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Identity

33 posts in this category

Life Story Work Conference Round Up

The 2018 Adoption UK Life Story Work conference opened with a speech from Sue Armstrong-Brown about the difference between the facts of our life versus the narrative.  Many of our children are given the facts of their life but are unable to create a meaningful narrative without assistance.  This is why life story work can be so important.

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Bounce Back Blog: Equally Best


...." The notion that the father trumped everything simply because of ‘blood’ made me feel vulnerable and I confess fleetingly made me consider if my new role as a father could ever be quite as significant without that blood tie...

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Are You Gay?

Why is it apparently so difficult for parents to ask their children if they are gay?

Time and time again we read or watch accounts of young men and woman coming out and saying that their mother or father said that they had realised for a long time.

Realised, but had said nothing. 

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In the eyes of the beholder.

I have just come me home from a wedding where one of the guests leaned across the table  and asked "Is that your daughter running around?" When I answered in the affirmative she triumphantly announced to the table "I knew it! She is the absolute image of you! It's like someone has taken a blue print of you and put it into a little person.”

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Letter Box Contact

Yearly letter box contact has been agreed and we diligently get the boys to write Christmas cards for birth Mummy and Daddy - regardless of indifference from our oldest and huge resistance from his younger brother - in addition we put pen to paper and write a letter updating them on the boys past year.

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Dancing on a tightrope

Five years old, the books tell me, is an age when my daughter is not going to be that interested in her life history and experience tells me that’s true. But it is also the age when children start noticing the world around me, hence the various conversations I have had in recent months around the theme of “my child was asking why your daughter doesn’t have a daddy. What should I tell them?”

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Sad Eyes

This week we stumbled upon a DVD that the boys brought with them when then first arrived that was filmed at a children's play centre. It showed the pair of them sitting in a car seat 'driving' in front of a screen projecting moving cartoon images. We had watched it soon after they first arrived and it is sweet and charming and we thought it a lovely little peep at the younger - yet to be part of our world - them.

However, watching it again now is very different indeed, and what we see are two almost unrecognisable little boys

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Mum

Both our boys on occasions have called my partner and I 'Mum', as we are both men it has surprised us and we have considered it long and hard.

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ACE scores in the family

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) has far-reaching implications, including the surprising benefits of going through the healing process. 

The more I look at my parenting, the more I, and the way I was parented, stand in the way. Looking at the screen and my ACE score there is no other way of looking at it either. I have to look at my own roots. And deep down this really isn't about me.

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Listen Closely

 20150716_102245I recently met a beautiful and totally delightful 11-year-old girl who at the age of 10 - after a long and very difficult struggle - had finally managed to make her parents realise and accept that the male body she was born into was wrong and that she was indeed female.The parents shared with me the terrible time they had coming to terms with this reality and how they now realise that they had seriously failed the child that they loved so very much for so long because of their own ignorance and prejudice.They explained that their resistance to accept the truth had caused the daughter so much unhappiness and distress and that it had resulted in her becoming ill and developing stress-related alopecia and then how it had simply gone away once they listened to her and allowed her to be the person she knew herself to be.As a parent this conversation touched me greatly. And as a parent of a child whose genes I do not share maybe even more so. It made me realise the huge responsibility we have to listen to our children and to respect that they have a voice, to comprehend that they may not be the 'mini-mes' we want them to be, nor the people we expect them to be and, most importantly, that it just can't matter.Whoever they are and whatever they are is a fact. We can teach them to understand and appreciate social mores and expectations and we can equip them to be the best they can possibly be within the framework that society lays down, but we can't stop them being who they truly are. And even if we could, what on earth right would we have to do so?We can educate our children to understand and appreciate our lives and the way we live them, but we can't change their being to suit us, to suit our extended family, to suit our friends, our neighbours, our religion. Maybe we can influence them, maybe we can bully them into our ideals, or to meet our expectations or our beliefs, but does that change the people who they truly are? Or does it just result in them hiding their true selves to meet our selfishness, potentially confusing them and no doubt making them hugely unhappy in the process?I wonder how many of us parents can look back at how we were brought up - and what we inevitably bring into our own parenting to some degree - and recognise just how strongly we were expected to live up to our parents’ expectations and how wrong that was for us.I for one wish that I had been able to stand up for myself and say - 'NO, listen to ME. That is NOT me, that is NOT what I want and that is NOT who I am' - but as a child I was never given that chance, was simply chastised for trying to be true to myself and made to feel guilty for disappointing my parents’ impossible expectations.Of course we have to make sure our children know right from wrong; we have to make sure that they are good citizens who abide by the law and respect others as they would wish to be respected. It is our responsibility to arm them well to take their place in the adult world, but surely only as the adults that they know themselves to be.I now look back and realise that over the years I have been around a number of parents who I think did wrong by their child/children by forcing their own 'needs' or their own agenda upon them. That has left me as a parent wondering if I will be able to hear my children when they need me to, if I will really listen to them when confronted with something that I would struggle with or simply does not suit my expectations.I certainly hope that I can and if required: I truly hope that I do. Of course for their sakes - but equally for mine.P.S. I guess it is not going to be as easy as I had hoped it would be. A short time after writing this, I was having a conversation with a parent about their child (who has been privately educated) not wanting to go on into further education, and I found myself saying, “Well of course he has to go to university. The investment you have made has been huge and what will his future hold without a degree?”. To which I was quite rightly told “I know my child and he is not remotely academic. This is not about money; it is about him knowing himself and about me respecting that”.

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