What-Do-You-See-who-do-you-see?

Beautiful redhead girl with long hair and blue eyes looking at herself in a broken mirror

Crustaceans and reptiles shed their outer covering when they have outgrown their limitations. Their discarded husks tangibly announce that they have expanded in some way, become different from whom they previously were. They have broken free of the constraints imposed by their former exteriors. In a small way, this gives them an advantage over people.

Personal growth in human beings, however, is less publicly obvious. Before they can be visibly observed, changes must be on a scale large enough and distinct enough from old habits. Yet even then, behavioral changes frequently go unnoticed, unacknowledged and unprocessed. People tend not to update their “relationship software” and instead tend to rely on the presumption that old patterns will continue to play out, unchanged and as immutable as if carved in stone. Parents, as well as kids, tend to default to assume that people will do and be as they have “always” done and been.

Change never happens easily and often unfolds in small increments, not in dramatic transformations. Yet these tiny steps can add up to significant differences. Every step is important, and almost inevitably requires a measure of awareness, calm, courage, intention, and commitment for even the smallest improvement to occur.

It takes time for these changes to become engrained. The pressure to return to old habits is strong, especially in moments of high emotion and/or conflict. Parents and children can find themselves caught in a maelstrom that causes them to behave in accordance to their old patterns. This “boxes” all parties into repeating a well-rehearsed “dance,” one which they all would benefit from altering.

On the other hand, if all parties take the time to notice, encourage and. “accept” the personal growth changes of others, their relationships dance will change. Even if it is not necessarily significantly better, at the very least, it will be different.

During this summer break from school, most families find themselves spending more time together. How can you enhance these moments? Why not set an intention to update the mental templates you hold for each of your children? Make the time to really listen to them.

Pause to observe them as they are and not simply as you think they are.

Encourage the positive changes. (I noticed that you helped Jim complete his chores; that was really kind.)

Recognize these behavioral shifts as steps in their progress to adulthood.

Value each tiny step forward; change is a fragile thing that needs nurturing and encouragement.

Update your mental image to incorporate their efforts.

Take time to consider what personal changes you wish to effect within yourself. As you act on those intentions, not your own small personal steps to progress. Help your kids to see both your effort and your results. But don’t trust in their ability to mind read or to attend to your efforts. Discuss your intentions.

(I’m working on listening better before I say “No.”

Or

“I find it hard to be patient in the morning when I’m trying to get out to work; I hope you can feel the difference.”

This strategy accomplishes several things. First, it alerts them to your intentions. Second, it places your actions within their field of vision. Third, it puts pressure on you to follow through because your goal has been publicly declared. Fourth, it sets a model which they can follow.

Use your own struggles to attune you to your children’s challenges in creating change within themselves. (It’s never as easy as it looks to an observer.) Help your kids to see that they are changing, that you are noticing their changes, and that you are updating your mental image of them. ( I see you are really working hard to ____. It’s nice to see you find something worth investing so much of yourself in.)

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Check out these Adoption-attuned resources!

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding.

 

 

Adoption Attuned Parenting

 

 

Listen to our podcasts on Adoption-attuned Parenting.

 

 

 

Abc adoption

Read these Adoption-attuned book reviews by GIFT coach, Gayle H. Swift.

father-son-the-power-of-saying-i-love-you

Everyone knows that children feel BIG emotions: anger swirls into fury, disappointment collapses into despair, happiness erupts into delight. They wear their emotions on their shirtsleeves where everyone can easily read them. One might easily dismiss their feelings as childish, trivial, or inconsequential; that would be a mistake. Their emotional life is as important and transforming as any adult's, even if they may struggle to manage or understand their feelings.

In fact, one of their most engaging and charming characteristics is their disarming honesty and their willingness to speak their feelings aloud. Although children's vocabulary is limited, the depth and authenticity of their feelings ring true.

A recent moment shared with my nearly-four-year-old grandson illuminates my point. He and I were on the floor in a sea of Lego pieces rummaging through them together in search of a particular brick. Out of the blue he turned to me and with palpable intensity said. “Naga, I love you.”

I melted in a swirl of reciprocal emotion. Feeling loved is a fundamental human need which each of us craves. When someone blesses us with the gift of a deep, loving connection, the experience is powerful...IF we allow ourselves the pleasure of trulyembracing it. Too often, we miss these moments because we are preoccupied with what is on our own minds and agendas.  It is easy for a child to infer that his declarations of love lack value to us or--even worse--for them to believe that their feelings are a bother and a burden. This is tragic for both individuals. Nothing on our To Do List can outweigh the value of nurturing a child's spirit and teaching him the skill of connecting with others.

