Sharing Details at the Correct Moment

By Sarah Earles MS, LPC, NCC | February 23, 2024 

As an adoptive or foster parent, you have a child with a hard story. Maybe that story includes neglect. Maybe it includes abandonment. Maybe your child experienced abuse and/or trauma. The very fact that your child is no longer with or her biological parent is a trauma! But is now the time to tell your child all the details of his or her story? What if he or she is not ready? Are there ways to help the child make meaning of the story, without actually talking about it right now? Yes!

You, as a parent, can help your child make meaning by doing your own work. The more you understand and accept the child’s story, the more regulated you will be when your child wants to talk about the story. Your regulation will help co-regulate your child as the child remembers different aspects of the story and grieves.

You, as a parent, can help your child by acknowledging hard feelings. Instead of saying, “But,” and telling the child that he or she has the opportunity to live his or her “best life now,” try saying, “Yes, that is hard.” As Dan Siegel (2022) states, naming feelings helps tame them (dr.dansiegel.com). Your child’s hard feelings are real. What your child needs is not a, “but,” but an, “I am with you.”

You can help prepare your child for his or her story by telling stories, by reading stories, and by making stories. Hard stories end in hopelessness. Hopeful stories hold opportunities for not just beginnings and endings, but life in the middle. Help your child see that one beginning does not necessitate a certain ending.

There are times and places to tell your child parts of his or her story. A scaffolding approach is best, telling your child what he or she needs to know at each stage of development, so that nothing is ever hidden, but that what is told is appropriate, and helpful. The ideas shared here are foundations… foundations on which to build the scaffold of storytelling. Your child’s story has meaning, and you get to help him or her discover that, starting now.

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As an adoptive or foster parent, you have a child with a hard story. Maybe that story includes neglect. Maybe it includes abandonment. Maybe your child experienced abuse and/or trauma. The very fact that your child is no longer with or her biological parent is a trauma! But is now the time to tell your child all the details of his or her story? What if he or she is not ready? Are there ways to help the child make meaning of the story, without actually talking about it right now? Yes!

You, as a parent, can help your child make meaning by doing your own work. The more you understand and accept the child’s story, the more regulated you will be when your child wants to talk about the story. Your regulation will help co-regulate your child as the child remembers different aspects of the story and grieves.

You, as a parent, can help your child by acknowledging hard feelings. Instead of saying, “But,” and telling the child that he or she has the opportunity to live his or her “best life now,” try saying, “Yes, that is hard.” As Dan Siegel (2022) states, naming feelings helps tame them (dr.dansiegel.com). Your child’s hard feelings are real. What your child needs is not a, “but,” but an, “I am with you.”

You can help prepare your child for his or her story by telling stories, by reading stories, and by making stories. Hard stories end in hopelessness. Hopeful stories hold opportunities for not just beginnings and endings, but life in the middle. Help your child see that one beginning does not necessitate a certain ending.

There are times and places to tell your child parts of his or her story. A scaffolding approach is best, telling your child what he or she needs to know at each stage of development, so that nothing is ever hidden, but that what is told is appropriate, and helpful. The ideas shared here are foundations… foundations on which to build the scaffold of storytelling. Your child’s story has meaning, and you get to help him or her discover that, starting now.

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References

Siegel, D. (2022, January 25). Mindsight. Dr. Dan Siegel. https://drdansiegel.com/mindsight/

References

Siegel, D. (2022, January 25). Mindsight. Dr. Dan Siegel. https://drdansiegel.com/mindsight/