Home schoolers are often asked “What about socialization for your children?”  The unspoken response that comes quickest to my mind is “We aren’t socialists!”  Though not normally an issue for parents who educate their kids at home, socialization is definitely an issue for the adoptive family blessed with the placement of an older child. 

Typically, kids use manners they were taught as toddlers.  You may have experienced first-hand that a family in your church, 4-H group, or even relatives have failed to implement an effective child-rearing ‘socialization’ plan.  You know that being around them is not the most enjoyable thing in the world.  Painful, in fact, when a child is rude and out-of-control. 

When a child is placed in an adoptive home, and no manners were previously taught, his or her new forever family will be either staying home for a while, or experiencing some rather embarrassing public moments.  The Lord, thankfully, led us to teach our new kids ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ first.  From there we progressed to “Father (or Mother), may I…”  After the first week (well, it was more like a month in reality) our elementary age newcomers did a pretty good job – though unfortunately for them, poor speech made it hard to understand their efforts.

Emboldened by our success, we headed to restaurants once a month after Sunday church.  All of our kids were able to practice dressing up (dark socks with dark slacks – matching please), walking the right speed (no running to the rest room), sitting with good posture (shoulders back), taking turns talking (without food in your mouth), and using the correct utensil (those fancy restaurants have lots to choose from!).  Over the years, they further progressed to actually speaking to the wait person themselves to order their food.  A few prompts are still required, but they generally get it.

More challenging was getting our adopted kids to give eye contact to adults.  Kids who have low self-esteem, suffered physical abuse, or simply were not taught this sign of respect, do not naturally give it.  We still remind that this is expected, but now do it BEFORE we leave the house, not at the required moment.

Bottom lineadoptive parenting requires actively teaching life’s basic social skills, often over and over again.  Otherwise, your adoptive child will be embarrassed often enough to lose the desire of interacting with others.  This will significantly hurt him or her in the long run.

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