In our last official session of 2010, the topic was “Back to School.” The over-arching question that was brought up was “how to deal with teasing.” Teasing is a part of many children’s lives growing up. The difference is that an adoptee views teasing through the adoptive lens (see previous blog dated September 10 below) and the teasing they receive may be targeted specifically at their background/family. “It’s weird that you don’t know your mom.” or “why don’t you look like your parents? Does that mean your birth parents didn’t love you?” As adoptees, we not only have the normal insecurities an average child can have in social settings like school (i.e., do I have the right clothes or cool toys?) but also deal with insecurities in issues that are basic to the foundation of our identity (i.e., do I belong in my family as much as a biological child would?); something a child who lives with their biological parents do not ever have to question.
A. Why do kids tease? (i.e., boredom, ignorance, insecurity/fear, plain curiosity)
B. Possible responses (i.e., turn the questions and teasing back on the bully “why do you ask?” “do you know what that word means?”, speak to a teacher/authoritative figure or talk with parents who can help to collaboratively determine a resolution).
One big point in October’s session was the concept of “collaborative” resolutions. Parents often allow their maternal/paternal instinct take over a situation when they learn their child has been ridiculed. By this we mean that parents will rush to try and figure out how to solve or make the situation better without consulting their kids. As adoptees, we want to own our adoption story (only share with people we feel comfortable with), own our identity (build confidence in who we are and who we will become)…and own our resolutions to conflicts/problems. If a parent rushes to a principal, teacher or directly to the child who has ridiculed us without talking to their kids on what they would like to do about the problem…the parent has taken away our right to make a choice. Now if the end result is undesirable, we could potentially resent our parents for running off (albeit with good intentions) by themselves and wonder if we would have been happier if we could have been involved in the decision-making process. Allowing your children to participate in the resolution to their challenges is a great tool to build their self-confidence.