Tag Archives: friends

Book review: Friends, Bullies and Staying Safe

Kupecky_Friends-Bullies_978-1-84905-763-9_colourjpg-printFriends, Bullies and Staying Safe by Regina Kupecky is one of a 5-part series of workbooks written for therapists and counsellors who work with adopted children.

The books’ focus is a group of fictional adopted American children, aged between 9 and 13, who get together regularly with their school counselor and an adult adoptee/teacher to discuss adoption issues within a regular ‘Adoption Club’.

The characters in this book all come at adoption from different angles so every box is ticked: There is an example of a child from a mixed race international adoption, a single parent adoption, a child who has regular direct contact with her birth family, a sibling pair who have had multiple foster placements, a child with a physical disability and a kinship adoption. This mix of children and the Adoption Club context provides the perfect vehicle for discussing a range of adoption-related friendship issues: ‘types’ of friendship; whether siblings can be friends; talking about adoption; teasing and being teased; what being a friend actually means and what makes it hard – all explored from differently adopted children’s points of view.

At first glance, I thought the stories looked a bit twee and the illustrations seemed rather old fashioned. Maybe I was prejudiced by the photograph of the very homely looking Mrs Kupecky on the back cover. But I am glad I persevered (it really wasn’t hard, the book is less than 50 pages long) because I think this little book has lots to offer therapeutic parents and their children.

It is mainly aimed at primary aged children, so I asked my sibling pair for their opinions: My daughter Red (11) said she liked the fact that all the characters were adopted but didn’t think the black and white line illustrations were very good (though she took that back when I told her she could colour them in). One morning on the way to school, our son Blue (12) started to talk about his different types of friends and I realized he had read the book without me knowing. On further probing, he said he liked the fact that his opinion was asked for in a book and that there was space for him to write and draw about how he felt.

If pushed, I would take issue with the word ‘Bullies’ in the title. The extent of the bullying is one girl being asked repeatedly about her birth family, so don’t buy it as a miracle antidote to any serious bullying your children may be experiencing. I think our children find it difficult enough to distinguish between bullying, teasing and open questions as it is – but that’s another story! Still, it’s worth both a quick read and a more leisurely exploration with your child and definitely helped mine name and voice some of their own concerns around friendships. I recommend it.

Rating: **** (out of 5): More than worth a go!

This book is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers here.

Very many thanks to @plumstickle who has reviewed this book. No fee was paid for this honest review, but @plumstickle received a free copy of the title.

A Problem Shared

depression

Play date nightmare!

When we have a friend over for tea, both my children, age eight and ten, always act up. They wind each other up, argue and try and get the other one into to trouble.

I find the whole experience very stressful and often end up telling one or other of them off whilst the friend is there, which makes me feel terrible. I have tried to arrange for the one without the friend to be elsewhere, at a friend’s house, but it’s not always possible, or I have an activity for me to do with the other child, but they still get drawn towards the child with a friend. I’ve also tried having a friend for both children at the same time but that is even more disastrous.

After the friend has gone home we also often have some sort of a meltdown. Sometimes I wonder whether the whole thing is worth it. 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to manage play dates with siblings?

How do you find support?

Support.

Sometimes we need help and we don’t know where to get it from.
I suppose the main support sources are family and friends, but there’s also post adoption support, school, school nurses, therapists, counsellors and other health professionals.

These days, I find help from all those sources difficult though. We’ve gone too far along our journey to find many who’ve experienced what we have and as a result I find little comfort in speaking to those who understand the theory, but lack the real experiences, lack the raw emotion of parenting a traumatised child.

I have a few, very close, amazing friends and they are great for letting me sound off, whinge, cry, rant, celebrate and boast, but even with the amazing personal support they give me, they can’t empathise and truly understand what my family lives through. They are fantastic at letting my children just be children though, and I so appreciate that even with all they know (and they know A LOT), they don’t judge my children or pity them for their pasts.

My family simply don’t see much of the violence or challenges. My children are charm personified in front of their grandparents, and turn into gremlins the moment the front door closes. As much as they believe me, and do their best to support me, they simply cannot see the same children and as such don’t really know how to help.

IMG_20141127_153835I’m aware of this…isolation that I’m putting myself into. Don’t get me wrong – I have normal relationships with other mums, we go out for coffee, we talk about the day to day stuff about school uniforms, dieting, the weather, good books, homework and the star of the week. We have family friends that we occasionally manage a day trip with, but again, we talk about work, the car, what the kids watch on TV, how well they’re eating…normal parent stuff.

 

But I don’t talk about the real things that affect me and my family.
That gets compartmentalised and discussed only with other adoptive parents that live the same kind of life that I do. After all, how many people really understand trauma? Or really get neglect? My normal mum friends don’t – one joked the other day about the circle of neglect she was buying for her baby (an inflatable baby nest), it took a lot for me to bite my tongue and not tell her about REAL neglect…the kind my daughter endured.

The Adoption Social provides the links I need. It’s even managed to find me a couple of people in my local area and we’ve connected via email, and hope to meet up. But I need more. I need more people to get in touch with, and I want better local support. All my local adopters groups have been running for years – the people that go have teenagers and know each other of old, and, I don’t fit. I’ve never been one for cliques. So where now? Where do you get your support from? Am I too needy? Am I expecting too much? I never meant to rant about my lack of support, but I’d love to know how others manage…

So where do you get support from? We hope that here on The Adoption Social we can put you in touch with other adopters, tweeters and bloggers who you can chat with but is that enough?
If you want to write about an issue that you feel strongly about, then please do send your posts into theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

Life on the Frontline – week 11

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A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.

