At my daughter’s age, a counselor told me never to forget three important things I learned in foster care. What happened to me was not my fault. My experiences made me mentally strong. At 12, I could take care of myself and protect myself. Don’t forget that at 42, she added.
I am not 42, but that marker is not too far off. I forget those facts when adulthood brings me the usual pains of life. Somehow her voice echoes through though, at even my lowest points. Every single child in foster care and every former foster child can muster up this power. It is a gift bestowed upon us by early brain changing, life altering events that endow us with the kind of strength others still seek.
Despite this superhero energy I dig into time and again, voids exist. Voids I try to fill, but in searching for my own identity, still lurk in the background. For more than the half a million children who were removed from abusive, negligent or drug addicted parents, and placed in care, their adulthood leaves these impenetrable gaps.
Often, my colleagues discuss what missing link displaced, abandoned, and neglected children crave most as they develop into adults. Their diligent research is aimed at stopping the negative cycles we all see in the child welfare system, generation after generation.
But, in order to stop the vicious cycle of abuse, depression, graduation failures, addiction, and mental illness that so many former foster children face, advocates must start understanding the importance of maleness.
Foster children need a balance of nurture and protection. Generally this comes from a mother and father figure ( of any gender). Without a true identity, or with a broken one, foster children clamour around their lives seeking to fill emotional buckets. They recreate themselves from nothing.
I never fell into that pile of advocates (many whom I respect and love dearly) who desperately searched for answers, for biological family, especially a father, to heal early wounds. Instead, I plowed on. Some called it denial, I called it survival. Survival sounds better.
The idea of motherhood to me has definitions that I’ve re-written over time when I was a child in foster care, and now years later, as an adult and parent. This video clearly depicts what should be the aim of every child welfare agency (at least at its heart). It should be to instill a sense of self-value, protection and belonging that only a secure, trusted parental figure can bring.
Not many things are universal. But one thing is; the need to be valued. For the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care across the states, this void accounts for a lifetime of tribulation. It contributes to academic failure, abuse in later relationships, addictions, depression, homelessness, crime, anxiety, an overall sense of unworthiness…the list goes on. But this downward spiral/harsh cycle can be interrupted and reversed with just one single caring adult. Just one!
Repairing the past for children who have been victims of abuse ( especially abuse perpetrated by a parent who the child should be able to trust above anyone else), is no easy feat. When the early sense of trust/protection/survival/ food/nutrition/sunlight/safety is deprived in young children, and by a parent…their physical and emotional growth is shocked. Their hearts are blown apart. When the basic human need for food , shelter, safety is harshly stunted by trusting adults, we see childhoods and little souls broken. Then they become older souls, with missing parts.
We are looking for 100 dedicated people who would like to positively impact children in foster care.
The first 100 people who email us at email@example.com with “Ambassador” in the subject line will receive a free .pdf of our book “This Is Mine: My Story, My Life.” In exchange for the free e-book, we ask that you read the book and post an honest review on Amazon by May 17.
Our book is titled “This Is Mine: My Story, My Life” because many children have their people, their possessions, and their person-hood stripped away when they enter foster care, but nobody can ever take away their story.
If you have a heart for helping children who are in foster care, then this is for you!
The 90/Ten Project launched our first book “This Is Mine: My Story, My Life” in January of 2014. Our book details…
Nothing really shocks me anymore, or so I presumed. This week , news outlets are reporting a proposed bill that would again let teachers and child caregivers the right to hit children “until they leave a mark.” While I have always thought of politicians as little more than sharp dressed mongrels, I am astounded by the motivation of such a bill.
While I know Catholic Schools have been the bud of many jokes for using rulers as a method of discipline, and some states in America still do allow public school administrators the right to use corporal punishment, I just do not see the point in propagating any more hurt. We already have plenty to go around.
News flash. If you have to hit children “until they have a mark,” to discipline them, then you are not modelling the proper behavior for them to emulate. You also lack self control. And you also should not be a teacher or child caregiver in any way, shape, or form.
For a lot of children, their only source of stability comes from the person in the front of the classroom. Many have no one at home to make them feel secure, many are already being abused at home, and many more have no one at home. School should be a refuge and the one place where children are motivated to be their best selves.
In the amount of time and money it takes to propose such a preposterous “bill” we could actually make and enforce much-needed bills to protect children from parental abusers, sex offenders and predators. I am dismayed by the media’s attention to someone who should not have been elected into office.
Disciplining children is much like anything else. We first need, as parents, caregivers, to establish our own self control. If the only way we can maintain relationships with children or adults is by physical or emotional abuse, then we should refrain from relationships. If consistently putting down children or adults in your life is your method of control, get help. Educating oneself, counseling, and sheer common sense can help us keep anger, disorder, confusions and emotions in the right place, and express them correctly.
