Empowered To Connect

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This is Mercy…

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Friday, April 25, 2014

A while ago my husband was travelling and called home to say goodnight to the kids. One of our sons finished his conversation with his dad and handed the phone to his brother Zeke, who was finishing up in the bathroom before going to bed.

Noticing Zeke’s dilemma of needing both hands while working with water, I stepped in and held the phone for him so that he could continue getting ready for bed. My action, which was meant to help, was interpreted as me not trusting him with the phone. In a split second, his anger flashed and he stormed to his bedroom with two slammed doors shuddering in his wake.

Don’t Embarrass Me

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It’s something I struggle with, these feelings of embarrassment that drive me to respond in less than desirable ways. Whether it’s a meltdown in the grocery store, a display of defiance at church, or a poorly timed observation, I too often find myself thinking about what other people are thinking instead of what my children need.

If I’m embarrassed, I’m unlikely to recognize their behaviour for what it is: an unmet need. Honestly, I’m more comfortable thinking of meltdowns and defiance as misbehaviour that needs to be disciplined rather than as needs that need to be met with equal parts nurture and structure. The more we learn about our children, though, the more we are realizing that what we used to think of as misbehaviour is actually an opportunity for us to meet a need and connect with them. The correction will come, but often it needs to wait until the need has been met and my child and I are re-connected. Sometimes their needs are physical – hunger, thirst, exhaustion, sensory overload – and other times their needs are emotional – unexpressed sadness, fear, and frustration. Whatever the case, I will not be able to see past the behaviour to the need if I am blinded by my own embarrassment.

May I Have a Compromise?

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Friday, January 31, 2014

When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

We began teaching our kids to ask for compromises when our now five-year old daughter was only two. We figured that she was old enough to have a conversation with us, so she was old enough to begin learning how to compromise.

One thing we’ve noticed over the years among kids who are adopted or in foster care is that they tend to have control issues — sometimes really BIG control issues. Many kids (and parents) struggle with control issues, but this especially true for adopted and foster kids that come from homes or situations where most, if not all, of their world was out of control.

Being With

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The ability to see, think, and feel things from another’s perspective – to empathize – can be difficult for anyone, especially parents. I often find myself more focused on what my kids should be doing rather than considering why they’re doing what they’re doing.

What we know is that empathy is learned. If I want my children to learn to respond with empathy, then it is up to me to model it for them. This requires that I acknowledge their emotional reality even if I can’t give them what they want in that moment. This means that I need to slow down, at least long enough to look in their eyes and let them know that I’m with them. That if they’re hurting, I’m hurting. That I am on their side; that I am for them. That their feelings and their hearts and our connection are more important than my schedule.

The Wounds You Don’t See

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I recently read a study that highlighted the difference between our ability to recall images versus words. There were two control groups. The first was shown a picture of a circle. The word “circle” was written down for the second group. The groups were re-convened 72 hours later and asked what they were shown. The group that saw the picture recalled that it was a circle one and a half times better than the group that only saw the word.

Maybe this helps to explain why physical wounds often get so much more attention than emotional wounds when it comes to our children.

What we have learned over the years parenting children from hard places is that physical wounds leave physical scars; emotional wounds scar our children’s ability to trust.

Support ETC Today!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Over the past five years Empowered To Connect has been blessed to serve those who are traveling the adoption and foster care journey. In this past year alone, we held three Empowered To Connect Conferences and were able to teach thousands of parents and professionals.  In addition, we trained hundreds of parents through our Empowered To Connect Parent Training, equipped 45 couples (from 40 different churches) as parent trainers, continued to produce new resources and materials, and laid the groundwork for new and much needed resources in 2014. And that’s where you come in — we need your support to help us do more!

Healing the Wounds of Relational Trauma

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I remember the first time I heard it said. It came out of nowhere during a conversation with an adult adoptee, and I recoiled as the words made their way to my heart. “There is no adoption without loss,” she declared, “but sometimes adoptive parents tend to forget that.”

Such a categorical statement. So black and white. Surely there had to be an exception. Certainly there was some gray. “All adoption is born of loss?” I remember thinking to myself. All?

When Good Things Aren’t Good

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This summer we made a difficult parenting decision. It was the decision (made together with one of our sons) that he would not play competitive summer baseball. Now before you roll your eyes and conclude that we must not have many “real” challenges, let me explain.

You can’t be around our family long before quickly concluding that we have our hands full. We are a “real” family with “real” issues, just like many others. And a few months ago baseball had begun to create its own challenges for our son and our family – challenges that we could no longer ignore.

What made our decision so very difficult was that it involved something entirely “good” – baseball.

When Your Child Pushes You Away

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Monday, August 12, 2013

When most children get hurt or become afraid, they go to a parent. After all, parents are the ones who protect children and keep them safe from danger. They are the ones who comfort children when they are afraid. For these children it’s a simple equation: mom and dad are safe and I can trust them to help me so I will go to them.

But things aren’t always that simple for children with histories of early harm such as trauma, abuse, neglect, or relinquishment. Their life experiences impact them in any number of important ways, often making them prone to prolonged states of fear and a limited ability to trust. Instead of going to their parents for help or comfort, these children often run from them, push them away, or shut them out.

Register for the Houston ETC Conference Today!

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Early bird pricing is still available for the Houston Empowered To Connect Conference, hosted by Show Hope and featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis. Register today to attend this two-day conference for an incredibly low price!

The Houston ETC Conference will be held on Friday & Saturday, September 13-14, at Houston’s First Baptist Church.