Powerpoint surviving (adoptive) adolescence
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Powerpoint surviving (adoptive) adolescence



Strategies for managing the potentially turbulent adolescence of adoptees.

Strategies for managing the potentially turbulent adolescence of adoptees.



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Powerpoint surviving (adoptive) adolescence Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Surviving Adoptive Adolescence Created and Presented by Brenda McCreight Ph.D.
  • 2. A long journey – likely to have included:  Pre-natal trauma  Pre-natal exposure to maternal stress hormones, drugs, alcohol, tobacco  Early neglect/abuse  Multiple caregivers and multiple moves  Learning how to belong  Learning how to survive change  Attempting to meet expectations – social, family, school  Brenda McCreight Ph.D workshops 2014 Getting to adolescence:
  • 3. Lets start with the brain: • Last major brain growth is between ages 13 and 25 • Brain connections re-grow and adapt to whatever is happening in the moment ie interacting with genetic family, identity issues, loss & abandonment issues, attachment challenges, school pressures, social demands….. • The brain grows and prunes while cognitive processes expand and refine • If the youth is overwhelmed with life at this point, the brain will overdevelop the parts that help the youth cope with the stresses, and this may be at the cost of developing social or academic skills • Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series 2014
  • 4.  Motor and sensory areas mature early  Planning, decision making, & impulse control mature later  Reward center matures greatly so seeks stimulus ie loud and colorful and exciting  Early trauma can be re-triggered and further entrenched by social pressures regarding sex and drugs  It’s all happening in a brain that has been altered by early neglect and pre-natal exposure to toxins Brain organization:
  • 5. • The ways in which the parent interacts and responds will influence which genes and neurons are activated and entrenched in the youth and in the adult • Stress hormones close off reasoning and communication • Calm response has the potential to produce self soothing chemical responses in both the parent and the youth Parenting has an impact:
  • 6. • Abstract thought develops – creates questions and new perspectives • Magnification of issues • Sexuality – own, genetic parents, parents • Fantasy – how much better life would be everywhere else • Loyalty – where do I belong? Foster parents, genetic parents, parents • Identity – who will I be like? • Abandonment – they didn’t choose me • Independence – a mix of terror and rebellion • Fusing and confusing typical teen issues with adoption related issues • Pre-existing conditions such as f.a.s.d. and a.d.h.d. What else is happening? For the youth…
  • 7.  Exhaustion  Fear of adolescence  No ability to connect with adoption issues  To great an ability to connect with the issues due to own unresolved history  Lack of appropriate skills  Lack of conflict resolution skills  Fear of rejection by the youth  Fear of the youth’s violence  Overwhelmed with life in general  Lack of attachment to youth For the parents…
  • 8.  Mental health conditions  Parental depression  Adolescent pregnancy  Internet addiction and related internet problems ie porn, gaming, unknown relationships and unknown communications  Youth violence in the home or the community  Youth victimization due to vulnerability  Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshops 2014 Additional concerns….
  • 9. • There is one main issue that underlies all of the adoptive youth’s other issues – that is.....ABANDONMENT. • All of the problems, all of the challenges, all of the issues, are the result of the original, and subsequent, abandonment experiences. • Grief, loss, attachment, disorders, acting out, etc, are all just actors on the stage – the script, however, was written by abandonment. The main issue….
  • 10. • Maintain the connection – no matter fragile, intangible, unwanted, or shredded it may feel – the connection between the parent and the teen is the only thing that will allow other strategies to work. • The parent may have to reach out to the youth through his or her own depression, heartache, and emotional darkness The main strategy…
  • 11. • Each event of conflict requires an adult to manage it appropriately – you have to be the adult  Try to avoid an inflexible position, negotiate whenever possible ie “No, you can’t have an overnight at your boyfriend’s house, How about I pick you up from there at 11pm?”  Keep your voice neutral and low  Stay on the topic, don’t be dragged into other areas of conflict.  You don’t have to win, a compromise is good. Strategies to maintain the connection and resolve the moment…
  • 12. • Avoid known trigger topics • Don’t use “always” or “never” • Move away from an audience, others in the family don’t have to watch • Refrain from lecturing • Really listen to the youth • Refrain from using put downs • Refrain from swearing • Listen to yourself, monitor yourself • Ask the youth for some ideas on how to resolve the conflict • As soon as there is any movement toward compromise, act on it
  • 13. Self Care for Parents • The most important thing you can do for your kid is to take care of yourself • Life your life as if the problems don’t exist (remember, I said the problems, not the kid), Junior is going to grow up eventually and there’s no point in putting your life on the shelf for a few years while Junior sets a new standard for “attitude” • Learn and use conflict resolution skills • Find a way to enjoy at least one hour a week with Junior • Find a hobby or interest for yourself that has nothing to do with parenting • Let the rest of the family have a life • Believe in yourself and your family • Remember, nothing lasts, not the good and not the bad. It will all pass.
  • 14. • Please check out these other resources: • My Youtube Videos go to http://www.youtube and search under my name • My Slideshare powerpoints go to http://www.slideshare.net and search under my name • My Udemy courses go to https://www.udemy.com and search under my name • I provide counselling consulting, and mediation services on site and distance by phone or webinar or secure video. • Contact me at 250-716-9101 or brenda@lifespanmediation.org or my website http://www.lifespanmediation.org Thank you for sharing this time with me