Archive for the ‘Blogs by Gayle Swift’ Category

Healthy Relationships Grow from Intention and Commitment

Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 07:04 PM
Author: admin

Healthy Relationship Grow from Intention and CommitmentI am meeting my fellow GIFT coaches this week in Sedona. Because we reside all across the US,  we believe it is important to gather in person at least once a year. Our periodic retreats are our way of practicing what we preach in terms of maintaining healthy relationships as business partners and colleagues. We recognize the importance of being together, of listening deeply to one another, and of sharing conversations with each other that reinforce the importance of our mutual relationships.

In our most recent blogs, we’ve emphasized how vital it is for family members to make the time to have conversations that expressly say what we feel about each other. Through our GIFT partnership, we have created a “family” of sorts–one that each of us values, depends upon, and works to sustain. We know we can depend on one another as friends and as business partners. That knowledge and trust is the fruit of intentional effort and committed actions.

This has served us in good times, challenging times, and in sad moments as well. Over the years, most of us have experienced a family bereavement. While we understood that we couldn’t take away another’s grief, we did offer shoulders to lean on, ears that listened without minimizing or silencing her anguished words. We did not offer saccharine reassurances or rush to plaster a happy face over sadness. Our response was to walk hand-in-hand and serve as witnesses to a friend’s pain. We expressed confidence that she could cope with the trauma.

Now our thoughts turn to happier moments. For three days in the Arizona sunshine, we will have fun together. Those good times will reinforce our connection and renew our sense that our relationship is healthy, safe, and trustworthy.

What actions will you take this week to build connection with your family? What conversations will you hold because it is too important to put off until…whenever?

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers, Building Connections

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 02:03 PM
Author: admin

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Love connects families across time and distanceBy the very fact that you chose to take the time to open this blog, you have demonstrated a commitment to being the best parent you can. Posts like this one help us identify leverage points from which we can better guide and connect with our children. Today as I write this blog, tragically, another school shooting has occurred. This is another reminder of the fragility of life. In recent weeks we’ve concentrated nurturing our relationships within our family context. Strong, connected relationships form the foundational bedrock of healthy families. They do not happen by accident. They grow from a consistent commitment of words and aligned actions.

As Intentional Parents we have committed to a goal: to parent in a way that reflects our deeply held values and which helps children grow into happy, healthy adults with strong “roots” and sturdy “wings.”

So, let’s consider a few questions.

(First, identify one specific attempt you actually made to reinforce your relationship connection members of your family. Then repeat this series of questions regarding at least one attempt you made to connect with each of the remaining members of your family.) Let’s explore what you can “data mine” about your efforts.

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Keep reaching until you connectHow well was it received? What did it accomplish?  How did their response affect your emotions?

How have you reminded yourself each day to ensure you fulfilled your intention to make a daily connection?

Did you think to consider taking advantage of each family member’s “love language?” (If you need a refresher, reread this blog.)

What did you notice within yourself as the interactions occur?

 What happened when those efforts “landed”?

If your effort was rebuffed, how did you respond? (Think of both your external reactions and your internal emotions and thoughts.)

What can you do to help identify additional ways of connecting? How can you make them more effective?

How did timing, location, and the presence–or absence–of others influence whether or not connection successfully occurred?

Now run an instant replay in your mind WITHOUT any soundtrack.

What role did body language play—yours and theirs? How did they play off one another?

Now run ONLY the soundtrack. How did word choice influence the result? How does your wording influence the communication, for example, when you speak saying “you” versus “I”?

What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about individual members of your family?  Decide what actions you want to repeat and which ones need further revision or a totally new strategy. When unable to connect “in person” what other ways might you try? Notes? Text messages? Get creative. Instagram? Letters? (the snail mail kind!) The bottom line:

Sustain the intention and

Develop the effective strategies

Implement systems that remind you to follow through.

Approach this effort one day at a time. What will you do today?

