In raising children who were adopted when they were older I learned a few things that you may find helpful, so I figured I’d pass them on…
1. If your child’s grades improve dramatically, without a known reason (no incentive, or tutoring) praise, but keep your eyes open for cheating.
Real life story: In third grade our son had a parent/ teacher conference. His grades were amazing. We talked to the teacher, and told her that he rarely brought work home. She moved his seat and his grades plummeted…
2. If your child begins to ‘help’ around the house in ways they have never done before, they are probably hiding something they hope you will never find out they are doing.
3. When confronting your child do not begin with a lecture. Ask them a question then listen. When there is silence, don’t be tempted to fill in it yourself. People hate silence. Your waiting tempts them to say more and you will get more of the information you need, such as why they did it, and how much they have done. Then you can talk all you want.
4. If you think they are doing something set them up and watch. If they are not tempted, nothing else will happen.
Real life: We had our pastor over and went to show him our computer monitoring system. Our son, knowing what the pastor might see, suddenly needed to talk with us. (But not before the pastor saw that the system actually works… We did warn him.)
5. Check to see that your children are where they say they are. Many, many kids say they are sleeping over a friend’s house and go elsewhere, usually with the friend they say they are spending the night with. Always check with the other child’s parents.
6. Explain to your child that the punishment is always worse if they lie. There should be some benefit to telling the truth and coming clean.
7. If your child is suddenly rebellious, blows up easily or won’t talk to you when they normally would there is something wrong. Take them someplace for a long period of time, a shopping trip, fishing, hiking etc. anywhere with no distractions where you can talk. Eventually they will. You may need a weekend for some problems… One of my children talked best at the pet store.
8. Talk to your child when there is nothing wrong on a regular basis (a lot). They need to have practice talking to you. This will make difficult conversations easier. The regular conversations will also make it harder for them not to tell you things since they know they are expected to talk, and whatever is bothering them is probably on their mind. If they normally talk, and are suddenly silent, there is probably something wrong. Don’t stop the talk until you find out what it is.
9. Even ‘good’ kids mess up. The difference between raising a child well, and doing it poorly is what you do when they do mess up. Do not think that your child would never do something wrong. If you do nothing, your child will learn that they can get away with things if they keep up appearances. Adults may make mistakes, but they rarely lie about a child. No one likes calling the parent. Take bad reports from other adults seriously. Thinking that your child can do no wrong reinforces phony and sneaky behavior.
10. Watch TV shows or movies that deal appropriately with the issues your child might be facing. It teaches in a way you may not be able to and opens the door for discussions. You can discuss the issue using the characters as examples so that it does not feel so personal or confrontational.
11. Touch is important. If you have gotten to a place where hugs and other forms of parental affection are not welcomed try a physical sport as a family such as the martial arts. Headlocks are ‘touching’ without the ‘ew Mom’ factor. (One of my boys was 10 when we adopted him. Not a ‘hug your new mother’ age.)
12. If your child begins to get the mail for you for no known reason. (My children reminded me of this one, so I had to add it!) Chance are your child is trying to intercept something they know is coming in the mail that they do not want you to see. Speeding tickets, warnings about grades etc fall into this category. Real life: I once heard a story about a mom, who in the middle of a special ‘day date’ with her daughter at home was surprised by the police at her door. Since whatever her daughter did with the car, then intercepted the mailed warnings and ignored was in the mother’s name, they were coming to take the mom to jail. Wonderful.
I hope this helps. It may not; every family is different. Remember that whenever you read advice and use common sense. There is no-one-size-fits-all solution for any ‘human’ problem. God created us all unique, which complicates things… have fun.