When You are not Able to Parent an Adopted Child, is it YOUR Fault?

“I just can’t parent this child. I don’t know what is wrong with me!” she said as I sat across the table from her in the coffee shop. We sipped our hot strong caffeine laden brews, her face showed signs of stress and tension from trying to parent a difficult child.



If this sounds like you, keep reading. If it sounds like a friend, please share this post with them.

The more we talked, the more I watched the stress melt away and she took on the glow of motherhood once again. Why?

You see, I have been there. That pit where I wallowed in self-pity and I felt like a failure. I always wanted to be a mother, why was I messing it up so horribly? Why was it so difficult?

Sometimes I wondered what this child had against me. Why was he so difficult?  What was I doing wrong?

I want to share a few reasons with you and they may surprise you. I’ll start with one today.

Parenting involves more than one person. This sounds elementary, but sometimes we miss this important point. It takes two to tango, as the old saying goes. Two distinct and unique personalities are involved in parenting and often three, mom, dad and child. 

The child who has been adopted from a difficult place, i.e., an abusive environment, alcoholism, neglect, molestation, etc. brings his past to his present family. It doesn’t disappear when you sign the papers. He isn’t washed clean by the hammer of a gavel in a court room.

You, the parent have a past. There is a reason you embarked on the road to adoption. It may be infertility or a difficult past yourself (me). Your past is part of you just as your child’s is. Mix that in with his personality, your personality and both of your pasts. There will be some clashes. Some battles. That does not make you a failure. That makes you human.

You must take the time to parent yourself before you can parent your child. (Tweet this) How do you parent yourself when you are a grown up? You deal with your issues. Forgive those who have hurt you in your past. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. You cannot take your child somewhere you have not gone yourself. If you haven’t dealt with the hurts of your past, you can’t parent your child do what you have not. Parent yourself first. 

It’s okay to take the time to do this. It’s not selfish. No, quite the opposite. Your taking time to parent yourself will benefit everyone in the family. It is when you mistakenly assume that you can handle it all yourself and that your past no longer effects you that everything goes wrong. The child continues to press your buttons and you his. 

If you need counseling, get it. If you need a coffee date with a friend who knows what you are going through, schedule it. Don’t be afraid to parent yourself.

Before I end this post, here’s a challenge, write a list of things you think a good parent would do, especially if you did not have a picture perfect childhood. Be bold. Do it. Think of all the things you would have loved your mother or father to do. 


Did you do it? Good. Now, do them. Accomplish everything on that list. Do one today. Do it for yourself. Bake cookies. Read a book aloud. Play a game. This isn’t for your child right now, we will get to that. Do it for you and your child will benefit from it. You can take him where you have gone yourself.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of this topic. There is certainly more ground to cover and it won’t fit in one day, nor can your answer this question in one day. There are too many variables. Next Monday, I’ll shift to the child and examine his reasons for resisting your parenting.

Join me Wednesday for Three Word Wednesday!  The topic? Everyone has Limitations

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