Monday, July 13, 2009

Parenting Institutionalism

We have five children who are all so different. I love watching them all grow; watch their personalities and ideas form. Parenting is one of the most wonderful things that we have done, but it also can be one of the most challenging.

I saw this quote over the weekend and it has really made me think - "If I raise my children well, it doesn't matter what I don't do well. If I don't raise my children well, it doesn't matter what I did right" Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

In parenting both biological and adopted children, we have dealt with many different issues….some just general parenting issues and others that are rooted in the fact that two of our children were institutionalized for 2 ½ years. When dealing with the issues that have come to us during our parenting years, we discuss and research the best way to deal work through these.

I have always had a nagging thought in the back of my mind with my daughters who lived their early years in an orphanage, are the issue we are dealing with related to their early years or just a regular stage that they are going through? This has challenged me in new ways.

Do you ever get to a point when raising a child who is adopted and was institutionalized where you stop wondering what the root of the parenting problems are? We just want to handle the issues best if they aren’t normal parenting issues. Have you found good parenting resources to weed through these questions? How long does institutional affect behavior? Forever? Thinking back to that quote….I just want to find the best way to raise my children well….

Karen Maunu

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm - thought provoking question. I guess with both of my children, I approach issues assuming they are normal parenting challenges, unless repeated efforts show the issue to be beyond that, then I look to adoption issues. I believe they are children first, with adoption only being a part of who they are.

    I believe both my daughters got good institution care, within the resources of the orphanage.

    My soon to be 8 year old was adopted at 9 months old, so has less institutionalization to deal with. Her personality and experiences mean that security issues are sensitive subjects for her, so I am extra alert to those. Rules are also important for her, so she can feel secure.

    My 5 1/2 year old, adopted as she just turned 4, had 4 years of institutionalization impacting her, so it is much more of an influence. 18 months after adoption, we are still working on institutional behaviors such as no sense of personal space and personal property. A typical 5 year old can sometimes act like a 4, 5 or 6 year old, where her range of behaviors can range from age 3 to 6. She also deals with gaps in experience and learning. I expect the gaps will continue to narrow, but don't expect her to make up 4 years in 18 months.

    I continue to approach parenting as holding out high expectations and standards, yet providing all the support my girls need to reach their potential - which I would do regardless of how they joined our family.