My grandson's heartfelt words are etched in my memory forever. Such is the power of speaking aloud what is cherished in the heart. I replied to him, “That makes me feel very special and I never tire of hearing you say that. Thank you.” He beamed in response as my words acknowledged his gesture. Of course, I also assured him that I loved him as well. Fortunately, in our family, we are all—adults and children—comfortable verbalizing words of love and affirmation. However, some individuals and families struggle with expressing deep emotion aloud; they “say” it without the shorthand of words. Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman to learn more about alternative modes in which to communicate one’s love to another and/or read these blogs.[1]

What coaching nugget does this anecdote offer us as Intentional Parents? Pause for a moment and recall a sweet memory when someone—spouse, significant other, parent, or child—spoke aloud the words I love you and you experienced them as genuine. Savor the memory and allow the positive feelings to flood over you. Notice how it energizes, comforts, and validates you. Choose a “trigger” to remind you and help you revisit this memory whenever you want or need to do so.  Imagine being able to access this affirming moment in a time when you are struggling, lonely, afraid, etc. Notice the comfort it offers because it allows you to do something other than simply worry or be awash in overwhelm

Now consider that as parents we have the ability to help create these kinds of high octane moments of connection with our kids. We can speak the words that comprise their audio archives of connection, affirmation, and reassurance. It is easy for us as parents speak words of correction: to point out when and how they can and ought to do better. Imposing consequences, highlighting their misbehaviors, or reminding them of incomplete chores—all these interactions occur easily. How sad, that words of affection, acknowledgment, encouragement, and unconditional love are often harder to say.

I can attest to the healing and encouraging power of words that verbalize deep, mutual affection. Imagine intentionally filling our kids' childhood teeming with such memories. Now that would be a parental legacy of great worth. What if we set an Intention to proactively build these moments? How might that improve our family relationships, improve connection, and deepen attachments? What if we were as vigilant in our efforts to connect with our children and strengthen them emotionally as we are to correct their actions so they can be “better” people? What might we create as a family?

Share this blog:

Check out these Adoption-attuned resources!

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding.

 

 

Adoption Attuned Parenting

 

 

Listen to our podcasts on Adoption-attuned Parenting.

 

 

 

Abc adoption

Read these book reviews by GIFT coach, Gayle H. Swift. They are written with an Adoption-attuned perspective.

 

 

[1] "Love Languages," Adoption, and the Anger Connection , Listening and Speaking: Two Sides of Relationship Communication, The Language of L♥ve Has Many Dialects

 

family-is-a-treasure-treat-them-with-careSchool is out for the summer here which draws to mind a question: How can Intentional Parents glean the best that this interlude can offer families? Released from the burden of homework, academic projects, and extracurricular activities and all the stress and time constraints that accompany them, we have a chance to create something special. All that is required is intention, a goal, and an action plan that is sufficiently compelling that following through is a given. Or, we can simply "go with the flow" and allow days to drip through our fingers like anonymous raindrops.

The idea of total freedom from schedules, agendas, and deadlines certainly is tempting. And yet, do we really want to arrive at summer's end only to discover that we frittered the days away and have nothing to show for it? Don't we really want a balance of restorative recreation and relaxed pace with a steadying rudder of purposefulness?

What purpose or goal for our life as a family inspires us? In the quiet darkness of sleepless nights, what vision of our family life occupies our attention? How will choose which one or two we will focus on?

First, we review our core family values to remind us of what is really important. This helps avoid the trap of choosing goals based on how friends and family might see and approve. With the vision of our values fresh in our mind, we can identify one or two aspects of our interrelationships as a family where a breach in those values reveals itself. For example, if respect is a core value for our family, how has it been expressed in the way we communicate with our spouse and children? Assess factors like attitude, tone, timing and authentic listening. Are we as considerate in our communication with family as we are with friends and coworkers? How well is the way we speak to, work with, and treat family modeling the best example of how to treat others? Adopted children are often prone to self-criticism and feelings of rejection. How do your communication patterns address and alleviate this sensitivity?

What are you willing to do to bring these dreams for your family to life? Here are some ideas for personal intentions. No need to announce them to the family. Our actions will form the best way to reveal them.

Check out these Adoption-attuned resources!

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding.

 

 

Adoption Attuned Parenting

 

 

Listen to our podcasts on Adoption-attuned Parenting.

 

 

 

Abc adoption

Read these book reviews by GIFT coach, Gayle H. Swift. They are written with an Adoption-attuned perspective.

 

 

 

Making-Space-for-Remembrance-and-a-Complete-Picture

As our observance of Memorial Day remains fresh, it calls to mind the pain of loved ones lost in defense of their country. We feel an upswell of grief, yearning, and remembering. In the context of this blog, thoughts of loved ones lost take on a different slant. It reminds us of how adoptees experience great personal loss and live with these emotions in a different, deeply personal context. While actual death may not be involved, usually there is a permanent loss of relationship with birth mother/family. Even in open adoption, any ongoing relationship with birth parent(s) or birth family falls far short of the “usual” parent/child relationship in which a child is raised by birth parents in the bosom of his biological family.

