April 27, 2010

Ups and Downs.

The boys are starting to become comfortable and transitioned here.  The kind of comfortable where you run through the house in your underwear screaming like a banshee, run through the front door and out the back door without closing either one, and are vocal about the incredible dislike of the dinner I just spent 2 hours preparing.  (Could do without that last one.)  They’ve had a more difficult time adjusting than our other kids have in the past, but at least we seem to be settling into a routine. 

They’ve fully recovered from any honeymoon period (in fact, looking back I’d say it lasted somewhere around 24 hours.) and are testing us whenever they get the chance.  Jae is the more passive aggressive of the two.  He listens really well and is relatively calm, but then mutters mean things to his brother or to us under his breath.  All in all, if you met him you wouldn’t probably even know he was dealing with any of this.  It’s mostly at night that it all surfaces.  There are tears and questions. 

Such hard questions.

Why are we here?  When do we go home?  Why can’t I see my mom right now? 


Zee is dealing with this all in a completely different manner.  (Said ‘banshee’ is his preferred way of expressing himself.)  When we discipline him (‘cool down time’, time in his room, holding hands when he won’t listen in public, duck taping his mouth shut – i KID, i KID) he gets very angry.  He escalates quickly and yells at Brian and I.  He covers his ears and refuses to listen to what we have to say.  This is easier to deal with at home, but when we’re at the store or park and he starts yelling at us, it gets a little more difficult.  At the store this weekend he tried to run away from Brian when he tried to discuss his attitude with him. 


The major issues are a combination of all of the stuff they are going through right now, and the fact that when they lived at home they had absolutely no structure, no rules, no consequences, no authority figure.  none. at. all.  They did what they wanted, when they wanted.  So all of this is foreign to them.  Listening, choices, consequences – they are having to learn to think about their actions before doing them, and that’s gonna take some time.


The difficulty is in the feeling that I am walking on a very fine line.  Offering grace in knowing what they are going through, while also enforcing consequences so that they can learn to function in a healthy family.  This balance seems so difficult at times.

So we discipline.  And we are consistent.  But in our discipline we always are reminding them that no matter how they behave, no matter what they do, our love for them will not change.  We will love them no matter what.  Also reminding them that the reason for consequences is because we love them.  Even when Zee is covering his ears, I hope this gets through.  L.O.V.E.  unconditional.  consistent.  clear.  love.   Slowly we are watching their hearts unfurl.  Slowly they are trusting us.

In every bedtime prayer with them we pray that their family be restored, but in the meantime that they feel safe and secure here.  They pray every evening to get to see their mom (which STILL has not happened since they’ve moved – but all that for another post.). 

These boys are sweet.  We love them.  I hope they know that.


  1. My heart goes to you. Keep up the good work.

    A book I've read that helped me with Angelo a great deal, and do some degree Simeon is Connected Parenting by Jennifer Kolari.

    I found it for a dollar at my Borders and thought I'd give it a go. Of course it won't solve every struggle, but there are aspects of it that I think fit us (especially being foster parents) really well.

  2. Someone just gave me that book to read! Yeah! Now I'm excited to read it! Thanks!

  3. I'm so grateful that you are sharing your real struggles. It sounds as though you're doing a great job. I try to think of how God parents me - with love and consequences.

    What you pray for is perfect, I will try to remember those words for our fosters.

  4. I don't have much to add, but GREAT work! Stay consistent, and we'll pray for your patience. Positive change is soooo much slower in traumatized kids.

  5. As the others have said: thank you for sharing.

    I have a question about how you chose which behaviors would get which consequenses. You were once a couple like my husband and I - childless. How do we go from no child to being consistent with choices, consequenses,etc? Did you and your husband sit down and map it out?

  6. When I read that J is the passive one, I had a great flashback to Z yelling "BUT HE FARTED ON ME!" on the train (which he actually did).

  7. Oh the grace and consistent consequences balancing act is so tricky - especially when the testing involves a barrage of unacceptable behaviors all at once including tempting another child to join in while trying to follow through with scheduled routines (meal prep, naptime, etc).

    My husband and I were trying to figure out why, in their reasoning, they are testing or trying to get a negative reaction from us. Our newest edition to our family will purposefully do things that she knows are unacceptable and just watch to see how we react and get mad when we calmly follow through with the consequence (time out or natural consequences). What does she get from that? The answer we have been told is a feeling of control. I sort of get that but it still doesn't really make sense to me.

    We realize it isn't personal towards us per se but a protective message for help. What's the message? I'm sure it's different for each kid. Oh we are learning so much. It's quite the interesting and sad journey. Somehow God needs to break into all this confusion so they can get to a place where they can live life to the fullest. That's why we continue loving them even when times are tough. (I basically journaled in this comment box. That was not my intention when I started typing :~) )

  8. Thanks so much for all the encouragement - I've really needed it these past couple of days! I feel so blessed to have other foster parents to relate to!

    Beth - Really consequences are totally different for each child. Brian and I read the book Parenting With Love and Logic, and have used that as a foundation for most of our discipline. It's kind of a guess and check process though. Also, Brian and I discuss our parenting strategy frequently - like every day to talk about what is working, what isn't, consistency, and where we think we need to change things up. Hope this helps! E-mail me if you have any other questions! :)

    Lisa - Thanks so much for your comment - I can so relate! I think a lot of times kids who have been pushed around in the system also test us in order to see if we will still love them, or to see how far they can push before they are asked to leave, etc. Most kids who have been in foster care for any amount of time have experienced some rejection, and lots of loss, and they are making sure they can trust you. Keep up the good work and consistency, I'm sure it will pay off! Thanks again for your comment!


Thanks for commenting!!


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