We all probably remember Aesop’s fable concerning the Tortise and the Hare.  It’s message of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ is timeless advice, and is also timely to this post. If you had asked me a few years ago, or even a few months ago when one particular adopted son of mine turned 15 y.o., “Are you winning the race?”  I would have replied with a sigh, “I don’t know”.  Today, I know, and can confidently answer “‘Yes, we’re winning the race with him!”  Instead of dreading being his mother each day, I am (most days) delighted to be!

Consistency during the race – perhaps marathon is a more accurate term – of raising adopted kids is crucial to a family’s success.  Change won’t happen overnight, and major behavior changes might not be evident for years. More often than not, slow is how the problems of life need to work themselves out.  We should be ‘slow to anger’  Proverbs reminds us, among other things. Steady is what parents need to be during the long haul of rearing children into adulthood.  Kids with lots of ‘baggage’ from their early years before adoption, indeed need a lifetime of our ‘slow and steady’ consistent parenting.

 After 9 long years in our home, my 15 y.o. son finally ‘gets it’ about:

  • Doing chores when, and as expected, with few reminders
  • Staying on-task with daily school work, including music practice
  • Responding cheerfully to correction, even if eye-contact is not yet perfect
  • Answering questions in a complete sentence (at least one noun and verb, please)
  • Choosing to enjoy age-appropriate social interaction with his bio and adopted siblings
  • Saying ‘Love you’ after I tell him “I love you”, and meaning it
  • Accepting familial physical affection in the form of bear hugs, cheek kisses, and rib tickles, and actually smiling about it
  • Being able to discuss a situation when he is confronted with a recurring sin, instead of  going into a freeze mode
  • Being able to cope with disappointment, the word ‘no’, and delayed gratification, without going in to a fight mode
  • Accepting parental authority instead of rebelling by running away in a flight mode

With God’s merciful intervention and leading, these landmark accomplishments have come as a result of consistent parenting:

  1. unconditional love
  2. extreme patience
  3. self-control to avoid ‘knee jerk reactions’ that might lead to violence 
  4. calm voices without angry words
  5. enjoyable bedtime rituals including good-night kisses and prayers
  6. well structured home-life with healthy routine choices
  7. quality and quantity family time
  8. frequent one-on-one time
  9. dealing with minor and serious besetting sins
  10. appropriate discipline and consequences
  11. safe physical restraint when called for
  12. isolation when needed
  13. family confrontation when appropriate
  14. prayer without ceasing

I am exhausted just writing this list!  I know there will be many days coming when regression will rear its ugly head, but I will remain encouraged with the evidence of progress.

Consistency has paid off.  I just went out to the kitchen to find the clean dishes were put away (his daily job) without a reminder, and most were in the appropriate place and correct position.  I just got a cheerful response when mentioning something that needed to happen.  I got a complete sentence answer (of more than 2 words!) when I asked a question.  Just amazing!  Just God’s mercy and grace.  Praise Him!

I’d better quit for today while I’m ahead.

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