Do you appreciate one-liners? I certainly do. I believe they are important. They can make us laugh (those endorphins are good for us), think and act. There are the comedic one-liners, jokes—the silly, the funny, the dirty, the stupid. They come out of nowhere, surprising you, making you chuckle, for example: “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”
Then there are the one-liners that encourage you to pause and think, seemingly simple and complex at the same time, for example: “The safest way to cross life’s streets is to hold hands.” or “An angry person is seldom reasonable; a reasonable person is seldom angry.”
What all one-liners have in common are how they succinctly and forcefully frame a perspective of truth, be it in the form of a statement or question, as in, “A closed mind is a good thing to lose.” One-liners comment on current events, politics, issues and problems, and life in general.
There is another type of one-liner and most likely you are familiar with it as well: pebbles, a technique to open up and engage someone in conversation. Have you been using the pebble technique to get your child thinking and talking? Most likely you have. It’s a wonderful parenting tool and an important one in parenting the child who has been adopted.
The pebbles technique is covered by Holly van Gulden and Lisa M. Bartels-Rabb in Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child. Dropping pebbles is an effective way of bringing up uncomfortable or emotionally laced topics with emotion. The technique is easy, consisting of dropping a thought provoking comment or raising an issue in a natural way.
Often the tween or teen who has been adopted comes face-to-face with thoughts and emotions tied to the core issues that stem from having been adopted. Sometimes they don’t talk about those feelings because they can’t, don’t know how to, or don’t want to. They need to talk, address and process those emotions and feelings. If well attached to their parents, the child who has been adopted may feel as though he might hurt his parents feelings by expressing how he feels.
Remember to comment or ask indirectly. Being direct may push your child to answer with the “correct” answer. As the parent you are seeking the genuine answer, the window of opportunity to use in opening a discussion with your child. For example, “You sing so well. I wonder if your birthmother was a talented singer.” Then just wait to see what happens. Sometimes, hours or days later you get results (ripples in the water). Sometimes you have to drop more pebbles. What else can you do?
Take the Lead: Assure your child that these thoughts and emotions are natural, normal.
Give Permission: Explain to your child that you want him to talk to you and that you will listen and be there for him, helping him to process what he is thinking about and how he feels.
Provide Assurance: Tell your child that he will not hurt your feelings or betray you by talking about his birthparents and emotions and feelings related to adoption. Be present.
Be Patient: Give your child the time. As we know, every child differs in temperament. Respect the process.
Let me close with another one-liner: “The longest journey of any person is the journey inward.”
Parents: Keep tossing out those pebbles. Do this every few weeks or so. Your thoughts?