Posts Tagged ‘intentionality’

Six Top Reasons You Want an Adoption-attuned Family Library

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 @ 02:05 PM
Author: admin

FamilyAdoption-Library-path-to-healthy-adoption-conversations

This may lead them to have conflicted emotions, identity challenges, as well as a lack of resilience to bounce back when things get tough.

If parents–consciously or unconsciously–telegraph to their kids that talking about adoption distresses parents, kids will stuff their fears and worries and will then struggle to handle adoption complexity on their own and without the “guardrail” of parental support. Intentional parents know their children need parental support to figure out how to braid together a healthy, cohesive identity that respects all of their parts. Books serve as an immensely valuable tool for helping families address adoption complexity. A loving parent’s lap offers the perfect, safe place to share a book that helps them talk about this significant part of their family. They benefit both parent and child in powerful ways. Here are the top six ways:

1. Because you built your family through adoption, you have some additional adoption-connected parenting tasks. When you adopted, you obligated yourself to become the best parent possible. This means you must educate yourself on how adoption adds additional layers or responsibility and challenge to your parental role, to family dynamics, and to be envoys for your children. To fulfill those tasks, you need help identifying and performing them well. Books provide insight, strategies, and encouragement. They introduce new ideas which parents can consider and they can reveal issues which parents may not even realize exist or need to be handled.

2. Your children also have “inherited” adoption-related tasks which they must handle to ensure they grow into their best version of themselves. Books offer a safe chance to explore the topic. They create a chance to ask questions that reveal a child’s beliefs and fears about adoption. Parents can then address them and allay their children’s fears.

FamilyAdoption-Library-path-to-healthy-adoption-conversations-shameful3. It is not easy to find the “right” time to talk about the challenges, questions, and conflicts that adoption creates. Books create non-threatening ways of asking questions, exploring solutions, and describing complex emotions. They offer models of possibilities and a chance to imagine how potential tactics might work. Families can discuss the strategies and decisions which the characters chose, how effectively they worked, and the likelihood that it might work for other families (including one’s own.)

4. An accessible, well-stocked adoption bookshelf sends a message: that adoption is a safe and welcome topic. It telegraphs to children that parents are comfortable discussing adoption, that they can handle the conversation, and that they believe it is something they want to discuss as a family.

5. Children can pick a book off the shelf when they feel the urge or need to talk about adoption. It’s easier for them to hand a book to a parent that to open a conversation with a “Mom, we need to talk…”

6. Books help parents and children feel less isolated, less different. They help families feel like part of a tribe of other families facing the same situations. This helps reduce the feeling of being different and encourages a sense of shared community.

For specific book suggestions, check out our list here. Be sure to consult, GIFT coach, Gayle Swift’s blog, “Writing to Connect” which reviews “general” books that are not intended to be about adoption. She evaluates them through an adoption-attuned lens that identifies ways of raising important adoption conversations in a natural, relaxed way.

Next week we will explore: Five Reasons Your Family Adoption Library Can’t Handle Everything.

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Relationships: Making Time, Focusing Attention

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 01:04 PM
Author: admin

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing AttentionHuman beings are genetically programmed to desire belonging and companionship, yet life is at its core a solitary journey. In response, each of us walks through life attracting and establishing relationships and deciding who and what is important. As adoptive families, one of our most important relationships—the one between parent and child didn’t happen by accident. We had to expend great energy, intention, and commitment to form our families.

As hard as we work to create relationships, often we fall short in dedicating the necessary energy to sustain them. One of life’s biggest challenges is disciplining ourselves to take the steps, make the time and focus the effort to sustain relationships. It’s not enough to build them; we must also nurture them.

During our recent retreat in Sedona, my GIFT partners and I acted on our intention to be partners, colleagues, and friends. This required us to adjust busy schedules, arrange coverage to fulfill any ongoing responsibilities during our absence, and create understandings with our families. Certainly, this took effort, but the goal—and the result were well worth it.

As Intentional parents, how are you carving the time, focusing attention and engaging in activities—or moments—that feed your spirits and strengthen your family ties?

