantrum you ever heard screaming that her Mom hated her etc. You get the picture. :) Karyn Purvis suggested that the Mom offer the girl a granola bar to hold to help her feel safe and acknowledge her feelings of being scared of never eating again. Sounds terribly indulgent doesn't it? However, after a few months of treating her daughters behavior this way her daughter opened up about her memories of orphanage life and begging for food from the nannies. This was after 3-4 years of being home! It wasn't until someone acknowledged her fear and she felt safe that she was able to open up and then being her healing process. You see this is where behavior modification falls short. It may change the behavior but you never get to the heart. The child only obeys out of fear of the consequence and their real fears get pushed deeper because they are never acknowledged and addressed. Think, "perfect love casts out fear." How would that look in my home and in my situation?

Maybe you do this type of thing with Abbie already. It really does seem like you are doing a great job from my limited perspective and I have been coming here for advice myself for months now. I did just want to put that story out there though in case it would be of any help.

Lisa H. said...

I've also really like the things by Karyn Purvis and have loved listening to her videos (available online) and downloads of her speaking. Also her book, "The Connected Child" is great. One of the reasons I like her approach so much is that she seems to really get the eternal value of a child, and to have hope in the power of Christ.

Christy, I SO, SO agree with you on the point of needing to address my child's feelings and real fears, and not just to make life so miserable that my son complies, while secretly being the same fearful, self-focused, insecure child hiding under acceptable outward behaviors. I want more than that for him! But this can be SO tricky....

For one thing, when we adopt a child from another country, the language barrier keeps a child from being able to articulate his feelings. And sometimes they've never had anyone to help them recognize or name a feeling. I finally figured out for my son, that when something disappointing would happen or when consequences for poor choices would be given, he would immediately jump ahead and focus on the future..."I have to go to bed early tonight, but tomorrow I won't. I have to take a time out now, but you'll call me in a bit." He would disassociate any pain or disappointment he felt and move right on to the next day..(this was very obvious because my son verbalizes most all of his thoughts...) He'd show almost no emotion or response to discipline...It was just one more thing to get through. In a healthy child, I think it would be resilience, but in my son, I think it became disassociation from any negative feelings/pain. Finally, one night when I took his favorite toy away and he didn't respond at all, I kept redirecting him to the loss of the toy and leading him to think about how it made him feel. I wouldn't let him "skip" the pain of the loss. Finally, he burst into tears and was angry with me for making him feel, but then as I started gently talking with him and validating how he felt, he started telling me about lots of things that had hurt him and that he'd experienced prior to his adoption. It was like a dam burst and we had an honest point of connection, where I could hear what he thought and felt and begin to point him to God's Truth. But this took a long time to get to this point, and was still just a beginning....

So much to think about...

One more thing...Christy, I know you're right when you talk about focusing on all that Jesus has done for me as the motivation to love my son.....I get that principle, but it's HARD...Definitely a God-sized job to change me and give me HIS love and grace....

Stacy said...

Christy,
I have really appreciated your comment thread here.

There have been times in our parenting of our difficult son that I have wondered this same thing, but I SO fight against it, in large part to that fear of letting him "get away" with too much, or because of the comparisons my other children will make as we relate to him and them differently.

I am challenged and inspired by your approach.

And I love what you said about the Bible being your parenting resource and the Holy Spirit, too. Amen to that!

One more thought: When I stand before God someday, I would much rather stand there having erred on the side of giving too much grace than too little.

Jen said...

Wow! This is a GREAT discussion. Thanks Christy for all of the food for thought! I would SO totally agree with you about praying aloud in Jesus name over your children. It was a huge (and still is) part of helping our 3 little Liberian children!

I'm really inspired by your encouragement not to assign motive to the behaviors. . . I've been finding myself frustrated lately (not at our Liberian children as much as by our newest 6 children) and I have been praying for the Lord to help me see why I'm frustrated. . . I think that it is because I've been assigning motive instead of just dealing with the behaviors with the help of the Holy Spirit, and then moving on - continuing to mother all of my children with grace and mercy (as the Lord does with me) and still teaching and training them to obey God (which includes obeying their parents).

I'm totally going to memorize Psalm 103 now!

Laura, you are doing great. You seek the Lord's wisdom in His Word and in prayer. There is NOT any better resource out there: not another blogger, not a book, not an "expert." Keep it up!

Lisa H. said...

A few more thoughts on this topic....Check out Jen's blog and the links that discuss the death of the little girl adopted from Liberia who died at the hands of her adoptive parents..... It seems like this is the type of situation that can occur without a strong anchor in the love and grace of God....Heartbreaking!

As Stacy said, I'd rather err on the side of too much grace and mercy than judgement....

Lisa H.

Renee said...

I have learned so much about grace and parenting with grace. My first and foremost desire is for my children to know Jesus and His love and His goodness. So many times that means I must die to my self and flesh..a formula would be so much easier but then it would be me doing it and not Him doing it. His ways are perfect.

Psalm 30: 5

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.


