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Joined: Jan 2002
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Hi all,<p>Please pray for me. I am not happy at all with my parenting skills.<p>Our boys are having two or three physical skuffles per day. I stepped into the middle of one today and got kicked. The older boy was teasing the younger and calling him a baby. The younger one (the S-kid: his first name begins with S. We talk about them as the S-kid and the A-kid because they don't speak English yet and we can talk about them without them hearing their names and getting all nervous about the fact that we are discussing them and they don't know what we are saying. Even when the conversation is happy or benign, it makes them anxious to know that we are talking about them.) Anyway, back to the argument. The S-kid (younger guy) likes me to do a lot for him. He is 7-years-old, but this is typical for adopted kids. They sometimes look for the mothering they didn't get. He likes to drink out of a sippy cup, he likes me to tie his shoes and help him get dressed. Actually, so does the older boy (A-kid). So, A-kid was teasing S-kid about being a baby. S-kid got mad and kicked A-kid. A-kid has been doing a lot of teasing. I was in the process of pulling S-kid out of the argument when A-kid reentered the fray walked over and threw two quick kicks. One hit S-kid and one hit me. I was ape sh*t mad. S-kid got put on the couch for a timeout. I led A-kid by the arm to a corner as a temporary holding spot on his way to his time out (first one he has received). It very quickly became physical with me trying to hold A-kid into the corner temporarily until I could get S-kid settled into his timeout.<p>I saw that it was quickly escalating out of control and I backed off. I am ashamed of having a physical tussle with my kids. I yell too quickly, overreact and am too controlling.<p>I backed off and removed computer chips from their banks. They have little cups that sit on the kitchen table. Each chip is worth 15 minutes of computer time or their handheld video games. You get four (one hour total) time on a weekday and 6 on a weekend. Other than that you need to find some other way of entertaining yourself. This house is full of puzzles, art supplies, books (Russian and English).<p>I wish that they had calmed down at that point. 15 minutes later we were still going around and around verbally. I removed another computer chip from each one's bank. S-kid was yelling at the top of his lungs as Mr. J was trying to work in his office just 15 feet away. I leaned down and gently said "shh" with my finger over my lips. S-kid just mocked me and I swatted him once on the behind. Now, I don't think that a swat on the behind is bad parenting and I don't think that it is abuse by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't want to do it. They had a bad past and Mr. J and I have agreed not to swat. Besides, we had to sing an agreement with their native country that we would not use corporal punishment.<p>I don't want to have physical interactions like this with my kids.<p>Timeouts provoke panic, frightened reactions in both of them and flat out defiance. I have reserved timeouts for physical fights. Guess I better just have quicker access to those computer chips. (They aren't really chips, they are little plastic pebbles that they have to put into my bank when they want to play "computeram."<p>Big one teases, little one hits and kicks. 20 months ago there was no teasing. They were very sweet with each other.<p>In between the metldown we are all having great fun. The bonding is happening, we are all getting lots of hugs, kisses, and happy silly moments. The storms blow over quickly.<p>Tonight they sat in bed and talked for an hour about the orphanage. I speak just enough Russian to know that they are talking about when they have to go back to the orphanage or if they go back to the orphanage, I can't tell which. They speak so quickly and my Russian is sketchy. tongith they were talking about that no planes go to the small town that they lived in so they would have to fly to the city where Mr. J and I stayed before and after our court date and for the first few days we were all together as a family.<p>I saw a good opportunity and opened up their treasure box and pulled out their pictures of their friends at the orphanage. I asked S-kid "Do you miss the orphanage?" He said "No." I said "Do you want to go to the orphanage." He said "No." Then he changed his mind and said "Yes." Remember that the storms of the day were 4 or 5 hours previous and we were all warm and cozy in bad reading books. I expect them to miss some things about the orphanage. It was the only home they have known for the past 3.5 years. I asked A-kid if he wants to go to the orphanage. I was certain to simply say "go to" not "go back to." He said "no." I specifically asked if he missed his two best friends back there by name. He said "no" and I asked "Really?" He said "well a little tiny bit." We have promised them (through our interpretor in Russia) that we will all go back and visit their friends every couple of years. OK, so I expect them to miss it, but it still isn't easy hearing one of them say he wants to go back.<p>Told you this was long and boring. This is parenting in the trenches. So much so fast and I feel so underqualified. I am very, very happy to be doing what I am doing, I wouldn't trade being their mom for anything--not one thing on earth. But please pray for me my friends. I am not happy with myself. I am not liking the way I react to things. I am not being the Godly, gracious woman that I want to be. Yes, believe me, I am praying also.<p>Seeking His blessings and His guidance,
MJ

Joined: Feb 2002
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MJ,<p>Please don't beat yourself up about this. No parent is perfect and we all make mistakes. That is how we learn. <p>What the boys are going through seems pretty normal to me. I have 2 boys only 15 months apart in age and they rotate from being each others best friend to each others worst enemy constantly. Give it some time. You are new to this. It will all come together, it really will.