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing Attention, sheepThink of specific choices that you made; which ones advanced your goal? Which ones fell flat? What patterns, assumptions, and complicating factors blocked your success? What habits kept you tethered to “old” outcomes? What “system” can you design that will best support you?

It might help to imagine this was a career or job goal; the same kind of strategies that serve us professionally can often be tweaked to serve us in relationships. (Remember to operate from the perspective of relationship not transaction!)

One simple practice which we used during our retreat was to set a daily intention. We each identified a single word to embody that intention, for example, forgiveness, serenity, joy, kindness, attunement, tranquility. Determine whatever word captures your intention and then walk through the day with that word as the framework through which you engage for the day. We chose to share our daily intention with one another. (Decide if you want to share yours with others.)

One of the most common impediments to goal achievement is lack of time and the stress that results.

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing AttentionPromise yourself that you will also identify what you would be declining. Take the time to weigh out the choices. Gain clarity, then choose. Feel the difference this makes in your decision process. How much extra time did it take? What benefits do you notice?

How might this practice–and the small pause it inserts–help avoid making decisions which are later regretted? How might it reduce stress? How might it improve relationships with others and yourself? How does it help you choose your priorities from a place of strength?

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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?

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 @ 06:04 PM
Author: admin

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems, expectations influence perceptionsOur last few blogs have concentrated on ways to establish and nurture deep connection within our families. Now let’s take the time to review our efforts and identify the changes that have resulted. (Notice I did not say “if” any change occurred; I presupposed that change happened which means I will be zealous in my effort to spot it.) Our presuppositions strongly influence what we allow our brains to see.

It takes determination and persistence to upend the status quo. When change does not come rapidly, it is easy for discouragement to overtake our intention. Too often surrender quickly follows. Our goal to build healthy, enduring, and dynamic bonds within our families is far too important to allow failure. How can we prevent that?

Since we know the slow pace of change often contributes to the abandonment of the effort to improve, let’s address that. One important strategy is to ensure that every shift in behavior is noticed—even the tiniest advancement. Any change is worthy of notice. The first element of our working strategy is to amplify our noticing.

This goes for adults as well as for children. (Many marriages, friendships, and jobs fail when we feel underappreciated, unnoticed and taken for granted.)

When we set the intention to be on the lookout for evidence of change, this “noticing” lens influences what we see, just like when we adjust a camera it frames the picture with an intended point of view. If we focus on the mountains, the flower-filled meadow in the foreground becomes blurred.

While it is important to keep our eyes on our big goal, remember to notice the incremental changes accomplished on the way. This helps us avoid discouragement, spurs appreciation for effort, and recognizes that change is a process that includes progress as well as occasional backsliding.

As always, we want to bring an attitude of neutral curiosity to the scrutiny of our progress. Once we notice, we want to find out why and how we succeeded. Let’s find the aspects that encouraged progress towards our ultimate goal as well as those factors that distracted us or challenged us or actually were counterproductive. All the data is valuable.

At the risk of stating the obvious, we want to continue to do the things that advanced our goal and we want to eliminate any obstacles that got into our way.

Next, let’s commit to another priority: acknowledge progress. This crediting process must include acknowledging ourselves as well as each family member. Sure, people may often brush off the compliments which we expressed.

The important thing is, they have been heard. Once heard they cannot be unheard. This might be judged a silly observation. But consider how often you replay dialogue between friends, family, and coworkers. Whether it’s an argument, and intimate moment, or a laugh human beings love to replay our audio tapes. Let’s commit to saying something that will warm their spirits when they replay it.

Updating our observations is important for another reason. It keeps us within the realm of reality. It also reminds us we don’t want to operate from an all or nothing mindset which tricks us into believing unless everything changes, we’ve failed. Any change regardless of size has value. As long as we have breath, we have the opportunity to keep plugging away.

In addition to noticing with our eye, we must also see with our inner awareness. It will need updating as well. We must regularly update our inner templates of how we think of our children within our memory, our hearts and, our minds.

