Thursday, September 04, 2008
The Price of Privilege - The Only Price I Haven't Had To Pay
Thank you Dr. Levine for pointing this out,"Numerous studies show that privileged adolescents are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse -- rates that are higher than those of any other socioeconomic group of young people in this country. The various elements of a perfect storm -- materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, disconnection -- are combining to create a crisis in America's culture of affluence."
Yes, all my children would like to own Ipods, but as much as I'd like the possibility of more silence in my home, I cringe at the thought of today's horribly sexist, misogynistic, and profane lyrics pounding in the impressionable heads of my children, tattooing disconcerting thoughts and anti-social, thug mentality into their forming psyches.
Like we don't already have enough issues here?
It is my job to protect them from that which might contribute to juvenile delinquency thought patterns. I love them too much to allow this possibility. I love them enough to just say no. They already know I'm not cool, and children need boundaries set by parents.
I want us to interact as a family, even though it makes my house loud and messy, it also makes it more fun. I clean it up each morning and I drift through the empty, quiet spaces with joy only to start fussing like a time bomb each afternoon as 20 pairs of shoes, an equal number of over-stuffed, disorganized bookbags and stinky socks are seemingly flung with abandon from ceiling fans to staircases, as the children immediately drop all thoughts of any educational pressures and jump into group-dogging me about dinner.
A reader, Marianne, wrote me simply the sweetest email yesterday that made my head swell with undeserved praise because she claims that my words help even the non-adoptive parents. Well I hope I can help someone as it appears at times as if no one is listening to me here, but I gotta point out that basically I always quote others as I stumble through life trying to unearth the best possible ways to help my own difficult young'uns.
I confronted my latest lawbreaker twice yesterday, once at their job and later when they actually called me to further discuss the ramifications that I will not help them out with at all. Yes, we can discuss what happened, and what steps you should take to correct this particularly ridiculous misstep, but the lawyer's fees are yours, as well as are the negative consequences. You best learn something from this. At their work I'd hissed quietly and with a great deal of love and disappointment intermingled, "I raised you better than this and you know it," being met with downcast eyes and visible shame.
OK, goody, that's progress, even if it might just be an act.
"I love you still," I tossed over my shoulder as I left, hearing a very deep, profound sigh in response.
As I later described this encounter to Sarah, she'd interpreted it as, "wow, even your love provokes stress in them," which is true. In their minds, how could I still love them after they embarrassed me so, after they blatantly broke my moral code, flaunted my values that I'd taught...still testing me, and others, way into their faltering, staggering steps into adulthood.
In the grocery store a teacher told me, in reaction to a previous encounter with a raging child of mine, "I never wanted to slap a student before. I was so horribly angry at such rude, disturbing behaviors," as she described the oppositional hatred that had emanated from a child of mine who'd disrupted her class.
"Yeah, honey, I know. I truly understand," as I thought back to an administrator who'd expressed the exact same feelings and words.
I feel like that all the time. I often think if I whaled the tar out of some of my children, then maybe they'd behave.
That said, I truly do also understand that hitting a child in response to their own ugly behavior would send a mixed and abusive message. It would not work nor should I ever respond in anger in any way, shape or form.
Period, that's the way it is.
It is important that I remember that. It is very, very difficult to do.
After church last night Allen melted down over a bowl of cereal, kicking the floor for about thirty minutes in repetitious fury as he could not even explain to anyone why he was so angry. My blood pressure soared as his pounding annoyed the snot out of me, so I walked outside, in the dark, and stomped around for a little bit, muttering, sweating and likely foaming at the mouth.
When he finally calmed his ownself down and grudgingly apologized, we sat and talked about why that was not decent behavior, how no law enforcement officer would ever put up with such disrespect, even though Allen simply could not get a grip at all. He just couldn't. Yet I have to teach self-control to impulsive children, nearly an impossibility.
Go read Dee's post about PTSD. There's not a child coming out of the foster care system, nor an orphanage, who does not have some form of this malady. A child deprived of nurturing has suffered even if only minimally. Deny it if you want, but you'll still likely deal with it in the adoption world.
I'll use Dee's quote, "Typical signs and symptoms of PTSD include impulsivity, distractibility and attention problems (due to hypervigilance), dysphoria, emotional numbing, social avoidance, dissociation, sleep problems, aggressive (often re-enactment) play, school failure and regressed or delayed development."
I fight my own parental version of trauma and stress. Three missed calls from Yolie yesterday when I'd left my phone in my truck, immediately sent me into orbits of anxiety...even though she was only calling to tell me she was bringing lunch to me.
Sarah frets in the mornings when I haven't called, always fearing that I'm dealing with yet another disaster. This is contagious when one lives with elevated stress that constantly pounds one into paroxysms of rattled apprehension.
I say this mantra constantly (that of: seek outside help and resources), but only because I am still so eternally grateful to Emily B, Dr. G, Dr. Mandy and now Dr. C, who've constantly asked me the exact, correct questions that enabled them to pinpoint that which I usually couldn't even see as I was in the midst of a child's crisis.
An adoptive parent without therapeutic intervention is a recipe for disaster. That said, we're also living proof that therapy doesn't guarantee immediate success. Let me remind everyone of the decades now involved here with my children...
And yes, my privileged children may listen to my Ipod that is loaded down with Zig Ziglar, Joel Osteen, Dave Ramsey, rip-roaring country gospel music, and the Erma Bombeck of the Christian media, Joyce Meyer, who hit me square between my bugged out eyes yesterday when she spoke about pity parties like the one I was having, that only made me seem pitiful...not powerful.
Ouch, but I agree totally.
And my Tony's Facebook status say, "God loves us even when we make misteaks," which is priceless misspelling that he can't even correct until he earns computer privileges back.
I don't spank, I take away privileges.
Yep, I'm giggling.