Empower Your Child To Live as A Sojourner

{This post is particularly written with the international/ interracial adoption families in mind, it might be more applicable for those who are adopting/ adopted older children}.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Wait? What? Raising them as a sojourner? I’m working hard here to build him/her a forever home!” Yes! Building a forever home is CRUCIAL. Just like many other paradoxical biblical examples such as”strength through weaknesses” or “exaltation through humility” or “freedom through submission”, I strongly believe that you can help build a forever home through the paradox of empowering your child to live as a sojourner.

“For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” (1 Chronicles 29:15)

This verse in the Bible is strangely comforting to me as an expat because I know that it is not “in vain” for me to be called as an “alien” by the US Immigration Department. Even though I had to renew my drivers license every 6 months as an F1 international student, each renewal reminded me that my citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Just like what God has taught the Israelites, His chosen nation, over and over throughout history, to not get too comfortable because we are not home yet, and definitely not of this world! The eternal perspective brings hope and encouragement, as well as a call to live our lives differently. Whether you are trying to raise your biological children or your internationally adopted children, I think it is a very valuable lesson for them to learn to be a “sojourner” of this world. Here are three advantages of empowering your child to be a “sojourner”:

  1. Reducing Denial or Confusion

What is lonelier than feeling misunderstood by your loved ones? Sometimes, it is the elephant in the room that they might be the only Asian kid in the room. They don’t look like anyone else in the family picture or that they don’t share similar likes and dislikes with their siblings, or cousins, or friends from food to music to sports (unlike their adopted siblings who were adopted when they were younger). Forcing them to ignore those feelings and observations can be confusing, annoying and, at times, infuriating. Validate their feelings and admit that as parents, you may NOT understand exactly what they are going through, but you are there to help them navigate in this “foreign land”. They might not like to hear it in the short run, but in the long run, you are building trust and credibility as you guide them through the journey step by step.

2. Helping Them Fight Conformity

I have heard from so many teenagers and even American adults say that they somehow feel very different from everybody else. (Haven’t you felt the same way at some point of your life?) Raising a “sojourner” might be a great opportunity for you to teach them that they don’t need to be the same as everybody else. Discovering their strengths and recognizing their uniqueness can be very powerful. This can also be an opportunity for you to share about how you (the parent) has dealt with conformity yourself as a teenager. If you have forgotten how difficult it was, it might be time to dig out your “Dear-diaries” or learn more about it. Your personal stories might draw you and your child closer.

3. Building Resilience

There was a recent post on Psychology Today about declining student resilience which talked about the upcoming generation being too overprotected by “helicopter parents”. Teaching them the differences between “assimilation” versus “acculturation” as a successful sojourner can help them see hope and build resilience. Equipping your child to grow as a “sojourner” might mean that when the world outside of the family (where a lot of people still see his/her identity from the external factors), it is safe within the family (where his/ her identity as your child will NOT change and your love for them will not change). You may not be able to shield them from every single insensitive question from strangers at Walmart or ignorant comments from people at church. However, they build resilience as you coach and equip them to reflect deeper on their true identity (regardless of how new that identity might be). While your child ventures through many things on their own, it is a great chance to show them that they will always have your support and your best effort to understand them. However, the journey is theirs to conquer. Moreover, they can grow their confidence through relying on God. Doing all things through Christ is a always a great lesson in life.

 

After all, building a forever home with older adoptees can be a very challenging task. As parents, don’t forget to build a strong network of support yourselves! If needed, seek professional help!

Leave a Reply