I've said it before and I'll say it again, parenting is tough. Parenting kids from tough places is tougher. As guys, we tend to get our joy from accomplishing things. Words of affirmation mean a lot to us. We want to be loved and thanked by our kids.
However, if you have ever entered the world of foster care and adoption, most times, it is not anywhere close to the above. You have kids tell you that they hate you. They take advantage of you. They lie to their caseworkers about you in order to get you in trouble. They know exactly what buttons to push. They may even use physical harm against you to show you their "love". Here's what I need you to know.
It's not you.
I take things personally. When my kids legitimately hate what I cooked. Or they say something that hurts my feelings, I get angry. I feel like I lost in the game of life, and I feel deflated. It's just how I'm wired, and quite honestly, it's how a lot of guys are wired.
But know this...
These children have trauma. Yes, I know, the dreaded "t" word. But it's true. They take a lot of time to warm up or trust you. They have a fight or flight instinct just like us, but it tends to come out in different ways. Sometimes they actually run away (flight) or throw punches (fight). Other times it comes in the forms of isolation (flight) or yelling or screaming at you (fight).
I'm here to tell you again...it's not your fault.
They have been through a lot, and if you haven't ever experienced what they have experienced, it won't click and that's OK. As most of the guys on our page would say - keep loving them. They may not accept it or reciprocate it, but little by little, your love and kindness will chip away at the shield they have put up. It could take years, or you may get lucky and it will only take a few months. Each child is different depending on what they have been through.
Regardless, know that if you are loving your child(ren) with all of your heart it's not your fault. Yes, you will screw up. You may yell back. You may say something you don't want to. Genuinely apologize and hug your child and keep loving.
Understanding your child and understanding as much as you can about their past can help shed light on what's going on inside their brain and in their heart.
Keep going, Dad. You can do it! Don't take words personally. You keep loving and doing your best!
You got this!