Michele Coleman, Ph. D. LMFT
Thank you for your willingness to invest in yourself and focus on your self-care. Once your kiddo moves in, it will be important that you continue a self-care practice as you will need to be resourced as much as possible to help your child through his or her behavioral and emotional challenges.
When children initially move into our home is the time when they are the most motivated to bring about change in their behavior. This is also the time when the honeymoon effect kicks in as the child's wounding has not yet been triggered. It is important that you remain the calm, nurturing, mature adult in charge. Decide ahead of time what is negotiable in your family and what is not. For instance, you may want to add some food items that your child particularly likes, yet not negotiate on whether or not they eat with the family if that is something everyone else does in the family.
Vera Fahlberg (1990) in her work at Forest Heights Lodge, talks about the importance of Trust of Care and Trust of Control. As you are adopting an older child, most likely he or she has been in several homes before yours and quite possibly did not learn how to behave appropriately in a family. Children who come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds feel it is extremely unsafe to allow adults to take care of them or to have control. For children raised in healthy homes, Trust of Care comes on line from birth to about 2 years of age. The baby allows the nurturing parent to feed her, bathe her and meet her needs. The child even lets the parent know when there is a need by crying out for help. Trust of Control kicks in when the child has mobility and starts to waddle off towards the stove. Can the child stop short of touching the hot stove when the parent yells out to him? That is Trust of Control. Both Trust of Care and Trust of Control are safety issues. It tends to raise a parent's sense of powerlessness when the adult can't ensure their child's safety.