Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Makes a Terrific (Adoptive) Parent?

In an article at Huffington Post, Alfie Kohn talks about general parenting, but gives the PERFECT advice to parents of adopted children:
If you decided to have a child, presumably it was because you wanted to be a parent and anticipated that the experience would be fulfilling. You did it for you. But the child's arrival demands a radical shift: Now you must do things for him or her. Moreover, you need to be mindful of the difference and how it's predicated on the fact that your child is a separate being with distinct perspectives and preferences.

That may sound obvious, but some parents use their children to meet their own emotional needs -- and seem unaware that they're doing so. To put this in positive terms, we might say that high-quality parenting is defined by three closely related features: (1) an awareness that a child's experience of the world is often different from one's own; (2) an ability to understand the nature of those differences, to imagine the child's point of view and tune in to his or her needs and (3) a willingness to try to meet those needs rather than just doing what's right for oneself.

* * *

In short, the best parents acknowledge the needs of their children (as distinct from their own), learn all they can about those needs and are committed to meeting them whenever possible. And those of us who find it a struggle to do these things most of the time... need to make a point of struggling to do these things most of the time.
In 1,970 blog posts, I don't think I've ever described as well the need to care for your child's internal life when it comes to adoption.  I especially like this quote: "It's not just about asking what it's like to be in his shoes, but what it's like to have his feet."


Kris said...

Yes this is great advice for both adoptive and natural parents. I have seen numerous "sports parents" who could use a reminder of this.

Tina said...

Yes, yes, yes - this is what I have stuggeld to say a million times - thanks for finding and hghlighting this! We may chose to parent because WE WANT to but once we are parenting what we want has to be subordinate to what THEY NEED