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I’m in the midst of a 30-day session wearing a heart monitor. It is minimally uncomfortable yet singularly dedicated to its purpose. Always operating. Never off duty. Never distracted. It periodically zings an alert or vibrates to catch my attention.
Imagine that our families have a collective pulse. Like the human heart, a family is subject to changes in rhythm—some benign, some dangerous, and worrisome, possibly fatal. Imagine if we had a similar device dedicated to monitoring our family’s emotional health. This backup system would ensure that we notice how relationships in the family are working—or not—as individuals, between siblings, and between parent and child as well as a family unit as a whole. The monitor would provide valuable failsafe attention. Uninterrupted information. Insistent. Persistent. Always on duty. Never distracted
Because, it is easy—too easy—to get distracted by life and take our relationships for granted. When we are not paying attention, things happen. Things get overlooked, stuffed, ignored, delayed, and even denied. Relationships wither.
Pause now to remember how passionate, zealous, perhaps even obsessed you were when you pursued adoption in the first place. You allowed NOTHING to get in the way of your effort to build a family.
Of course, life is not that straightforward. Things are always happening. Events, experiences, relationships, the unexpected assail us on a daily basis. The responses, emotions, actions, and experiences that touch our families are complex and not necessarily easily accessed, measured, or processed. Sometimes it is easier to engage in denial or distraction because we are afraid to admit that something isn’t quite right. We know that once something is seen, named, and acknowledged, it becomes real. True. The idealized picture is fractured and reality seeps through the cracks. It needs attention. And attention requires energy. Anything we cherish requires attention and effort. Family relationships are no exception.
When we have the courage to notice and cope with problems and challenges, we are dealing with Truth. This is the space where authentic love and acceptance flourish. By admitting our frailties and limitations we reconfirm our commitment to make things work. Truly work. We disavow the shallow charade of staying on the surface. We refuse to gloss things over as if everything were “fine”.
Instead, we address our missteps, oversights, shortcomings. We apologize for errors, omissions, and skewed priorities, ask for forgiveness, and work to reconcile and heal. These moments of honest seeing, of openness and vulnerability, actually weave a robust tapestry of family connection and history. We are not role-playing. We are rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of truly being family, loving and being loved as OURSELVES, not a hollowed-out guestimate of what we think others wish we would be.
Child and parent voices are heard. Our individual experiences are validated. Our individual needs are met. Our individual truth is valued. This is what all human beings desire. As healthy, whole human beings we come together to create healthy, loving, attuned families.
Questions to consider:
If you did a gut check right now and really listened to it, what would it alert you to?
Where are you being less than fully truthful with your spouse/partner?
How long has it been since you shared a meaningful conversation with each of your children?
What is getting in your way?
What is getting in their way?
If you took a pulse check of each of the relationships within your family, what do you notice?
Who is faring the best?
Who needs more attention, interaction, validation, or assistance?
After answering these questions, what would be your best first step?
By when will you take that step?
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. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online. Contact us : 1-800-653-9445