One challenge faced by families like ours, with kids adopted at various ages, is that kids who arrived in the family at older ages often demand more of mom’s time and attention than the ones who arrived as infants and are generally doing well. This kinda stinks. No, it really stinks. It’s honestly one of the things I feel saddest about when I think about the impact of adoption on our family.
Of course I understand that the kids who came at older ages have special needs, and one of those desperate needs is lots and lots of mom’s time and attention. And I lean heavily on my sovereign Savior to help me meet the needs of all our children to the best of my ability. The very Savior who opened doors and worked circumstances to configure our family exactly this way, But really truly, it is up to God to meet the deepest needs of my children’s hearts. And He has the power to grow my kids in amazing ways through this very challenge.
Still, even knowing all that, there are times my momma-heart bleeds for all the times in the past five years that our eight year old has been set aside while I’ve been dealing with big feelings and big issues with older ones. And lately, truthfully, she’s been a bit of a stinker. Understand, I say this with deepest affection. I adore this kid. She’s a million pounds of spunk in a 50 pound body. And what she’s been doing isn’t earth-shatteringly awful. Probably it’s even normal for the youngest kid in a big clan.
It’s hard to be the youngest, to feel like other kids get to do bigger, better things, and you have to go to bed earlier and get fewer choices and then also withstand the teasing and bossing that older siblings dish out. But wow, she likes to tease. And boss. And sass the older ones. And I, as a busy momma who’s also raising 4 teenagers and a 10 year old, have
perhaps probably been letting her get away with a bit more than she should. Which only increases the irritation of older kids with her.
The other day I had a little light bulb moment. Our 14 year old son teasingly told her he loved her, and her face.lit.up. She totally missed the teasing tone of his voice. She just heard the love. And it warmed her little soul. That little moment got me thinking, and I devised a plan.
I had a talk with each of the older kids about her. I acknowledged their frustration with her lately. I told them I’m going to keep a closer eye on her behavior towards them. But I’ve also asked each of the five older siblings at home to deliberately do three nice things for her each day. They get to pick what they do. But it has to be something obvious, that she’s going to notice. And I’ll be checking in with them now and then, to see how things are going.
Some of ideas they tossed out:
- Give her a high five
- Help her with a job
- Play a game with her
- Paint her nails
- Tell her ‘good job’
- Read her a story
We’re going to aim to do this for two weeks, and then we’ll talk again, see if what we’re doing has helped her attitude. I have a hunch that even one or two kindnesses a day from each sibling will be enough to improve her outlook on life and motivate her to be kinder to them as well. I also think that just thinking about being kind to her will curb some of their bossy tendencies and set us all on a path towards greater kindness in general. I’ll keep you posted!
Update 3 days later: she’s ALREADY a different child- happy, cooperative and fun to be around. Really.