Being the Mom is a full time job, no matter what the circumstances. And being the Mom of a special needs child (or 2 or 3 or more) is even beyond that...I know, I am both! I have been doing both, and more, for 17 years now and I am glad to say I have learned much!
One of the most important things I have learned is that taking care of me is as important as taking care of everyone else...actually it may be more important. I learned that if I didn't take care of me, I really didn't have the capacity to take care of anyone very well. In order to be an Intentional Parent, you really need clarity and energy.
I learned that to get that clarity and energy, to be really successful at being a GREAT Mom to everyone in my home I needed to: EMBRACE MY LIFE and NOT JUST SURVIVE IT!
Here are some thoughts to consider as you try to Embrace Your Life:
Just surviving our life leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless. It causes wrinkles, jumpiness, decreased energy, gray hair, and more.
Choosing to Embrace our life - one moment at a time - helps to empower us, to help us feel strong and in control of our destiny. It causes smiles, the ability to read the situation, and be intentional about our choices, confidence, tons of energy, peacefulness within ourselves and SO MUCH MORE!
I am calling all you Moms and Dads out there...If I can do this, so can you! Fight for it; your family deserves the best!
P.S. I'd be honored to help you make your action plan to meet your child right where they are at - THAT IS Where Healing Happens. Join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group and we'll get YOU a plan.
Well, just to be sure we are getting into the holiday swing here, the weather is a combination of freezing rain to snow. If I wasn't ready before, this weather shift always pushes me to face the reality - the big holiday season starts in under a week.
Seventeen years ago, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a family of 8. We had just finalized our adoption and brought our girls home. Wow, talk about facing reality.
I had all of these DREAMS for my daughters. My dreams included laughter, smiles, hugs, loving feelings, time together, sharing, new traditions, family, more and more family.
There was some of that sprinkled in, but some of those dreams were missing and the missing stuff (plus some not-so-great behavior/words) were blamed on the facts that we were speaking different languages, the newness of it all, and everyone just being overwhelmed.
Honestly, as time passed it got more and more difficult.
The holidays looked great to the outsiders. All the kids (3 biological boys and 3 adopted girls) were dressed up cute. There were smiles on their faces as they opened gifts from Grandmas and Grandpas. They tried all the delicious treats and said please and thank you nicely.
However, on the inside it was a whole different story altogether!
Inside our family was a MESS!
The girls were miserable and acted out constantly (when others weren't looking). The boys were totally thrown off by all of the chaos that happened behind our closed doors. Our marriage was stressed.
We distanced ourselves from others because we felt judged and unsupported. I felt like an awful Mom, Wife, Daughter, Granddaughter, Niece, Cousin, and Friend. I really felt very alone.
Out of a deep desire to get my family back in shape, I began doing things very differently and our mess began to take on a new more positive and happy feel.
I tweaked and tweaked how I parented. I researched, read, and attended any training for adoptive and foster parents I could. I found the tools and techniques that worked to help us all enjoy the holidays.
I learned to meet my children right where they were at and they began to be more and more successful - soon my family was in such a better place! (And so was I).
If you are like I was and you dream of giving your children the experience of a loving, joyful, peaceful, family-filled holiday, it would be my honor to help you get a plan in place that would include knowing your whole child, identifying the impacts of trauma your child is tripping over, measuring his/her emotional age, and tools and techniques that you need to be successful (and so much more)!
You'll be ready to tackle the tantrums and crabbiness head on, create a holiday time where your family and friends help you help your children not sabotage you at every turn, and start looking forward to the holidays yourself!
We are diving into strategies for the holidays in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group to help you look forward to and enjoy the holidays more...
1. We've added #1 Best Selling Class Surviving The Holidays into the Learning Library in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group for members to use free of charge and at their convenience. This class also includes the Surviving the Holidays Checklist and a Template for a letter to family and friends to help them support you better.
2. Every week we are doing a LIVE Q & A so you can zero in on your holiday and fine tuning your plan so that it works!
3. For the Month of December, the coaching group will be 50% off. Just use the discount code MyGiftToYou.
It's the perfect time - Let's get you started!
