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The one about how we try not to fudge up our children…..

It was my birthday on Tuesday, and to celebrate the occasion, we invited a group of my closest friends over for a potjie. Aside from one couple, all of us are parents. And so, as tends to happen, conversation turned to all things parenting and the number one theme that seems to run through every conversation about parenting, whether you agree with anothers parenting methods or not, is that all loving parents want is to do the very best for their children, raise them to adulthood and not fudge them up along the way. We are all, after all, a product of our upbringings.

Parenting adopted children, I learned a long time ago… does come with some added pressures. Just like when you parent a special needs child, or any other unique situation, you do have to parent for the child you have. I have adopted children so I parent accordingly. I’m always aware that my children have deep seated abandonment issues, that they have trust issues and that it is essential that Walter and I help them feel as secure as possible at all times.

Both of my children displayed post placement distress. And each child will experience this differently. We have good friends with an adopted child, who at age 3 has developed selective mutism. After play therapy, his mutism has been traced back to issues surrounding his adoption. Hannah has sensory issues that after much therapy were also traced back to her placement and issues of trust. So you understand that this is always foremost in my mind and in Walter’s mind when we parent our children.

When Ava was almost a year old, my life imploded. Nearly a decade of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss had left me with PTSD and Post Placement Depression, my marriage was on the rocks and Walter and I were talking about separation.

The turning point for us came from Ava. She wasn’t even a year old yet, but we were in deep trouble in our relationship and fighting almost constantly, one morning, we got into a HUGE fight into front of Ava, who was sitting in her high chair. We were screaming and shouting at each other, when suddenly she burst into tears and started hitting herself in the head. It was awful to witness and I carry a HUGE amount of guilt over the fear and insecurity our behavior must have caused that our 11 month old baby would do that.

It was that moment that Walter and I realized we needed help and went on to months of uncomfortable marriage counselling that eventually brought us back to from the brink of divorce.

One of the promises we made to ourselves that day was that we would NEVER EVER fight in front of our children ever again. Guys, all couples argue and fight. Let’s be honest about that. All couples bicker and get irritated and annoyed with each other. Do you know how hard it has been to avoid fighting in front of our children? But we’ve done it.

Except last night, last night, we had a disagreement that had been coming for a while and I kind of lost my cool, it happens rarely, but when I lose it, I lose it! Walter is the King of Silent Treatment, I am more of the Scream-Shout-Throw-All-The-Things kind of person and last night, while I was in the midst of my meld down, I stormed out of the kitchen and right into Ava, who was standing in the passage, with her show & tell book in her hands, all wide eyed and insecure and I HATE myself for it! HATE myself that I broke that promise! I am OVERWHELMED by guilt today!

I took myself off upstairs to calm myself the fudge down and get a grip on myself and then had a chat with her about how sometimes mom’s and dad’s get cross with each other, just like she gets cross with her sister, or the dog or her best friend and she shouts at them. That sometimes mom’s and dad’s need to do the same but that doesn’t mean they love each other any less. It just means they’re cross and everything will be ok.

I felt so guilty, after she went to sleep last night, I lay in bed with her, whispering to her, hoping that my whispered messages of love and commitment would make it through to her unconscious, sleeping brain. She already has issues of abandonment and commitment without out Walter and I fudging that up further.


And I went back to the conversations we’d had around the potjie on Tuesday and realized once again, that regardless of how any of us parent our children, we all pretty much have a common goal…. to raise them to adulthood without fudging them up too much!



  • Anonymous

    June 19, 2015 at 11:30 am

    You guys are very noble trying not to fight in front of the kids. I grew up in a very turbulent home and I know exactly now how aggression and fighting makes me feel but it is also because my mother and father never really taught me how to deal with it all after it happened. I was just exposed to the fighting and never the peace. My husband grew up in a home with zero tension and his parents told him they were divorcing when he was in matric which took him by surprise as he thought they were happy! And in both our different ways our different upbringings have affected us equally. I just resolved to do exactly what you did – to show my kiddies that (like you said) fighting is normal at times (all siblings do it, all people who love each other do it) but the important thing is to do it without violence (!), deal with in a healthy way (not sulking!) and ultimately forgive each other. Don’t be so hard on yourself S, I have been reading some horror parenting stories out there. Our kids are so lucky to have us xxx

    • Sharon

      June 19, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Thanks for that! I know we’re all a product of our upbringings and really we’re all damaged or scarred in someway, I just never want Ava to feel like she’s at risk of being abandoned because I already know that deep down she will struggle with those issues because of placement, logical or not.

  • Coco

    June 19, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Sharon I “understand” your concern, but it I believe it is important to let your children witness arguments. It teaches them how to conduct themselves in an argument obviously it depends on what the argument is about, try to never get personal, daddy never gets violent, nobody hits, try not to swear (yeah right), never get personal, fight about the issue, yes raise your voice, shout, storm off when it gets to heated and cool off, let them the witness the make-up. Also both of you should tell them, yes we are angry at one another, but we still love one another, you can be angry but you do not stop loving one another. Fighting is normal, they should not be afraid of it, rather show them how it is done in a loving save home.

  • wannabepoet

    June 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I completely empathise with you Sharon. L and I are guilty of exactly the same thing (fighting in front of M-L) and whilst she doesn’t react like Ava has, she goes very quiet and withdraws into herself. It’s also something that we’ve said we can’t do but as you wrote, it does happen. Sometimes emotions are just so flared they spill over and we can’t help but erupt at one another in front of the kids. But it’s definitely something we’re working on, and if we do have a fight in front of her, I reassure her just like you did to Ava, that mommy and daddy were being silly and that we still love each other, and of course her.

  • Laura

    June 19, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    We dont fight a lot but when we do we can both get a bit explosive and Kiara especially doesn’t like it. I explain it like you do. We get cross with each other and thats ok. We make a big thing when we are over it though, to show them we can fight but still love each other.

  • Pandora

    June 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I also think it ok to argue in front of kids sometimes, but it is also very important that they witness you saying sorry afterwards, or any apologies. We make a point of apologizing to each other and to her if we hurt anyone’s feelings too, and then we carry on as normal because she should see that you can argue and you still love each other afterwards.


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