Michael Knight: "It's called parasailing."
KITT: "Wrong, it's called total insanity."
Well it's not been total insanity, but at times its been close. I wish I could say that this first month went by like a breeze, but I'd be lying. What I will say is that we (Roman and all of us) have learned a lot about family and how family works and doesn't work. This first month of Roman being home has been full of emotions, questions, joys, tears, mood swings and lots of loud foreign languages coming from both sides. Roman doesn't understand or speak English well and we don't speak French/Lingala at all...thank God for the translator app on my iPhone.
Have you ever ridden a roller-coaster? I don't mean one of the kiddie ones like the old "Beastie" at Kings Island. I mean one of those that make you want to puke and keep you dizzy for hours. Now I enjoy those very much, but I wouldn't want to ride on it everyday for hours on end. Get the picture.
#1 -- The importance of Boundaries
When setting up boundaries its vital to establish things like trust, respect, honesty, and the ability to show love and care in real ways. It's also important to move away from fear, dishonesty, pride, violence and manipulation. When you are attempting to establish boundaries with your kids, you can sort of work your way along and learn on the go. But with a 5 year old that comes to a very different world and has difficultly communicating its a whole different story.
What I've learned is that boundaries are not just necessary - they are the most important thing we can do for our kids. Establishing boundaries takes commitment and consistency. Establishing boundaries takes a team effort for everyone in the family (older kids and younger kids!). Boundaries are not optional.
How do you set clear boundaries? That depends on your family codes. Yes - every family have codes, rules, patterns and ways of doing certain things and not doing others. These in my opinion start with God's code and God's truth found in the Bible. The most important thing about boundaries is not what it is, but how it is communicated and followed up on.
Rose: "You must be tired after your cab trip."
Sophia: "Tired? I rode in the cab! I didn't push it!"
#2 Knowing the Expectations
Everybody has expectations - yes - even a 5 year old orphan. Everybody has expectations. What are yours? Do you know what you expect from others? Do you know what others expect from you? What about the expectations of family members? of your spouse? We all have expectations and we all face something called - "REALITY"!
The difference between expectations and reality is = FRUSTRATION!
When you don't meet someone's expectation that causes frustration and the relationship is wounded. If expectations and reality go unchecked the relationship may very well be destroyed. Take time to understand your kids expectations as much as you want them to understand yours!
#3 Real Time Communication
What do I mean about "Real Time Communication"? I mean exactly that. Communicating in real time. Communication is a tricky thing. It takes lots of hard work and understanding. Communicating in real time means making the effort to speak into the situation as it is happening. It means having the courage to speak up and confront the issue as it is happening. That means you may have to stop what you think is important in the moment to communicate what is more important for the long run.
What it isn't! Real time communication doesn't mean waiting till tomorrow. It doesn't mean just letting it build up. It doesn't mean keeping a list and then in month from now unload your list. It doesn't mean ignoring the situation and hope it changes.
Real time communication simply comes down to being present in the moment. Listen! Listen! Listen! Get involved on the other person's level. Look them in the eyes. Hold their hand. Use words that are not from anger, but instead from a humble heart. Quiet the room and maybe just turn off the TV!!!!
Willis: Arnold's always under my feet. I'll never have any privacy until he gets married.
Arnold: Married? On MY allowance?
#4 Know Your Limits
This is different than boundaries! As parents you must know your limits! You must know when you've had enough and when you need a break. Everyone has a different breaking point, but its there. Know Yours!
The best thing to do for your family sometimes is just take a break. Get away. Refresh yourself and come back to fight another day. Knowing your limits will help you in many ways. It will help you keep a clear head. It will help you focus on what is most important. It will help you create a safe environment for your kids to flourish!
Knowing limits also goes for your kids! Like knowing that your newly adopted son doesn't do well with RED DYE!!! From now on now - NO RED DYE #40 in the Craig's house! Knowing their limits will help you know when you've pushed too far and when you can push a little more. Knowing their limits will help with all the lessons above.
If I've said "easy" or "Roman - No" ten times, I've said it a 1000!
This life we are on is a journey. It's a fabulous ride. It may make you want to throw up at times or it may make you completely feel like you are losing your mind, but it will be worth. So grab a bottle of water, take a cold drink and get back on the ride... this time do it with your hands up - its a lot more fun that way!
As Kenny Rogers said: Know when Hold em'; Know when Fold'em; Know when to walk away - Know when to Run! (some of you are singing the song.... you're welcome!)
Hang in there, set your boundaries, know your expectations, communicate well and know your limits!
Life is worth the Journey!!!
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