Mindful Parenting: Managing our Expectations
Adoption is an exciting process for most families. Prospective parents give considerable thought to adopting through the foster care system. They talk to their spouses, partners, friends, church community, and other families who have adopted. They read about adoption, research on the internet, comb through Heart Gallery photos, and internalize all of this new information. By the time a family is licensed through an agency, they have many hopes and dreams of what having a child in their home might look like.
These expectations start with envisioning that initial meeting with a child. One of our previous adoptive families, when speaking to a group of new families, told of her own excitement at placement, and learning quickly that the children being placed with her were not excited to be there. They were distraught, confused and unhappy. She admitted that this revelation was incredibly challenging for her.
As part of the home study process, families are asked what their expectations are for children coming into their home. Parents sometimes think that the “right” answer to this question is “we expect that kids will be kids” or “we don’t really have any expectations.” Hogwash! Nonsense! A whole lot of malarkey! What we are asking here is for parents to really unpack all of those deep-rooted desires they have for what parenting will look like. Do you hope that your son will want to watch football with you on Sundays, or that you will braid your daughter’s hair before bed every night? Do you imagine family dinners and holidays together? Do you think about everyone packed together on the couch watching a movie with a bowl of popcorn?
As a mindful parent, take some time to really give consideration to your hopes about your children. It is incredibly important to honor these pieces of who you are and what you desire. It is equally important to recognize when your hopes and expectations go unmet in parenting. Perhaps your son hates football and prefers video games. Maybe your daughter has sensory processing issues, and won’t let you near her with a brush. Precious family moments may be few and far between as children process the loss of their families of origin and establish felt safety in your home.
There will absolutely be moments in your process when you say to yourself or your partner, “Well, this is not what I expected.” Pay close attention to the dissonance that arises when a child’s true strength and talents don’t quite match with what you pictured. Allow yourself time to grieve this, because it’s a loss for you as well. Then turn your attention back to your child and see them for who they really are. Find what you love most about them, and allow that gift to take the place of those old expectations you used to carry around. Your children will recognize that you see them for who they are, and you will feel more fulfilled as a parent.
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What is TBRI®?
TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.
TBRI® is designed for children from “hard places” such as abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Because of their histories, it is often difficult for these children to trust the loving adults in their lives, which often results in perplexing behaviors. TBRI® offers practical tools for parents, caregivers, teachers, or anyone who works with children, to see the “whole child” in their care and help that child reach his highest potential.
Want to know more? Visit TCU’s Institute of Child Developmenthttp://child.tcu.edu/.