An untapped resource??
If you take my two parents personalities – which are VERY different and combine them in three different iterations you would come up with my sister, my brother and I. We are all very different as well – my sister is stubborn and opinionated like my Dad, but follows the rules, is not super social and has the smarts of my Mom. My brother is charismatic and outgoing like my Dad but also seems to have inherited his lack of doing well at school from him. And from my Mom he got his non-confrontational manner, he doesn’t like to stir the pot either. I on the other hand had my Mom’s smarts but my Dad’s lack of interest in school. I had my Dad’s outgoing personality, but the nerdiness of my Mom.
These odd combinations made us kids three very different people growing up, which not only meant that our personalities clashed, but we each approached life very differently. We spent much of our childhood going between being very close to being very not close. With my brother we only recently started really getting along again.
Having three very different kids meant challenges for my parents as well. The way my brother, my sister and I needed to receive accolades or punishment was very different depending on which one of us it was. I think when it came to me especially, since I was the youngest, they had a lot of issues figuring out how to parent me since what they had done with my brother and sister didn’t really work. They restricted me when they should have let me go, and they let things go that they shouldn’t have. There were definitely some things they did I think they should have approached differently. But those things were almost always done when one of them was trying to parent me on their own. When the three of us got together and talked, when as a team they decided how to deal with me, they were way more successful. Thinking back on it I think the reason why is that their approaches to parenting matched their personalities, and since I was a combination of the two of them, parenting as a combo made the best of all worlds.
So these thoughts brought up how parenting in adoptions happen. I assume there will be things about J, about how he learns, what he enjoys in school, maybe his temperament and personality that will be things he inherits from me. I know it will be only a part of his personality, and some other parts will come from M&P and even from JD and of course there will be a part of J that is all his own. I know when I was looking for a family it was important to me that I found one who I felt would encourage J in any pursuits and accept him for whatever his personality was like and I do believe that M&P will do that. But accepting him no matter what isn’t the same as making decisions about how to parent that will work best with his personality.
I’ve heard from more than one birth parent or adult adoptee who has talked about what it was like when the adoptee was a child growing up in a family that just didn’t “get” him or her. I wonder in those cases what would have happened if the birth parents were around, and the adoptive parents talked to them, let them know what was going on. I doubt it would have fixed everything, but I do think there is something to kids being parented in the fashion that suits them, and since the nature part of an adopted child’s personality comes from people who aren’t parenting them, allowing for opinions of those people that contributed to the nature side may be a perspective that will help.
But honestly, its hard for me to imagine a world where M&P would talk to me about the parenting decisions they are making. I think there are so many obstacles out there to that happening, obstacles for me to get over and for them to get over. For me, society is constantly telling me to be careful about overstepping, to treating M&P like we’re co-parenting or worse that they are baby-sitting. It’s hard for me to make any comments about their parenting, whether it’s asked for or not. Honestly, it’s so emphasized to me that since I didn’t feel able to parent J when he was born I’m not capable of making parenting decisions for him that I would fear ever giving my opinion. For M&P I could imagine asking for advice would be difficult as well, it’s showing a vulnerability, letting me know that they might not be “perfect” parents, and although I don’t think any parents are perfect and don’t expect it from them, I think showing any weakness as parents to me I would assume would be very difficult. I just don’t know if it’s possible for us to get past that.
But I want to, because I think as J grows and as difficult issues come up, it would be best to have all the parts that contributed to who J is to have a voice, especially during the bumpy times of him growing. Maybe M&P and I can work towards getting there, where them talking about the hard parts and me giving an opinion is normal, doesn’t seem to carry with it some big weight. Honestly I do it with friends, those who have kids will ask me what I think of certain situations, it’s not weird, it’s not co-parenting, with them I don’t have any reason why my opinion should carry any weight, yet they are welcoming of a new perspective, especially when it’s a difficult issue. But when it comes to a child where my opinion is valid and there is a reason for it to carry some weight, suddenly them asking or me giving advice has these big warnings and issues attached.
So that’s my rambling, if any of you have opinions, or personal experience with this I would love to hear it. Maybe this idea is a dynamic that would never work, or maybe it’s a fair goal and I just have to get over my own insecurities to have it work in my own relationship, I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but if you have let me know!