You didn’t say a word.

You didn’t have to.

You rolled your eyes, and subtly shook your head, and let out a sigh that said it all . . . and I noticed.

It’s clear to me you’re judging and in disagreement, perhaps even disgusted, with the way I’m managing my kids.

Perhaps you think I’m over-reacting about something seemingly insignificant, that I need to dig a little deeper for some patience. Maybe you’re of the opinion that my expectations are too high and I’m being too hard on them.

It’s possible you know our story (that two of our kids are adopted from foster care) and you think because of their rough start at life, they deserve more free passes.

I get itthis small detail of what you’ve been privy to in our lives, of my kids’ functioning, has led you to believe I need to just chill.

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But can I let you in on a secret? Can I zoom out a little bit so you can see the bigger picture?

This seemingly insignificant thing my child has (or hasn’t) done, the thing I’ve seemingly gone overboard about? This isn’t our first conversation about the issue at hand.

In fact, in many instances, I have addressed this same issue more than 100 times in a variety of different ways.

OVER 100 times!!!

And my kids are smart. Like, ridiculously smart. They will spout off information about something they learned nearly a year ago. Information that hasn’t been presented to them since and that I have to Google to fact check because I’ve never even heard of giant isopods (and their deep-sea dwelling friends).

My kids know all the rules. They are well versed in the consequencesas well as the rewardsfor the choices they make.

And I’m mentally exhausted of having to address the same thing over and over and over again, to the point that I am sick of having to hear my own self say these same words . . . over and over and over again.

Can I let you in on another secret?

Through a series of trial and error, lots of failures, and lessons learned, I know my kids are the give an inch, take a mile sort of kids.

They are going to test and push every boundary especially when they are in the presence of guests.

Testing the waters to see what they can get away with is their norm, and if I don’t keep control of a situation from the start, things are going to escalate quickly.

This is the reason I can’t simply re-direct giving half a dozen warnings for the things they already know they should or shouldn’t be doing to appease your rolling eyes and heavy sighs.

Perhaps that makes me seem harsh but here’s another reality: if we enter into chaos, I’m going to be in the trenches sorting out that chaos for at least a week. Long after the guests have said their goodbyes.

If you’re of the opinion I’m out of patience, you’d be right!

If you think my kids need more free passes due to their history, I respectfully disagree.

I have served as their punching bag, endured, and poured on lots of love. I’ve given grace in light of the desperate situation. My heart broke (and still breaks) for what they had to go through, for what we’ve all had to go through.

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And I also won’t allow that to be an excuse for poor choices and bad behavior ongoing especially at this point when they’ve demonstrated they know better.

I’ve seen first-hand how a victim mentality can play out in one’s life, and I desire my children to rise above.

I recognize my adopted children have unique needs based on their history.

As they age, I will ensure all the appropriate resources and support to help them sort through whatever emotional yuck remains from their early experiences.

In the meantime, we have rules, boundaries, and expectations. All have been made very clear. Right now that is the sort of stability that is needed, and it needn’t be confused with a different set of rules, boundaries, and expectations when we are in the presence of company.

Those seemingly insignificant things I’ve gone seemingly overboard about? What you have witnessed is a drop in the bucket of larger issues.

I love my kids and I want the best for them. I also want as much peace and harmony in our home as we can muster. That means I have to tend to problems in the most effective ways I’ve learned how, whether it seems overboard from the outside looking in or not.

I’m not saying it’s done perfectly, but we’re doing the best we can.

Hilary Doyle

Hilary is a wife and mother of three living in Colorado. She enjoys projects (especially with her young kiddos), gardening, writing, reading and swinging a club on the golf course. Her education and work experience fall in the category of mental health but her heart is in her home - just as God intended. Follow her at SimplyWriteous.com.