God is sovereign.
this means that he rules above all, and every single thing that happens is according to his will.
today i was reflecting a little on God's purpose for my job (i work as a behavioral interventionist for children with autism) and how it prepared me in a big way for our current foster/adoption situation.
when we came to california, i needed a job. any job. unfortunately, my major (psychology) did not really lend itself to any job in particular. i applied to receptionist positions, coffee shop jobs and hospital jobs. there was one job that i applied to that would actually use my degree. turns out, that was also the only place that wanted to hire me. so less than two weeks after we moved here, i was a behavioral interventionist.
like i said, they were the only company who offered me a job, which is the main reason that i took it. however, God has used my job to teach and influence me in numerous ways that have been a blessing and helpful to foster-parenthood.
1) my job has helped me become comfortable with kids if you have known me for a while, you know the irony in me having four kids right now: a year and a half ago, i would have nothing to do with kids. last spring (as in 2009), God changed that in me and made me open to being a mother. but i still didn't know how to relate to kids. that is why God gave me the job he did.
2) my job has made me more understanding of and less afraid of children with special needs two of our foster children are suspected to possibly have fetal alcohol syndrome. if so, this will significantly impact their emotional, academic and social capabilities. a year ago, this would have freaked me out. today, i know it will be a challenge if that is truly the case, but it is not something foreign and scary.
3) my job has given me an understanding of developmental steps for kids i have a fairly good idea of the developmental stages for kids in regards to speech, fine and gross motor skills and independence. when i interact with our kids, i can see where they are at with these things, and what their next step for development should be.
4) my job taught me about the importance of positive reinforcement positive reinforcement is the idea that children will learn a behavior when they are positively reinforced (ie rewarded) for doing the right behavior. some studies suggest that a behavior is learned better by positively reinforcing a positive behavior than by punishing a negative behavior (though i will say that i most definitely think that there is a time and place for punishment). my job is 100% positive reinforcement all day, all the time. we are told to pretty much never be negative, only be positive about all the good things a child is doing. this has been hard for me to learn, because i tend to just focus on what is wrong. however, God has used this to help me try to focus on what someone is doing right.
with our kiddos, i give them hugs, high-5's, kisses and verbal praise all day for everything i notice that they do right. i really believe they need this way more than typical kiddos, because of the fact that they probably rarely got this in the home they grew up in.
5) my job taught me how to have fun with kids kids are sooooo easy to entertain. the key is to make everything into either a game or a song. i didn't know this before i started my job, but now i try to make every moment of interaction fun and silly. when we wash our hands i sing a song. when i change a diaper i give their feet and tummies raspberries. i give lots of tickles.
[the best part about singing songs to kids is that they don't know or care that you are totally making up the song on the spot, they still love it!!]
6) my job taught me to tolerate crying i have one girl that i have worked with since i started with my company. when i started with her, it would not be unusual for her to tantrum for 20-30 minutes of our 1 1/2 session. this was so stressful! i would be sweating and shaking and doing anything i could to make her stop.
eventually i learned that crying is a natual thing, and children have to learn to calm themselves, and our role is to assist in that. but sometimes when we place challanging demands on children, they will cry and we just have to be ok with that.
our kiddos cry a lot. and why not? first they were neglected, and then they were torn from the only familiar thing that they had (and the older boys have been torn twice). fortunately, my job has prepared me for lots of crying (although, it still sets me on edge when the crying is very loud or prolonged).
[sidenote: i have found it helps me to stay calm if i sing to them when they cry, though it doesn't necessarily seem to help them much]
5) my job has taught me how to use every moment to teach and train a child in effect, my job is to do things the parents really should be doing in the lives of these children with autism (i am not saying that the parents are bad and i have to take over for them, merely that my role is very similar to what the parent should be or is alreadying doing in the life of that child)
one of those things is to use everyday moments to teach and develop. for example, today we went on a walk. during the walk, we named the colors of all the flowers we saw. at the beginning i had to give them almost all of the answers. but by the end (we were walking for almost an hour, so plenty of time to practice!) they were able to name a few all on their own!
another example is taking them to the park frequently. this is helping to make them healthy and to develop their gross motor skills.
6) my job has taught me the importance of teaching incremental independence to children there is no way that i could expect our kids to cook their own meals or do their own laundry right now. but there are a few small things they can learn how to do right now, like put on their velcro shoes, wash their hands, and put their bibs in the right place after dinner. it is taking me much longer each day to teach them how to do these things than if i just did it all myself, but it is like an investment. not only is this giving them confidence to be able to do things by themselves, it will also save me time in the long run when they are learning how to take care of themselves in small (and increasingly larger) ways.
all i can say is praise God for how he has used my job to help me parent.
[the only other thing i can say is Lord have mercy on me, because i have no idea how to be a parent.]