For chapter 9 of The Sorcerer’s Stone we’re going to piggy back off the Kids’ Discussion since a lot of their ideas are applicable to family and parents.
Our kids discussed a lot about how Harry Potter, Ron, Hermione and etc. took care of each other because they were all in the same Hogwarts house. They were in essence a family away from home. I was happy that my kids noticed characteristics of a family when we were reading about the Gryffindor students.
- They spend a lot of time together.
- They teach each other new things (the older students show the younger ones how to get around the castle).
- They have fun together.
- They try to help each other succeed (they try to earn their house points).
- They PROTECT each other.
The whole topic of families sticking together is probably one of the biggest underlying struggles of our family. It’s easy on paper to say that families should stick together or protect each other, but it’s a WAY different thing to play it out in real life.
I remember one early experience that let me know that bonding and closeness were going to be something that our family would have to work at throughout life. My wife, Margie, and I sent our youngest son off to daycare for the day so that the three older kids and us could get to know each other better. The older children had been moved around the foster care system more and would obviously have the most challenging time bonding with us. We had decided to take the three older kids to The City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. For those of you that have never been to this place it is a larger 3 to 4 story warehouse that has been converted into a HUGE playground with slides, tunnels, ropes, and so on for children and adults to climb around and have fun. The draw is that everything is made from recycled materials. While climbing outside there is an old airplane that you can climb up to. Since adults can join in the fun, this is a great place for a young and energetic family. However, when the kids are foster children and independent, the experience can be crazy – OH, did I mention that some of the tunnels become so slim that there is no way for even an in shape fellow like myself to get through them all. The day started off fun and quickly led to me sitting in a high area that looked over the three story indoor area struggling in vain to see where all three children had gone to – I don’t think I have ever prayed so much before in my life. It was my only birthday where I just wanted to go home and go back to bed.
The next incident I remember is going to an amusement park for the first time. Every time I turned around I saw a kid standing closer to another family in a line than they were to Margie and I. I think I said the phrase, “Are you going home with them or us?” no less than 983 times.
The normal bonding that a family goes through when a child is born does not occur within a foster/adoptive family. I can’t expect that my children will want to spend a Friday evening with me playing board games or watching a movie at home. However, I think it is healthy to make situations where we all have to spend time together. Some evenings no one is allowed to play with friends or play the Wii by themselves. Whatever is happening that evening is done as a family – even if it is two exhausted parents sitting in front of the TV with their kids.
Another suggestion that I heard from the knowledge of Dr. Karyn Purvis is that a new foster/adoptive child remain glued to your hips for weeks. This forces everyone to stick together and get to know each other. I can say that I have seen this suggestion play out great when a child is acting out more than usual. The natural response for parents is to send them to the corner or to their room – away. However, with an adoptive/foster child, try making them be closer to you. This turns out to be a bit more work for you BUT more rewarding in the end. This can only be done when everyone has calmed down after an event and is ready to look at each other in the eyes. Consequently, the child will be following you around while you make dinner, at our side while you fold clothes, with you while you pay bills online and so on.
Now It’s Your Turn:
- What are the characteristics of a family?
- How well is your child bonded to you on a scale of 1 to 10?
- When do you notice your child is connecting with you?
- Can you think of a situation where you thought your child would naturally connect with you but did not?
- Do you think your child feels connected to you?
Let us know some ways that you find to help your children bond with you. Also we always welcome thoughts and ideas about this chapter from you.