Walking in Our Children’s Shoes

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 @ 01:03 PM
Author: admin
Walking in Our Children’s Shoes.hunger to knowDuring the previous two weeks, we focused on building relationships by intentionally scheduling conversations with the sole purpose of speaking the deep feelings in our hearts. Instead of relying on the assumption that our families “know” how we feel about them, we committed to speaking those feelings aloud.
This week let’s take a different angle on relationship building. We challenge you to stroll down Adoption Lane with one twist: Answer 7 “trigger” questions from “curious” (rude) people as if YOU were an adoptee. Consider only one question per day. Sit with the question; Do not give an autoresponse reply. Really think about it throughout the day. Determine how fully you can answer each one. What is known/unknown? What is knowable/unknowable?
Answer “trigger” questions as if YOU were an adoptee. Consider only one question per day. Sit with the question; Do not give an autoresponse reply. Really think about it throughout the day. Determine how fully you can answer each one. What is known/unknown? What is knowable/unknowable?
What kind of parental support would you want? What might you be tempted to conceal from your folks? Determine what else would you need to now. What else would you want to know? What else would you fear to know? What would you want your parents to know about your attempt to reply to the “trigger” questions?
What kind of parental support would you want? What might you be tempted to conceal from your folks? What would you want your parents to know about your attempt to reply to the “trigger” questions? What would tempt you to hide your struggle?
What will you do with the insight you gain through this exercise? What actions will you take? What conversations will you initiate? How did this exercise deepen your understanding of your child’s need for information and empathy?
Daily Question
Day One: A friend tells you her mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her grandmother died of breast cancer at age fifty. You’re sixteen and were adopted after being abandoned as a newborn. What is your response to her? Within yourself? How does it make you feel about yourself?
Day Two: A new teammate asked if you have any brothers and sisters. In your adoptive family, you are an only child.
Day Three A “friend” comments that you look enough like your boyfriend that you could be brother and sister. How do you reply? How does it make you feel?
Day Four: You were adopted internationally. During a discussion about immigration policy in your Civics, someone asks, “What are you?”
Day Five: An acquaintance asks how you would know if you might be dating a relative.
Day Six:  Your Health class teacher assigned your class their turn with the “Robot Baby.” (A mechanical doll that simulates the behavior of an infant. Students are graded on the quality of parental care they deliver over an entire weekend.)  A classmate asks what you know about your birth parents and why they didn’t want you.
Day Seven:  Your adoptive parents and your brothers (their biological children) are all exceptionally tall. You barely reach five feet. You are their only daughter. You overhear someone “joke” to your parents about how they had to “resort” to adoption to get a girl. How do you feel? What do you say?

Changing Intentions, Changing Behavior: An Uphill Climb

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 05:02 PM
Author: admin

Changing Intentions, Changing Behavior: An Uphill ClimbLast week we challenged you to set time aside to have deeply connected and vulnerable conversations with the people you love. We titled it “Before It Is Too Late.”  Our intent was to encourage some positive change regarding the mood of negativity, anger and, violence in America. We believe we must focus on connection as a prime priority.

Creating genuine feelings of belonging and connectedness are the solution to anger and isolation, not the after-effect.

A loving relationship is the soil from which our family bonds grow. We plant the seeds of trust, caring, forgiveness and, acceptance. The growth process takes time and attentive nurturing.

Change of this magnitude requires a combination of intention, commitment and, execution. It is definitely an uphill climb that demands persistence, powering through failure, forgiveness, encouragement and, acknowledgment of every tiny increment of success.

So … back to last week’s challenge. Did you actually make time to have the conversation in which you told them you love them? How many times did you do? if not, what distractions, habits and behavioral patterns got in your way? Pause for a moment to listen to your inner dialogue as you considered the previous questions. How “accountable” were you? What rationale (excuses?) did you invoke to justify not taking the time for the challenge?

