I have always wanted to be a mom.
Once I realized I was not going to grow children in my body how I thought I should, my entire sense of parenthood changed. Through many years of trying, treatments, and failures, we now have four children through adoption.
Four incredibly wonderful children.
Four children who have filled my every void. When you are blessed with children, you know the feeling in your heart that overflows when a child enters your life. But what about when four children enter your life mid-childhood…and all at once?
My husband and I realized very quickly we had to parent differently. Everything we have ever learned about parenting or even the type of parent we wanted to be was NOT going to work. Every preconceived notion about parenting was booted out the door.
We thought we would be the time-out type of parents, the negative behavior gets punishment parents. But this was not working. When we would punish, it only escalated behavior. It was hard because we needed these children to feel safe and loved. When you punish children, they feel unloved. We wanted them to know even though we were giving a consequence for a behavior, we loved them. We were not getting that point across. Honestly, we realized we were failing at parenting our children.
Because when you don’t have kids, your perspectives on parenting will work perfectly on your non-existent kids, right?
We realized we had to do things almost backwards. Instead of punishing our then 5-year-old son for a negative behavior, we had to ignore it. IGNORE NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR. I am pretty sure my parents never ignored my negative behavior. We had to PRAISE the positive behavior. We incorporated a puff ball jar. For every good behavior or polite manner our children showed, we simply placed a puff ball into a jar, once filled they received a special reward.
Crazy, right? But you know what? IT WORKED.
It took some time, but eventually behavior changed and we could stop the puff ball system.
We also realized we had to show LOVE during crazy bouts of anger.
Our daughter did not want to live with us.
She wanted to run away.
She hated us.
We were assured by a licensed therapist, if we continued to show her LOVE, her heart would change. We had to find this love deep down in us. Love is hard to give to someone when they do not love you, or even like you, for that matter. She would scream and kick and cry.
But we LOVED her. LOVED her through the intense ANGER. We talked softly and hugged her through the rage. We did the same behavior techniques we did with her brother. We PRAISED and acknowledged every little positive behavior we could. The love she had previously felt from people meant that those people were going to leave. We had to assure her that we were staying. It took her awhile but we have finally found balance.
We ALL found the love.
Parenting is tough. Parenting differently from others is even tougher.
I have always wanted to be a mom.
It might not be what I expected, but when I look into the eyes of my four children I see myself molding four children into self-confident human beings. I see myself transforming four precious lives into loving, caring people. I see myself whole-heartedly loving these children with every ounce of my being.
Fighting for them.
Cheering for them.
It doesn’t matter if I parent these children like their friends. What matters is we parent them to grow up to be the best people they can be.
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