Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The True Secret of Parenting Success

I recently asked the list-members on Adoption Parenting Tweens & Teens the following questions about their adoption-parenting experiences:
  • What do you wish you had been better informed about? 
  • What has been surprisingly easy / fun? 
  • What has been really tough?
The answers were thoughtful, insightful and poignant. I wanted to send wine and chocolate to every parent who responded - and to all of the parents who didn't respond because they were simply too gobsmacked by parenting-work-life to take the time to catalog their joys, frustrations and sorrows! 

I asked adoptive mom Nicole Magnuson's permission to reprint her brief post (below) as she touched on a couple of very important points... and she managed to sum it all up in her wise last line with what I regard as a mini-bite version of The True Secret of Parenting Success. From Nicole:

"Hi all -- So many answers have resonated with me, especially those about being surprised/disappointed about how hard it is, being single and older, and feeling like our kids are "other." I add these thoughts:

When I became a parent, my friendships changed in ways I didn't expect. I had sort of assumed that my closest friends would help me raise my kid, but several friendships with younger, single/non-parent friends fell away after I adopted my daughter (singly). It was disappointing and felt like a betrayal. I even got negative feedback from my sister, and that was crushing. But then I realized that they hadn't signed up to do it, I had! And over time, it turns out that most of those friends and my sister came around, and some also adopted.

As a corollary, I would say that it's critical to build yourself support, asking people outright if/how they can help (especially if you're doing it solo), join support/parenting groups (in person and online), think about camps and vacations that will give you a rest and connect you with similar people/kids. I was pleased to find many parents through my daughter's schools--often also adoptive and often also solo--who would trade childcare, overnights, emergency backup, etc., and I worked hard to develop these relationships and to pay forward and pay back.

About parenting, all I know now is "Never say never or always", because there are a thousand things I thought I would never do that I have done and some that I thought I would always do that simply haven't been possible with this child. (Examples of never: frozen pizza, mac 'n cheese from a box, years of medication, calling 911, consider a barely passing grade more than sufficient, etc.)

Finally, what I know now is that until I raised my child, I thought nurture would trump nature, but it doesn't. Along the way, I have figured out what she needs, I have made plenty of mistakes, and I now firmly believe that making and maintaining the emotional connection--at every age and stage--is the foundation of figuring out all the other stuff.

With appreciation for all of us,

Mom to now-15 domestically adopted girl who is (finally) doing GREAT"

Jean MacLeod
Copyright 2012, MacLeod, All Rights Reserved

Image Credit: Tiny House Paintings

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