Disciplining an Abused Child

Image result for BarbequePicture a family barbecue. Friends and family gathered in a backyard socializing and having a good time. There is music playing, a card game going, yard games are being played, and kids are running around.

While tucked away in a corner, enjoying the fun around me, I noticed my five-year-old nephew walk up to his cousin and take a toy right out his hands as he was playing with it. The little boy screamed, and a small skirmish between the two of them ensued. The entire party kind of paused, and turned to check out the ruckus. Once everyone noticed that everything was ok, the party resumed.

From a short distance, I watched my cousin discipline his five-year-old son. He didn’t spank him. He didn’t even raise his voice. When he spoke to his son he was calm, stern, direct, and firm. While redirecting him, he was teaching his son that what he did was wrong.

He didn’t punish the act, he taught the moment. It was the best piece of parenting I’d seen in a while.

Then it hit me! I was spanked as a child for naughty behaviors. I remember being the five year old boy that had the temper tantrum at the barbecue and was discipline for it. It was effective, as the spanking taught me not to do the behavior that warranted the spanking.

Because my son comes from an abusive background, I am forced to parent through a different set of lenses.

Image result for disciplining a childMy son came to me at fifteen years old and, up until that point, every form of discipline my son encountered had been yelling and then something physical. My son was being wired to think that he was bad.

Fast forward to now, when my son does something stupid or disrespects me in some way, my human nature kicks in and I get angry. So how do I rewire myself to meet him where he is? How do I teach while I’m emotional, to instill discipline?

One of the answers to these questions is to remain calm and teach the moment.

I don’t have all of the answers so pray for me as I search for a way to spare the rod and save the child. I am a constant work in progress. As a foster dad, my approach can’t be the same for every child. However, I must be consistent in practicing patience and understand. Every child deserves the safety and security of a loving home.

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We Can Be the Help

8572353057_3db6fda34f_z (1).jpgOne of the biggest adjustments that I had to make as a foster dad was showing grace to my children’s biological parents. It is often difficult to swallow the harsh reality of why a child entered the foster care system, especially when that child – a living, breathing human beings – begins to confide those details to you.

I have found that there are many parents who blame the foster parents for their unfortunate situation. When confronted with these parents, I must find the directions to the high road and drag myself there as soon as possible in order to remain cordial and polite. Despite the hatred and evil words spewed at me, I have to accept them and begin helping them get their child back.

I find that the best tool to complete this task is prayer. I pray for understanding, guidance, perseverance.

I need understanding to help the child with their situation and to better understand what path we must take to make sure they can go home.

I need guidance so that I can lead that child down the right path.

I need perseverance so that I have the strength to “turn the other cheek” when the unfortunate negativity is thrown at us. 

I do, however, have a question for the mom that lost their child to the foster care system and that is: have you ever thrown your hands up in defeat and asked for help with your situation? My wife and I can be that help!

We promise to love, nurture, provide for, and take care of your child as if he is our own while you work on putting the pieces of your life together if only you let us help you.

The Goodson Home is not perfect but ‘love’ lives here – for both our children and those working to better their lives in order to get those young people back home.

 

 

Graduation

13250492_10210120239581243_922018816_n.jpgIt’s been one year since my son Troi graduated from high school. I am happy to say that he is gainfully employed and living on his own.

As we embark on this graduation season, I’d like to give some words of encouragement to the foster parents out there:

You are doing a phenomenal job and please keep up the good work.

That said, the odds of our kids actually graduating from high school are stacked against them and downright scary. After a kid turns 18 in foster care:

  • 1 in 4 youth experience homelessness.
  • 1 in 4 males spent time in jail.
  • 3 to 7 different placements on average.
  • 6 different schools on average.
  • 46% drop out of high school.

If you knew my son Troi’s story you’d be amazed.

If you knew my son’s struggle, you’d give him a standing ovation.

Troi beat the odds and graduated on time with his class, despite all of his struggles, obstacles, and barriers.

He is a Goodson! He is my kid! Stacey and I poured love, guidance, and support into him. Because of that support and love, he beat the odds. We broke that horrific cycle and, for that, we should be proud.

If you are a Foster Parent then stand up and applaud yourselves. You guys are the Real MVP: Most Valuable Parent.

Parenting a Trauma Kid

16439237583_fda9b3a25a_o.jpgOne of the more challenging things about being a foster parent is parenting a kid that has experienced trauma. It is hard enough to parent a child without their historical information. Add trauma to the mix and you begin to scratch the surface of the different levels of issues and challenges your kiddo faces day to day.

Recently, we had a meltdown with our ten year old foster daughter. Upon being re-directed for the wrong she had done, she proceeded to go into her room and destroy it. Toys were thrown everywhere as she turned over her own tubs and boxes. She was highly agitated – her way of dealing with not getting her way.

Until this point, she had only been shown violence and verbal abuse.  When the people in her life didn’t get their way, they would yell, fight, and destroy whatever was in their path.

This is what she learned.  It was the only way she knew how to react in that situation.

However, it is extremely difficult to think about that in the moment as a parent. Your emotions are high, and the adrenaline levels are on a ten. My first thought, was to punish her by taking all of her toys out of her room – removing a potential barrier to keeping her room clean. My wife had to remind me that we shouldn’t punish her for getting mad and throwing her belongings everywhere since she was only displaying what she had been taught.3409975634_7e11dcd3e6_o.jpg

In comes the tricky part: her trigger is being told to clean her room because, in the past, she was beaten if her room wasn’t cleaned properly.  As foster parents, we must create a safe place for her.  If I take away her toys then I am punishing the reaction she has learned through experience. But, if my daughter and I clean her room together, then I am teaching the moment.

