It really does take a village to raise a child, and that’s especially true when one or two parents decide to adopt. When couples seek out parenting and child development information, as well as have a support network, they’re more likely to be successful parents. True, raising a child is a “learn as you go” job, but there are numerous tools available to make the journey easier.
Whether it’s behavior management, nurturing development, or learning how to retain a child’s culture if it’s different than the parents’, taking the right approach is key. As adoptive parents, you might feel particularly overwhelmed — especially if this is your first child.
Here are eight great ways to encourage positive development and growth.
1. Look through your child’s lens
Remember when you were a kid and your parents “just didn’t get it”? Your child is now feeling the same way. It’ll take work and effort, but try to look at the world from the perspective of your son or daughter. This usually means slowing down, laughing more, and seeing what you consider normal conditions through brand-new eyes.
2. Remember, parenting is a club
You probably know other families, whether they adopted children or had them biologically. Don’t be shy about complimenting their parenting style, since this is perhaps the most thankless of jobs.
You’re spreading good karma and letting other parents know their efforts are appreciated. It doesn’t take much effort, but the butterfly effect can be great.
3. Blend faith and parenting
If you’re part of a faith community, tap into that support network and get involved. Is there something your community could be doing to help support parents even more? What about child care, classes for kids, or other events that are family-friendly? Someone needs to take the lead, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be you.
4. Give them a break (literally)
If you know a couple who could really benefit from a night without the kids, step up to the plate. If you have children of your own, a regular swap is a great way for adults to get that much-needed alone time. Children are the greatest gift, but everyone deserves some time off.
5. Give them a pass
Parenting is one of the most tiring jobs there is, since it never ends. If there are parents in your social circle who cancel plans at the last minute, consider the reason behind it. A free pass every now and then, guilt-free, can do wonders. Knowing others understand is a fantastic gift to new parents.
6. Make cultural activities welcoming
If parents adopt a child of a different race or ethnicity from their own, it’s important to help the child feel connected to his or her own community. Whether it’s regular trips to their birth country, attending events targeted to their community or learning a language, this will require lifelong work and effort. Help parents out by keeping up to date with events in the area.
7. Seek out other adoptees
Adoptive families have an experience that’s shared by many others around the world. However, biological families are still more common. It’s important to seek out others who share the adoption experience. People need that quality time with others “like them.”
8. Reach out
There are many nonprofit organizations that cater to adoptive families, offering everything from sliding scale therapy to annual events. This is a fantastic way to find other people in the same boat, and the tools available to parents are priceless.
There’s plenty of help out there, it just takes a little looking around and reaching out. Everyone can benefit from more support, so take that first step.