Just click this link, www.tohavehope.com/intentional-parent-coaching-group
Join the Group, Watch for an Email, Get into the closed Facebook Group and then into the Learning Library and get started with the Surviving the Holidays class....then I'll see you in the Live session.
You are going to be so relieved!
I watched a family dealing with grief this weekend; it reminded me again of how important it is for me as an Intentional Parent to never forget the impact that grief and loss had and still has on my adopted children.
It's a part of who they are. The loss of their biological family has impacted them at their core. The reality is that it doesn’t stop them too much anymore, but it used to. As I look ahead, I think it will come into play when we deal with big life changing events like marriage and children.
What does grief look like in a child? I think too many times we miss it!
We expect it to look a certain way and when we don’t see that specific picture we think it isn’t an issue. Unfortunately, grief is often misinterpreted as misbehavior, defiance, and just not caring.
Children only have a very short list of behaviors they can use to express their emotions. These behaviors will be used to express a variety of emotions and we as their parents have to know that this includes the sadness and loss they inevitably feel from losing those first attachment figures.
It's up to us to know and to understand. It's up to us as Intentional Adoptive & Foster Parents to meet them where they are emotionally!
To believe them and honor those times when they express emotion about the losses in their life.
To "know" when ugly behavior is pain not defiance.
It is scary and uncomfortable to see our children hurt that way, but allowing them to bring it to us is truly being the safety net they need. Just listen. Comfort them. Tell them you are sorry they have to have this hurt.
I hurt for my daughters.
I'm sad for all the loss they suffered at such young ages. I see them deal with it, each in their own way. We've always talked about it as openly as possible. Sometimes they grieved with anger, sometimes with absolute heart-wrenching sadness and sometimes they kept it in the quiet places of their minds, just figuring out how to go forward.
These losses are a part of their story. Their identity. The ramifications of them will impact how they make choices in life, how they love, and how they live - to be sure. But, my hope is that they are able to grieve these losses so that they are able to transform their lives into whatever they choose for themselves!
Meet your adopted or foster child right where he's at and sometimes that means sadness out of nowhere, hard behaviors during family events, and avoiding feelings altogether.
Knowing that that is what grief looks like on your child and being intentional creates a whole new opportunity for YOU to be their person...the one who gets them completely. The one who will finally assure them that they are worthy of love.
P.S. If you're looking to surround yourself with tools and support, join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group for Adoptive & Foster Parents.
I am so excited...this is going to be an AMAZING month! It's National Adoption Month and we are celebrating. Be sure to read this whole email because quite honestly there is something for everyone.
I've heard lots of these stories over the year and there's one thing I know for sure...they are always beautiful! So one way we will be celebrating is by posting Adoption Stories on my Facebook Page each day of the month...and I would LOVE to share yours.
Please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can put it in an email or send it as an mp4. Feel free to include a picture or not - whatever you feel is safest for your child. And absolutely change names if you would like to as well. Thanks so much for your help!
My new obsession...and these were created just for you, my friends! There are two choices: "Be Intentional" and/or "family...DNA not required". I love to add my favorite essential oil to the inside of the leather band and enjoy the scent all day long. Treat yourself and even use them to nurture your closest relationships. There's even a discount code below.
Our discount code is: FAMILY5DOLLARS. It's good for $5 off items on their website: createhopecuffs.com.
And it's good through Dec. 31st, 2017. (I do not make any money on this product; however a portion of the proceeds go to educating children of the Bheveni Community in Swaziland, Africa.)
Surround Yourself With People That Get It & A Plan That Works!
(the best for last)
Here's the thing...I am extremely passionate about making sure no family walks this journey alone and this month I am adding even more to the Intentional Parent Coaching Group to support you even better.
Here are only a couple of the exciting things going on this month in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group, in addition to our weekly LIVE sessions, Learning Library packed with my top selling classes and deeply discounted Private Coaching Sessions:
1. I was going to do drawings for Private Coaching Sessions in my Coaching Group each week this month, but I changed my mind...I am giving EVERY MEMBER of my coaching group one FREE 45 minute Private Coaching Session via the phone.