Discipline is NOT about subjugating another individual, it is about modelling the kind of behavior you want the child to follow. In relationships, leading is not about control and arguing is not about unleashing rage. It is about confronting differences and expressing emotion.
Know the difference, and if you do not, then either look into your soul and fix your shattered self, or move to a cabin underground. Do not work with kids.
When an adult hits children “until they have a mark,” it accomplishes nothing. I know that I am an advocate for abused children in the system. My experience as a survivor of abuse and the system gives me a different insight than most. I am not equating spanking ( which I do not do) with child abuse. I was burnt, sexually assaulted, and beaten until I could not walk. I later grew up with foster siblings who were very aggressive and violent. Some are in jail as we speak, still working out their anger. I know and have been the recipient of a lot of violence and marks.
Even in my new foster home, I watch unhealthy relationships closely. I saw how men treated women, I watched. All children watch. Luckily for me, through my life experiences I learned to separate healthy from unhealthy attachments as result of that experience. But it took time. It took failing as a young woman. It took walking away from a whole life and reinventing myself. It was not easy, it hurt, self-examination hurt, but I did the work so that I would not be a victim in my intimate relationships and so I could learn what healthy affection and meant.
Before I decided to be a parent, I worked on myself to ensure that I would be the best model for my beautiful girl. And I believe I am. I have worked with at-risk kids, teenagers who could test you until the brink, but disciplining those children takes a certain amount of self-worth in the heart of a mentor, teacher or caregiver.
When I feel emotion overcoming me, I deal with it like an adult, I do not hit mini me in the hopes that she will then respect me. I encourage stability, I find solutions in a safe way. Anger is a natural part of life, we get mad, we get over it. but in the process, we need to make sure we aren’t damaging others. We all feel anger, but hitting any child, especially until you leave a mark , is abusive. And it means something is wrong with the adult. Emotionally attacking them constantly is also abuse.
Constructive criticism will help them, placing them below you so you feel better will not. The same goes for any adult relationship. However , with children you are shaping who they become…watch what you show them!
If you want to hit children, or wound people..Get help.
This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Mini me is turning 11 this week. Here we are in 2003 waiting for President George Bush to take the podium. Happy birthday to the girl who is all the reasons for everything in my life. Becoming a mother filled in all of my missing parts. Watching her grow up has been my life’s miracle.
She is the best part of me and I hope every day she knows it.
Recently, I participated in research that looked at the quality of life of adult children of the foster care system. Most of the work, while fulfilling, was also equally disheartening. I mulled over distressing numbers and statistics, secretly finding where I personally fit in those numbers so long ago as a child in the system. Success and peace in my own heart has been a gift for me; one I do not take for granted.
This video, and the heart and soul behind it, inspires a positive washing over me. I feel renewed, and I see the harrowing statistics in varying lights. While it is important to value and learn about the negative, it is equally important to celebrate strength and foster care’s many heroes.
So many wake up each day, fighting to keep the nearly one million children in the system from being stuck in the system. Counselors, teachers, artists, social workers, and advocates work to heal the distorted reality a child faces when removed from their own families, abused or severely neglected. The confusion can be never-ending when a child is taken from its family at 5, and moved from family to family for many years, sometimes never adopted; sometimes back out on the street as they become adolescents. Sometimes physical, sexual abuse is recreated in foster care.
However, there are benevolent foster parents, guardian angels, who bring love to a child who had never had love or physical and emotional safety. Thousands are opening their hearts, their classrooms and their minds to the unique positive qualities that foster children possess; helping them become part of that smaller number that finds personal, emotional, and professional safety and satisfaction.
I will post several videos over the next few days. Some might be tough to watch, but they are all a personal stories of triumph. What better way to start the week than to see the beauty in overcoming tragedy!
Soul mates excite you! Love makes things perfect! Social media sells these mottoes to the recluses time and again. Usually it is a blonde with implants selling the epithets to hundreds of adoring “likes.” Move beyond the size D prophets and examine your own soul’s clutter. Artists, writers, song makers, introspective creators for thousands of years, have never pinpointed what love really is, Facebook wont either.
Our souls are all fragile and cluttered. They’ve been weathered by life, hurts , happiness, moments of excitement, jarred with fear, sometimes burned by deep violence. The nurturing of this bundle of energy that gives us any meaning, is probably the most important work you can do in your lifetime. Without doing that work, we cannot love anyone else, we cannot repair ourselves, we cannot trust ourselves.
Whitman exclaims that love awakens the soul. Bukowski likens it to urine in a river. Plath describes it as a death and rebirth. Rilke explains that love is not even possible until two “complete” people run parallel to each other. They are apart but together and never veer off that path. The ability to enjoy solitude is essential, he claims, to loving anything else.
Not only does love “awaken” or “excite” the soul, but it levels out the extreme emotion we all feel. It stabilizes us, comforts us, therefore enabling us to progress further than we can alone. It helps us heal voids. It is another agent to protect our soul when we don’t do a good job ourselves.