Otherwise, our familiar “box” that defines how our child or spouse behaves will blind us to the new person whom they have become.  When we continue to live as if nothing has changed, the newly-born change will wither and die.  Instead of thinking  Johnny never or Johnny always… pause to remember in recent weeks when he broke the pattern—once, maybe twice, or more. What we expect to see influences what we allow ourselves to see. We must not allow habituated thinking patterns to override emerging change. It is essential that we live in the realm of reality not in the realm of assumption, especially when those assumptions keep us boxed into old behaviors and identities. We must not imprison people in “boxes” from which we never release them.

Since noticing and updating serve such pivotal roles, how can we improve these skills?

When thinking about a family member, pause to ask ourselves: Is this thought based on who they were or who they are? Then consider how they also might benefit from updating their template of Who and How you are. Discuss this idea as a family and begin making it part of a regular practice of acknowledging one another.

In the Face of Disaster, We See the Humanity of All

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 09:09 PM
Author: admin

Disaster humanityTime and again we see Americans come together to help one another. In the face of disaster, we see the humanity of all and our perceptions of difference and otherness fades. When an emergency responder arrives, we don’t stop to identify their politics, race or religion before we gratefully accept their help. Let’s sustain this sense of cooperation and mutual respect.

Our last blog written in the wake of hurricane Harvey focused on preparing families for disasters. The United States is reeling from recent weather disasters. Fires in the Northwest. Apocalyptic flooding and hurricane damage in Houston. Now Hurricane Irma has pulverized much of Florida. Mexico–which responded to the needs of Houston area residents after Harvey–is now coping with the ravages of a major earthquake. All of these disasters occurred in less than thirty days!

I’m writing this blog from my home. Heavy aluminum panels still cover all of my windows. While this delivers a sense of security, it also feels, dark, walled off from neighbors, isolated. We are eager to remove the shutters, yet we hesitate because hurricane Jose is still spinning out in the Atlantic. Thirty-two days remain in the “peak” season (Historically, the most intense and damaging storms have occurred between Sept. 1 and Oct. 30. Installing and removing storm shutters is a days-long, arduous process. So, for a while, we’ll wait and watch, hunkered down behind our temporary fortress.

It appears that the horrifying video footage of Harvey’s aftermath motivated Floridians to prepare for the storm. Most forecasts predicted that Irma would race up the “spine” of Florida or hug the east coast. But Mother Nature is an unpredictable force; she had an unanticipated change of heart and veered west. Some played the odds. They resisted preparation and then found themselves scrambling at the last-minute, desperately trying to complete their efforts before Irma slammed into their neighborhoods. The horrible result is still unfolding. Cleanup and restoration will take months and in some areas, years.

What has my rambling got to do with intentional parenting? Once again we’ve been reminded about the benefits of being prepared. This is particularly important for people who have experienced trauma in their lives.

Thus, major disaster events like these strike our kids very hard. They need us to do whatever we can to soften the impact.

Our families depend on us to be proactive and buy the supplies. Before we buy non-essentials, we must make the difficult purchasing decisions, forgo some of the fun items and activities and instead opt to buy stuff we hope we never need.   Disasters often cause businesses to close—some temporarily, others permanently. By buying emergency supplies ahead of time, we can avoid spending money when incomes are most apt to be interrupted.

Review your preparations for the type of weather disasters which typically befall your area. Supplies can be costly. Pick up one item per week and then store them in a sealed plastic tub. Batteries die quickly; consider buying items that depend on solar or mechanical energy. (At the risk of mentioning the holiday season too early…a  well-stocked disaster box might not be the fanciest present you’ve ever given BUT it could be the most important—even lifesaving.) After all every part of our country has their version of challenging weather. Having the security of knowing one is prepared relieves tremendous stress.)

Some of our most vulnerable families struggle to provide food and shelter for their families. Please remember the needy. Support organizations that help. Imagine having to face an impending hurricane or blizzard or other major challenge without the resources to protect your home or to purchase fuel, water and non-perishable food. Heartbreaking… Let’s do what we can to help out. (Always vet any organizations to which you donate; unfortunately disasters also tend to bring out the scammers and crooks)

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