Several things are happening in this teaching moment – I am creating a safe place in one of the most important spaces in the house- her bedroom – and the two of us are bonding while cleaning this space. Finally, I get to praise her for a job well done after her bedroom is transformed from a disaster zone back to a ten year old’s pretty-princess palace.

When parenting a kid that has experienced trauma, the things that have helped me are to  take the emotion out of it. This is very difficult sometimes since it is hard to function when you, yourself, are angry and upset.  It is imperative to recognize your own triggers!

Recognizing your own triggers are sometimes difficult, but it is imperative to parenting children that come from a past of chronic trauma. Trauma informed parenting has changed the way that my wife and I parent our children.

Want to be the best possible foster parent? Learn more about trauma informed parenting habits as soon as you can.

Tip: My wife conducts Trauma Informed Parenting training throughout Michigan. Please fill out this form to get more information about booking Stacey or myself for a training today. 

 

Re-Unification

Screenshot_2016-01-26-07-30-35-1When I first became a Foster Dad, I truly believed that it would be extremely difficult to give a child back to a custodial parent. Boy was I wrong; nothing could be further from the truth.
Upon meeting my son and getting to know him, he spoke highly of his mom and his extended family. He told us about Christmas, birthdays, and family reunions positively. In his mind, the good certainly outweighed all the bad. In hearing his stories, I began to notice a shift in my thinking.
Instead of being selfish, and thinking that I was the best or only solution for him, I started to root for him and his mom. Because I cared so deeply for him, I wanted what he wanted. Because of that, I was able to extend some much needed grace to his mom, while praying that she completed her treatment plan to ultimately get her son back.
As awesome as I thought my house was, all this kid wanted to do was return to his home. I ended up helping him (and myself) by changing my attitude about what was best in the situation. I was able to show him what a strong man and a loving family unit looks like in with the intent that one day he can be and create the same.15722551403_9b07334c0a_k
Despite working to get him where he wanted to be – reunified with his mother -, I learned that one of the most important roles of foster parenting is to simply make sure he saw our home and family as his own and that he could return to us for comfort whenever he needed to. Despite the fact that my son did rejoin his mother, he will always be welcomed in my home and as a part of my family.

DEAR MOMMY

Let me start out by saying how beautiful I think you are. I really like your hair. It is so long and pretty; I like the wavy layers that you can put in it. I like how you are able to put it up, but still able to have the pretty spirals coming down the front. I want my hair to look just like yours.

Screenshot952016-01-23-12-59-43-1.jpgIt makes me sad that my hair can’t look like yours. It makes me sadder, when I see the frustration in your eyes about what to do with my hair in the morning before school. I over-hear you telling others that “you don’t know what to do with my hair,” and it doesn’t make me feel pretty when you say that.

I do like it when you make an attempt to comb my hair and style it. It feels good on my scalp when you put the lotions in my hair and rub my head. I feel a connection to you when we are done. I feel as pretty as a princess when my ball of fur is transformed into pretty, soft, pigtails, and braids with beads and barrettes in them.

I also like it when you take me to the salon. The ladies in there look like me. They have hair like mine. The smell from the hot comb smells like my granny’s house used to before I came to live with you.

Screenshot952016-01-23-13-01-09-1.jpgI like it when you have the black girl from the high school come to our house to braid my hair; she is so nice. Her braids in her hair remind me of the pretty African lady that I saw on TV. She tells me that I am pretty when she is braiding my hair. I like her because when she is done, my hair looks like hers.

Mommy, I want to be like you; however my hair is different than yours… and that is perfectly okay!

Love,

Your Daughter

The Day In The Life Of A Foster Kid

3090392251_911be4dfaf_mImagine being a 7 year old boy, one night your parents get into a fight and the police come and take your parents away in handcuffs.

The next day, the lady, that smells funny, tells you that she will take you to a different home and school, away from your sisters and brothers and you are only allowed to take what will fit into your duffle bag.

The next week, at the new school, you have a hard time with concentrating. You day-dream a lot. The teacher sends you to the principal’s office for misbehaving. You punched a kid in the nose for talking bad about your mom.

6692253593_cc3911bb5d_o (1)When you get home…errr I mean to your new house, the lady is there (the one that smells funny) talking to the parents of the house in the living room. You overhear them say “he is aloof, a dreamer, and aggressive, and I am afraid that he will hurt my bio son….please take him away.”

Now imagine that happening 10 more times before your 12th birthday. Would you be angry, hurt and scared? Wouldn’t you be confused and scared to trust?

This is the day in the life of some foster kids. These kids need and DESERVE love, patience, guidance, and understanding; but most importantly they DESERVE a loving home!

Purpose

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A few years ago, I changed my career. During the decision-making process, I had to take money off of the table and, doing so, I was able to hear God calling me to my purpose. My purpose determined my mission of making sure all kids receive the love and care they deserve. I am a Foster Parent and foster care advocate because God told me to be one.

You often hear people say, “find your passion and make a career out of it.” But what if your passion doesn’t line up with your purpose? I wrestled with this question for years. I finally found my answer when I stopped doing what I wanted to do and started doing what God was calling me to do.

Because my purpose is now defined, my “why” became very clear. My “how” somehow became easier.

If I was asked ten years ago what I was doing for a living I would’ve said “Sales Account Manager” proudly. If you asked me that question today the answer would go something like: teacher, mentor, coach, youth development specialist, foster care advocate, author, blogger, speaker. Once I found my purpose I became very passionate about doing all of these things; it is what I do and I never turn it off.

So my question is this, what is your purpose and are you passionate about it?