Tuesday Topic: How do I Help My Other Children?

Today’s Tuesday Topic comes from a reader who asks,

My question is this…how do I help my other children deal with the trauma and pain caused by the actions or behaviors of my child from a “hard place?” We are really struggling with helping our 13 yr old deal with the rejection, trauma, etc that our older child has caused.  How can she learn to trust her and be willing to build a relationship again with a sister who will never be healthy emotionally (aside from God’s healing).  Her feelings are all very real, but we don’t want her stuck here.

 

This is a topic that is dear to my heart and one that I see myself exploring more extensively in the future. I know our friend would like your thoughts, and I would too. Many of us are attempting to balance the needs of our children who have trauma histories with the needs of our other children. It is extremely complicated and taxing!

Please share your thoughts and words of encouragement by leaving a comment. We really can support and help one another gather new ideas, or even just strength, from knowing we are not alone.

My stash of Tuesday Topic questions is nearly gone and I’m ready for some new ones. If you sent me a question in the past and it never showed up, please send it to me again. I get a lot of email and although I try to be organized, my inbox gets to be a mess and it’s possible that your question got lost in the mix of it all.

Please email your questions to me at lisa@onethankfulmom.com  Include the words “Tuesday Topic” in the subject line and it will help me stay organized.

I love hearing from you on Tuesday Topic days – please take a moment to offer a word of support to this mom.

[Quick note: I’m taking Ladybug to Spokane for an orthodontist appointment today and will have lots of hours on the road. I’ll check and approve comments as I am able.  Don’t worry if it takes awhile to show up.]

Encourage one another,

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Bev
    October 22, 2013

    We are parents of adult children of trauma, as well as adult birth children. The thing I can't emphasize enough is empathy and validation. We have been always aware that we made decisions based on our faith that made life very difficult for our birth children. I'm not sorry we made those decisions, but I have had to be pretty open with our birth children about the fact that their feelings are so normal and understandable.

    What I have learned from understanding how my own feelings work, is that only I am in a position to decide when to move on from difficult emotions. When someone is in a hurry for me to move on, the pressure of knowing that makes it harder to move on. I stop having the ability to process and end up spending too much time either judging myself or being angry at the person who seems to be judging me for not forgiving quickly enough.

    Allow your children to feel what they feel, and to express it to safe people in appropriate settings. Their relationships with their siblings are exactly that—theirs. You can expect respect and civility, but not friendship or love. It's more likely that the love and friendship will come if they don't feel that they have to force it, and if they feel that they are completely loved right now at whatever stage they are at in the forgiveness and friendship spectrum.

    It's so hard to have empathy for someone that is hurting you or someone you love, and it comes easier if you are experiencing a high degree of empathy yourself. It is always good to model the forgiveness and the empathy for your children of trauma, while at the same time validating your other children as they have understandable feelings that are different from your own. They see you loving all of them and giving all of them grace to work through their differing growing up experiences, and that will at least give them a model for giving grace to each other.

    I've found that my children want to feel empathetic. They want to be accepting. They do the best they can. But even in adulthood, our children from trauma continue to impact their lives with instability and unhealthy ways of relating. They have been a support to me. They have offered friendship to their adopted siblings as they are able. They've shown up for strange family reunions and been able to laugh and converse. But it is what it is. I love them all.

    Reply
    1. Lori
      October 23, 2013

      I just wanted to thank you for what you have written Bev. I needed this reminder to let my kids feel what they feel and not be guilty about it. I am often reminding them to look for the lesson God wants to teach them instead of validating their feelings and helping them to work through them in their own time.

      Reply
  2. Mary (Owlhaven)
    October 22, 2013

    I try to spend time running errands with various individual kids, play games with the ones who enjoy games, and when it seems like it might be helpful, talk to kids about hard moments. Sometimes it feels like giving kids a break from the trauma stuff is actually better, tho. Trauma behaviors can REALLY suck up emotional energy in a family.

    Reply
  3. angela
    October 22, 2013

    This is a tough one. We never anticipated trauma and pain for our children when we adopted… I wish there was something I could share that is helpful, but I can only tell my story. Thankfully, my first children are older, but when the twins came my youngest born was 12. Adoption did not turn out to match her dreams of little siblings to play with. Mostly they screamed all day long. They pooped in their pants multiple times a day. They threw stuff and broke things and threw royal rages all day long. . . there was hardly a let up. Life came to a standstill. Socializing was out of the question. Church was almost out of the question. People we loved hit the delete button and removed us from their lives. There was a lot of pain. A year in this 12 yr old child, Christina, had an opportunity to go with my mom to Africa. My oldest had gone when she was 13, and we had all been as a family, etc… so we thought this would be a good thing. She went for three months and by the end she was not homesick or wishing to see us… she was verbally expression how she "hated to come home" because of the twins. She did a lot of crying about coming home… so did I, actually. WHAT had we done to our family!!! I was devastated. My mom was making sure I knew just how much our daughter didn't want to come home… because she was worried about us adopting these hard children in the first place. BUT of course, Christina came home. and amazingly she matured overnight. It did get a little easier with the twins, though… sigh, its still hard, but she saw their need. Our three older girls have been totally awesome and beautiful and loving towards the twins. They have helped me when I could not take it anymore. They pitch in and encourage the kiddos and the parents alike. It's one of those, BUT GOD things. He transformed the despair into something beautiful. All three say that adoption has changed them for the better. There was a LOT of pain to begin with… and a lot of growing to do for all of us. I don't know what it would be like if my bio girls were younger than the adopted children, though… VERY hard, I'm sure.

    Reply
  4. Kathleen
    October 22, 2013

    I am fascinated with your blog for a number of reasons. But one thing which always comes to mind is the object lessons with respect to God. We are His children. He has unconditional love for us and yet many of His children, because of wounding, do not let Him hold and comfort them and will not be intimate with Him. So this topic also makes me think of how it must be for God and us, when He sees His "children from a hard place" hurting His "other children" and how does He balance this? Thinking about the topic this way may provide added insight.

    Reply
  5. Mary (Owlhaven)
    October 22, 2013

    I forgot to mention above that one of the precious things about having four bio kids and then adopting 6 kids who were younger, has been the way our bio kids can touch and connect with some of their most-wounded siblings, in ways that I cannot do. It is a source of great joy to me to see my daughter tucked under her big brother's shoulder, yacking away to him about her week, in a way that sometimes she still will not do to me. That is family. I've come to realize that sibling relationships may be part of God's healing plan for our children's hearts. Yes, there has been a cost to our older children. But they also know our hearts, and why we as parents embarked on this unusual journey, and as adults now, they work as allies in our efforts to weave a strong and loving web of family around everyone. Praise God.

    Reply
  6. Luann Yarrow Doman
    October 23, 2013

    I love all the advice above. I wish you could take all this good material and put it in a book for people like me who are just starting out on this journey… 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 23, 2013

      Luann, I am in the midst of writing a book with a wonderful co-author. I have two chapters due soon and I can't seem to find the time to clear my mind and schedule in order to get them done. Yikes! Pray that I'll get to it.

      Reply

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