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hi MJ,

This is a new and exciting time, I dont know all the details of your adoption, but I have experienced a simialar situation, ours was not from another country, but from this country, she only spoke spanish and I did not, she had a hard life and we have been through many difficult times, and at times still have some whoppers, But it does get easier, and we all lose it once in a while, doesnt make you a bad parent, just take a deep breath and regroup! you have been through alot, You should be applauded for taking on such a task.
I will pray for wisdom and patience for you.

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Dearest MJ,<p>Just as WIB and MO5 said, it is completely normal to have these feelings. I would imagine that your feelings are a little more intense, as the boys are much older than most new parents are used to dealing with! Pile on top of that, the fact that they have been through so much in their young lives, they are going to have their moments! Heck, our older two kids get into it all the time, and I have to admit, I yell at them a lot about it! It always starts with the teasing, and can escalate into the physical! When they are at their worst is when that craving for the cigarettes starts! It is my coping mechanisim, it gives me about a 5-10 min timeout for myself! I have found that often the best thing to do is to keep calm and cool, and explain to the kids that it is important to be loving to eachother. Kind of explain it that friends may come and go, but they will always be siblings.<p>I think that what you are doing with the computer chip thing is perfect! In fact, you could try to explain it to them that if they continue, for every 5-10 min of arguing/fighting you will take a chip away, if they run out, they will start to owe you time. Sometimes, as long as it doesn't get out of hand or too physical, it's ok to let them "have it out". It's when they don't stop, or are truly trying to hurt eachother that you need to use the drastic measures!<p>I think that you are doing fine! I can just imagine getting boys at their age, and being "Mommy" right away! No amount of classes, training, whatever, is going to prepare you for that! If that were the case, then more people would be willing to do what you and Mr. J have done! Just keep loving them, and doing what you are doing, and things will calm down! I will pray for you and your new family!<p>Love and Prayers,<p>Tigger

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Thank-you for the computer chips idea. I'm passing it on to all adults with children. What a great idea!<p>Stick in there. I know of 2 brothers, 2.5 years apart in age. There is a distinct, competitive nature in both. Each boy has different qualities that they excell in. They fight and argue all the time. But, I feel they love each other. Some day there will be a day of reckoning between them. All relationships are not perfect. That's why life is such a challenge.<p>ember

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I don't know anything about adopted children.<p>I can recommend the book Siblings Without Rivalry, it's a great book!<p>I think that the boys might also be testing your love for them. Have they been in other homes? How much will you put up with before you send them back? (they might be thinking) Is there a Russian community around that you might be able to get involved with? <p>Sometimes, the more you pay attention to something, the more it happens. Any attention is better than no attention? (i'm sure you're giving them TONS of it!) Sometimes, when my boys are fighting, I just take them and sit them down and hug them. Sometimes I tell them to take deep breaths and blow out the angries and breathe in happiness. <p>Good luck!<p>tinlizzy

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MJ,<p>I just wanted to echo everyone elses thoughts. I think you are doing fine. It's hard raising children the older they get the harder and more difficult it becomes. I had my OS at 19 I made a lot of mistakes but I learned from them. We are really close now and he's 11. Sibling rivalry is common my boys are three years a part and they fight like cats and dogs. I lose it sometimes but most of the time I take away their game or PC time too. I agree with you a swat on the behind is not abuse. The bible tells us you spare the rod you spoil the child. And that we have to disicpline out of love. I've learn to seperate them from fighting and to walk away or to take away their game and PC time. Children can drive you mad. lol It's a wonderful part of motherhood. [img]images/icons/smile.gif" border="0[/img] <p>You are doing great! Don't stress yourself.<p>
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mj,,,,, it is so hard to raise children in a home where all can communicate clearly with each other let alone one where there is still some language barriers. i can't imagine the difficulties this must present. from my limited experience raising children (with grace the total growing up in our house is now 8) the fighting between the boys is normal. brothers and sisters have this tremendous love - hate relationship. <p>the one thing that has always been hard for me is that when siblings are physically fighting and hurting one another. although they certainly need a whack or two how do you get the message across that hitting is unacceptable by whacking them? i have failed on this many times. sometimes they just need that swat. it also must be difficult trying to raise them with the rules set down by the adoption agency on how to dicipline them. what was the reason for no corporal punishment? does it have to do with the enviornment the boys were born into? <p>my office is also in our home and maybe i didn't read your post right but if your husband was only 15 feet away why did he not come out of his office and help you handle this altercation? it would have to have been easier for him to work without all the confusion in the next room.<p>i am sure everything will turn out fine for all of you.<p> pops

