Posts Tagged ‘courage’

Confidence, Competence, Courage & Resilience: Building Success

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 @ 02:08 PM
Author: admin

Parenting has an evolutionary endpoint: at some point, our children will leave the family nest and fly out into the world to carve their path in life. Even as we change diapers, read bedtime stories, or tuck them in,  we know someday, they’ll be on their own.  When that time comes we want them to be ready. How do we prepare them for this independence? Strong family values provide them with a secure foundation. They’ll need confidence, competence and courage. Confidence grows from competence. Competence emerges from practice. We know directly from personal experience that these emerge only through persistence and the ability to learn through failure. We also recognize that it takes courage to learn anything new.

With this awareness in mind, we want to help our kids experience life as a learning conversation, to survive the process. They’ll need to develop a strong sense of resilience. No one begins as an expert, so they must be willing to try new things and keep on trying until mastery is achieved. Encourage their persistence by setting an example. Let them see how you handle the rocky, uphill road to success. Share your strategies for coping through the hard times.

confidence-competence-courage-resilience-building-successMost importantly, when they struggle or falter, be supportive. Be their cheerleader; let them know you believe in them. Be their confidante; listen to their struggles and allow them to figure out the solution. Be a resource: offer help only after they request it. (Language counts here. Ask if they want help instead of asking if they need help. “Want” reinforces their sense of agency and self-determination. “Need” reinforces their lack of sufficient capability; over time this mindset can lead to a sense of learned, chronic helplessness. Be a coach; Stay mindful of the distinction between critique and criticism and always wait for their invitation to offer your perspective.

Take note of their effort and highlight their incremental progress. Connect to your Family Values, e.g.,  In our family …

We respect hard work.

We recognize success doesn’t just happen; it takes effort and time.

We keep trying.

We learn through trial and error.

It’s okay to ask for help.

We value teamwork and persistence.

No goal is worth sacrificing your integrity.

Of course, we hope to raise children who are happy, healthy and, successful. each family envisions a unique version of success. Keep in mind we spend most of our time pursuing a goal than in achieving them. How do we treat others and ourselves as we advance toward success? Remember to nurture their spirits. Value relationships more than being “right” or successful. Make time for joy. Long after we are gone, our words will linger in their minds; speak with compassion, respect, and love.


*Adapted from material    © 2003 Resource Realizations

Best Gift: Confidence, Courage and, Capability and, Compassion

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 04:12 PM
Author: admin
Best Gift: Confidence, Courage and, Capability and, CompassionIn the previous two blogs we’ve explored an approach to the holiday season from the perspective of Intentional Parenting. We’ve striven to shift our focus from material presents and instead to concentrate on intangible blessings. Intentional families reinforce family values in both words and in action.
Like many others of my generation, I am a grandparent handling the day care responsibilities for my grandchild. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, it gives me an irreplaceable channel to forge life-long, solid attachments with my grandson. Second, the cost of quality day-care is prohibitive. My willingness to shoulder this responsibility allows my children to stretch their hard-earned dollars further.
With this first-hand opportunity to shape my grandson, I am able to practice much of the Intentional Parenting suggestions which I proffer here. I believe that helping to shape my grandson’s values in a positive way is one of the best gifts I can provide him. Each day during our time together, I intentionally sprinkle messages—comments that encourage, demonstrate and, reinforce our family values. I think of them as thought-seeds, ideas which I trust will take root and bear fruit throughout his lifetime.
Best Gift: Confidence, Courage and, CapabilityWhat ideas?
I remind him that he is loved by me, his parents and his extended family. Who loves you, PJ? I continue asking, And who else? Until he runs out of names. Then we reverse engineer the activity reinforcing that there is room for all of the people in his heart. This includes the members of his dad’s biological family who do love him deeply and whole-heartedly. At twenty-eight months, he’s familiar with this “game” and appears to enjoy it.
I also like to remind him that he is capable, that it is essential to try and try again until success is achieved. Nana is so proud of you for trying… I acknowledge when he accomplishes something especially when he’s worked hard to do it. When we are together, I also comment on my own efforts to try. I point out when something doesn’t work but that I’m going to try again. This models capability in addition to speaking about it. And it reveals that even adults must work to gain proficiency.
I think it is important for children to understand that adults do not achieve success every time and that it is a process for us also. If they overheard me speaking aloud, narrating our play like a toddler outsiders might think me crazy. But I believe it reveals important information to children which they might otherwise not notice. In fact, most kids infer that everything is easy for adults; they do not realize we’ve been learning for our entire lifetimes.
One other belief which I emphasize is the importance of helping others. I let him know that I noticed and admire his efforts to help. Then I mention that his mommy and daddy are wonderful helpers as well. Our family believes in helping. Similarly, I highlight how everyone in our family is a helper, tryer, sharer and, hard worker. This builds compassion as well as a sense that we should not only feel empathetic but that we also should feel called to action.
Often this requires courage, especially in the moments when it is difficult to speak out, stand up or, get involved. This kind of conviction emerges from a lifetime of reinforcement. We plant these seeds when our kids are young and then we nurture them as they grow. This benefits them and us. While teaching them we are reminded of what is important and why.
While this may sound overly preachy and moralistic, fear not. One additional value I teach him is that every day we must make time for laughter and dance. ( And cooking, we’re a family that believes when you love someone, you cook them good food. Like his dad, PJ already loves to cook.)
Whatever one’s family values are, they bind us together and forge a common belief system that will determine actions. Actions, in turn, become our contribution to the world and a legacy for the entire family. Although we can’t wrap it and place it under the tree, a clear family value system is a mighty special gift! One might even say it is the proverbial “pearl of great price.

