HOME… Where friends are always welcome.I HAVE A PROBLEM WHICH IS REALLY BOTHERING ME. MY HUSBAND AND I ARE ADOPTING A NINE YEAR OLD GIRL. SHE IS LIVING WITH US, BUT THE ADOPTION ISN’T FINAL UNTIL JUNE. SHE WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED WHEN SHE WAS LITTLE. WHEN WE FIRST TALKE TO HER CASEWORKER, WE WERE TOLD SHE IS QUIET, DOCILE, AND TIMID. WELL THAT TURNED OUT TO BE UNTRUE. SHE WENT OVER TO OUR NEIGHBORS HOUSE AND INTRODUCED HERSELF TO THEM. NO PROBLEM THERE.WHERE I GET ANGRY IS SHE HAS TOUCHED MY BREAST 4 TIMES. I FIRST TOLD HER TO NEVER DO THAT AGAIN, BECAUSE I DIDN’T LIKE IT, AND I DIDN’T TOUCH HER. SHE DID IT AGAIN AND I THEN SCOLDED HER THE NEXT 3 TIMES. I RESENT HER DOING THIS. SHE DOESN’T LISTEN TO ME.SHE HAS SUCH TERRIBLE TANTRUMS. WHEN I TELL HER TO GO TO HER ROOM, SHE SAYS, NO I’M GOING TO STAY HERE. I HAVE TRIED TO PICK HER UP, BUT SHE WEIGHS 76 LBS AND I WEIGH’ SO SHE IS QUIET HEAVY TO ME. SHE FALLS DOWN IN THE FLOOR, SO I CAN’T BUDGE HER.AND THE KID LIES SOOOOO BAD. YOU CAN’T TRUST A THING SHE SAYS. SHE CAME IN AND TOLD ME THAT HER DAD (MY HUSBAND) HIT HER. HE HEARD HER AND SAID,’YOU KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE’. SHE TOLD THE NEIGHBORS DOWN THE ROAD WE DIDN’T FEED HER. I CAME UP WITH A BEHAVIOR CHART. IF SHE IS GOO D, SHE GETS A TOKEN A DAY, AND AT THE END OF THE WEEK SHE GET SOMETHING SPECIAL. HASN’T WORKED YET.NOW HERE’S MY PROBLEM. I AM BEGINNING TO REALLY DISLIKE THIS LITTLE GIRL. I HAVE NO CHILDREN, SO I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE, BUT ARE KIDS LIKE THIS? I SOMETIMES THINK I SHOULD SEND HER BACK TO HER FOSTER MOTHER, BUT MY HUSBAND HAS BONDED WITH HER, SO I DON’T WANT TO TAKE AWAY HIS ENJOYMENT OF BEING A PARENT. I ALSO FEEL ROTTEN FOR NOT LIKING THIS CHILD. I AM WONDERING IF I AM PARENT MATERIAL.I USED TO TAKE CARE OF MY NEIGHBOR’S CHILD AND LOVED IT. SHE WAS SUCH A DELIGHT. SHE GOT MADE AT ME SOMETIMES, BUT NEVER HAD SUCH FITS. I ASKED HER MOM WAS SHE ALWAYS THIS GOOD, AND SHE SAID , YES SHE IS AS A MATTER OF FACT. I WANT TO BE A MOTHER, BUT AM FINDING IT AWFULL HARD TO LIKE THIS CHILD. IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME? I HAVE HEARD THAT SOMETIMES WHEN YOU GET ADVICE FROM PROFESSIONALS, YOU GET SCARASTIC OR FLIP ANSWERS. PLEASE BE NICE WHEN ANSWERING ME BACK.