This week Small had a friend over for tea. Of course with everything seeming to go so well with him, at the moment, I made the mistake of thinking that this would be fun.

Small has obviously been missing his friends whilst he’s not been in his mainstream school and I have organised for the occasional friend to come for tea. These meetings have always gone pretty well, the friends Small has chosen have been laid back, accepting of Small and happy to play along with him.  Not so this week.

We collected the friend on our way home from school and arrived home to a grumpy and unhappy Tall. Having spent all day in internal exclusion he had not enjoyed his day in school and seemed determined to let us all know. Cue a tantrum over something I can’t recall, with threats being made to me, over behaviour I could expect, if I didn’t give in to his request. Words were exchanged.

“Well, maybe you shouldn’t swear at teachers if you don’t want to be excluded”

“I’ll trash my bedroom”

I’ve had a bad day”

“join the club”

Small’s friend stood with his jaw wide, unable to believe the audacity of my son, and later asks “did he really say that to you?”

First rule of having friends over, no family fights whilst you have visitors, broken.

So you know that time is of the essence for me at the moment, finding time between having a child at home, being in school with child, driving child to and from other school, meetings, phone calls about one or other of children, finding time to do the everyday things that need doing  can be tough. Like shopping.

Small and friend had requested that friend to tea staple, chicken nuggets, and usually there is always said food in the freeze, however not this time.

So having settled Small and friend down to play the Wii, I took the grumpy one to the supermarket with me. Don’t worry the husband was also at home.

Half an hour later I come through the door to husband shouting down the stairs,

“You really need to sort him out”

Whilst out Small had threatened to stab his friend, reassuring him “there are plenty of knives in this house”

Friend is hiding out in the kitchen, whilst a seething very stressed Small is pacing his bedroom.  Friend would like to go home, understandably and is a little upset. I however can’t find his mum’s phone number and am also trying to calm Small and get to the bottom of what happen.

It seems there was a control issue, over playing a certain game. Friend is oldest of three boys and I think might be used to bossing his brothers about. Small obviously will NOT be bossed and when also told that his selection is “stupid”, full on survival mode has been activated in Small.

I manage to placate both and they agree to have another go, it doesn’t go completely smoothly but we get through to mum collecting without any stabbings. I then need to explain to mum what has happened.

I look for a flicker, something in her eyes, which will tell me what she is thinking, as I relay her how my son threatened hers. I reassure her that he really would never do such a thing and smile hoping to make a connection. It wasn’t there, she leaves with her son and I have no idea how she’s taken it.

Once gone Small deteriorates into one of the biggest meltdowns we’ve ever experienced with him. I spend the next hour racing between the front and back door as he tries to escape. I’m spat at, kicked, thumbed and called an array of colourful names.

The whole experience is exhausting and when everything is finally over a couple of hours later and I fall into bed, I sob uncontrollably at the unfairness of it all.

 In Other News

Without the whole friend for Tea incident Small manages to still have an extremely good week in school, and we are looking to increase his time in mainstream by half an hour next week.

Small however did complain at the weekend that he’s really fed up with having to behave all the time.

Tall has managed to miss some pretty big pieces of homework he needs to do. He is sometimes out of mainstream classrooms so blames this fact on not knowing, but I’m on to it and he has got a lot to do next week to catch up, wish me luck.

Growing up and Keeping Friends

A problem today about making and keeping friends as a tween or teenager….

Both my children struggle with friendships and social interaction with their peers. We, like many of you have not always had an abundance of tea time invites and children’s party’s to attend. Their awkward, aggressive and uncooperative behaviour in school has ensured other children, and most likely their parents, keep their distance.

As our children get older it  often becomes more evident that their behaviour singles them out as different.  As a parent your heart breaks for them.

I have a 9 and 10 year old, the oldest being in year 6 and soon he will embark on high school. What huge fears that brings to me, about how he will cope in such a highly stimulating and less protective social setting. Older, bigger children and lots and lots of children, teenagers and on the most previously unknown to my boy. The expectations on how to behave, what’s acceptable and what’s not becomes increasingly more under the spot light. How will he cope?

DSC_0053He has one very good friend whom I encourage contact with as much as possible. I’m aware however that I don’t want this child to feel a responsibility for my son, so we had a new friend over for tea this week. My boy spiraled with a mix of anxiety and excitement at having someone different over, and although it went well, I notice a marked difference in the way he behaved and interacted with the other child. He was skittish, loud, jumpy, rude to me and a big show off. I understood and let it go, trying to guide him a little without getting in the way.

After he was left wired and then a bit deflated as he considered “had it gone well?” “what if the other boy had not enjoyed himself/ didn’t like him any more?”. The evening didn’t end particularly well, so caught up in it all, he struggled to come back down.

Anyway it got me thinking. At the moment I can still extend some influence over how he interacts with his peers, with tea invites and play dates of a fashion. But soon he will be spreading his wings and more importantly his peers will be moving on from this type of interaction. I worry because my son is not ready to go off and do things on his own with a group of friends, hang out in the park etc… I know he’s not yet able to make all the sensible choices which would keep him safe.

So here’s the question, how do we continue to help our children with their social interaction and building of friendships, especially as the become tweens and teenagers?

I would love to hear what you’ve done or what you think you might do in the future.