July 2nd, 2007
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Living just a few counties away from where this metro Atlanta survey was taken has made my stomach roil. Good Grief am I a total old fuddy duddy? I’m appalled and I grew up during the very permissive, rebellious 1960s.

These teens are having multiple, risky sexual encounters and doing drugs in middle school. Is it a stretch for me to mention that the same county, also struggling with population growth, can’t recruit or keep enough foster parents, there’s nowhere to put foster children and the need, like everywhere else, is huge.

Is it just me or does no one else see the connection between many sexual partners in one’s teen years and too many teen pregnancies with unhappy consequences? To tell you the truth, I just don’t care anymore if my teens think I’m old fashioned while I struggle to keep them out of trouble.

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I’d watched a 48 Hours show with my almost 17 year old and my 18 year old daughters. It portrayed a photographer in California in the 1980s that is suspected of being a serial murderer. What my girls took away from the show was the fact that the mothers of these missing and murdered girls had allowed their daughters, preteens in many cases, to pose provocatively in skimpy bathing suits.

Of course I am not implying that the girls asked for it. I’m just saying that being over-protective of one’s children is not necessarily a bad thing. There are too many predators out there, too much that can go wrong, and for the parents of older adopted children, not enough time to teach them all that they need to know before they set out on their own.

I often inwardly grieve that lack of time that I’ve been allotted. My kids move into my house after running the streets or being forced to fend for themselves with no provisions and I expect table manners? I don’t think so.

But I have to make use of this time spectacularly, turning many events into teaching moments, examples and lessons learned.

My 18 year old daughter has only lived with me for seven years. She’s now graduated from high school and I have the unenviable task of teaching her independence while still working on everything she hasn’t yet had time to learn. She wanted me to take her to the eye doctor last week but I explained to her every step to take, she called me three times while filling out the paperwork there and once from Eckerds but came home proud of herself for having accomplished this feat.

I literally filled out her community college application after many false, frightened starts by her, she signed it, we mailed it in and now she needs to take a placement test. I’ve walked her through each step in her mind, teaching her to visualize what she needs to do, a mental planning that always helps, and she’s emotionally ready to take this next step knowing she can continue to ask me every single question, that she can rely on me to be strict because I love her and want to protect her from harm.

She knows that I’ve given her the freedom that comes after high school, but I haven’t pushed her out of the nest, nor will I do so. She’s trying to build up confidence in herself, I’m holding back, waiting on her to ask for help if she needs it, and also constantly praising her on her steps to adulthood.

And last night, after we’d had a huge family event, I was gratified to know that she chose to stay home with mama. The remarks she made regarding this show, making her think about my parenting and understand that it is my concern for my kids that keeps me on my toes, trying to cover all the bases, also helped me to understand that I’m getting through to her.

3 Responses to “Teaching Independence in Older Adopted Children”

  1. About that study … I suppose folks can hope that it’s the same 6% or so that are getting up to all the no good.

  2. Brad says:

    Older children that actually want to be around you, let alone want your opinion, at that age – what a concept!

    I wish it occurred here. We have 3 older ones that left very unready for independence. They got it, to a point. Not much independence, but they are out of the house….

    Brad

  3. “being over-protective of one’s children is not necessarily a bad thing”

    Amen, sister!

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