My last three posts discussed the issues of raising adopted babies, toddlers, and elementary-aged children.  Before my next post on parenting young adults (aka teens), I want to talk about what I call ‘Fast Forward Parenting’ (FFP).  FFP catapults you forward into a place you don’t want to go, to deal with something you don’t want to think about, to help a child you don’t even know you like (even though you love him/her.)

Adopted kids, whether placed through the child welfare system, from foreign soil, or out of a life changing tragedy (loss of functional birth parents)  will no doubt lack important life skills. The typical biological child, who was raised by capable parents, will have probably attained these skills at expected ages.  This lack of age-appropriate life skills, even though the adopted child has very advanced knowledge of the world, will invariably catch the adopted parent ‘off-guard’ when Dad or Mom least expect.

Adoptive parents, therefore, have to plan for, and adjust their lives to accommodate FFP.  They will need to teach with direct words, by example, or demonstrative emergency lecture if need be, a variety of familial and societal expectations. 

FFP fairly basic examples :

  • safe boundaries for recreation (don’t leave the yard w/o permission; don’t talk to strangers at the park; don’t pole dance on anyone’s leg)
  • appropriate use of the English language (use a complete sentence, look at the person you are speaking with, no cussing)
  • expected behavior norms (no hitting, lying, or stealing; be gentle with smaller, younger kids; wear a robe over your underwear)

FFP more challenging examples:

  • discussion of private parts, their purpose, and the importance of waiting for marriage to use them as God intended (try discussing this with a 5 y.o. who knows more about sex than you!)
  • teaching children to discern which kids in the neighborhood are safe to play without doing a criminal background check on their parents
  • how to safely be around chemicals, firearms, matches, and power machinery before there is an accident

FFP downright scary examples:

  • helping a child memorize your phone number, and reminding them that they should call you first if they are picked-up by police
  • getting a child to understand it is unhealthy to obsess about being with their incarcerated, rights terminated birth parent
  • instructing a child how to determine which person or place would be safe to go to for help if they get lost while running away from their new adoptive home

FFP requires huge adjustments in time, finances, parental privacy, and social life, as you are thrust like a cannon ball out of your comfort zone.  FFP is necessary for your child to not only survive, but thrive as he or she becomes part of a forever family.