Talking about Adoption Matters

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 @ 01:09 PM
Author: admin

Talking about Adoption Matters SchoolLabor day sits in our rear view mirror. Now our thoughts focus on a new school year. As our children’s education shapes the family schedule we are mindful of the need to also teach our children how to navigate what it means to be adopted. We understand that talking about adoption matters. A lot.

Fortunately, we have moved beyond the inaccurate beliefs of the Baby Scoop Era which we highlighted in last week’s blog interview with adoptee Anne Heffron. We understand adoption is a lifetime journey not an event, an imperfect, not a painless solution. Our biggest challenge is how to best school ourselves and our children for that experience. This means adoption must become a routine element in family conversations, one that pops up organically instead of as an intimidating and heavy we-need-to-talk-about-this topic.

Anne’s story reminds us that we must always ensure our children know adoption is a welcome subject. We need and want to hear all of our children’s adoption-related thoughts and concerns. Not just the pretty ones. Not only the happy ones. But also the conflicted emotions, the mixed bag of feelings that co-exist with one another. We are able to handle challenging circumstances and strong enough to support both our children and ourselves. Together we can weather the challenges of adoption, of life.

Talking about Adoption MattersIt is essential for kids with trauma histories to know there is nothing in their story can make them unlovable to us. They are not their story. They are so much more than that.

Their ability to survive trauma amazes us. Kids demonstrate great courage when they drop their walls and open themselves to attach to our families.

Equally important for children to know, our love for them is unconditional. It is not extinguished when they make poor choices. And they will. We all do.

Our children are not their choices. They are not “bad” children. Like all human beings, they will make some poor choices which they will regret–and hopefully, learn from. But our love will remain steady.

talking about adoption mattersWe remind ourselves that adoption-world is a universe of Both/And. Both biology and adoption, both nurture and nature, both joy and sadness, both grief and gain, both loss and love. Our children need all of the elements of their story; we cannot cherry pick the facts to present only a rosy picture to make it easier for them-or ourselves–to hear. We cannot edit out the parts that distress us to discuss or which we’d prefer to shelter them from learning. Our kids need every piece of their story.

We must ensure that we reveal the elements of their story to them with compassion and kindness and honesty. Parse it pieces over time. Plant age-appropriate seeds of information which can be elaborated over time as our child matures. All information shared must be the truth.

talking about adoptoin mattersDo not be tempted to “clean up” history. Do not minimize reality. They lived through it. At some level, they “know” the truth. Their bodies remember. Repackaging a child’s story with “white” lies and omissions will backfire. Somehow children always stumble upon the truth. We want to ensure they receive information from us not from a stranger or loose-lipped friend or relative whose motives may be less than pure or kind.

