Intentional Families

October 30, 2011

Here at GIFT Family Services, we speak about creating “intentional” adoptive or foster families. One important aspect of being an intentional family is having a vision with goals and values rather than making things up as we go along. Being intentional with our families can bring great rewards: we can feel more connected, more purposeful, and can help our children thrive as adults. But, being intentional comes with risks: we can become discouraged if it appears that things are not turning out as we had planned and we can be disappointed if our values are not lived out or our goals are not met.

Many times in my own parenting, I have been discouraged by what I am seeing. Even before children, I started out with a specific vision of how I wanted my family to be. After my family was formed, complete with children, we sat down and created a family vision statement, fleshing out how we would live our purpose. We included basic values and goals. We were being intentional. But, then, “life” happened – and continues to happen – that has tested our vision and strained how we live it out in our family. Holding onto that vision (that now has been revised several times but remains true at its core) has been one of the hardest things I have had to do.

Recently, I read an article by Harvey MacKay (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mon., October 24, 2011, pg. D3) that spoke about persistence and determination in reaching goals. Harvey ends with this, “Persistence and determination are what keep us hammering away. I don’t know any [people] who have achieved any level of success without those two traits. When you have a dream that you can’t let go of, trust your instincts and pursue it.”

Mr. MacKay gives some timely tips for “pressing on” which can apply to our intentional families, as well:

  • Focus on what you can accomplish rather than obstacles. Direct your energy toward achieving a goal, and tackle the problems with an emphasis on edging closer to a successful result.
  • When you identify a roadblock, develop a realistic (italics mine) plan to overcome it.
  • Refuse to give up. Alter your course if necessary, but concentrate on the desired conclusion.
  • Work with your [family members] to make it easy for them to say yes to your requests. Never ask them to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. Provide options so they can contribute to the best of their abilities.
  • Be assertive without being aggressive.

"[Families] take work, they take practice, they take patience, and sometimes they require you to dig deeper.”

GIFT Family Services is here to support you and your family in reaching your goals, developing your plans, making adjustments along the way, and encouraging you when the going gets tough. We are here to walk with you as you become the family you want to be!

Sally Ankerfelt

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