HOW TO TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT MY KIDS
Not too long ago I was informed by a someone on staff at my child's school that there was a group of moms of the children in my child's class who had a created a group message to talk about my child and their "behavior".
I was heartbroken.
Because I know the depth of my child's struggles. I know just how far they have come in recent years. I know what often looks like a "bad kid" is actually a child who is crying out for help -- who is trying everything they can think of to crawl their way out of the whole their trauma has put them in.
I was also disgusted and angry.
What kind of mother (person!!) creates a group message solely to gossip about a CHILD?!
Then I was sad.
Because, while it seems our close circle has really begun to understand trauma and how it affects nearly all of our children on a daily basis, there are still so many people who just. don't. get it -- People who I need to get it for my children's' sake.
So, instead of hunting these moms down and telling them off, I'm choosing to use my voice to educate, advocate, and (hopefully) spark change.
So here are some of the things that I, as a foster (and soon to be adoptive mom) wish YOUR kids knew about MY kids.
1. Make sure they know families don’t have to match. Skin color, last names, anything really. A family is made up of love. That’s all if they know families don’t have to match ahead of time, maybe they won’t be so shocked when they see a white mom with a black daughter. Maybe they won’t blurt out “THAT’S YOUR MOM?!” Maybe they won’t make my kids feel like there’s something wrong with them for not having the same skin color as their parents. But also, it’s okay if your kids have questions. Teach them how to ask them nicely, with respect to my kids’ feelings. I teach my kids how to answer common questions and tell them don’t have to answer any questions they don’t want to. It’s their story. They can choose when and who they share it with. I love the book, “A Family Is A Family Is A Family” for this purpose.
2. Talk to your kids about trauma. What it means and how kids who have endured significant trauma may act (lashing out, pants wetting, running away, anxiety attacks, being super defensive, etc.) If you don’t know what trauma can look like in kids, maybe take it upon yourself to google it explain to them that “hurt people hurt people”. Explain that my kids are trying to heal from years of trauma that still rears it’s ugly head from time to time. Teach your kids empathy for kids like mine instead of judgement.
3. Encourage them to be my kids’ friends — even if my kids are weird or standoffish or overly emotional. Kids like mine, probably more than anyone, need secure attachments and healthy friendships in their lives. Without these things, they may never heal from their trauma.
My kids bring me so much joy. They inspire me. They make my heart burst. They have endured so much. They are survivors.
But not everyone sees that. Some people see the kids who act out and point fingers or start a group text to talk about them instead of offering up empathy and compassion and teaching their kids to do the same.
We are doing the best we can. My kids are doing the best they can. Healing takes time.
These are the things I wish your kids knew about my kids.