I repeat: talking about adoption matters. The best way to ensure that we are the ones to deliver the facts of our children’s history is to start casually mentioning adoption when they are very young. Sprinkle these seeds in various types of conversations.When snuggling babies and tots simply say, “We’re so happy we adopted you.” They won’t understand the meaning of the word “adopted.” But, they will understand the affection behind the statement. This positive link helps to make adoption a less charged word when they’re older and begin to understand the reality of being adopted.

Routinely talking about adoption will make it easier for both parents and child to mention it. This eliminates the need for a BIG conversation when the child is older. More importantly it prevents parents from backing themselves into a corner waiting for just the right moment to “tell”  a child he’s adopted. Usually this leads to either the conversation never happening or postponing it so long the child experiences the “delay” as a betrayal. Neither is a good situation. So please, ensure that adoption is mentioned and not treated as taboo or a dirty secret that needs to be hidden.

Other good moments for planting conversation seeds are when you observe children demonstrating a skill: “Wow, you are so artistic. I wonder if your birth mother or birth father were skilled at drawing.” No need for an in depth conversation. Let the kids decide if they want to elaborate or discuss it further.

Talking about Adoption MattersBooks serve as excellent conversation starters. Visit, “Writing to Connect” which reviews “regular” books (those NOT directly linked to adoption.) It evaluates them through an adoption-attuned lens to identify unexpected, subtle opportunities to serve adoptive families & spark important conversations.

The family library should include some adoption-connected books which they can easily access. (If they never request them, periodically remind them the books are there.) Check out our resource page for an extensive list of adoption-connected suggested books for children and adults.

Some great adoption specific titles are:

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Badge GHS websiteCheck our resources page for many more book suggestions. Also visitWriting to Connect” which reviews books and highlights how to find adoption-related conversation points in every day books.

Adopting Joy

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 @ 02:05 PM
Author: admin

soup joyAdopted families, like those formed exclusively by birth are fundamentally the same: parents and children love and are committed to one another forever. But our journey included more twists, turns, and an array of “intermediaries” (social workers, lawyers, etc.) than in the creation of a biological family.

When we write our blog Growing Intentional Families Together, GIFT family services intentionally focuses on the total adoption experience. We know that adoptive families who have the courage to “see” the entire scope of adoption will reap huge benefits. We move beyond the fairytale, get real and deal with the reality that fills our homes. Neither parent nor child needs to play a role of perfection. They savor the blessings and then gird themselves for any challenges. More importantly, these children and parents enjoy the freedom to be authentically themselves—warts and all.

By acknowledging and welcoming the entire spectrum of adoption-related emotions and experiences, these parents become the safe harbor which their children seek. Children turn to parents for refuge with all of their adoption-related thoughts, feelings and question. Wrapped in the comforting knowledge that the painful parts are not taboo; children understand their parents are strong enough to hear it all, to hold it all, and to accept it all. With a sigh of relief, kids understand it’s okay to reveal/admit their struggles so parents can help shoulder the challenges as well as celebrate the pleasures of being and adoptive family.

So yes, we recognize that adoption is imperfect but in today’s blog we choose to focus on the joy that grows in adoption. There are many and they are profound, soul-shaping and transformational. We turn to an uplifting, poignant book: Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Joy of Adoption. Like all of the books in the Chicken Soup franchise, this collection succeeds at tugging heart-strings. I burned through several tissues as I read through the stories. As the title advertises, this is a book which focuses exclusively on the joys associated with adoption. It does not try to be a complete picture of the total adoption experience. The stories immerse the reader in events and moments that amaze, confound and touch the reader’s heart.

Its strong religious slant illustrates the deeply held beliefs of the authors and the strength which their faith provided along the way to adopting their children. Whether or not readers see the hand of God in the forces that brought families together, they will still be moved by the depth of emotion, commitment and the effort that people dedicated to accomplish the outcome. To bring home their child/ren, some parents overcame mountains of paperwork. Some besieged government officials, others enrolled the help of high level military officers. Dogged persistence weaves throughout the collection as parents determined that nothing would impede success. They crossed seas, continents and expended astounding effort, often strung across years of waiting—all in pursuit of a child in need of a family. Their child. Their family.

