"Go get your favorite outfit and bring it to me" I uttered, exasperation lacing my words as my two children grumbled about life's unfairness. Frustration and impatience hung heavy in the air, mingling with the ceaseless complaints.
"Why does she get to do that and I have to do this?" one of them whined, while the other chimed in, "How come you don't get mad at him for that but I have to do this?"
Their lamentations were like nails on a chalkboard, and I felt myself on the brink of unraveling. Why couldn't I find a consistent approach to discipline?
In the whirlwind of parenting, especially with adopted children, I often found myself adrift, grappling with the challenge of understanding and guiding two distinctly unique personalities with different backgrounds and learning styles. One was a quiet rule follower, while the other was a spirited free-spirit who tested boundaries and pushed buttons at every turn.
Reluctantly, the pair trudged to their rooms, retrieving their favorite outfits and tossing them before me in a crumpled heap. I instructed them each to take the others' outfit and put it on, thus wearing each others' clothes.
"NO WAY," they retorted in disgust, recoiling at the thought. When I asked them why they didn't want to swap clothesd, their responses were, "because I'm not her" and "that's weird to wear his clothes". They looked at each other with expressions of distain and confusion.
I certainly wasn't going to make them wear each others' clothes. Instead, I seized the opportunity to illustrate a crucial lesson. I explained that just as they were reluctant to be like each other, I shouldn't expect them to conform to each other's standards. I followed with a rhetorical question of why would they then expect me to treat them like the other.
Drawing from Psalms 139, I emphasized that God knows each of us intimately, intricately woven with unique thoughts, desires, and needs. He teaches us in ways that resonate with our individuality. "Man is fearfully and wonderfully made"
As parents, mirroring God's example allows us to meet our children where they are, embracing their distinct identities. For adoptive parents, this also entails honoring our children's biological roots and their first families, nurturing a sense of wholeness and belonging.
Parenting, with its myriad challenges and triumphs, defies a one-size-fits-all approach. There's no manual, only the ebb and flow of life's tides, marked by moments of serenity and sudden squalls. It's complicated with highs and lows. At times, smooth sailing, until the thunderous clouds roll in unannounced and pummel us with crashing waves, one after the other.
3. Love others
By anchoring ourselves in faith and self-awareness, we can navigate the waters of parenthood with love and intentionality, creating a safe harbor where our children can flourish as their authentic selves. #MeetThemThere #meetthemwheretheyare