All of our children are special and have unique needs. Even once children enter adulthood, they continue to keep concerned parents on a growing edge. That’s normative of family life.
However, the books on parenting that I read this past month, are for parents in rather unique circumstances; but circumstances that are becoming increasingly common. The first was, Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? – A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. This book combines a strong knowledge of childhood development and philosophy with personal experience and anecdotal research. It was an enjoyable read that increased my appreciation for challenges that parents and children navigate in multiracial families, especially when they live in neighbourhoods where such families are not the norm. Each chapter is filled with helpful, practical advice for parents, teachers and congregations. If followed, it could help our communities move beyond racism into a greater celebration of the human family. My major takeaway from reading this book was its reminder of the importance of helping all children feel normal and accepted for who they are when I meet them in my extended family, my church and my neighbourhood.
The next book was written for parents who adopt older, traumatized children. This is becoming an increasingly common situation for adoptive parents as the availability of newborn children for adoption declines. Wounded Children Healing Homes, by Jane E Schooler, Besty Keefer Smalley, LSW, Timothy J Callahan, PSYD, is a challenging, but important read. While it is written for parents who are faced with challenges that can easily overwhelm, it is helpful reading for anyone in their potentially supportive community. Parents who are struggling to parent traumatized children will find great validation as well as useful guidance in this well researched and written book.
It was sobering to read about the way an infant’s drive to survive neglect and abuse can warp the development of the brain in ways that result in harmful, socially unacceptable behaviours well after the child is adopted into a loving and secure family and community. Love is not enough in these situations, but with good supports and self-care, incredible patience, knowledge, passion, empathy and skill, traumatized children can, and often do learn to bond, grow, and thrive. My greatest takeaway from this book is increased respect for the traumatized child, their caregivers, and the resiliency of the human spirit.