When we brought home our adopted child, dreams of a wonderful life filled our hearts. In the distant recesses of our minds, however, some fears may have lingered. Fears that our child may not attach and accept us. Fears that our child might repeat some of the mistakes of her birth parents or family of origin, like early pregnancy, drugs, alcohol. The irony of such fears is that they suck attention and energy and often can result in the creation of exactly what we had wanted to avoid in the first place.
For example, many adoptions result from an unplanned pregnancy and so this can become an event parents wish their child to avoid. Their worries drive them to set extreme controls that can impede their growth into becoming responsible adults. But this hyper-vigilance evidences a lack of trust and can cause a child rebel. In fact, they may even subconsciously choose to prove the parents fear correct and end up pregnant at a young age.
In such a case, the fear proves more dangerous than the error it wishes to prevent. By focusing on the fear instead of open communication a disconnect results. What is truly at the heart of the matter remains undiscussed.
On the other hand, if parents share their concerns as the child matures and are honest about these fears, a dialogue opens. By allowing children to know our fears, we show our vulnerability. This allows them to open up about their concerns regarding their inherited tendencies. Such conversations help parent and child place things in perspective.
This builds trust and creates an environment where mistakes become a learning opportunity instead of a disaster. If families calmly handle the small mistakes when kids are younger, they develop a skill set. This prepares them to honestly face the bigger challenges of the later years. Kids will see parents as someone in whom they can confide when they are facing difficulties instead of someone they must fear or from whom they must hide things.
How are you building that trust so that you have a secure foundation instead of being on shaky ground?