God's anger is not our anger. His is holy and just and if His anger of my sin lasts for but a moment-what a glorious thought in the light of eternity.. How foolish of me to be angry and stew over an offense to me when my sin is so much more grievous to God yet He gives me favor for a lifetime.

Our children's weeping will last for a night but joy is coming. It's coming in the morning..It's coming.

Never lose faith.

Renee said...

Wow! This is an amazing discussion. Thank you so much Lisa H for your comment on my Blog.

Laura, I have followed your Blog for some time and I think you and Cameron are doing a wonderful job parenting Abby. What a journey it can be to guide these little ones who suffered so, so much in their early years.

You know.. healing takes time. If someone had told me before any of our children came home that it would take years for our children to heal I don't know that I would have believed them. Time is on our side. Abby doesn't have to be complete today or tomorrow. God is finishing a work in her..Your previous post is incredible. She is obedient, joyful, using self-control.. GLORY! those are huge steps for her.

Managing all of that and full bore school may just be too much for her right now. I love the idea of unschooling her. You are such a great cook (we eat your tomato soup at least once a week) perhaps she would like to work with you for meal preps..weights, measurements, adding all happening. Does she like to help with the Littles? Can she read them a few board books a day? Draw with them? Write letters to those on the prayer chain? Knit/hats blankies for crisis pregnancy center?

I know these aren't traditional learning things but she would be learning and learning to serve others as well which is so important. I think many times our hurt children have spent a lot of time looking inward because of the pain in their hearts. One of the best things we can do for them is to get them to serve others.

I know you said Abby is 8 and she sounds like a bright and competent girl as are my boys..but their emotional age and their age on paper are two different things. My boys need to do the things I did/do with my Littles. They need a lot of time expending physical energy. They need routine with their days and their meals. They need me to play with them and spend a lot of time just being with them. It is during these times that teaching happens that they totally missed in their early days. Such as "the silent treatment and pouting are not the acceptable response to being corrected. I still love you even when you make a mistake. I won't beat you or take away my love or leave you just because you were naughty.."

My dear friend Beckie Sibley (adoptive Mom to many) gave me the best advice before our adoptions.. She said, "Keep them close and set them up to succeed and make good choices.." How many times I have heard those words in my head. If school is going to provoke Abby to wrath right now and cause her to make bad choices then by all means unschool her. She is learning so much. She is learning what it means to have a family and how to be in a family. HUGE and of lifelong value. She is learning to manage her reactions and emotions. HUGE and of lifelong value. She is learning of a Savior who loves her to the uttermost and who will carry her through HUGE and of eternal value.

Thank you everyone for your words on this post. They have inspired me and challenged me.

Parenting our children who came to us through adoption has been one of the most wonderful yet hardest thing I have ever done. I have made so many mistakes. I have cried over the way we have misunderstood each other. Some how though God's light and grace is ever present. He is bringing healing and new life and hope in spite of me.

laura mouro said...

Renee, thank you for your comment and advice. Yes, maybe unschooling her for now is the answer. I think "school" has become the battle, a control issue, and in my need to win that battle, we have lost sight of the goal: learning!! If what I am doing isn't working, then I need to change things, not force her to submit. I really want to enjoy our relationship and we have gotten to that point now. Abbie is now such a blessing and a delight, so enjoyable. I mean, there are still moments, of course, but I have my own moments. However, on those days when she will not do school right I feel it sabotages my entire perspective on things. I need to take a step back and away from this and do something different. I have to be willing to be the one who will bend and be flexible for her sake. It is hard to die to myself and kill that pride! Adoption has been hard for me because it has exposed so much sin in my own heart!

In Christ, Laura

Lisa H. said...

Laura said,

"Adoption has been hard for me because it has exposed so much sin in my own heart!

Oh, Amen and Amen, Sister! :)

Lisai H.

laura mouro said...

Lisa,

Glad I am not alone! LOL

Christy said...

Definitely not alone! If anyone didn't agree to that statement they would either be fooling themselves or they would have the perfect child. :)

Renee said...

I did want to clarify that I don't think grace filled parenting=permissive parenting. God does not erase the consequences for our sins. He loves us through them but in this sin cursed world if we sin there are consequences. I just don't believe there is a formula child does x you do y which results in z.

I have to pray and seek God's wisdom in every aspect and do it all with love. That is so hard sometimes and yes I have learned what a truly wretched sinner I am through all of this. God is so gracious!

Anne-Marie said...

Laura, I think you are on the right track! Pray for lots of wisdom. Here is a scenario that combines Kim's idea with Renee's post. What if you explain to A. that not all girls do well at school and God made everyone good at different things. He loves us just the way we are and your parents love you just the way you are. So if you are not going to do school well, you need to do something else that trains you to be a grown-up. Introduce career options maybe. You can help out the family by... peeling potatoes for dinner (sitting next to the girls who are doing school) or folding clothes. (this just a little different than a typical consequence) Have her THINK about what she wants to be good at when she is a grown up. Maybe show her the verse Eph 2:10 about the good works that God created for us to do. She can listen in on the other school work all the while. Try to get through to her that you are on her side and want to help her grow up. That's the job God gave us parents (and it's a tough one to say the least).