It can be hard work to grow as a parent. Especially when no matter how hard you try, things can still go haywire. Old patterns die hard, and it’s normal to fall into the default of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. But don’t lose heart! Here’s a simple strategy to keep learning and growing, and to help your child do the same – even when things blow up.
Positive growth can start by settling down, and remembering God’s grace for you. When the tension is high, take a break to let you and your child calm down. In that space, take some deep breaths, and remember that we’re all under grace. Then, go to your child with these three questions:
Are you tired of navigating the Lego landmines and mess mazes in your kids’ rooms, but you’re unsure of what to do? How much to intervene? How much to let it be their turf? How to eliminate the power struggle when it does need to be cleaned? The best answers to these questions can be quite different from family to family, but we love to provide parents with creative ideas to consider! This week gain insight from Anna Braasch, our Executive Director and former Professional Organizer.
My 10 year old daughter loooooooves her stuff: plush toys have feelings, knick knacks evoke memories, craft materials hold promise and possibility! This is a picture of our daughter at two years old with her “stuff” surrounding her while she slept.
I, however, lean the other direction; every item has a purpose and a place. When no longer needed, it is, with gratitude, released into the world to be enjoyed and used by someone else. The less stuff I own, the easier it is to keep my house clean!
I loved organizing so much that I had my own business as a professional organizer! When I shifted to working at Connected Families, I directed my organizing intensity on my own home, instead of the homes of my clients. But not my kids’ rooms!
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.
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.
It was 8:30, and I was dashing out the door to get to a 9 o’clock meeting on time.
My kids (8 and 10) get on the bus at 8:40, so those ten minutes from 8:30 to 8:40 can be kind of crazy. I knew if I stayed around for the last 10-minute rush I would likely be late for my 9 am meeting, and everyone would leave the house frazzled. They know how to turn off the lights (mostly), close the garage door, and get to the bus on time so I called a quick “bye, love you” on my way out the door and headed for the car.
At 8:30 sharp I was in the driveway, parked, and queueing up a program on my phone to listen to on my drive. Victory! I was right on schedule.
Until my son came running out of the house yelling, “Mom, wait! Almaz needs you!”
In our family, one of the realities we face is siblings who fight. I tend to want to stop my children’s rivalry in its tracks, but I have found that I sometimes contribute to the problem rather than solve it. Ultimately, I really want my children to figure out how to stop fighting on their own, but at first, I didn’t have the tools. Through Connected Families, I learned how to teach my children to solve their quarrels–a life skill I want them to carry into adulthood.
“Don’t jump to conclusions” and “believe the best in people” are two phrases I repeat often in my family — especially to my 11-year-old son.
But, if I’m honest, when my kids fight I am the one who jumps to conclusions and doesn’t believe the best in people.
As the youngest of four kids myself (poor, innocent me) I naturally see life from my daughter’s point of view (age 9). My husband, who grew up as the older brother of two, naturally sees life from our son’s point of view. When we get involved in our children’s fights, it is almost impossible to act as neutral parties, since we’ve got our own baggage to deal with!
This is why, when I started immersing myself in Connected Families content a few years ago (before I was employed with them) parenting tips like “When Kids Fight” helped guide me through some really difficult times. Here’s one of my favorite lines: