Perfect Parenting

It’s been exactly 3 weeks since Pickle moved in and, as it did at 2 weeks, it feels like forever

However, we all feel something has shifted. In the last week we realised she was beginning to test the boundaries with us a bit (or a lot in some cases) She throws her food an awful lot more and she does it while looking at us. She goes to the TV and DVD player a lot and looks at us while doing it. When she first started doing it we didn’t know whether we could say “no” to her. How utterly ridiculous that sounds now I’m typing it up. But that’s how we felt. We thought “she’s adopted, we can’t say no, we’ll damage her” or “we can’t start implementing rules, she’ll always remember and feel rejected”. Unfortunately by day 2, not saying a word and watching our carpet get trashed and the tv potentially getting smashed to pieces, I’d had enough. We both had. So we decided to start saying “no”. Shock horror!!

I always knew we would have quite strict boundaries with children as I believe this creates security and makes them feel loved and safe. This doesn’t mean that life won’t be fun because it will be and it has been. But you need these boundaries for both you (to keep you sane….unless you live in a dump) and your child (to know you care)

So what happened to my logic and common sense between not having a birth child and adopting pickle? My logic has left home, bags packed and, it appeared, never planning on coming back again. This is where it becomes difficult as an adoptive parent, more to the point a newly adoptive parent. We are experiencing, what’s been coined by a fellow adopter on twitter, “pedestal parenting”. You feel you have to do the “right” thing all the time, you can’t say “no” to your child, you have to allow them to have everything they want and desire.

A perfect example of this was when it came to brushing teeth. Pickle is 16 months old and we quickly realised that she’d never actually had her teeth brushed. She has 6 with 2 more coming through and she needs her teeth brushed but when we tried she screamed the place down…and that was just very gently trying to put the toothbrush to her lips never mind putting it in her mouth. I would then just let her do it which meant her munching on the toothbrush for 3 seconds and then chucking it on the floor. We also quickly came to realise it was the toothpaste she liked and not the toothbrushing. I had visions of our little girl, extremely happy and “feeling loved” but with black rotting teeth showing every time she smiled! But that didn’t matter, right? As long as we didn’t do anything to harm her psychologically it was worth not brushing her teeth?

But then common sense finally kicked in. We weren’t meant to “Pedestal Parent” we are meant to parent. And that’s the hardest sentence I’ve ever had to write. I literally just paused for about a minute after writing that sentence and considered deleting it because it just doesn’t feel right to not say we have to go above and beyond for these children. Because we do.

It’s all very well people saying you don’t have to be perfect but, as an adopter, that’s how you feel. The added layers of being an adopter mean you have no choice but to second guess everything you do and say before you do or say it. You have to have plans and discuss strategies before you implement them and make sure you’re both on the same page. These are just day to day things, never mind all the stuff which will come in the (not too distant) future like starting to tell her she’s adopted and writing and receiving letters between you and the birth family. All these things mean you feel you have to do things absolutely perfectly. But, of course, there’s no such thing as perfect. I keep having to tell myself that.

So now we do give her 3 warnings when she throws her food before taking it away. She is learning consequence of her actions. We do keep saying “no” when she insists on going to the TV all the time and taking her away (great exercise for us too! Up and down like a fiddlers elbow!) And, most importantly, I now brush her teeth through the screaming and crying. It’s our job, as her parents, to bring her up as we see fit. A life with boundaries, rules, discipline and the word “no”. But also with overflowing bagfuls of love, fun, laughter, warmth, nurturing, cuddles and affection.

And if course, with a set of shiny, sparkling, clean pearly whites! 
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