Why safety is crucial to adoptive families – and how it applies to all of us

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.

Why Safety is Crucial to Adoptive Families

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? 4 messages framework_Aug2016

In the Connected Families Framework, the starting place for our relationship with our kids is the crucial concept “You are safe with me.” The other framework messages -You are loved, You are called and capable, and You are responsible – are all built on this foundation of safety.

Kids who were adopted must know “You are safe with me.” They must experience this safety in their families.  Safety builds the confidence and security to trust and attach to their adoptive parents. At some level, trauma is a part of the history of kids who were adopted, and magnifies their need to experience the safety that all of us need in our families.  These kids aren’t broken. Not to be pitied. They might, however, view the world differently and need extra safety reinforcement and reminders in order to actually feel safe. Their developing, and sometimes tenuous attachment requires the extra reassurance to believe that their parents, and therefore their world, are safe.

Every  parent benefits from the message so powerfully evident in adoption: before children are able to hear and accept they are loved, capable, and responsible – they must first believe they are SAFE.

True enough, but what does this look like when I’m trying to get my kids fed and out the door?

Recovering from one particularly  difficult and tension-filled encounter with my then 9-year-old son, I collapsed into prayer asking God to reveal to me what he needed. I scratched a list during prayer, laid next to him in bed, and read it aloud to him. This list remains. It is a reminder. A reference. A centering-point. A promise.

Instilling Identity and Character In Your Child

10 minute audio clip

Instilling Identity and Character in Your Child

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

<<LISTEN HERE>>

Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart

2nd Edition - Book Release on September 20!

In the winter of 2012, I was desperate for help. My kids at that time were five and seven. We formed our family through adoption, and I wasn’t prepared for the struggles we were having with our then seven year old. Since he had turned three we had been throwing “fixes” at him – hoping that something would stick. (can anyone relate?).

On a particularly difficult day, I was sharing some really hard moments with our adoption group during one of our regular gatherings. One of the moms, who was familiar with Connected Families, encouraged me to check out their resources. I went home, ordered Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart (which had just been released!) and How to Grow a Connected Family – both from Connected Families.

I remember they day they arrived. I carved out a big chunk of time and devoured Discipline That Connects. It was exactly the hope that I so desperately needed.

I was so profoundly impacted by the content that a few months later during a job transition, I contacted Connected Families to see if a position was available. At that time there wasn’t, but I met Jim and Lynne – instantly felt camaraderie with them – and then, the fall of 2013 I was hired by Connected Families.

One of my very first convictions was that Discipline That Connects NEEDS a larger audience! There are so many parents desperate – just like me! Moms and dads crying out for help. Knowing that what “worked” for them as a child, isn’t “working” as they raise their children.

And so I encouraged Jim and Lynne to seek out a publisher for Discipline That Connects rather than self-publish. Fast forward to today…..on September 20, 2016 (two months from today!) Bethany House Publishers is going to release the 2nd edition of Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Hearts!

Why I Love the Huge Dent in My Floor

How to Respond to Your Kids When You Are Angry

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.

Build Trust and Connection with 100,000 Yeses

connection trust 100000 yeses

monkeybusinessimages | iStockphoto.com

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.

Does Giving Time Outs Actually Help Your Child?

Online Gaming Addiction

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.

Standing Tall Grows Our Confidence… But at What Cost?

tall angry parent conflict

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?

3 Game-Changing Questions to Show Your Kids They’re Worth It

worth it game changing questions

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:

Stressful Times Lead to Fertile Hearts

stress emotional rototiller fertile hearts

© 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.