This meditation came from countless stories of foster parents I know.
I can take it when one of them grumbles. I can take it when they talk back or drag their feet. I can take all that and more and still manage. But this flat-out defiance is a real problem. I can't force him to eat. I can't make her go to school. They are too big to pick up and manhandle. And even if they weren't brute force is neither allowed nor is it useful, and none of that even matters because I won't use it. Is brute force the only means of control they have experienced? Are they trying to push me to that point to either prove everyone does it, or to prove they are that bad and deserve it? I will not use the kind of physical or emotional force that put them here. I won't even come close! I will not use any kind of physical of emotional force! So... how am I going to get them to do the things they must do? They don't care enough about me to be motivated by wanting to please me. They have lived without so much that there is nothing I can take away or give to motivate them. So how do I get them to do what they must? Help me figure this out. Help them figure it out. Help us.
Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.