Adoption can be the answer to your dreams of becoming a parent. Sometimes things do not work out exactly as you had hoped. Bonding issues can develop after an adoption, regardless of the age of the child. Adopting a newborn creates an easier bonding experience than adopting an older child, although no age group is immune.
It can be devastating if you have longed to become a parent and find that your child seems to hate you. Their anger and frustration can even interfere with your ability to bond with them. This creates a vicious cycle with no winners. Understanding that bonding issues are at the root of your child’s disdain for you can help you develop a plan of action.
Obstacles to Bonding
Every person has a deep-seated survival instinct. When a child is separated from family, suffers abuse, or has multiple caregivers in a short period, it can make them slow to trust. When you understand that this issue is not related to you as a human being, or as their parent, it makes it easier to take the situation less personally.
It is tempting to try to force bonding, but rushing the process will only make your child more resistant. It is important to respect their boundaries. Doing so will allow them to develop trust in you.
To facilitate bonding, be happy with slow progress. Activities such as reading, watching cartoons, or playing a game on a tablet are a good way to build a connection. You can sit beside your child, without forcing interaction.
Commenting on the activity, asking questions, or helping, allows you to show that you are reliable without forcing a connection. Over time, your child is likely to ask you to participate with them. This can take a while, and it is important to remind yourself not to take things personally.
While you mustn’t be seen as a scary, authoritarian figure, there are still rules in the household. The best way to manage behavior while building a bond is to make sure that the rules are simple, straightforward, and that there aren’t too many of them.
Make sure the rules are simple to follow, and there is a clear explanation for what happens if they are not followed. Make sure that you are not tempted to discipline too harshly. A child that seems to hate you may seem to do things just to make you mad. Letting your emotions get in the way when you discipline your child will further drive a wedge between the two of you.
The flip side of the coin occurs when you, as a parent, do not discipline at all. If you feel that your child hates you, you may feel like you cannot do anything that seems mean. Tip-toeing around your child is not the answer. All children need boundaries, and boundaries are one of the ways that they feel loved and secure. Just keep your expectations clear, and any necessary discipline gentle.
Recognize Small Improvements
It is very important that you not allow your emotions over the bonding situation to further damage your relationship with your child. Continue to remind yourself that your child behaves this way because of what happened before the adoption. The older your child was at adoption, and the more chaotic their previous living situation, the bigger challenges you face.
Recognizing small improvements can help you realize how much progress you are making. This means giving your child plenty of opportunities to bond. You shouldn’t force your attention or affection on your child, as this can be traumatic for someone who struggles with bonding.
Work on being available and present. If they are looking at a book, offer to read them a story. When you are fixing dinner, ask if they want to help, then give them a safe task to do. You will find the greatest success if you focus on building a team rather than concentrating on the emotional aspect of feeling like your child hates you.