Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Plan...

So I thought I'd take this time to lay out what my "plan" is for parenting our new daughter. I say this with a smirk, by the way, since I adhere to the maxim that "no plan survives first contact with the enemy." (She's not an enemy, it's just a turn of phrase) I'm putting this out here so that, later, I can comment on how well it's working out and what had to be modified.

So anywho, I've been reading and re-reading a few wonderful books on the matter. Primary among the group is "Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child" by Dr. Patty Cogen. The other two are "The Connected Child" by Karyn Purvis et al and "Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family" by David and Renee Sanford. All three have been very helpful, but the first is my absolute favorite. It's a LOT of information to try to take in, but I've distilled the whole lot down to one general, over-riding principle.

We have resolved to treat our new daughter as if she is much younger than her chronological age. In chronological age she is three. Developmentally, she is more like 9-12 months old. In terms of the affection and attachment necessary for meaningful development, she's a newborn.

So she's a baby. We will hold her. A lot. Almost constantly. We will not allow other people to hold her, because she needs to learn who is "mama ee daddy." We will rock her to sleep, sing to her, spend as long as it takes to get her to sleep peacefully and then we will sleep near her so that if she wakes up in the night we are right there when she calls (she's a bit big for the co-sleeper.) We might move her bed into our room so she sleeps near us and then move it out when she's ready to work on sleeping in her room.

We will try to anticipate feedings so she learns to rely on us for food. We will wait a while before trying to potty train her. We will go slowly on the walking. We will give her simple toys that are not overstimulating. We will keep activity and excitement to a minimum.

We will redirect misbehavior, teaching her the concept of no, and we will NOT be punishing her or putting her on time out. Time outs don't work with a kid who doesn't care if they are with you, and threats of punishment are pretty meaningless if the kid doesn't speak English either. We will talk to her, a lot, to help her develop English. We might show her some baby sign language to get the communication ball rolling.

We will "spoil" her and if anyone has a problem with that, I can't guarantee I'll be polite about discussing it. We won't let her misbehave or get away with things, but we will be nurturing and teaching above all other things. Somehow we will have to figure out how to balance all of this with loving and nurturing and teaching our other two kids, but I think it will be ok. I don't know how yet, but I've got to believe it or else this would be a stupid idea, right?

I kid, but the reality is that I believe it will be ok because I know my God has us all in his hands. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and give you a hope and future.'"

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