Adoptees live one literal version of a possible life story while along the edges of their thoughts, memories, and imaginations many possible alternative lives dance. What if I had not been adopted? What if I'd been raised by different parents? By my own birth parents? Why didn’t they keep me? What was wrong with me? The possibilities are infinite and may be in equal measures comforting, frightening, intriguing, exciting, or heartbreaking. Only one thing can be said with certainty: all these scenarios exist only in the imagination and will always remain so.

And yet, this world of imagination, populated by the ghosts and shadows of a life interrupted and redirected holds great power for adoptees and occupies sizeable chunks of their time. attention, and emotion and has tremendous impact on their mental, physical, and emotional health. Adult adoptees confide that this alternate reality occupied much of their thoughts as children. Most also say they wish that they had been able--while they were still children-- to discuss their preoccupation with their families and have had the benefit, comfort, and reassurance of their parents. Many factors fed their reluctance, among them: fear of hurting their adoptive parents, fear of rejection by their adoptive parents, and/or a sense that they must choose unilateral loyalty to their adoptive family. Whether their assumptions were valid or not, large numbers of adoptees reveal that they struggled alone, WITHOUT the much-needed support and comfort of their adoptive parents.

As Intentional, Adoption-attuned Parents, we CHOOSE to openly discuss this proverbial elephant sitting in the heart of our families. We recognize that adoption necessitates a both/and approach to family—that both birth and adoptive family are a permanent and vital part of our children. We do not require, expect, need, or want our kids to sacrifice their need for their roots as the cost of our love and their inclusion into our families. Intentional, Adoption-attuned parenting is NOT co-parenting with birth family but co-valuing them. We choose to provide our kids the secure understanding that our love is expansive enough, our shoulders strong enough, and our world view inclusive enough to make room for all who are important to our children because our children are important to us. We must trust in ourselves and truly believe that we are capable of being the expansive, Adoption-attuned parents whom our children need

Consider these questions:

How have you encouraged this openness with your child?

How do your actions reflect your intentions and reinforce your words?

How are you helping your child develop a "complete" picture?

Share this blog: https://giftfamilyservices.com/making-space-for-remembrance-complete-picture/

Check out these Adoption-attuned resources!

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding.

 

 

Adoption Attuned Parenting

 

 

Listen to our podcasts on Adoption-attuned Parenting.

 

 

 

Abc adoption

Read these book reviews by GIFT coach, Gayle H. Swift. They are written with an Adoption-attuned perspective.

 

 

the-complete-family-picture-who-is-present-who-is-absentMy GIFT colleagues and I have just returned from our annual retreat. Because we live in different states, we believe it is important to get together and reconnect. It’s one of the ways in which we invest in our relationship both as colleagues and as friends. It’s also a clear example of our practicing what we preach: important relationships need nurturing and attention. If we allow ourselves to take them for granted, even the most significant relationship will show signs of strain and unless behavior changes to reflect the importance of the relationship with congruent action, time and commitment. Without such changes eventually, even the most treasured relationship will collapse. And so, we spend our time, money and energy to gather, nurture, and enjoy our mutual relationship.

We had fun, managed some business details, handled some sticky relationship issues that cropped up, and charted the next year’s course for our business. One “detail” we addressed during our time together was a photo session so we could update our website. When we got the proofs back, each of us reviewed them and we tried to find one in which we all looked “good.” Group photos are always a challenge, right? As the number of people increases, the likelihood that someone has her eyes closed, is looking away from the camera or has an odd expression also increases. This triggered some thoughts on family photos…

Digital photography makes it easy for us to snap dozens—if not hundreds of pictures of our kids documenting almost every moment and milestone of their lives. As toddlers, they learn to pose for the cameras on mom or dad’s phones. Then eagerly and often, they repeatedly ask to see these photos. They look at the pictures delighted at their own images. Self-consciousness does not constrain them. They don’t care if their faces—or clothes—are smudged with dirt or if the camera caught them at a good angle. They do not ask us to delete the picture because it doesn’t look flattering enough. And so the entire family gets to enjoy the photographic documentation of a family’s life together. Except…

Too often moms avoid being in the pictures because they look disheveled, tired, or not quite up to par. And the photos reveal a mother’s absence, not a presence. Perhaps the dad is the family photographer and it is he who is an infrequent face in the family photo album. The result is the same. He’s missing from the picture.  Whether it is one or both parents whose face seldom appears in the family photo album, whatever the reason, it is a huge loss and significant missed opportunity. A picture is worth 1000 words they say.

As a person who has lost loved ones too soon, I can attest that it precisely the silly, less-than-perfect pictures of my husband, sister, mother… It is these photos that conjure the best memories, the most resonant emotions, and the deepest appreciation for having shared lives together. The fancy studio photos, edited and polished are fun for a Christmas card but they like the vitality and genuineness of the candid photos. Someday all that remains will be the pictures. Make sure you are part of them, being yourself and looking like yourself. That disheveled, imperfect, loving, "present" soul is the person your family knows and loves.

Call today!
Sally: 612-203-6530 |  Susan: 541-788-8001 |  Joann: 312-576-5755 |  Gayle: 772-285-9607