Saturday, September 8, 2012

Change, transition, stress, and anxiety

As the summer has ended and a new school year has started there have been many changes in our family. Since Peter and Gaelle have joined our family, I have become a bit obsessive about these changes. Anticipating the behavioural issues. Guiding the teachers and other professionals in their lives with handy sheets outlining their needs. Researching. Discussing. 

However, it just isn't easy. We all have changes which often leads to anxiety and we all deal with that differently. As a parent I want to help my children navigate their journey through life but I often am a major fail.

When one of my kids was 4 we moved to another community 3 hours away. Before the move this child introduced us all to John Smith. An imaginary friend. John Smith lived in a purple house just behind our house. They had amazing adventures together. I never clued in to the sudden appearance and need of an imaginary friend for this child. Amazingly enough, John Smith never showed up in our new house and town. Apparently John Smith wasn't needed anymore. He provided a source of comfort while anticipating the move and all the changes that would bring, but once there, that comfort wasn't needed. 

We moved again and once again I didn't clue in that this child would need extra comfort and assurance and help leaving behind all that was familiar. Major fail on my part. John Smith didn't show up but tears and longing for the past did. 

Over and over we've seen this one child process change and have difficulty letting go of the past. On the positive side, this child is fiercely loyal. But it's an issue to always be aware of. The past brings comfort. The future brings anxiety of the unknown, and the pain of good byes. I have done a lousy job of helping this child process feelings and anxiety and trusting God through it all. I just didn't clue in. 

So if my biological kids feel stress and anxiety when change occurs, how could my adoptive kids just roll with the punches. They can't and they don't. But what I have to remember is that we are all different and we all have different needs.

Gaelle had such a great summer. For the most part the rough edges were gone. She has a few major behaviours that pop up when she is stressed. They were gone. But they're back and they're back with a vengeance. As I'm writing this, she is hard, demanding, not nice. She's just screaming (figuratively not literally) out that her control is gone. Things are happening to her that she has no say in. Again. So she will control her world and she will protect herself.

Peter also had a great summer. His behaviour when he is anxious is not as obvious but it is still there. He needs to be noticed. What if nobody sees him. What if nobody knows he is there. So the nonsense questions start. The constant talking and noise. I am here. Please see me. 

So where does that leave me? I know how weak and imperfect I am. I know I can't be all things to my children. I've already demonstrated that with 3 older children. My word for the year is HOPE. I've been  using a devotional from YouVersion called "Fostering Hope". It's been so inspirational as scripture and stories are told from a doctor working in the foster care system. So as I realize that I can't provide everything that will help and heal my children, I can draw on the strength and grace of God. 

... and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9


Anonymous said...

to admit we are insufficient without Him is the admit the failure is the beginning..none of us are whole until heaven...and in a way that is encouraging to helps me let go of the guilt i feel when i am not the "perfect parent" with my littles and my teen.....i understand exactly your thoughts......much HOPE for you and your family...


Floris said...

Dear Beth,
A great,writeup. Not having been a parent I can only imagine the stresses and heartaches....also the joys.
Blessings to you all....
With Love and Prayers, Aunt Floris