When you take on a challenge as hard as looking after someone else’s child (after they have already been traumatised), you take it on with the best intentions. You know you can do better than what the last person did and you know the child deserves so much more, and you are willing to give it all you’ve got.
What you wouldn’t have necessarily thought of was the impact it has on you, them, any other child and everyone around you. And you have to learn along the way. Taking on someone else’s child is not the same as you starting again. Because damage has already been done to that child. They have already learned bad traits, bad behaviours, poor eating habits, possibly behind in school, a lack of hygiene and most likely a bad temper. You stay patient and consistent and hope and pray it will pay off. The trouble is, if the child is so used to their old ways and also remember their parents, you are going to have a very hard job changing the child. A child’s love for their biological parents is unconditional. It generally doesn’t matter what they did to the child, how the child was treated or how much they were neglected or abused – a child does not necessarily know that the way they were treated is not acceptable or not normal. They didn’t know that being allowed to do anything they wanted without consequence or discipline was bad, because let’s face it, the child is getting what they want. But when it gets to the point where the child’s behaviour is clearly not directed by a mature and caring adult, the child will make the wrong decisions.
Being taken away from your biological parents has to be the most traumatising experience a child can face, even if it’s the best thing for them. They are not interested in what is best, they are interested in being with their mum or dad, possible siblings. To be torn apart from that is rejection, it’s isolation, It creates anger, a lack of trust, a loss of confidence and a feeling that they have failed.
You set boundaries, rules and discipline, but you all know not everything will work. It depends on the child and it’s a learning curve in how best to treat, love and discipline your child. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ rule here. So you try consistently different things to help your child become the best they can be, manage their emotions and be successful and happy,
Your job is like climbing a mountain! Now, you know what the mountain looks like, you get to the bottom and you plan the route, you stay safe and check what you are doing is the best thing, you may even get a second opinion. You buy the equipment that will help make your challenge an easier ride. You trained hard, educated yourself and now you are on the path to completing this mission. To get to the end to see the most beautiful view. The aim is to see everything clearly as far as your eyes can see.
You start to climb, you need some rests along the way, it’s tough, but you keep climbing. You meet some other people on the way who give you some words of wisdom, some positive thoughts and praise to keep you going. So you do! You keep going. You are sweating, you are tired, but you know that you do not want to fail. You test every part of yourself and realise how hard it is. You feel like you are failing, but you are not really, because you are still there, you are still climbing, you haven’t given up so you remind yourself that you haven’t failed so you wipe away the tears and sweat and you keep climbing.
You get to the top of the mountain, you can see but it’s not what you expected. You are tired, you worked hard for this. Surely you would expect to see things clearly, things should be perfect … why aren’t they perfect?
Someone else is at the top of the mountain and they are saying they can see clearly. They achieved it. So why haven’t I? From the peek of the mountain you suddenly realise … you have climbed the wrong mountain. This isn’t the mountain for you.
All that work, all that effort, and it’s the wrong mountain. Things are not perfect. Off you go to come back down the mountain and spend the next few months or years trying to find the correct mountain. The trouble is you’ve read all these books, spoke to people, looked it up on the internet and there is no answer. No one can tell you which mountain is going to be clearest for you, which means you could climb 100 mountains and not see clearly or you could climb just 10 and reach a successful point where things are perfect.
Taking on a child or children that are not your own, especially when they are old enough to have sustained emotional and/or physical damage is just like climbing a mountain. And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s the hardest thing ever, it will crush you, it will break your heart, it will make you feel like a failure, but I guess if you are still going then you can’t be a failure, you just have to remind yourself how many more mountains there are out there, and you are not going to climb them all in one day. It’s going to take time.
Keep climbing those mountains. Don’t give up, and don’t forget each mountain will teach you some things along the way, because when you do find the mountain that is for you, it’s going to be one hell of a ride and you are going to need all that information you learnt along the way. The do’s and the don’t’s to get yourself to the very peek of the mountain.
One day, you will see as far as your eyes can see. We can’t fix everything, but you can climb every mountain to see.
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