Step back. Now ask yourself, if a spouse, friend, coworker or, child used similar reasons for not following through on a Big Intention would you call “baloney” on them? Would you think it but not share the thought?

Now imagine yourself as the “listener” hearing your reasons for not acting on your intention. Do the words ring true? Great. How can you overcome those obstacles to create a different outcome this week? What are you willing to do to make sure you make the time to connect? What reminders might serve your goal?

If you judged your “reasons” as insufficient, are you ready to move beyond these distractions, obstacles or, excuses? What will you have to think, do and say differently?

Intimacy requires us to be vulnerable with one another which means it leaves us open to being hurt. Risk it. Start the conversation. Lead by example and speak from your heart. Reciprocity may not come but the words will have been heard. Even if the message didn’t take root immediately, repeat the process until it does. When family members do respond, listen, totally, with heart and mind. That is a daring act of love which transforms, hearts, lives and, worlds. This is how we attune and it is through this attunement that we interact in ways that benefit the entire family.

The time for these conversations is now. #LoveRadically

Before It Is Too Late

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 04:02 PM
Author: admin

Before It Is Too LateTo be successful, parenting requires love–deep, abiding, patient, forgiving love. Yet, because of the responsibilities parenting includes, it is often the locus of conflict between parent and child, between needs and wants, between growing independence and parental inclination to keep kids close and safe. These dueling priorities can lead to dramatic confrontations, angry words, isolating silences and deep feelings of disconnect. Each side embraces a potent sense of righteous indignation and conviction of the other’s faults, errors and unwillingness to listen and/or compromise.

Certainly, this explosive state of affairs is far from constant. Nonetheless, I’m betting conflict is familiar territory for us. We’ve all lived through the exhaustion, despair and, frustration. As intentional parents, however, we recognize that we must remain focused on our purpose–to build lifelong bonds as a family– and not be distracted by any temporary conflicts. Sometimes it takes a metaphorical wake up call to remind us of our priorities.

Last week’s horrific shooting was one of those events. I’m not going to wade into the gun issues; although a vital conversation, lots of others are shining a light there. Instead, let us choose to learn something powerful for our families. I’m sure those families were just like us. They probably had their points of connection as well as differences. I’m also sure that they all believed that they had plenty of time ahead of them to work through their conflicts and come to a connected, respectful resolution … eventually.

But as we all know, for seventeen Stoneman Douglas families, time ran out. For kids huddled in hallways fearing for their lives, there will never be another hug, another argument, another apology, another resolution, another vacation. All that remains is the memory of whatever final words or texts they shared as well as all the things they wished they could say but now remain forever unspoken. In their final moments, kids recognized what was really valuable to them: their families. Horrified parents who waited in fear for news of their children’s fate scrambled to reach them, prayed for their safe return and then wept as they learned the worst had happened.

Stay focused on the opportunity as intentional families to wake up, to step out of the quicksand of frustration and failed expectations regarding kids behavior and disconnect those negative emotions from the central focus of our mindset. It is so easy for us as parents to crumble under the weight of the arguing, of watching kids break family values, of kids pushing up against boundaries–all that is exhausting and distracts us from “seeing” that we do really care about one another.

Yes, it is important for us to strive to change or improve what is not working. BUT,  we cannot afford to overlook what is working. Take time to acknowledge it. Give it the attention and appreciation it merits. Kids and relationships flourish under the sunlight of attention. It is through those parts of the relationship that are working and connected that more good things come.

As the country struggles to find ways to keep our schools and communities safe, we all agree that “somebody should do something.” In fact, each and every one of us can do something; it does have to be grand or even part of a larger movement. We can start where we care the most. Today. Tonight. Reduce the negative energy in our own families in our own work relationships and friendships. Nurture feelings of belonging. It is a fundamental human need.

For us, there is still time. Why not make the most of it? Please consider this challenge:

Imagine how powerful that could be for the entire family. Two truisms: Family conflict is inevitable and time is finite. Focus on what really matters: love and connection.