Covid-19 · Fostering · Parenting · teenagers

Connect before Correct

I’ve been reminded a lot lately about the value of connection.

There is lots of information about how important it is for us to be seen and heard in order to feel loved… secure… valued.

It has shown up in the things I have been following about education, mental health, parenting and even workplace dynamic.

As we emerge from a global pandemic and start learning to live in endemic mode (Covid 19 is not going away, it will always be with us but the theory is we have the tools to manage it now), the stats are starting to emerge about how we fared.

One thing that stands out is that people who stayed connected to a community that gave them purpose and meaning, did better than those who had to tough it out alone.

Being in a group is not enough, you need to feel seen and known within the group. You need to feel connected in a meaningful way.

In the world of foster care and the realm of discipline it is said that we should always put connection before correction. The idea being that a child who knows they are loved and secure will respond better to being corrected. Correction or discipline should never threaten the security of a child.

“My way or the highway…”

“My house, my rules…”

“If you don’t like the way things are here, you’re more than welcome to go find someplace else to live…”

“If you can’t live with it, leave!”

Have you heard any of these phrases or ones like them?

Have they come out of your mouth?

Parenting teens is hard! They need connection, they need boundaries, they need security, they need love, and they are craving independence!!

For a teen in foster care there is a raging conflict between connection and independence, especially if they haven’t been in care long! The need to form meaningful bonds with their caregiver is at odds with the adolescent changes that are screaming that they don’t need anyone and they can make it on their own!

Adulting is hard… we as the adults have to be the ones who see the struggle and honour who they are and who they are becoming. We are learning that there are times it is more important to affirm who they are than demand compliance in their behaviours.

There are times that correction has to happen, but I am learning that how we approach those corrections can make a world of difference in how they are received.

We had a lifelong connection with our bio kids and there came a point where correction was rarely necessary… rarely but not never. With our foster kids there is reason for correction almost every day. The challenges are real. We aren’t where we were with our bio kids at the same age.

So there are a lot more things we have to choose to overlook so that we are building connection. We’re learning. The struggle is real.

In the midst of the mess


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