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Pops,<p>He was on the phone with a client. <p>The corporal punishment thing is something that most adoption agencies require now. I don't really know what the consequences of breaking that agreement might be.<p>My own feeling is that given their history of abuse, I would rather use words than swats. However, when there are no common words, how do you get the message across.<p>When they visited us 20 months ago (for 6 weeks) there were no physical tussles. S-kid used to hit A-kid and A=kid (older one) just took it. Now, the younger one hits and the older one hits back. I can see why. However, the older boy is now quite a tease and I can see why the younger one gets frustrated enough to hit. I wouldn't want to be the younger brother in this pair. <p>Please don't misunderstand. I am thrilled to be doing this. We are grateful that God has seen fit to give us these two special boys after so much heartache. I knew we would have all kinds of things to work through (for example, I expected all the meltdowns we get getting them ready for school or any place else we have to be on a schedule). However, given their previous behavior with us, I didn't think we would have the screaming fights that we are now getting. If we can't get it settled down, they will have to go to after school care so that Mr. J can finish his work day before they come home.<p>MJ

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MJ,<p>I just caught up on the threads....<p>When Dinobon is out of control and in a "rage"...sometimes it can get physical with us...I learnt a way to hold her until she calmed down and thought that I would pass it on to you...it works for my two year old toddler, "mini-me" too and she's not Bi-polar like Dinobon...<p>When the child is out of control, turn them around, facing outwards away from you, (arms and legs and face to the front---away from you) give kinda like a bear hug from behind, holding the arms and legs down with yours, and hold the child close to you (without hurting them, but strong enough for them to know that they can't hit or hurt you...because they are facing away from you) and you say in as calm, as authorative, and firm voice, " (Name) calm down...(Name) calm down..." Each time you say their name, they have to stop their fit to hear what you are saying...<p>I have found that it works and the technique is listed in the book, "The Explosive Child" by Dr. Ross Greene ( I think that is the author)...this is an excellent book dealing with unique anger situations for ADD/ADHD/Bi-Polar and children with anger problems.<p>I have found that saying their name over and over in a calm, authorative tone, almost as soft as you can...gets their attention as opposed to anger...<p>It's just a rough transisition while the boys learn your rules and routine and overcome the language barrier at this time...<p>From what I read, you sound like a wonderful parent and I know that you and the boys will have a rich, full life together...I really like the computer chip idea...that's something I haven't heard of before and may try with miss Dinobon...<p>Don't beat yourself on the head...no kid at any age comes with instruction manuals except one manual and that's the Bible...<p>I know the Lord and you can do all things together...and He gives you the wisdom and strength and grace you need...I'm confident in you...<p>One important thing that I have finally learned and I'm on my fourth kid, is that no one family situation is the same...what rules work for my house and my family, may not necessarily work for others...so I have found my own unique system that works for me and my family and I have learned to not to compare myself to others...that was so freeing to me, when the Lord pointed that out to me. As long as I know what rules work in my house, and I make them known to my children with the known consequences if disobeyed, I have more peace. <p>Consistency is always the best way. <p>I look forward to more updates from you, and pray for you and your Hubby and your darling boys.<p>Hugs and prayers,
Twiisty

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Mrs. J,<p>Firstly, welcome to parenting! [img]images/icons/smile.gif" border="0[/img] It is so like this, even when they are biokids.<p>Secondly, what resources do you have for parenting older adopted kids? Do you have any books or belong to any groups (either in person or on internet?) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Russian_Adoption
is one.<p>While sibling rivalry is normal(!) and your parenting feelings are normal(!), you want to encourage family harmony. Making fun of each other isn't acceptable, and neither is duking it out, but it is hard when they won't accept their time outs, and you can only do a "holding time" on one at a time! I too, have swatted when I'm at my wits end, and it's not my preferred way either. I think at some point we all do whatever we learned when we were parented, esp. when we feel desperate.<p>Talking with the boys when they calmed down was great! I hope they understand that no matter how bad they act (and they will test this!), you are not sending them back!! I think of boys like puppies, rolling and wrestling in good times and bad.<p>Older adopted kids DO have issues that other parents may not be aware of. I learned a LOT from lurking on a very active email list of older-kid adoptions for the country we're adopting from! There is nothing so valuable as experience (as we painfully know!).<p>You might do research on attachment issues in older adopted kids. The fact that they are willing to test you so soon is a great testimony to how comfortable they feel with you! LOL Ironic, isn't it? Also the fact the younger one is willing to regress with you... that's great!! I hope you allow him to do this, at least in the privacy of your home. The older one may actually be jealous! He has probably been forced to act older than his age due to being the older little guy. When kids get their dependency needs met, they outgrow them at their own pace. I really believe that... I've seen in work in adopted AND bio kids!<p>Okay, off my soapbox for now.<p>Congradulations again!!!
Jenny

