Doing the Best They Can

Ross Greene PhD, author of The Explosive Child and parenting expert at Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, asserts that “kids do well if they can”. Greene believes that children with behavioral challenges are not trying to be difficult but they lack the skills needed to behave appropriately.

Greene’s model teaches parents to research and find the skills that children are lacking and teach them these skills so they can succeed in life. Many parents find his book and training information to be extremely helpful in understanding and parenting children who have emotional and behavioral challenges.

A slight twist to Greene’s “kids do well if they can” phrase came to mind as I worked with an adoptive family that had recently welcomed a preschooler into their home. Despite this couple’s love and seasoned parenting skills, their family was struggling. The phrase “adoptive parents are doing the best they can” is what struck me.

This family, as with most adoptive families, decided to adopt because they wanted to parent another child. They have a deep love for children and wanted to share their home, love, affection and resources. Their motives for adopting were kind and selfless.

As they welcomed their new child into their home, they had hopes and dreams for the future. They wanted a close-knit family where all the children in the family experienced joy and pleasure, and were free to learn, grow, and develop a strong faith walk. But after a few months, things just weren’t working out how they had hoped.

Because of past trauma and losses that the child brought into the home, their typical parenting strategies were not working. Life became difficult and challenging as their child cried incessantly, threw temper tantrums and failed to respond to the parent’s guidance and discipline. Despite the behavioral outcome of their child, these “adoptive parents were doing the best they can”.

What should parents do when they are “doing the best they can” but still experiencing high levels of difficulty and frustration?

Empower Your Family

Hire a parent coach. Parenting foster and adopted children requires a different set of parenting skills that are counter-intuitive to most people, but can be learned. Healing for harmed children happens in healthy, loving relationships. Your child will spend the most time with you, the parent, so make sure you have the tools necessary to provide what they need. As in Greene’s model, find the skills you are lacking and learn them today! (P.S., I have plans for coaching through Greene’s book in the teen parent group.)

Contact a child therapist if your child exhibits behavior that is outside the normal range, is stuck in the past, is not safe or concerns you.  Make sure you find a skilled therapist who has experience working with trauma and adopted children.

Find sources of encouragement and support. Joining a support group or developing relationships with others who are in similar positions may help alleviate the shame, pain, loneliness and overwhelming feelings that parents sometimes face. Other parents can share tips, point to good resources and normalize what you are going through.

Remember that God placed your child in your family. It was not an accident. They need you as their parent with your unique set of gifts, talents and abilities. You are not perfect and you will make mistakes, be impatient, and not always give your child what they need. Life is difficult and can be challenging. However, if you utilize the resources that are available, you can be EMPOWERED to help your family shift to a healing path. There is hope in this journey!

Let Empowered Calling bring hope to you and your family! We offer small, affordable coaching groups and individual parent coaching. You can learn new skills and practice them in a small community of support. Visit our website at http://empoweredcalling.com/ or contact Renee at rwitkowski@empoweredcalling.com.

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