|Adopting an older child is different from raising our bio kids.|
Dear Christian Parent Adopting an Older Child,
I want to plead with you not to spank.
I realize you've parented your biological children well. As you've taught and trained them to love and follow Jesus, spanking has been one of the tools in your toolbox. You've seen it bear fruit in their lives.
But when you adopt your new child, it's going to take a long time to build trust.
Think about it. You didn't spank your bio kids when they were infants. In fact, by the time you got to the point of using corporal punishment, even just a swat on the bottom, you had consistently been meeting their needs for many, many months.
"Yes, I'll feed you."
"Yes, I'll change your diaper."
"Yes, I'll comfort you."
Before you ever said, "No," you said, "Yes," about a gazillion times.
They knew you. They loved you. They trusted you.
You will not have that same love and trust in the beginning with your newly adopted older child.
What's more, you probably won't have it for a really long time. This child you're adopting has experienced trauma and loss. She has been repeatedly let down by adults who were supposed to care for her. You're going to have to work hard to gain her trust. You would never spank an infant. This child is an infant in your family. So please don't spank her.
Use the other tools in your parenting toolbox. Pick up some new tools along the way. And always, always, always view her behavior (and misbehavior) through eyes of compassion. You'll never be more like Jesus!
I'm cheering for you,
|Wenxin's Gotcha Day. He was 7 1/2 years old. Does he look like he trusts me yet?|
My purpose in this post is not to debate the pros and cons of spanking in general or to evaluate whether or not it is commanded or even endorsed by the Bible. I acknowledge that good people, including many Bible-believing Christians, have different opinions about corporal punishment.
My purpose is to reach out to Christian families in the process of adopting older kids.
My purpose is to encourage you not to spank.
Here are a few more reasons why:
1. Your older adopted child may have been a victim of physical abuse.
I would never spank a kid who has a history of physical abuse. Never.
Even if I spank with restraint and even if I comfort the child afterwards, it's likely that the act of being hit by an adult will trigger memories of the abuse.
The scary truth of older child adoption is that there are a lot of unknowns. A lot of a child's history never makes the official paperwork. The older child you're adopting may have been a victim of abuse whether you know it or not.
2. Your older adopted child can't learn when they are operating from fear.
On my last post about Christian parenting of adopted kids, Lisa made a comment about spanking children who come from a background of trauma and neglect.
"Discipline is meant to disciple, teach, and train our children. Our children have already experienced enough pain in their lives that spanking does not instruct - it puts every cell in their little bodies on high alert, and they switch into self-protection. There is no learning going on. Yes, we may be able to force them into submission, but I hope that is not our true goal - we want them to be more like Jesus and to grow to love and serve Him."
3. A lot of our older adopted kids have sensory issues.
I haven't noticed any sensory issues in my son, but it's something I hear discussed over and over again in online adoption forums. Here's a short video where Dr. Karyn Purvis discusses sensory processing disorder in adopted kids.
In my opinion, if your child doesn't process sensory information normally, it just doesn't make sense to spank them. Sensory processing disorder is not the adopted child's fault. It's just one more way the fallout from their early abuse and neglect continues to follow them long after they've been adopted.
4. You can still discipline your new child.
At first, because of the language barrier, we had to get creative with how we taught Wenxin about living in our family.
As Wenxin learned our expectations, we often had him simply stop playing and sit in a chair near us when he disobeyed. After a designated time, usually about five minutes, we'd let him try again. This gentle approach established that we were in charge and reinforced our house rules.
The Connected Child offers more suggestions for correcting behavior along with simple scripts that help you communicate briefly and clearly.
I'd love to hear from my readers. How do you correct misbehavior besides spanking? What works for your family?
To spank or not to spank. . . that is the question. I guess everyone knows where I stand now. What about you? Shared at Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tending the Home Tuesdays, Missional Women, and . . .