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Thanks Jenny.<p>Everything you mentioned is stuff I had already looked up, had access to or joined already.<p>I was/am just facing what I knew from friends who have gone down this path would happen--facing the reality that I am not going to be the perfect parent that I had imagined I would be. In fact, Mr. J is doing better at this than I am. I personally think that that is because he takes about 1/10th the responsibility that I take.<p>Yes, little guy is great at regression. Getting those needs met that weren't met earlier. He loves to be carried around. Thank goodness for that poor nutrition in the orphanage that means he only weighs 42 lbs. at age 7.5. If he were any bigger he would be walking. <p>We had a great day today. No fits, no tantrums (not even one from me). We are all off from school/work this week. They played outside in the sprinkler for 7 hours. For the past couple days we have just eaten sandwiches out of our hands out in the yard at lunch time. They came in for dinner, got their bath, got ready for Russian school, did Russian lessons, we curled up on the couch for Toy Story 2 and both went to bed calmly. The fact that they were probably exhausted from all the physical activity probably helped. Actually a Disney movie at night is a much smoother transition than story time even though they say they prefer a story. Too many chances to tussle and argue during a story and not so many during a movie.<p>The biggest surprise out of this is that I am a big fat control freak. I want what I want when I want it and you better do it my way. I am working on improving that. I am also willing to go back and apologize when I over react.<p>We had the Russian teacher/translator in today. They behave so differently when she is around. She is a sweet, gentle lady who "brooks no nonsense." She is fluent in four languages (being a Russian Jew who escaped from Russia to Germany just in time for the holocaust and then fled to South America and finally to the US will do that for you. She teaches Spanish at a local elementary school. Besides the great opportunity for Russian lessons (in our home, no less) I get the chance to polish my Spanish and she and I will always have a language they don't understand--until high school anyway. <p>They didn't have their Russian homework done from last week's lesson despite my giving them the opporutnity on three different nights to do it. She gave them the samll talk on everyone having to meet his or her obligations and what would it be like if Mama and Papa didn't do what they were supposed to--didn't do the shopping and cooking, didn't go to work, etc. So they have last week's and this week's to do during this week. She says, "When your mama asks you if you want some tea, sit up straight and answer her 'No thank you, Mama' or 'Yes, please Mama.' Your mama can't hear your brains rattle when you shake your head." (We make each Russian lesson like a small tea party in Russia. Actually, I just entertain her like a Russian family would, with nice tea and small cakes and my best dishes.) I had to laugh to myself as they nodded along to the mini-lecture. I don't want them to act like little orphans (submissive) for the rest of their lives, but 90 minutes of complete obedience once a week sure is nice. In fact, I wouldn't mind if Russian Teacher moved in with us for the next 6 months 'til we all get our routines worked out.<p>I thought you were adopting domestically?<p>MJ

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MJ,<p>God willing, we're adopting an older child from Asia. What a wonderful teacher you found--I just love people with incredible life experiences! I'm glad you've got support around you. I'm sure you'll all be fine. Our kids are like a mirror, held up to reflect our strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes I'd rather not accept what I see, but there I am, warts and all [img]images/icons/wink.gif" border="0[/img] <p>Best wishes,
J

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Jenny,<p>Is this your first adoption? If not your first, is this your first of an older child? First international? I know that you have children, but I thought that the 2, 3 or 4 that you already have were by birth. I thought that you were adopting domestically because finances were a major consideration.<p>I am being nosey, but you can email me privately if you prefer at espanglish@aol.com. I will then give you my work email as I seldom check my home email anymore. I know that you posted your email for me once and I never responded. We were in the middle of the dossier phase of adoption and I always had less time than I thought that I would. Sorry that I never took you up on your kind offer of email. I am such an optimist that I always find myself more short of time than I project.<p>MJ


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