I'm sitting near the St. Paul campus of the U of M at a Dunn Brothers having breakfast after a worldwind tour of MN. I left at 9:30 yesterday with Bart, dropped him off to get work done alone, then moved on to visit two of the families on my caseload. I really like them. I've always had a bit of a struggle considering "my families" clients, but I always attempt to practice good boundaries.... however, I LIKE them. So the meetings were fun.
Then picked Bart up and we met my friends Sam and Vicki for dinner -- always great to see them. He's kinda famous, but I've known him for a long time so with some effort we can coordinate schedules and I can make their calendar. It's always great to be with them. Sam is one of a kind.
We then headed to the hotel for a short night before I dropped Bart off to train all day and then came to have breakfast before I go to teach.
Before leaving yesterday morning however I had a huge argument with my daughter who still lives at home. Today, ironically, I am going to be teaching about a principle that adoptees struggle with that is very evident in the lives of my children: Mastery and Control. She illustrated the point perfectly.
Because adopted kids have so little control over their own past, it seems they have to go out of their way to prove that they can control their future. We were fortunate that our oldest son, who was our first older kid to be adopted, was determined to do this in a positive way. His goal was to grow up and have a life like he saw as the ideal in society. And he did just that. He is now a college educated, married teacher who has a wonderful wife and possibilities for a very normal American dream life.
Unfortunately we have other kids who have gone the opposite direction to prove that they don't have to listen to us. They do poorly academically to prove that I can't make them study. They drink, smoke, get pregnant or get others pregnant, get high, break the law -- and often it is simply to show us as parents that they are in control of their own lives. It's heartbreaking to watch but virtually impossible to prevent.
So as I listened to her tell me how stupid I was because I haven't figured out that there is nothing that I can do that is going to make her do any homework at all... I should have been simply and calmly telling myself that it was about mastery and control instead of arguing and feeling like I wanted to dive across the room and knock some sense into her. NOTE TO ALL MANDATORY REPORTERS WHO READ MY BLOG: I DID NOT ACT ON THOSE FEELINGS.
Sometimes even if we know the reasons for our kids behavior we don't do a good job of dealing with it. I spend hours a month training people on how not to do some of the things that I do at least a few times a week.
Maybe I need to work on my own mastery and control!