Look, Look! What Do you See?

May 6, 2020

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As adults, we "know" the world through direct physical experience. It is easy to assume that we all "see" the same thing. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. How we stand in the world governs what we see. Our vista shifts with our line of sight, the direction of our glance, and the size of our visual field. Our personal point of view determines what we see and our POV is strongly affected by our assumptions.

The world viewed through the eyes of a crawling infant appears dramatically different from the view of a four-year-old racing through the day at mach speed. At 5'2' my experience of the world varies significantly from my 6'6" son. (Out of curiosity, I have stood on a 16" stool to see how the world might look and feel from the vantage point of his stature. The difference is startling!)

Try this exercise: Look straight ahead and build a detailed mental picture of what you see. Now take a  quarter turn. Compare this new image with the one you just memorized. You see some of the same elements and certainly see some new ones. Other elements have disappeared. Although you are essentially in the same location, you see different things. Now shut one eye and use your hands to create a tube through which you can look with only one eye. What you see has shrunk significantly. Next, use your hands to create "binoculars" The lens or frame through which you look limits what enters your awareness. Your vantage point remained the same, yet the data observed changes dramatically.

What does this discussion have to do with Intentional Parenting and Adoption Attunement?

In this challenging time of Covid-19 reality, it is easy to slip into using a lens that is set for annoyance, frustration, and overwhelm. Using these negative frames, we will readily and consistently see the challenges, the obstacles, and the frustrations.  What if we deliberately established a different lens? How might this shift benefit ourselves and our families? What mindset/s might assist us? Let's set our viewpoint with two lenses:

Intentional Parenting and Adoption Attunement

This binocular focus will assist us in defining what we admit into our perception as well as what we "cut out". The lens of Intentional Parenting focuses on

    • nurturing connection
    • looking for small successes
    • creating intentional moments of joy and silliness
    • listening deeply, with focus and interest
    • interacting with each family member's love language*
    • Understanding behavior is the unconscious language of trauma and stress

The lens of Adoption Attunement (AQ) focuses on our understanding of the unique dynamic of an adopted family and the AQ Parenting Strategies that serve us in creating healthy, happy, emotionally secure, and attached relationships. As high AQ* parents we recognize that we adoptive families face not only the same stresses that ALL families face but also additional ones as well. here are a few :

    • adoptee's fear of parental death
    • worry about parental death may awaken—intensify—struggles with  impermanence and vulnerability struggles
    • worries about how or if birth/first families are coping with the danger
    • suspension  of school, sports & recreational activities may intensify/trigger identity issues
    • regression to less mature behaviors
    • emotional brittleness

By using the "paired lenses" of Intentional Parenting and Adoption Attunement (AQ)℠ , we can recognize that much of the challenging dysregulated behaviors which our children may be exhibiting result from genuine challenges. They are not acting out to punish us; they are simply floundering in overwhelm. They need and deserve our empathy, not our anger. More than ever, they will need to lean on our ability to help them to stay and/or get regulated, build resiliency, and triumph over the challenge of the post-Covid-19 world.

We must make our own ability to stay calm and regulated a high priority. We cannot replenish their "cup" if ours is empty. Self-care is not an indulgence. It is essential to the health of our family.

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