Today we’re talking about acceptance.
Acceptance may seem like a given in your family; of course you accept your children! You accept all your children — your bio kids, your adopted kids, your step kids — that should just be a given…right?
Let’s look at the example of marriage.
The old joke is that the husband says “I told her I loved her on the day we got married”… “she should know”… “I shouldn’t have to ever tell her again”. We know that’s wrong; we know that’s not accurate.
We understand that we have to continue building that marriage relationship with our spouse and continue nurturing that relationship… If it is to be healthy and thriving, that is.
The same goes for our kids.
And you all know this but we often have some hurdles to break through — some walls if you will — because our children who were not born to us have all already had experiences that have taught them not to trust that the love, the acceptance, it’s not guaranteed to last.
So they may feel belonging & acceptance on one day and by that afternoon they don’t feel accepted or they are misinterpreting something as proving that they’re not accepted.
It’s those underlying feelings of acceptance or rather non-acceptance (rejection), that feeling of not being accepted, or of being vulnerable to losing their acceptance, that can be a pervasive problem sometimes hiding under the surface and it can be long-term
So it’s important for all of our children to build up their belief about their belonging and ongoing acceptance in our point of view and in our families.
What steps can you and I take to reinforce belief in their acceptance & belonging whenever there is something that we clash about, whenever there is a correction or an instruction, or an expectation that may be be unmet - how can we bring it to the forefront that those things do not diminish our acceptance of them as beloved children?
I’m not claiming to have done this well myself; I definitely haven’t always done it. I think we as parents can sometimes overlook this deep ongoing need for belonging and acceptance to be reinforced and just feel like acceptance is understood, assuming it a given, just like the dude in the bad marriage joke.
Recognize the risks of feeling unaccepted, rejected, left out.
I’ve learned that acceptance is not a given nor always just understood. If you’re tracking with me this far to recognize that it’s not a given with your adopted children or stepchildren, then I want you to branch out from there and recognize with me that even your biological children (if you have them) who were born to you, who have a history of acceptance and belonging from birth, or before birth with you, and who “should” know that they are 100% unconditionally loved and accepted by you — recognize that they are also vulnerable to the risk of feeling unaccepted, rejected, left out. This may be partly because they recognize on some level that if it could happen to their siblings it could happen to them. They are now living with the reality of the history of their brother or sister’s broken former family up close and personal.
I know I was either unaware or overlooked the fact that our biological children can also be susceptible to the vulnerability of feeling unaccepted or less accepted.
When we become an adopted family, a blended family, we interject this type of vulnerability to uncertainty and doubts around acceptance, not only with the new children but with our biological children as well.
Reinforce acceptance & belonging.
I invite you to brainstorm ways to encourage and reinforce belonging and acceptance. It can be harder once they are older and out of your house.
My devotional this morning was talking about acceptance & gave the example of who else, but Jesus! Jesus Christ. You’re familiar with the way Jesus and his disciples were. (You can refresh your memory with a quick read through of the Bible book of Mark! Also The Chosen TV series portrays Jesus with his disciples.)
Jesus would have had reason to get frustrated with the disciples. He would have a reason to be disappointed. He would have reason to feel rejected by his own disciples, at times feeling like they they weren’t obeying, they were denying him, they had turned against him.
They were not believing Jesus and they were not trusting him, even after living with him seeing miracle after miracle, even after receiving such amazing Insights into who he was — they still had trouble at times, trouble believing him, believing In him, following him, and obeying him
And so you think that even with Judas, the one who would ultimately betray him — Jesus knew what was going to happen! He knew what was in his heart and he knew how Judas would betray him.
He knew that Peter would deny him not once but three times and he even warned Peter about this, but yet Jesus did not reject them. Jesus accepted them. Jesus continued to accept them. Receiving that acceptance was another matter however.
It was not just a one time “OK you’re in now - that’s it - sink or swim”. It was “Yes you’re in and you continue to be in my inner circle - you continue to be my friend - you continue to be accepted”, and it was an ongoing thing that Jesus continued to accept them.
I think if we view acceptance more as an ongoing process versus just a one time thing or something that we reiterate, when the need arises… I think if we view acceptance as an ongoing process of building belief in (and receipt of) their acceptance it will go a long way toward balancing these other A’s (autonomy and accountability).
When you understand their need for autonomy and you build belief into their need for acceptance that lays the foundation for relational resilience when accountability issues arise. We’ll get into accountability next time.
Curious to know what you think about these issues, and as always…
Keep growing, keep learning & keep loving
Bye for now!
I appreciate if you would leave a comment or podcast review if this helps you.
STANDING IN THE GAP FOR 2nd MOMS
Publishing this podcast & companion blog is one way that I stand in the gap for second moms with similar challenges to what I’ve gone through myself as an adoptive mom.
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