Why Adoptive and Foster Parents Must Resist Over-the-Top Giving

I was ready to wring that mother’s neck.

While waiting in line at the ice cream shop, she repeatedly bent down to the order window to give the latest detail of her eight-year-old daughter’s order for an ice cream cone.

What kind of a cone would you like, honey? Oh, you want a waffle cone? Okay, sweetheart. Do you want to have it dipped in chocolate? Sure, sweetie. Do you want a single or double dip, or maybe a triple?  Get whatever you want, precious girl.”

Afterwards, the girl took the top-heavy cone and skipped off.

My blood was boiling…for several reasons, one which I discovered while writing this post.

First, the mother believed the lie that love means over- over-giving to growing children and/or adults. She thought she was demonstrating the greatest love, but instead she was harming.

Actually, she was overindulging, which we’ll take a close look at.

But first, let’s apply to adoption and foster care.

Overindulgence is a factor in parenting an adopted or foster child.  You love those kids of yours dearly and know full well their hard-place history. But, sometimes, a thought like this may run through your mind as you’re shopping: “How could it possibly hurt to give them one, or two, or even three extra gifts?”

You may not have been told that the “over-the-top” giving is really overindulgence.

Overindulgence Communicates

  • scarcity in the midst of plenty
  • parental needs are more important than mine
  • the life lesson of contentment will elude me
  • pleasing me is such a task…I must be too much to handle
  • I will never have enough
  • I am neglected
  • I will learn to manipulate
  • I won’t learn the developmental lesson of “Enough”

Connie Dawson, Ph.D. and Jean Issley Clark say in their excellent book HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO STEER CLEAR OF OVERINDULGENCE AND RAISE LIKaBLE, RESPONSIBLE, AND RESPECTED CHILDREN–FRO TODDLERS TO TEENS:

Overindulging children is giving them too much of what looks good, too soon, and for too long. It is giving them things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age or their interests or talents. It is the process of giving needs to children to meet the adult needs, not the child’s.

Overindulgence is a form of child neglect. It hinders children from performing their needed developmental tasks and from learning the necessary life lessons.”

Types of Overindulgence

The authors say there are three types of overindulgence.

  • Giving Too Much: (candy, presents, excitement, recreation, stimulation)
  • Over-Nurturing (smother love…doing for children what they should be doing for themselves…it may look loving but it keeps child from fulfilling full potential)
  • Soft Structure: (giving too much freedom and license. ..experiences not appropriate for child’s age. It can be not insisting that they learn important life skills.

Parents, I beg you to look at your giving this Christmas. It is extremely easy to believe that love is over-giving.

As I write this warning, I am warning myself. You see, I was like that bratty girl getting ice-cream and my mom and dad gave me e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Now, what rings in my ears is what I say often to my grandchildren when I take them out for a meal: “Get whatever you want.”

Being overindulged gets passed down generationally.

Oh, no!

Let’s all pray for healthy giving this Christmas…myself included.

PS–Treat yourself to a copy of How Much Is Enough? Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/previously-published-Enough-Children-Teens/dp/073821681X/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512937619&sr=1-4&keywords=how+much+is+enough

 

 

 

 

 

 

What If Our Adoptive or Foster Dad Dies?

When death of adoptive or foster parent is emminent, adoptee or fostered person fears being an orphan once more. That fear can be quenched by turning to God.

Dad was dying.

My Daddio.

I had already said goodbye and he was deep in a coma.

The physician entered the deathbed room shouting in escalating tones: “Mr. Cook, Mr. Cook!”

And, suddenly he opened his eyes.

“Dad,”  I gasped.

“Mr. Cook, do you know who she is?” the physician asked.

For sure, he would know his only daughter. What delight would fill his heart as he got to see the one he thought the sun and moon revolved around. For sure, he would welcome one more embrace from her?

Without hesitation, he bolted out an emphatic, “No.”

Oh, no, oh, no. 

How could this be?

How could he say this to me?

Didn’t he know how wounded I would be?

I understood intellectually about other states of consciousness  but it still hurt to the core to be outwardly forsaken by Dad.

After a few hours, he was gone.

Deathbed Lesson

I buried the insidious deathbed fear until a recent counseling session and it was then that I learned about the term “the gaze.”

The gaze was the basis of Jesus’ and the Father’s relationship. He spent eternity gazing into the Father’s eyes, feeling that closeness, bonding, attachment, and intimacy.

Learners Dictionairy defines “gaze:” 

I love what the KJV Dictionary says:

  • to be astonished, and to see or look, that is, to fix the eye or to reach with the eye.
  • to fix the eyes and look steadily and earnestly; to look with eagerness or curiosity; as in admiration, astonishment, or in study.

Talk about attachment. Gazing” is the sign of bonding and attachment that adoptive and foster parents long for with their beloved children. It’s attachment extraordinaire. Blissful bonding.

We experience “the gaze” when bonding and attachment occur between adopted and fostered kids with their parents. Let’s face it, it is what parents long for with all their hearts…for their sake, but mostly for the sake of their children.

But, if we read the whole story about receiving the gaze, we know that Jesus chose to lose the gaze.  He experienced abandonment and rejection on the Cross by the Father.

But, why would Jesus do that?

For you and me.

He wanted us to experience the heavenly gaze.

The price he had to pay was his death, burial, and resurrection.

And because he paid the price in full for our sin, those who believe in Him won’t ever have to lose the gaze of the Father, or Him.

Gaze into His eyes, dear one.

It’s your privilege and you are worthy.

Even at the deathbed of our adoptive or foster parent, we can gaze into the Father’s eyes and know we are not alone.

 

 

Dear younger me…the upset adopted or fostered me…remember the jellybean

When the problem of dis-regulation happens for adopted or foster children, parents can help child gain regulated emotions by using this child-friendly illustration.

Yup, it’s true. You have every right to be upset. Sometimes, you think the anger will never end.

But it can.

The anger and sad all began when you were yet unborn. Your birth mother was in crisis. Her negative and painful emotions were communicated to you before and after adoption.  You believed living in a crisis was normal.

Learning to uncouple from your birth mother’s crisis mentality and emotionally will prove to be one of the toughest challenges of your life.

…but you can do it.

Remember, though, you weren’t the crisis. 

This is very important.

This may sound kind of silly….it helps me to understand that I am not the crisis.

If I think of myself inside a huge jelly bean, I can be safe from what goes on around me. It’s hard on the outside to keep me safe, but it’s soft inside, where I can relax and even sleep.

Because you’re safe now, you can change the way you look at the hurts.

You may feel mad at God for letting you hurt so bad.  God is always good and promises to bring good out of evil.

And, dear younger, upset one, YOU are the good….and you are safe.

How Adoptive and Foster Parents Can Help

  1. Get butcher-block paper roll (white)
  2. Read post to child or make it into a story
  3. Have child draw jelly bean
  4. Talk about what is outside the jellybean
  5. Talk about what his thoughts can be inside the jelly bean

Parents, this may be a way to teach self-regulation to your child.

I hope so!