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Giggling. Joking. Silliness. Laughing. Having fun makes us better parents, helps the relationship with our children, and pushes us through the rough times.

Helping attachment…

When we first adopt, our child doesn't know us, we don't know them. One of the ways to interact in positive ways is to be silly, laugh, be playful. Depending on the age of your child you might tickle them, play with their toes, carry them on your back, make silly faces together into the mirror, mimic each other, wear goofy clothes, play silly games, or do make believe. Laughing together can build bonds and attachment in a non threatening, congenial way.

In the first months…

Whether the honeymoon with your new child lasts a day or a week, at some point you will enter "the adjustment phase." It's often a challenging time for the whole family. Everyone is trying to get to know each other. The child is trying to learn the way the household runs. You're overwhelmed. Your child is grieving. Finding ways to have fun can lighten the difficult days. Teach your child your favorite board and card games. Go roller-blading together. Wade in a cold stream. Anything that gets you smiling and joking with each other will help you both during this transition time.

Through challenging times…

You WILL go through challenging times. Your child may have ADHD, post traumatic stress disorder, learning differences, or one of a myriad of challenging psychological or physical issues that you both need to deal with. Whether the tough times are short or long-lived, the ability to smile and laugh will help everyone. Find common activities of enjoyment. Read silly books together. Have picnics inside. The laughs and smiles that you are able to encourage from each other will soften the heavy, overloaded emotions of difficult times.

Helping ourselves…

Parenting is hard. Adoptive parenting is sometimes even harder. As parents we usually put our children's needs above our own. We can survive that for short periods of time, but eventually, we need to help ourselves heal, laugh, and live. Finding ways to smile and laugh can be the escape or energizer that we need to be the best parents we can be. Escape into a fun-filled novel. Go to a humorous movie. Rent an old black and white comedy film. As parents we need to not just find, but plan in, times for laughing, being silly, and smiling.

So go ahead smile, be silly, and laugh. It will help your child, you, and the relationship you have together.

Written by: Susan M. Ward, an older child adoption specialist, provides parent coaching and resources for adoptive families. Susan's training has focused on adoption issues relating to attachment, grief, and parenting. She's also the adoptive parent of a child healed from RAD (reactive attachment disorder). Her website is Older Child Adoption Support

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