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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Changing Hearts, Changing Minds

For those of us adopting older children, we often have rough roads ahead… with a scenic, pleasant view at the end-!  The good news is that anyone can change, at any age.  The challenging news is that even young kids can be incredibly set in their ways.

There’s a long laundry list of items that a new adoptee from Eastern Europe might need to learn:  we throw our used toilet paper… in the toilet; we don’t dress like a … streetperson in old, rumpled clothes thrown into the closet; we don’t listen to instructions… then do whatever we want; we don’t hoard food, or trash, or broken items under our bed.

It takes time, no doubt about it.  It takes the will to “want-to”.  And that doesn’t always happen overnight.

Some days, “I Don’t Care” could be the theme song of the older adoptee.  My husband had a talk with the kids the other day on this topic.  Actually, he was talking to a whole group of kids about their behaviors and attitudes.

It’s often true that when a child (or adult) says, “I Don’t Care”, they’re expressing hurt.  They’re saying that they’re overwhelmed and they want to know why they SHOULD care.  Or, how do I begin to care?

When you love someone, you care about them.  When you love yourself, you do what it takes to ensure that you’re headed in the right direction, that you’re going down a path that makes sense and that will lead to your intended destination.  That’s a heart issue, not just a behavior issue.

So how to change a child’s heart?

Easier said than done.  How to change our own heart?

Occasionally, it means taking a step toward them… when you really would rather take ten steps away from them.  It doesn’t mean letting things slide when you need to have some consequences, but it means administering those consequences while still “being there” for the child.  They need to know that their mess-ups can be overcome and that they are not one. big. loser.

Every week, our kids have a Scripture verse to memorize.  Without hope, and good ideas being planted in their minds, they will go back to the lowest common denominator that they knew for so long:  despair, darkness, degradation. We constantly tell them that they are new, and so does the Bible.

On Sunday night each week at dinner, they recite their verse, and then again on Thursday when they speak with their dyedushka (grandfather) by Skype.  It keeps the verse floating around their consciousness for several days.

This week the verse is from Ezekiel 36:26:  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”  A more modern translation puts it this way:  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts.”

Well, amen to that!  My prayer is that not just our kids, but all of us can become “new” and ready for the challenges of life which we face each day.



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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar AP says:

    I was reminded the other day how our struggles are just as hard on our children as they are for us somedays. When our kids have this “I don’t care” attitude it is SO easy to feel the same way. Is it any wonder that we all start feeling hopeless?

    I think the children are often afraid to care – in the past they only brought hurt and dissappointment.

    Thank you for the reminder to tell our children how EVERY day is a NEW day. We should all learn to live by this.

  2. avatar Winnie says:

    Does this work for onery mothers as well?

  3. Not sure this is only applicable to older adoptees, as I have just had a discussion (yet again) about not hoarding, food, and trash and broken items, and chopped off Barbie hair, under the bed. Oh yes, and being told the rules, or knowing the rules, or having a discussion about please don’t do something, and then immediately going off and chopping off more Barbie hair to hide under the bed. Tonight we discussed showing proper respect to adults in authority. Including me.

    • avatar admin says:

      I agree, Wendy, it’s all ages and all stages. The question is: why do they feel the need to do these things? What is the root issue behind the behavior? For me, I think a lot is lost in translation, not necessarily the English itself, but certain phrasing and ways of saying things in English that my kids don’t get. i.e. “Do you hear me?” (“Yes, Mama…”) “But I don’t see you doing what we just talked about. Didn’t you hear me?” (“I heard you.”) In other words, there’s no connection between hearing and doing.

      Tonight the girls wanted to wear the same clothes for tomorrow. (We lay them out the night before or else we waste time in the a.m. discussing their attire.) This is because I am weaning them into choosing their own outfits and it’s too stressful for them to decide two days in a row-! I told them that they wore the same clothes the last two Mondays in a row and I allowed it because we did laundry on Monday eve and the clothes were fresh the next day. They insisted that they had not worn the same clothes Monday and Tuesday. I insisted that they had and they were not going to this week. My husband got involved and immed. understands: They felt I was saying that they had worn THESE clothes for 3 weeks in a row, when I was simply saying whatever they wore on Mon., they then wore on Tues.

      And on and on it goes. I could get so much done if only life were linear and everyone would cooperate by moving in the same direction…!

  4. avatar Phyllis says:

    Amen and amen!! Wonderful post! Praying that He will break through all the lies that our children have listened to for too long and help them to hear the Truth.

    • avatar admin says:

      Some days we have such breakthroughs where I watch the kids laugh and joke with each other. Their faces are relaxed and they know that we’re in their court. And then there are the setback days/weeks when everything seems to go haywire.

      Interesting that you use the words “lies” and “truth”– very important. We’ve actually had them write out columns of what they’ve been told or believed in the past, and what is really the truth of their situation or person. Just keep planting and watering the good things….

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