You are having a very rough time with this child that you are adopting. It is understandable that you don’t feel love for someone that is behaving like a monster. I also understand that you are at your wit’s end with this child that is angry, rebellious and a liar. Remember, being a mother is hard enough under the best of circumstances, but, being a mother to a child that has been abandoned and molested is even harder. You are not a bad parent. You were given a tough kid and no one has offered you the necessary guidance.In order to be a good mother to this child, you must first understand what is going on inside her. When you understand her, you will be in a much better position to help this child and become a better mother to her.Your daughter is constantly provoking you to become angry with her. Usually, when a child (or adult) tries to provoke other people’s anger, it is because that person is very angry inside. Can you imagine how enraged this poor kid is? Abandoned by her mother and abused as she was. Your job is to help her to talk about her angry feelings, not act them out by lying or defiance.You need to understand that when she misbehaves she does so in order to get a temporary release from horrendous internal pressure. The problem here is that her temporary release leads her to become more angry down the road. This is because her misbehavior leads to a scolding, which makes her feel more angry, then she acts out to release the anger, and so on. In other words you are caught in a vicious cycle.I am not saying that you must condone bad behavior. What I am saying is that you will need to deal with her misbehavior very differently in order to break the cycle you are in. Punishing her and scolding her is making her more angry and must be stopped.Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you cannot set limits, that’s part of your job as a mother. What I am saying is that the way you set limits will need to be different. What you need to do is to ignore (not punish) all bad behavior and encourage talk instead. The message that she needs to receive is: I will not pay any attention to bad behavior, but, when you are ready to talk with me about how you are feeling, I will always be here to listen.Realize that this girl doesn’t even know what love is. She only knows how to provoke negative attention. So, our job is to break that cycle. As hard as it is to do, you must walk away, ignore her tantrums, but before leaving, always give her the invitation to talk.She will probably become temporarily worse, in order to try to rope you back in. Don’t take the bait. The best parental limit setting occurs by ignoring or not reinforcing bad behavior and rewarding good behavior.If you are consistent, your daughter will get the idea that if she wants attention, and believe me she is starving for it, that she must behave properly and speak about her feelings, not act them out.How can you help her to talk about her negative feelings? There are many ways. You can ask her: Why would you want to make me angry with you? Are you angry with me? You could ask: Do you know that you are feeling angry when you misbehave? Or: What is that behavior trying to tell me? Or, you can say,’What did I say or do to make you behave in such an angry way? ( Don’t fall into the trap of telling her that her feelings are wrong–that she has no right to be angry with you. Never justify or defend yourself. Just allow her to have her feelings and talk about them. Realize that much of what she attributes to you is really what she feels for her biological mother or her abusers. So, don’t take her words personally.)I want you to also understand more about why she touches your breasts. When someone has been abused, the unconscious mind compels us to recreate the trauma, in order to work through the pain. When she touches you, she is trying to replay what happened to her. The outrage that you feel to be violated is exactly the feeling that she had. She is inducing the feeling in you so that you can help her to work this through.I know you don’t approve of her behavior and that you are offended to be touched in that way. May I suggest that, once again, you encourage her to talk not act (and don’t scold or punish the behavior). She is begging you to help her heal her pain. Limiting her behavior doesn’t make room for a healing discussion. So, focus away from any communication to her that is focused on squashing her behavior. The behavior will stop on its own as you help her to speak about her molestation. Realize that the act of touching you is a symbolic communication that substitutes for words. When you get her talking, the action will become unecessary.To help her speak about her molestation. You might say,’Were you touched like that?”How did you feel?’ or’How do you think I feel when you touch my breasts without my permission?’ She might say,’Angry.’ Then, you have a way in to talk about her feelings. ‘Did you feel angry to be touched against your will?’This girl is crying out for someone to hear her pain and love her. Please realize that beneath the rage and misbehavior is a hurting child. If you respond to her rage with scolding, you will never be able to reach the hurt child and help that person to speak and be healed.I know that you can do what I am suggesting. It is hard, but I know that you can find the love within yourself to give this child the kind of treatment she needs. You have been given a wounded bird and now is your chance to heal it and prove to yourself that you are a fine mother.Hang in there. The saying at the beginning of your letter to me applies to this child–she needs a psychological home where her feelings are welcome. And, you are the only person on earth that can give her this home.