Tag Archives: adolescence

Feeling Like No-one Really Cares

Have you ever noticed that your adopted or foster child seems to have held onto orphan thinking? Orphan thinking can lead to choices, statements and behaviors that are troublesome. I’ve learned about seven specific indicators of an orphan spirit or orphan heart (there may be more). Yet these indicators can be found not only in orphaned children with traumatic backgrounds, but in each of us. We are all born with an orphan heart and may display one or more of these indicators. How can this awareness help you? I’m glad you asked!

We humans tend to distance ourselves from those who behave in ways that upset our sense of self, preferring to see ourselves as somehow beyond that particular risk. But an awareness of the orphan heart in each of us and in ourselves opens us up to more and deeper potential for connection to our children — children who may have disturbing thinking and behaviors which on the surface may seem bizarre and difficult to understand, even beyond understanding.

One of the seven indicators of an orphan heart that I have learned of is the following:

  • You struggle to trust that God cares about your cares; that he is working things out for your good.

Does this describe you? Your child?

My children with orphan thinking may think or talk about me as their enemy more than their loving parent, refusing to trust my love and care. This is more than the typical eye roll as a teen gets into that stage of feeling like their parents are out of touch with today’s reality and living in the dark ages. Rather, it is a deep-seated doubt springing up occasionally or constantly near the surface. It’s a doubt that says, not only does your parent not understand you, but they really don’t care, or care enough, about you – – regardless of the evidence to the contrary. It causes them to mistrust and misinterpret the parent’s motives.

But what about you? I want you to do a little investigating. Notice any time you think or talk about God as your enemy. You may not think you ever do this but pay attention. Do you ever talk about how angry God would be if you did such and such, or how he must be mad at you since such and such happened? Do you ever express fear of God’s punishment or reluctance to share your needs with God, refusing to depend on him to meet or even care about them? For example, praying minimalistic prayers like “Oh God, I’m not asking for much and I know you are too busy for me; I’m just asking for a few crumbs and I’ll get by”. Or “I don’t want to bother you God with these needs over here; I know I should take care of them myself”. Do you think you have to do certain things to stay on God’s “good side”? Take a week and notice, writing it down, anytime you catch yourself speaking or even thinking things that express doubts that you have about God’s care. Dig into why you have those doubts and see what God’s Word has to say about it.

If you do notice yourself doubting God’s care for you, you can repent. You can also understand a bit more how your child may be inclined to doubt your care for them. Think about how you feel. You might want to journal about it. Another thing you might do is to regularly repeat an affirmation based on God’s Word that will help revise your thinking.

Affirmation:
“God cares about my cares!”

Cast all your cares [anxieties] on him, for he cares for you.

I Peter 5:7

Write down the affirmation and the verse in your journal. Also write the affirmation where you’ll see it daily and recite it aloud to combat the orphan thinking and doubt of God’s care that you’ve noticed in yourself. Ask God for a change of heart and thinking. How can you reflect this change in the things you say? Write down alternatives beside the items you wrote down earlier that indicated your doubt and orphan thinking.

I hope this helped you understand how our orphan hearts are more the same as our children’s than they are different. The more we can identify with our children the better we can empathize and connect with them.

I plan to share the other seven indicators in follow-up posts. But to get my list of affirmations corresponding to all seven indicators of an orphan heart now, click the button below. Also, I’d love to hear about your experience using the affirmations! Get the Orphan Heart Affirmations list with the blue button below.

Answering the Question, Who am I, Really?

As children hit adolescence they all tend to zero in on the things that they can hang their hat on as their own unique identity.  Some of the things they focus on are qualities that differentiate them from their families or help them stand out.

These can be a variety of things such as a sport or hobby focus or changing their styles of clothing and hairstyles.  And some are aspects that help give them a foundation of familiarity, mainly family-based, such as a heritage or tradition, cultural comforts or genetic traits.  Sometimes there may be friction when their choices differ strongly from that of their parents or accepted norms. It is a normal part of growing up.

But when children have a shaky past as our former orphans do, this process can be a lot more treacherous.  The analogy I would use is a tug-of-war rope with which the adolescent/young adult is being pulled one way toward individuation and breaking away from the family, and another way toward the foundational elements that would keep them grounded such as family relationships, traditions, values and beliefs.  pexels-photo-91416.jpegIn general there should be a balance so that it is not pulled too far to either side, but both sides having a firm grip in the life of the maturing young person.

Having less than a firm background can make it difficult for the rope to hold and more dangerous for the young person to pull away, as is natural to do at this age, without that invisible grounding tug.  (We are dealing with this in our family right now.)  And whereas many times tweens and teens are known for trying on different styles or hobbies or interests (“mini-obsessions” they hyper-focus on) like trying on new clothes, your child may have a tendency to get stuck on one and not be willing (or able) to let go or change gears.  Getting through to them that it is okay and expected that they will change their minds as they try new ideas can be difficult.  It is worth the effort to help these children realize that they can let go and try a new approach when the one they are using isn’t working well, without it being identified as a failure on their part, but an aspect of growing and maturing.

Does your child fear to go too far out of the familiar comfort zone and fear losing their footing? They may need extra help to find and expand on qualities they identify themselves with, aside from their family or background.

Negative things can loom large, either from a particular child’s background or about them as an individual at this age and can dominate their thinking.  As children who have had significant trauma in their backgrounds (whether they actually remember it or not) these things can be magnified and take on a larger than life quality, clouding the young person’s ability to see themselves in a positive light.  So they will need guidance to help them grasp a larger, more accurate perspective — one that includes the more positive and even neutral aspects of their identity to give them a better balance.

Helping adolescents and teens to latch on to a balance of foundational, grounding aspects of their identity, plus spread-their-wings, reach-for-the-sky aspects can be a difficult process and will look different for everyone.  Remember it’s a part of the growing up process, though it may look different and take more time (and tears and prayers) to get through for our once orphan children, so that as parents we can stay focused on the big picture and be less frustrated over the small stuff.

To find our value primarily in our relationship with God and his with us is the best foundation any one of us can have!  When your child is asking, “Who am I, really?”  it’s this foundation that really counts.

And knowing your value is in being a child of God is never a shaky foundation!

In Jeremiah 1:5 God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart . . .”  May we ALL find our identities in our relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help.  There are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.

If you think it might be helpful for your family to learn more about these products feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to fill you in.