In honor of November being Adoption Awareness Month, we’ve asked Anna Braasch, our Executive Director and adoptive momma to two, to share practical ways to have safe, connected relationships with your kids – regardless of how they joined your family.
The foundational principles of Connected Families breathe life into families formed through adoption. I’ve seen it in my own family. In fact, creating an environment of safety is vital for any family who has experienced stress. Isn’t that all of us?
On Tuesday evening, September 20, Lynne spoke to a packed house at the Discipline That Connects book launch party about the most important messages that parents convey to their children in discipline. This four-level framework is the foundation of intentional, grace-filled parenting. Follow the link below to get a 10 minute audio clip of the message that Lynne shared with the crowd that evening. Listen to learn about building identity and why it is so biblical, and so crucial to character development in your child.
What you’ll learn:
- how Jesus lived his own life out of his identity
- how Jesus built identity in his disciples
- how we can build the same identity in our kids
In our kitchen, there is a huge dent in the floor. I see it every day. It is a reminder to me of the day in which I learned something important about myself when it comes to discipline. It was a day when I saw myself in my son’s eyes and saw what I was communicating to him in a very tense moment. When I look at that big gouge, I can feel my emotions rising, and I feel… love? Yes, love. Here’s the story.
Mom, can you drive me to school?
Sorry, I’m really busy today.
Mom, can you get me the scissors?
Why can’t you get them? You know where they are.
Mom, can you help me clean my room?
You know that’s your responsibility. I know you can do it.
Mom, can you lay with me in bed until I fall asleep?
Oh, honey, I’d love to but I really need to get the kitchen cleaned.
No, no, no. I can’t even count the number of times I implicitly or explicitly say no to my children every day.
I distinctly remember 11 years ago sitting in a pre-adoption class through our agency and silently scoffing when the presenter suggested during discipline situations to take a “time-in” with your child rather than send them to their room for a “time-out.” What kind of wimpy parenting was this? And so I tuned out the rest of that part of the class, thinking that I knew better than adoption specialists who had researched parent-child attachment for decades.
I thought I knew best, so off we went on our merry way… ready to parent based on formulas from best-selling Christian authors, and our own history of how we were parented.
Since I started out referencing adoption, you might be ready to stop reading if you have bio kids. But at Connected Families, we’ve found that adoption-related attachment struggles are often “the canary in the coal mine” of parenting. Kids with attachment struggles are oftentimes more vocal about their angst, which brings to light what many children could be feeling but don’t have the permission to verbalize.
With that said, I have a confession.
[Full disclosure: this next sentence is really hard for me to admit, but I know that there are others out there dancing the same dance with their “difficult” child. I’m writing this for you.]
I loved giving time-outs.
artproem | iStockphoto.com
As CF’s workshop coordinator, I often attend workshops to help run the table and answer questions — and, since I have some experience in acting, sometimes to jump into the impromptu skits that parents suggest. I can play a great misbehaving 5 year old!
On this particular day, Jim played the dad who was tired after a long day of work and arrived home to find his two girls — Lynne, age 7, and Ellie (that’s me), age 5 — arguing over a toy. Sound familiar?
It can be hard work to change the way you parent. Especially when your efforts to stay calm lead to more pushback from your kids.
Along the way it’s normal to fall into the old habit of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. Don’t lose heart! When this happens, let the dust settle for you and your child, and then ask your kids the following powerful questions:
© 2012 RichardBH, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
Painting pictures in my mind has been very helpful in my parenting journey. For example, when I’m upset and feel like my head is going to explode I imagine a balloon in my lungs filling and releasing air. When my kids are upset and I remain calm, I visualize myself “loaning” my calm to them as a blanket to cover them during their emotional storm.
A word-picture God gave me recently is appropriate for the spring weather we’ve been having: when my kids are upset, tense, frustrated, angry — really any negative emotion — I picture a tiny rototiller tilling up the soil of their hearts.