Claiming a Child as One’s Own Adoption includes the unique experience of creating a family through choice and claiming a child as one’s own through choice. Creating a sense of “we” through shared experiences, clear and frequent family rituals, and enjoyment of one another leads to parent-child connection and belonging (Hughes, 2009; Siegel & Bryson, 2011). Sharing and creating music together is an opportunity to confirm that the child is a member of the family, similar to creating or sharing a secret family handshake. Adoptive parents can incorporate songs that have been passed to them by their own parents or grandparents as a way to claim the child as a son or daughter. Bedtime routines and rituals can also include songs that remind parents and child of shared memories or journeys to one another. Although singing and using a special song is common and natural with young children or infants, children adopted at older ages often miss out on this special parent-child bonding. Clinicians can assist adoptive families in writing or finding a song that becomes “their song” between the parent and child. Beneficial Touch and Non-Verbal Communication Skin is a human’s largest sensory organ;the sense of touch is crucial for healthy development (Purvis, Cross, & Sunshine, 2007). Music provides a steady beat for parent and child to rock, tap, massage, or touch. Singing also allows opportunity for nonverbal communication between parent and child through eye contact, facial expressions, tone and rhythm of voice, animated and flowing gestures, and active listening (Bailey, 2000; Hughes, 2009; Purvis, Cross, & Sunshine, 2007; Seigel & Hartzell, 2003). Bedtime with children from challenging backgrounds does not always feel like a nurturing time, as the child can be demonstrating withdrawn or defiant behaviors triggered from past experiences. Although the environment does not naturally feel nurturing, adoptive
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parents can intentionally create a felt sense of safety and nurture through routines and rituals that include touch and non-verbal communication. Conclusion Bedtime routines and rituals provide another opportunity for adoptive parents to remain playful, accepting, curious, and empathetic during interactions with their child as they continue to support the child through diﬃcult transitions, behavior, and sleep disruptions. These are critical attitudes that enhance secure attachment bonds in parent-child relationships, viewing negative emotions or experiences as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching (Gottman, 1997; Hughes, 2009). Building routines and rituals around diﬃcult child behaviors and circumstances will require adoptive parents to remain engaged even though they may be dealing with their own intense personal emotions (e.g., helplessness, despair, loss, frustration, and fear). Therefore, clinicians can also provide parental support through opportunities for personal empathy, reflection, and self-examination (McAlpin, 2013).
Take-Away Tools for Adoptive Parents and Bedtime Routines Pre-select one, two, or three specific songs that give a predictable structure to bedtime routines Create an appropriate sense of control by allowing your child to choose or select the last song Provide encouraging statements after your child’s song selection, creating a safe and accepting environment Incorporate songs that have been passed to you by your own parents or grandparents as a way to claim your child as your son or daughter Include songs that remind you of memories or stories of your child Incorporate or write a song that becomes “your song” between you and your child Intentionally incorporate beneficial touch while singing with your child through rocking, tapping, or touching Provide nonverbal communication while singing with your child through eye contact, facial expressions, tone and rhythm of voice, animated and flowing gestures, and active listening
The focus of imagine 2014 is on family-centered practice – a trend taking hold in music therapy circles worldwide. While many practitioners...