Take some time to savor The Joy of Adoption. Feed your spirit, fill your emotional tank and remind yourself of the yearning that drove your decision to adopt and the  overwhelming joy you felt when you became an adoptive family. Then return to handle and overcome any challenges. For those contemplating adoption, this book will inspire and encourage you during the arduous and complicated process of adoption.

The publisher has offered a free copy to one of our readers. Please enter your name in the comment on section here and on our Facebook page. Share with us your thoughts about this book and/or your favorite adoption-themed book.We will choose one random winner. on Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Bully for You

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 @ 07:10 PM
Author: admin

bulliedAt one time, “bully for you” was a celebratory expression. Today the word bully occupies a lot of attention and exclusively  conjures up a world of hurt, rejection and fear. Families, schools, and churches, all struggle to handle this detrimental behavior.  Bullying has worsened . Children accept fewer variants from a narrow definition of “acceptable” Today’s youth tighten the parameters of conformity. Violators of these rigid norms are called out, bullied and ostracized.

As adoptive families, we yearn for acceptance, to be seen as “normal” and “as good as” families form through biological ties. We are especially committed to nurturing healthy, warm relationships. We are also personally aware of the effect trauma has on attachment and developing relationships. As a consequence, we practice compassion and understanding and encourage others to embrace an attitude of empathy, understanding and support for our kids. At some level, adoption makes our children and our families “different”–not “less than,” but nonetheless, different.

We have a vested interest in being strong proponents of inclusion, tolerance and respect for others. Perhaps our initial motivation will emerge from concern for our children. Ultimately, we must care about all children. Everyone deserves to feel and be safe.How do we prepare our children to deal with bullying? How do we train them to choose kindness, respect and tolerance? One excellent resource is Carrie Goldman’s award-winning book, Bullied.

Bullied by Carrie Goldman has been named a National Parenting Publications Awards 2013 Gold Medal Winner and a Mom’s Choice Awards 2013 Gold Medal Winner! It is a complex, well-researched book on bullying.   Goldman delineates what bullying is—and isn’t. She offers many ideas and techniques on how to combat it and how to prepare kids to face it, deflect and defuse it. The research she includes buttresses her suggestions very well. These are not pie-in-the-sky suggestions, but well-documented strategies. Bullied moves beyond blaming and finger pointing to focus on improving relationship skills.

As I read Bullied, I picture in my mind a huge wheel. At the core, sat the issue of bullying and then radiating from it were the many factors that emerge from this hub. Knee jerk reactions focus on disciplining the bully and on advising victims to ignore the bullying. Time has proven that these approaches are inadequate and in many ways counter-productive. While meanness may be deflected by ignoring, bullying cannot. This is because by nature bullying creates an unsafe situation, one in which the victim feels endangered, trapped and helpless. With the addition of cyber-bullying, there is no safe space to which the victim can escape from the relentless cruelty.

As parents, teachers, administrators peers and anonymous bystanders we can and must do better. Goldman demonstrates that we must approach all members of the bullying triad: the bully, the bullied and the bystanders. Each needs additional skills. Change comes through awareness and it is easiest to create the empathy and necessary skill sets when kids are young, when empathy is still an instinct that hasn’t been crushed by outside influences. Goldman proposes age-appropriate approaches that reflect kids changing attitudes, motivations, fears and concerns.

Additionally, Goldman calls on adults to examine their own behaviors, conversations and entertainment choices to identify the kind of values that those choices teach. Use respectful parenting styles that teach (the essence of discipline,) instead of simply punish. The toll that bullying takes on a person has life-long impact. Some victims will take their own lives (commit bullycide,) others will be permanently damaged by the memory, the crushing, relentless and enduring hit at self-esteem. They will shoulder a life-long and cruel burden of both the active bullyers as well as the silent bystanders whose very silence was interpreted as affirmation that the bullying was merited. A very tragic legacy indeed.

This book offers so much. My bottom line assessment: bullying is a problem in which each and every one of us must be part of the solutions. Each of us contributes to the atmosphere that allows bullying to thrive in our schools and our culture. Unless we are part of the solution, we are part of the problem—even if only peripherally. I highly recommend this book to parents, teachers.

Check out Carrie Goldman’s excellent website: Portrait of an adoption For the month of November–National Adoption Month–she will be featuring 30 stories in 30 days. Visit her site and read them all.

Bullied is available on Amazon