I’d rather be hated for who I am than liked for who I’m not. – Kurt Cobain

Those of you who know me, know that the truth is always important to me and will prevail over all else.

Tracy Dee Whitt posted a piece recently on her blog which was an ‘interview’ with one of her children about another of her children, the younger one. I reblogged it here with a comment, copied below..

“Adding pressure to a child’s life by ‘interviewing’ them about a sibling seems to me to add an element they could do without – as I often query, who is it for? And what is it for? I have distinct memories of those adoptive parents who set up monthly questionnaires for adoptees on how they are doing as adopters!! And on how the adoptees are doing in adoption! We need to know – why? There are plenty of qualified and unqualified adults who will judge us, why invite our children to do so!”

Tracy replied to my comment on my reblog of her post- From what you’ve shared here before regarding your opinions on adoption, I’m not surprised you said this. Payton was not pressured in ANY way to do this. My motives were exactly what I stated in the post. Sorry you didn’t see her heart in this. All answers were hers and her opinions. Although I know much of what she believes comes from her environment, including both home and school. In fact I kept having to put off this interview because of other issues that arose in life, and she was always so bummed and couldn’t wait to share her thoughts. She’s an amazing girl and never pressured in her thoughts on autism.

To which I replied – “I clearly saw her heart and what a good one it appears to be. I was referring to the pressure we put on children, unknowingly sometimes, because they want to please us, to fit in, to be good kids, to have acceptable views in their environment etc. This has nothing to do with adoption nor did I say it did and I’m sad you have made that assumption about me and my views.”

Like many people and many adoptees, I hate having assumptions  made about me. What we don’t see sometimes, is how we have motivations or intentions which are not immediately obvious and may be overt, undiscovered but powerful. We regularly see, in adoption, adoptees given agendas, scripts and instructions on how to perform, how to behave, what to do and how to do it. That starts very early and continues, as we adult adoptees know only too well, into our adulthood, when complete strangers somehow see it as their right or duty to instruct us. It is offensive, patronising, rude, unnecessary and shuts down any productive discussion or progress in understanding.  My comments above were however, nothing to do with adoption and everything to do with the passion I have and have always had, since the age of 3, for justice, particularly for children. The above is nothing to do with adoption necessarily, but everything to do with parenting, attitudes and the rights of children.

Over the years I have seen many examples in adoption of adults insisting on their own needs being met by children, when they are given questionnaires, quizzes and tests on how an adoption is progressing and how the adopter is rating or on other aspects of parenting. These sometimes come with actual numbered ratings and the adopters insist the adoptees enjoy it!  We need to query where children get their opinions, their attitudes, their information and why they select some things and not others. Every day we see so many heart-breaking examples of  children being trampled on, misunderstood, misinterpreted, misplaced, abused, discouraged. One of the most common  problems presented in many counselling practices is the lack of role models  for children and adults. If we don’t present children with strong role models how can we expect them to know who they are, where they are going and what they are doing? If, instead of providing modelling, we present them with questions which serve our purposes and show them ways to please us, be obedient, fit in, conform, be liked, be good, show understanding, support us, dutifully agree with us and so on we will be teaching them to run with our script, do our bidding and not encourage them to be free thinkers, independent livers and self-sufficient adults. They might serve us and our purposes, but will not serve themselves as well as they might in adult life. The teen years will be tricky and may lead to decisions and actions the consequences of which will be there for life. Perhaps they will learn to question us, our views and attitudes, our principles and values and form their own which they can hold to in the face of opposition, criticism, disapproval or disbelief. How hard is life for those who have parents who believe it is a lifestyle choice to be gay for instance and that it can be prayed away!

When parents fail to see the power imbalance in their relationship with children and are in denial that it exists, we fear for the outcome. We still see quite commonly adults speaking about the abuse of children as if it is about sex and sexual ‘urges’, rather than about power and control, which may express itself in adult sexual acts or gestures. That allows many abusers and their supporters to try to escape the consequences of abuse because they say “He was having sexual problems with his wife”, celibacy encourages sexual abuse, “I didn’t know sex with children was illegal” and so on. Adults in positions of power – teaching, ministries, coaching, sporting figures etc confuse the boundaries or who don’t know how to set them up and reinforce them for the protection and learning  of children and themselves are  potentially dangerous and destructive. It is a serious indictment on the way we raise children, the way we view children and the way we view their rights, value and place in the world. I am not saying that caring, committed parents who are doing their best, will become sexually abusive because they don’t understand boundaries, or anything of the sort. I am saying that we need to spend much more time and put much more thought into parenting, adoptive parenting, step-parenting and into our professional roles which involve children and our interactions with children. Our investment in children – the love, care and attention we give them and the consideration with which we treat them, help them to become responsible, empathetic, fully functioning adults, is surely one of the most important jobs in the world. Even those of us who try hard, are committed and thoughtful have much to learn. In fact it never ends, is finished or completed, because parenting is forever. If we love our children, our adult offspring, we welcome the opportunities for new learning and the chances to change and develop our relationships. usWe treasure the time we spend with those we love and the growth together, the morphing into the new, the unimagined and the unexpected. If we’re lucky we can continue the adventures of childhood, changing and developing our roles and our regard for each other.






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