Posts Tagged ‘Intentional Parenting’

Building Connections, Making Memories: Campfires, S’mores & Good Times

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 @ 01:08 PM
Author: admin

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Last weekend I went camping with my son and his family. Something magical happens when we gather around a campfire, toast marshmallows, snack on S’mores and notice the star-studded sky arching overhead. Good times! It’s a total break from the routine of our ordinary, very busy lives. We relax. Talk. And when silence falls, it feels welcome and comforting which is good for the spirit, good for the body and good for the mind too. We notice the sounds and smells and appreciate the beauty of our environment with a fresh intensity.

Of course, living in VERY tight quarters also challenges one’s relationship skills. Everybody must choose to reset their needs for personal space and be intentional about finding ways to be helpful or at the very least, to stay out of other people’s way. When it comes to food, what we brought is what you can have. Makes no sense to fuss for what’s at home & not in the camper!

One maxim that serves well is, “Value the relationship more than being right.” It’s human nature to incline to a stance of personal “rightness.” This often gets in the way of getting along, of operating from a “we” perspective instead of insisting on imposing an “I” perspective. Another Intentional relationship strategy is to focus on deliberately building memories, ones that last a lifetime and become stories that get repeated through the passing years: “Remember that time when PJ spotted the mermaids in the river?” (true!–only in Florida, LOL!) and “Remember when Nana’s tube became untied and she started to float away down the river and she couldn’t swim fast enough to get back?” (That really happened; fortunately, my son quickly retrieved me!)

During this upcoming Labor Day weekend, why not plan some family memory-making activity? Can’t get away? Why not build a campfire in the backyard? Or, have a “camp out” in the house complete with a picnic meal and “tent.” (Fitted sheets draped over the backs of chairs make an easy, temporary tent.) Use your imagination. Go on a night hike. Play flashlight tag. Notice the stars while simply enjoying being together. Be intentional about creating a memorable chapter in your family’s history.

Share your ideas and let us know what you created as a family.

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing Attention

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 01:04 PM
Author: admin

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing AttentionHuman beings are genetically programmed to desire belonging and companionship, yet life is at its core a solitary journey. In response, each of us walks through life attracting and establishing relationships and deciding who and what is important. As adoptive families, one of our most important relationships—the one between parent and child didn’t happen by accident. We had to expend great energy, intention, and commitment to form our families.

As hard as we work to create relationships, often we fall short in dedicating the necessary energy to sustain them. One of life’s biggest challenges is disciplining ourselves to take the steps, make the time and focus the effort to sustain relationships. It’s not enough to build them; we must also nurture them.

During our recent retreat in Sedona, my GIFT partners and I acted on our intention to be partners, colleagues, and friends. This required us to adjust busy schedules, arrange coverage to fulfill any ongoing responsibilities during our absence, and create understandings with our families. Certainly, this took effort, but the goal—and the result were well worth it.

As Intentional parents, how are you carving the time, focusing attention and engaging in activities—or moments—that feed your spirits and strengthen your family ties?

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing Attention, sheepThink of specific choices that you made; which ones advanced your goal? Which ones fell flat? What patterns, assumptions, and complicating factors blocked your success? What habits kept you tethered to “old” outcomes? What “system” can you design that will best support you?

It might help to imagine this was a career or job goal; the same kind of strategies that serve us professionally can often be tweaked to serve us in relationships. (Remember to operate from the perspective of relationship not transaction!)

One simple practice which we used during our retreat was to set a daily intention. We each identified a single word to embody that intention, for example, forgiveness, serenity, joy, kindness, attunement, tranquility. Determine whatever word captures your intention and then walk through the day with that word as the framework through which you engage for the day. We chose to share our daily intention with one another. (Decide if you want to share yours with others.)

One of the most common impediments to goal achievement is lack of time and the stress that results.

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing AttentionPromise yourself that you will also identify what you would be declining. Take the time to weigh out the choices. Gain clarity, then choose. Feel the difference this makes in your decision process. How much extra time did it take? What benefits do you notice?

How might this practice–and the small pause it inserts–help avoid making decisions which are later regretted? How might it reduce stress? How might it improve relationships with others and yourself? How does it help you choose your priorities from a place of strength?

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Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers, Building Connections

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 02:03 PM
Author: admin

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Love connects families across time and distanceBy the very fact that you chose to take the time to open this blog, you have demonstrated a commitment to being the best parent you can. Posts like this one help us identify leverage points from which we can better guide and connect with our children. Today as I write this blog, tragically, another school shooting has occurred. This is another reminder of the fragility of life. In recent weeks we’ve concentrated nurturing our relationships within our family context. Strong, connected relationships form the foundational bedrock of healthy families. They do not happen by accident. They grow from a consistent commitment of words and aligned actions.

