Friday 17 January 2014

Behaviour Management

As an adoptive father  I have constantly considered what is the extent of my influence on my children.
How much is personality and character inherited from biological parents? 
How much is forged in the challenges of early life leaving an imprint that cannot be erased regardless of the positives that are then implemented?
What influence have Mrs C and I had on our children, would they have turned out the same regardless of which model of parenting we had implemented? 
Nature or nurture?

Speaking to a foster carer recently she used the phrase we "We have learned how to manage X's behaviour, not change it". As she spoke the words made me consider my children.

Back in '98 starting our adoption journey I believed we could make a difference, that with love, consistency and appropriate boundaries we could make a positive difference in our children's lives.

Do I believe that now? I'm not sure. 

My understanding of the implications of neglect, physical and emotional abuse have increased.
My insight into the minds of my children and how their experiences have affected their view and responses to the world around them is second only to Mrs C's.
My ability to help them negotiate their world is better, more articulate and more informed  than it has ever been.

We've had fun, good times and happy times.
We've had tricky times too.
But have I changed them?

I'm not sure, looking at some of my older children as they grow into adulthood. I see the shadows that have grown with them.
My influence diminishes and my help and guidance is not as welcome, appropriate or acceptable as it once was. 
I can't and won't manage their behaviour anymore. 

So they have to make their own choices and over the next few weeks our 'nearly adult' moves on, not out of choice but necessity. 

We believe we have done our best and our friends and family echo that sentiment, but to be honest, it rings hollow. 

And we're left wondering what difference we've made, perhaps we were just managing behaviour.


  1. Ok, so, after all the effort you went to getting the comments box working for me I feel as though it ought to be epic now! Ah well . . .

    It seems to me that as parents we're all trying to build secure foundations on which our children can stand (or not!) when they are old enough to have their lives in their own hands. As adoptive parents, it seems as though somebody sabotaged the beginnings of those foundations before we even got there. But the restoration and repair work we do surely stands for something in the long run? I believe that it does, although we can never know the difference we've made because we cannot know what would have been without us.

    But once they reach adulthood, their decisions and choices are their own, as are the consequences (although I'm sure we'll stick around to help out with those!).

    Every parent does their best. And every parent has to accept eventually that their best is probably not good enough because we just aren't perfect. None of us are. And that's ok. That's what grace is for.

  2. It was worth it.
    We hope that it all stands for something, but as you say it's the long run where we'll truly know.
    Seeking out the grace.

  3. You can never know exactly how much you've changed. But I cannot believe that you haven't changed anything.
    Even one supportive adult in a child's life is enough to make a difference. Surely years of parenting must gave done something. You'll never know where they would have been without you and - thank God - neither will they.

  4. True, dealing in ifs and buts is folly.

  5. Problem with life is that we make differences every day. Some of those difference we will see before our deathbed and some we will probably never see. The key is what is our motivation? If our motivation is pure then thats the best you can do.

    You have made a difference though.

    Selected film on the subject: Its a wonderful life

    Selected Tune: Rollings Stones - You can't always get what you want

    Selected Book: How to be Good by Nick Hornby

    Selected Drink: Polish Vodka

  6. You're too wise Zippy. And appear to have excellent taste.