Tuesday Topic: Talking About the Kids


Here is a great Tuesday Topic question from Lori.

How do you balance how much one child is the topic of parental conversation? It seems our adopted child and their severe issues is a constant and stressful conversation topic.

I like this question because it touches on so many aspects of our lives: time, energy, attention, marriage, other children, and so much more.

What are your thoughts? How do you handle this in your life?

Take a moment to share your thoughts or words of encouragement with Lori. You never know how a simple thought from you may be a great help to another parent.

The sun is shining in my window, I have potted tulips on my dining room table that are getting ready to bloom, and we are babysitting a sweet little guy today. It’s going to be a good day – no matter how little schoolwork we get done.

Encourage one another,


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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.


  1. Heather
    April 1, 2014

    We continually remind ourselves (and other children) that there are phases in our lives. There are times when one child needs us more than the others, and each child has their times that they need more. Each phase will not last forever, and we have an amazing God who reminds us that "love covers a multitude of sins," so we know that even when we aren't doing things perfectly, the Lord is taking care of them. Not sure if I'm making sense in my words, sorry.

  2. This is a definite struggle we have in our household of four adopted children with the oldest two having the most issues and the oldest one definitely having the most issues! We have recently had many conversations on how we see our youngest middle come alive with one on one attention and his behaviors improve over all. We have realized that we, his parents, have not been as diligent in giving him this needed attention because his other two siblings (especially the oldest) are always draining us. There is a definite feeling of the world revolves around our oldest in an effort to keep him from exploding or keeping things safe when he has exploded.

  3. Of late we are making a focused effort to give EACH child one on one undivided attention at least weekly. Little things like specifically asking them about their day over dinner, grabbing a different child to help with different tasks, rotating things like who runs errands with who and "celebrating" specific accomplishments with directed praise and sometimes a treat. We want these "little things" to become healthy habits that just naturally occur daily. We also have plans of creating monthly "date" nights with each child but are still working on those logistics.

  4. We have realized part of what we have to do is "teach" the other children how to handle their emotions when they are not the center of attention. We also have had to "deal" with outbursts with a little more ignoring; keeping our focus on the one child and not being drawn away from them. We are using phrases like, "Fair doesn't mean the same." and "that is not appropriate for a (age) year old but it IS for a (age) year old." And mostly just being blunt about it, "_________ is doing that with me THIS time." It is another aspect of how HARD parenting these "hurt" kiddos are. You often feel like you may be doing MORE damage. We are forcing our kids that struggle with feeling left out and abandoned to feel "not special anymore". But I am finding how to TRUST that this is how they learn to confront and overcome those feelings instead. It helps me to try and focus on the big picture or the long run.

  5. Emily
    April 1, 2014

    Homeschool fairy godmother style!

  6. Bev
    April 1, 2014

    So many good ideas already in the comments! We have an empty nest, but I remember the days when the behaviors were so overwhelming that our discussion centered only around the ones who were having emotional difficulty. Looking back, I would try to think about some things differently than we did at the time.

    The biggest thing I would do differently would be to recognize that my only job is to be faithful and to love. The healing is in the hands of the child and God. My husband and I would obsess about the behaviors partly because we wanted so desperately to believe that we could control them if we could just figure them out. That led to endless discussion, and it led to second guessing each other sometimes. I wanted to make sure he didn't say anything that made things even a tiny bit worse and he wanted to do the same thing for me. Hopefully you are all wiser than we were. 🙂

    It was good to recognize that it was inevitable that we would make mistakes and that modeling remorse and asking forgiveness is also an important parenting strategy.

    It was good to limit (sometimes even with a timer) the amount of time we spent discussing things that were impossible to solve because it brought back some reality to our lives. You don't want to define yourself by only the hardest things you are doing. It is important to focus on other things as well…gratitude, laughter, nature, other relationships, to remind ourselves that our lives had many facets including but not limited to the ones we did not know how to handle.

    The ideas above of trying to squeeze in positive attention each day…remembering that raising children means living through phases…teaching the children how to handle their emotions…these are all very good ideas! I also told my kids that 'fair means everyone gets what they need, not that everyone gets the same thing.' And I told them that sometimes all I can do is trust my gut, and that I promise to apologize if I find out later that I'm wrong. And I have indeed apologized.

    My sister-in-law is a teacher and uses conscious discipline in her classroom. She wrote recently about a 'safe spot' in her classroom for kids to help themselves in dealing with overwhelming emotions. I wondered if some of the things she is trying would have helped my children. In some of the videos about how it works, it seems like after the kids are taught how to use the safe space, the teacher becomes more free to support the whole class instead of only one child. Here is a link: http://consciousdiscipline.com/shuberts_classroom… Click on the picture where it says "Safe Place" for more information.

  7. Margaret
    April 1, 2014

    I feel as if I read here! but maybe not, something that inspired me to try to have conversations about the positives of my children with my husband. I find that so helpful, although I have mostly been dumping all my struggle, worry and frustration in our conversations. I agree with a previous post about limiting conversations about things that feel hopeless. We don't worry too much about balance, but we only have two children so they get discussed plenty. we DO worry about talking to each other about other things besides our children. It's something we aspire to but don't always accomplish. Taking a walk, going to a movie, working in the yard, sharing a book, all these have helped us be about more than our parenting dilemmas, which probably makes a better parents, as well as spouses and people.


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