Parents of teenagers are accostomed to defiance as their children enter the natural stage of tretching limits and independence. But for many parents it comes much earlier and with a force, strength of will, and almost desperation at such an early age that the issue is as clear as the solution is obscured.
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 goto school. They are too big to pick up and manhandle. Even if they weren't to big, brute force is neither allowed nor useful and none of that 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 proved they are that bad? I will not use the kind of physical or emotional force that put them here. I won't even come close! 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 them 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.