I have been doing this parent thing for a long time.
A looooooooong time.
I suppose if I am to be honest, I should add the qualifier "adoptive" to parent, because to be completely honest I am a parent through adoption only.
So big deal, is there really a difference?
Yes there is a difference because adoption comes with a certain set of issues that only come with adoption.
No, because as far as I can tell from observation, if adoption were not in the mix, a child with emotional anguish will come up with any number of reasons to behave the same way as a child with emotional anguish who blames it on adoption.
It all comes down to identity.
Who am I?
Why do I behave this way?
Who can I blame my poor choices on?
(read- am I in some kind of family cycle of pain that I am predisposed to, not "It's all your fault that I make bad choices- I demand complete autonomy and no responsibility for my actions!" Although that sentiment sure does make things worse. Most people, not just teens, think that is a reasonable expectation.)
With ten children in the house, seven of whom are teens, we are heavy on people yearning for independence from mom and dad.
two 18 year olds (one will be 19 in December)
two 16 year olds
one 15 year old
one 14 year old
one 13 year old (on 8/3)
one 10 year old
one 8 year old (on 8/2)
and one 6 year old (7 in October)
Most of them find living in the Heim house intolerable for no reason that they can articulate. I am not offended by this. A survey of my friends with teens in the home say their children feel the same way.
So what causes this intense loathing for the nest that nurtures them?
a desire for independence
the natural shifting to maturity hampered by the childish bonds of self-centeredness
and now we are back to that "complete autonomy with no responsibility" lie that most everyone believes.
Think about it…what do we tell God?
This is MY life, I will do what I want. I am not basing it on any loving guidelines you have laid out for me in the Bible. You wrote that to control me! I will do what I want when I want. Don't you try to stop me!!!
Then as soon as one of those selfish choices brings about consequences that are painful and long-lasting, our tune suddenly changes.
Oh God, please help me. Heal me from this terrible pain.
Please send me the money to pay the rent
Please don't let me be pregnant.
Please rescue me from this DUI- Tell the cop to let me go
and the list goes on.
If God doesn't rescue us or heal us or provide the money for us, well then that's just proof that he doesn't exist or doesn't love us.
So what does that have to do with parenting?
God is our FATHER. We are his CHILDREN.
Everything on that list of things we tell God, our children tell us.
My husband and I have raised our children with values and guidelines based upon the Bible.
I have explained to my children that the Bible is not a list of do's and don'ts, but it's more of a recipe for a blessed life.
Take the example of a cake. If you want to make a cake, you select a recipe and follow the directions. At the end of the hour or so, you have a moist, warm, delicious cake.
But what if you don't want to be controlled by the recipe author? Who is he anyway, some kind of control freak? I can make my cake however I want!!!
I love the beach. Instead of flour, I will use sand!
Who needs eggs? I will use salsa instead.
Butter? Nah, how about bubble bath!
and so on.
Place into a preheated oven, set the timer and wait.
I don't understand. What is wrong with my cake? I used all the things I like.
but this cake…TERRIBLE!
Mommy, fix it. I need a cake for tonight. In one hour the party starts! Can I have yours? Can you make me one? Buy me one? I don't have any money. I spent mine on concert tickets…
No one can make you follow the recipe. You can do what you want, but you will get out what you put into it.
Hopefully, if you have had your children from the start, you will have had longer to instill that message into them. Even then they may reject the recipe for the lie.
If your children are adopted, depending upon their age, you don't have the benefit of time and history. You are working against the clock to establish morals and values into someone who doesn't know you, much less TRUST you, but the lessons are the same.
I have a daughter who understands that 18 is some kind of golden ticket.
I am 18, I can do what I want…
There is an ellipsis at the end of that sentence because even though society likes to promote it as a freestanding statement, there is more to that sentence.
I am 18, I can do what I want as long as I am completely independent and take care of myself.
There's the rub.
How it is phrased in my house is, You can do whatever you want, but you can't do it here. You are welcome to stay here and follow the rules of the house.
If the rules are too restrictive for your taste, you are free to leave and support yourself. You absolutely can do whatever you want on the other side of that door.
I have a daughter who thinks she wants to get married.
I have looked her in her eyes and told her that she absolutely should not do this, but as she is doing nothing immoral or illegal, she can CHOOSE to get married if she wishes.
(I think everyone's inclination at this point in the conversation is to scream at the girl and tell her how stupid she is and that I ABSOLUTELY FORBID IT! and perhaps kick her out of the house. While I may have been burning to take this route, I elected a different avenue, one in which all the responsibility for the choice rests upon the shoulders of the one making the choice, and not upon the shoulders of the one who handed her a ready excuse to blame the one who kicked her out of the house thereby FORCING her to make a bad choice. "It's your fault I married him" is not anything that will ever be able to be said to me. I am the parent and it is my responsibility to teach this child, who I have only had the blessing of parenting for one year, how to make wise decisions even among the worst ideas.)
I discuss with her relationships and ask leading questions that reveal that they do not know each other AT ALL. I shoot down the idea that she can get married and continue to live with us for a year (just her, not him too) and then in a year they will live together. I explain that if you get married you live together. Together somewhere that is not in my home. I discuss apartment rentals, security deposits, why deposits are necessary.
After I am told that when she has a baby I will take care of the baby whenever it cries, I explain exactly how often and for how many reasons a baby cries, and that I WILL NOT be raising said baby, she will, she says to me, as if it explains everything,
"but you the grandma!"
At which point I ask how often Nana Nellie takes care of her.
She doesn't take care of me.
That's right, because she is the grandma.
I am your mom. I take care of you. When you move out and are the mom, you will be THE MOM, not me. I am still mothering MANY other children.
When all the reality gets to be too much for her she reverts to theses questions:
What kind of dress should I wear?
Whatever you can afford.
What kind of flowers should I hold?
Whatever you can afford.
Where will I live?
Wherever you can afford.
and so on…
She recently made some very bad choices that I did not find out about until later (yes, worse than thinking getting married to a guy ten years older than her who speaks less English than her and does not speak Russian nor Ukrainian). She said she made them because she hoped I would kick her out of the house when I found out.
I explained I would not kick her out over it, but if she wanted to leave, the door was right there and she could walk out any time. While she is welcome to stay, I couldn't MAKE her stay.
Do you see how she tried to blame me for her bad choice? She chose to do something she didn't want to do and that she knew I wouldn't approve of because she thought she would get kicked out of the house. She wanted to be kicked out of the house so she would be "forced" to marry the guy because she had nowhere to live, making her marriage ALSO my fault.
This is the web of lies satan weaves. He tells us all that we are being controlled by someone else and that we deserve to be free, when the truth is, if we believe him, we are actually being controlled by him.
God gives us a guideline to follow, and if we choose it, we live a life free of the web of deception that traps us. We live to bask freely in the glorious blessing of his favor.
I pray that my children CHOOSE FREEDOM. Many are not choosing it now, but I have the hope of a future blessed by the Father, a hope that is theirs as well.
This hope is available for you too!
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.