As Intentional Parents we have committed to a goal: to parent in a way that reflects our deeply held values and which helps children grow into happy, healthy adults with strong “roots” and sturdy “wings.”

So, let’s consider a few questions.

(First, identify one specific attempt you actually made to reinforce your relationship connection members of your family. Then repeat this series of questions regarding at least one attempt you made to connect with each of the remaining members of your family.) Let’s explore what you can “data mine” about your efforts.

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Keep reaching until you connectHow well was it received? What did it accomplish?  How did their response affect your emotions?

How have you reminded yourself each day to ensure you fulfilled your intention to make a daily connection?

Did you think to consider taking advantage of each family member’s “love language?” (If you need a refresher, reread this blog.)

What did you notice within yourself as the interactions occur?

 What happened when those efforts “landed”?

If your effort was rebuffed, how did you respond? (Think of both your external reactions and your internal emotions and thoughts.)

What can you do to help identify additional ways of connecting? How can you make them more effective?

How did timing, location, and the presence–or absence–of others influence whether or not connection successfully occurred?

Now run an instant replay in your mind WITHOUT any soundtrack.

What role did body language play—yours and theirs? How did they play off one another?

Now run ONLY the soundtrack. How did word choice influence the result? How does your wording influence the communication, for example, when you speak saying “you” versus “I”?

What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about individual members of your family?  Decide what actions you want to repeat and which ones need further revision or a totally new strategy. When unable to connect “in person” what other ways might you try? Notes? Text messages? Get creative. Instagram? Letters? (the snail mail kind!) The bottom line:

Sustain the intention and

Develop the effective strategies

Implement systems that remind you to follow through.

Approach this effort one day at a time. What will you do today?

Reflections on a Year of Intentional Parenting

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 @ 08:01 AM
Author: admin

We are about to conclude another year of Intentional Parenting. I invite you to take some time to review the year. What pops first into your mind? Was it a memory that conjured feelings of connection, warmth or pride? Or, was it something which reeks of regret, disappointment or anger? The answer reveals a lot about where our attention and energy has been drawn. If worry, fear, frustration, anger or rejections dominates the conversation, it will tilt our thoughts and beliefs in a negative direction.

Let’s revisit the question and this time, clear your heart and head. Use a lens of neutrality. Now what memories spring to mind? How did things shift?

How many are positive? How many of these memories conjure up moments of struggle or conflict?  Perhaps 2017 held many challenges and this negativity dominates your thoughts and feelings. Dig until at least some positive moments take center stage in the 2017 highlight reel of your life. Savor this perspective of celebrating what worked in the past year.

Notice how this intentional shift allows even more positive memories float to the surface.

As you review the highlight reel of the past year. Focus on the top three memories. Pause to enjoy them for a few moments. Which of those three memories bring the warmest feelings?

Three-peats

Choose three success to analyze. What factors contributed to successful encounters? Who was involved? How did each person influence the outcome? How might you increase the likelihood of similar positive interactions in the future? In addition to the elements that you want to include what should be eliminated? Keep in mind that the prime directive of Intentional Parenting is the nurturing the relationship. Unless it is healthy, parents will find it difficult, if not impossible, to influence  children positively and inculcate their core values.

Trifecta Redo

Contrast these elements of success with factors that inflamed conflict. What role did your family values play? Resist the temptation to tackle every item on your list of things to improve.  This creates overwhelm and reduces the likelihood that the desired changes will result. Instead, prioritize; select three items you commit to improving.

What flashpoints tended to trigger breakdown? It is a truism that we can only change ourselves. So, determine how you can interact differently when these types of conflict reappear. Get clear on who owns the “problem.” How do each person’s beliefs, attitudes, actions and, assumptions influence the conflict? How do entrenched patterns keep the family stuck?

Use the Well-formed Outcomes[1] approach to develop a strategy for change.

What do you truly want?
State it in the positive.
Can you initiate it?
Can you control it?
Chunk into manageable task size.
Determine evidence of completion.
Use sensory terms –see, hear & feel it
What must be included?
            Actions, places and people
What must be eliminated
            Actions, places and people
What’s the context?
            Who else? Where? When?
What are the current barriers?
What results will the goal yield?
            (Positive & Negative)
What resources are essential?
Set action Steps Specific/achievable.
What is the first step?
Create several ways to get result.
What time frames are involved?
Create systems to support outcome.

[1] Adapted from Resource Realizations

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