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Anna’s Story: When Traditional Parenting Just Doesn’t Cut It

Annas story traditional parenting

Anna Braasch, Connected Families Executive Director, has brought a much-needed perspective of building a family through adoption to the team. Formulaic parenting sounds good, but as Anna discovered, it didn’t work with her kids.


The hopes and dreams of early parenting

We adopted our first child from Ethiopia when he was four months old. It was pure love! When he was just over two, we adopted again. This time, a sweet little 9-month-old girl. We were so excited to be a family of four, naively anticipating years of joy and happiness together.

But what we didn’t realize was that our son’s attachment to us was so fragile. The arrival of another family member rocked his world, and he began fighting for his life and his place in our family. The difficulty for our family was beyond what we could ever have imagined.

For several years, we continued implementing many traditional parenting and discipline “strategies” that promised well-behaved children. We like formulas. You follow the steps — one, two, three — and you get the desired result. Many of these formulas promised if we followed these specific steps, we would have a transformed child and, therefore, a transformed family.

The formulas didn’t work. In fact, they backfired.

In our desperation and heartache, we earnestly began seeking parenting resources that acknowledged trauma and attachment wounds. We needed an approach that would honor the uniqueness and intensity of our family because the conventional “best seller” approaches weren’t cutting it.

The Connected Families books, blogs, and frequent reminders through Facebook began to resonate with our deepest longings as parents.

Things began to change when I was introduced to this version of the Serenity Prayer on the Connected Families website.

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change
The courage to change the one I can
And the wisdom to know it’s ME

Sadly, I had been putting so much energy into the “You are RESPONSIBLE for your actions” message that I had very little energy left to consider the “You are SAFE with me” message.

We began to fight for changed hearts – in ourselves first, and also in our kids – rather than simply changed behavior.

This has made all the difference in our family. Lasting behavior change can only come after a heart change. No cookie-cutter approach can make that happen — only taking the time to connect daily throughout the messiness of life and leading with grace during teachable moments.

To hear more details of Anna’s story…

…check out Episode 154 of our podcast, “Stories of Transformation…One Mom’s Story”.

An unexpected surprise

Nurturing our son’s sense of security, attachment, and unconditional love to the depth where he could thrive was both intensely difficult and spiritually rewarding. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The most significant spiritual development continues to come through my parenting journey. It is what God has used to continue “carrying it on to completion.”

I came to Connected Families seeking help for my parenting. What I experienced, however, was a deeper intimacy in my relationship with God. I’m so grateful for the struggle – even my own missteps that taught me about Christ’s compassionate love and care for me.

This change in my own heart has made me intensely determined to bring the “grace and truth” messages of Connected Families to more and more people around the world.

Are you being transformed through your parenting journey?

If so, take a moment to show gratitude to God and maybe consider sharing your story! There are so many factors beyond our control that can make parenting incredibly difficult, but in the darkest times, you can rest in this precious truth:

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

So consider these questions if you are going through a difficult season in your parenting:

In what ways have you sensed God’s presence in difficult times in the past?
How has God grown you through those times in ways that have blessed others?
What might the Lord accomplish through your current season of challenges?

“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil and let us see what we are made of.”
Charles Spurgeon

And, we would add, prepare our “soil” to bear much more fruit!

Take heart if you are struggling with your child – God is always up to something, and it’s always something good!


Anna has been with the Connected Families team since 2013 and has served as Executive Director since 2015. She is passionate about expanding the Connected Families’ vision of “turning the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous” (Luke 1:17). You can read more about Anna and the rest of the Connected Families team on our Ministry Team page.


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