Depending on the circumstances surrounding why the child was put up for adoption in the first place, trying too hard to be a family could inadvertently push him or her away. Although the child needs to know that you are there to love and care for him or her, being too “clingy” could be detrimental to your ultimate goal.
Not everyone feels the same way about family and social interaction. Some children could welcome your advances while others will need initial space in order to get used to the idea that you are the parent. What can you do to make things easier on the child?
When & When Not To Shower Your Adopted Child with Love
Don’t be Forceful – Invite the child regularly to play games or other family activities, but don’t force him or her to do so. The child could easily grow to resent you and the activity as it separated him or her from something the child wanted to do. Instead, try to compromise. You know the child may love the activity if he or she was to try. Make a deal where you will try his or her activity if the child will try the one with the family.
Don’t Force Labels – As a parent, you love the idea of a child calling you Mom or Dad. However, the child should come about doing this naturally. As long as you are doing your part to make sure the child knows that he or she is loved and cared for, then the label is nothing more than a word. Some children may be quite adamant about not calling you Mom simply because it’s associated with the biological mother. This could be a sensitive subject for the child as the association could be one of joy, sorrow or even anger.
Spoiling Won’t Work – Some parents are drawn with trying to essentially bribe a child to behave a certain way. Showering someone with gifts isn’t showing them that you love the person, but that you’re willing to pay anything for a certain behavior. It’s OK to buy someone a gift once in a while for no other reason than you want to, but it’s also productive to tell someone you love them just because they are there. A random hug can be more rewarding than buying toys or candy.
Set Clear Rules – Every child needs to have specific rules that must be obeyed. If you explain why the rules are in place, there is a much greater chance the child will obey. However, some parents may bend the rules too often in order to be a “friend” of the adopted child. He or she has friends – what the child needs is a caring parent. Communicate the justification of the rules and follow through with the implementation and consequences. If the child knows he or she can break the rules on a whim without repercussions, then the child will continue to do so.
You don’t have to walk on eggshells in your own home in order to make the adopted child feel welcome. However, you do need to make sure that the child feels welcome in the home and that you care whether or not he or she is there. An adopted child could already have abandonment issues and you don’t want to make the matters worse by ignoring his or her basic needs for a loving family.
About our Guest Blogger
Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.
“Image courtesy of khunaspix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.