Monday, January 20, 2014

"Don't Worry. Kids are Adaptable."

3:59 this morning I awoke to the sound of my son crying in his bed. "What's wrong, Isaiah?" I ask stroking his hair. "I'm sad. Sing a song with me." comes the quiet reply. After a quick trip to the potty we snuggle back in bed and I sing our own little song, "Mommy loves you, loves Isaiah, Papi loves you, loves Isaiah..." His eyes close slowly and sleep returns.

In the last 10 months our family has visited 5 different countries, traveled by car and plane over 4,000 miles within the US, and now live out of suitcases in our fourth home. We've made many wonderful memories and new friends in our journeys. Still, adventure loving or not, my little one craves and needs routine and stability just much as any other child. So what's a Papi and Mommy to do?

We start by considering how we would want Isaiah to remember his childhood when he is grown. We want him to look back on these years with great fondness and to develop a lifetime love of other cultures and people. We want him to grow up with the conviction that how he lives matters and that he can have a tremendous impact for good in the world. We want him to see and trust God in every facet of life. We want Isaiah to know deeply that we are in this together and that what he feels, even as a three year old, matters.

So we attach at the hip and include our little guy as much as possible in everything. We give opportunity for independence, but do not demand or expect it. We recognize the behavior pattern insecurity brings when moving to a new place and use informative and reassuring words, loads of cuddles, and quality time to keep it at bay. We admit that we are sad and miss our friends too. We pray together multiple times throughout each day.

Often, well meaning people remark, "You don't need to worry about Isaiah. Kids are just so adaptable." My thoughts? Yes, kids are adaptable, but I don't want Isaiah to just adapt. I want him to thrive.


  1. Daughter,

    “Well-meaning people” is one of those charged phrases that carry negative connotations and is demeaning. It implies that the person doesn't understand; that they have a simplistic and/or crude understanding of the situation and that their advice is not really advice, because it misses the mark.

    I don’t think anyone that said something along the lines of “You don’t need to worry about Isaiah.” meant for you to ignore your circumstances. They don’t want you to stop your parenting. They know you will have to take special measures to help Isaiah cope with all the changes he is going through. It means “don’t worry”. It’s good advice, take it.

    The second part of the phrase “Kids are just so adaptable.” is not meant to gloss over the strain you and your family are going through. It is meant as a reminder that God has equipped your son with the tools he needs to “thrive” in this type of environment.

    You know, I never really worried about you and your brothers when you were kids. It wasn't until you became adults that I started to worry. Now you make your own decisions and you provide for your own family, I "worry", did I teach you enough? “So far, so good.”

    Much Love,

  2. Thanks Dad for your comments. Perhaps well meaning isn't the gentlest description, but I'm not sure what else to write. I understand the intention and that it's meant in kindness, but it really is simplistic advice. My point in the post is that kids may adapt, but they don't necessarily thrive. That it takes thoughtful, deliberate, more than just my normal life parenting, work to transition relatively smoothly so many times. Hopefully I haven't offended anyone. Hopefully just given food for thought on the difficulties of parenting through changes.


  3. Daughter, I think you are seeing this from the wrong perspective. From your comments, it seems that you have interpreted “don’t worry” to mean, you don’t have to do anything (don’t worry) and it will turn out OK (kids are adaptable). I know that many people think of not worrying as going through life “happy go lucky” with “no thought to the future”, but that is not “don’t worry”. That is being foolish. Your well-wishers don’t want you to be foolish. They want you to be wise.

    I’m glad you have put so much thought into parenting. You’ve done more than I did.

    Being thoughtful and deliberate should be normal life parenting, not extraordinary. While you may have to exercise those skills now more than you normally would, I hope you are always thoughtful and deliberate even in “normal life parenting”. BTW, your mother was much better at being thoughtful and deliberate when it came to parenting than I was.

    My favorite example of your mom’s thoughtful and deliberate parenting was when we were visiting my Uncle Roy’s house. You and your brothers were in his backyard, up on the side of a little hill throwing rocks from the hill into the yard where Roy mowed. That was a bad thing to be doing, but you didn’t know. Me, I would have gone out there, yelled at you to stop and made you pick up those rocks. You would have known you were in trouble and felt bad. Instead, your mom went outside and told you in a normal voice that you were “throwing the rocks in the wrong direction”. Soon, you and your brothers happily came off the hill, into the yard, picked up the rocks and threw them back up on the side of the hill where they came from. I thought your mom was awesome.

    Too much Love,

  4. Hi Anisha! I hope this day finds you well. I had a quick question about your blog and was wondering if you could email me at your earliest convenience. Thanks! :-)

    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Cameron. I don't see an e-mail address for you, but feel free to contact me

  5. I love the idea of throwing rocks in the wrong direction, how wonderful! We as parents always struggle to do what we think is right, I think the struggle is the main thing, that we don't sit on our laurels (if any!), and continually look out for the wellbeing of our child(ren). And they will hopefully see our love, and our efforts, and thrive :). Hugs Anisha!!

  6. Yeah my mom's a pretty cool lady! :)