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Adoption and relationship issues between parents and teenage girls can be challenging. Even under the most ideal circumstances, hormones, peer influence, and growing up impact the way a teen relates to her parents.
Girls naturally enter a season of questioning who they are, what they believe, why they believe it, and what they want in their life. Our society places great emphasis on choosing a future occupation while teens are still trying to survive algebra and prom date mishaps. When we factor in social media, perceived beauty concepts, and the fact that the portion of the brain responsible for logic is not fully developed until age 24, we can understand the effects of pressure on teens!
For a young woman who has been adopted, these issues are compounded by grief, loss, and an additional layer of identity searching. If adopted as an older child, they have had the added responsibility of growing up too quickly. In many situations, they have been their primary caregiver, and possibly the caregiver for younger siblings. They are now faced with learning how to simply be a teenager, and how to rely on someone else to provide the things they need.
Developing a healthy relationship with your teenager who has been adopted is a beautiful reflection of our relationship with God. Today, I’ll share three ways to connect and strengthen your relationship with your teen!
Adoption and Relationship Issues
Your daughter’s trust has been broken. If she came to your family through adoption, the reality is, the innate trust that we have in our biological family was broken. This is not a loss that can be glossed over, or taken lightly.
Work towards establishing trust by being consistent. Boundaries, routines, and personal value systems must be consistent. By living with integrity, you will model for your daughter the type of person that can be trusted.
In addition to being consistent, ensure that you keep your word as often as possible. Letting your yes be yes, and your no be no, is a powerful thing. Do not make promises, or threats, that you will not follow through on. Showing your daughter that you will do what you say you will do is a powerful trust builder.
There is an old saying, ‘Expectations ruin relationship.’ Setting expectations that are unattainable is damaging. Do not expect your daughter to only experience gratitude in regard to her adoption. This isn’t a reflection of you, but of the trauma she has endured. Do not expect your daughter to simply get over the pain of her past. Rather, anticipate walking through a journey of grieving with her. Do not expect her to connect effortlessly with you and your family. She has endured much– realize that some of her behaviors were self-preserving before she came home. Do not expect her to fail simply because of her heartache. Instead, recognize that the pain she’s experienced can be harnessed to make her stronger, and more resilient.
Believe in and pray for your daughter daily. Encourage and support her as she pursues the dreams God’s placed in her heart. Walk through each step of the process with her, recognizing that at times, she may need space but simultaneously the security that she is not alone.
Having fun is an imperative way to connect with children who have been adopted. Even for teens, this is important, as it creates a nonthreatening way to establish connection. What does your daughter truly enjoy doing? Find a way to do it with her.
Our defense mechanisms come down when we experience joy and laughter. Put on a funny movie, play a game, or go see a comedy! Seek out opportunities to laugh, relax, and reset together.
In closing, I’d like to add a reminder. We are intentional about connecting with our children because it is the very heart of God. We cannot force them to accept Him, but we can allow His love to flow through us, to them. We can speak His life-giving Word over them, and show them, through our lives, what it looks like to live a surrendered life to Him!
Have you considered adopting a teen? Are you walking through a season of struggle with your daughter? Is there something we can lift up in prayer for you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Naomi loves Jesus. She is married to her best friend, John. They have six amazing, beautiful kids, two of whom have been adopted from the foster care system. Naomi homeschools their tribe of world changers. She is a type-A, list-making, change-fearing girl living an adventure that demands flexibility, spontaneity, and constant change! Through her words, she prays you’ll find something that points your heart to the Dream Giver and the Author of each of our stories – Jesus.
Naomi is the author of Don’t Waste Your Wait: Embracing the Journey of Bringing Your Child Home. She writes over at her site, Living Out 127, and has done a number of speaking engagements and trainings for prospective and current adoptive and foster families.