Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Serenity Prayer and Adoptive Parents

Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As an adoptive parent, all three of these pieces are significant.

First of all, there are many things about our children that cannot be changed and we must accept them. We can't go back and change their traumatic histories. We can't change their genetic makeup. We can't change their organic brain damage or mental illness. We can't change their personalities.

Then, we have to have the courage to change the things we can. We can't back down and walk away when children need confronting. We have to work on behaviors, learn what we can about various issues, try different approaches, and work to change what can be changed.

But I think the greatest need for adoptive parents is the wisdom to know the difference. Meeting a child when he/she is 4 or 8 or 12 or 16 doesn't give us the background we need. We struggle for a long time to discover the difference between "can't" and "won't". We don't know if our children are being oppositional or simply can't do any better.

And discovering whether it's "can't" or "won't" is a difficult process for both us and our children.

I'm going to start praying the serenity prayer daily as I attempt to parent my hurt and healing children. But my emphasis is going to be a plea for the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change.


Yondalla said...

As you may know, I have a foster son who is a recovering addict. I spent a lot of time last year in Al-anon learning how to cope. I have come to think that much of what I learned there has been better than any foster parenting training I have ever received.

I wrote about boundaries the other day.

Mongoose said...

I used to date a relapsed crack addict. That was also the time I found the Tao. The Serenity Prayer is actually very taoist. :) Most times I just stop at the first line, but I also like to go on with it to "accepting hardships as the pathway to peace," which I think is very true.

So, I'm glad to hear my devotion to the Serenity Prayer will make me a better adoptive parent. :)