When entering the adoption process, many prospective adoptive parents have a million questions and just as many concerns. Some are addressed by legal representation, others will be answered by social workers. But some questions will need to be answered simply by learning from those who have been down similar paths: other adoptive parents. Then there are questions that can’t be answered – those are the answers adoptive parents have to find for themselves. Sometimes adoptive parents, like all parents, have to learn as they go. Accepting this will make the entire process easier. The day the adoption is final isn’t the day on which you’ll reach your optimum level of parenting. It’s the day on which your gathering and perfecting of parenting skills will really begin.
Adoptive Parents: The 4 Main Methods of Developing Parenting Skills
- Learning parenting skills from your own parents. Those with incredible parents may feel they are on the fast track because they had a good model of how to be patient, respond to poor behavior, take responsibility, etc. It is a good starting point, but it is in no way the end of the road. Others grew up with parents who attempted to be good parents, but made a lot of mistakes. Still others had parents who were absent, neglectful or even abusive. When considering what parenting skills you did or did not learn from your own parents, remember this: even if the parenting you received was less than ideal, you can choose to use the example you received as an example of how not to parent.
- Learning parenting skills from the observation of others. Regardless if they are friends, neighbors, or strangers on the street you probably started to notice other parents when you were very young. You noticed how your grandparents parented, how your best friends parents parented, how the brooding dad at the park parented and how the kissy faced mom at the grocery store parented. We constantly catalogue tips and tools and note others’ methods regardless of whether we’re aware of it or not. We see others go through parenting situations that we have yet to handle. We watch and gain valuable understanding and insight to a situation that we may one day face ourselves.
- Learning parenting skills from experts (i.e. books, media, professionals, etc.) There is a never-ending supply of information available on the subject of parenting. There are conflicting opinions, traditional views, and conflicting strategies. Remember that there is no one method that results in being a good parent. There are dozens of excellent parenting books and there are countless tools and words of advice. Take advantage of the ridiculously extensive amount of information available, but remember to be open because what works for one parent/child won’t be the answer for the next.
- We learn parenting skills from our children. This could be called on the job training and as any good employer/manager knows it’s the best kind of training there is because it’s training specific to the exact job (or child) at hand. This is where most of the “learning as you go” is going to happen.
Adopting a child means taking on the full time forever job of parent. Developing parenting skills is definitely a part of showing your love for your child. But it’s important to remember that new parents, whether their child is biological or adopted, are still a “new” parent. They learn as they go just like the rest. Don’t feel that you need to be perfect in every parenting skill as soon as your adopted son or daughter arrives home. Parenting skills have to be developed and once they’re developed, parents spend their entire lives cultivating them. It’s a growth process that continues and evolves with life.