Yep, every single one of you!
(This is a 45 minute session per family. It can be used immediately or banked and then can be used later as long as you are an active member of the Coaching Group and have sent in your Family App)
2. I will be adding my most popular class, "Handling the Holidays," to the Learning Library in the Coaching Group starting 11/2 and will be holding a Live Q&A in regards to that class so that members can ask specific questions about their holiday plans.
The Holidays DON'T Have to be Horrible!
If you are looking for things to change for the better,
If you need a plan that works,
If you are tired of doing this alone, you belong in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group.
This is your month. I would be honored to teach you tools and strategies that will make life way more doable...even enjoyable. Just click this link to join me.
You can do this and I'm right here to cheer you on and show you that it works!
If your life is over-the-top crazy,
If your adopted or foster child is consistently sabotaging things,
If his or her hard behaviors and words are getting in the way of your whole family's happiness...
it's time to create your child a world that is the size he can really handle. A world in which he can be most SUCCESSFUL!
Most of the time creating a world in which your adopted or foster child can be most successful means making it SMALLER. It can include things like extra-curriculars, chores, camp, boundaries at home and beyond, the kinds of toys or other items they own and other big transitions they do away from you.
One example in our case was when we had given our daughters chores based on their chronological ages and the abilities we “knew” they had.
Our oldest rarely succeeded at accomplishing her chores. The problem was that those chores really caused a lot of issues. Big. Huge. Issues. It was "clear" to us that she "never listened", "didn't care", was "disrespectful on purpose", was "sneaky" and "just thought she could do what she wanted to when she wanted to do it." Remember, this is the way we interpreted everything.
Another example in our case was when we enrolled her in things at church and school that the other kids her age were doing.
She really had a hard time being able to run with other kids her age and not end up either getting hurt or breaking a rule or four!
Many times in situations where she was on her own with other children, she would either be a loner or be bossy and aggressive.
Important relationships were being negatively affected, we were confused and mad because it often felt purposeful, we were asked to pull her out of classes and sports, she was getting injured and putting herself in dangerous situations. It was a nightmare.
Worst of all, her self-esteem was suffering terribly. The more she failed the worse things got – a vicious circle of her old beliefs and deficits was set in motion!
It was time to do it differently!
I remember distinctly the day I really fully embraced this new more intentional way to parent my daughter. The day I really took the risk and met her where she was.
She had been invited to an overnight girl birthday party. She said she wanted to attend. However, behavior kicked in big time! She sabotaged going to the event in any way she could.
It finally hit me…this is too big for her.
I turned it over and over in my mind. It was an event that any Mom would want for her daughter to be a part of. It was an event that was appropriate for her chronological age. “All” of the girls in our group of friends were going. But I really needed to meet my daughter right where SHE was at.
With all of this going on in my mind, I decided to follow my gut.
I called her to our porch and as gently, but confidently, as I could I explained that she was not going to go to the party. I told her that it was my job to keep her safe and healthy and that this party would not be either of those things for her.
I braced myself for her reply.
She looked at me and asked me to repeat what I had said. I repeated it word for word. Her hands released their tight hold they had had on the rail. Then she breathed a huge sigh of relief! Her shoulders dropped inches in relaxation. Her face softened. Then she asked if she could go and play.
The behaviors that had kicked up before the party went back to a low rumble - which was our status quo. It was over. The spin really slowed! The party was too big for her.
I finally got it! I didn’t put her into a situation in which she couldn’t be successful. This was a HUGE shift for us.
It's so important to pull your adopted or foster child’s world into the size in which he can not only handle, but also be successful. Changing the size of your child's world is REALLY about meeting him where he's at. And it almost always means doing it differently than most other families.
But the benefits far outweigh the challenges of doing it differently...making this kind of intentional choice creates healing across the board!
I think there are a couple rules of thumb to follow when deciding how big is too big:
There's nothing easy about this concept; however, it makes all of the difference in creating the connection that ultimately is the foundation for all other relationships...the really important stuff usually takes work!
You can do this and I'm right here to cheer you on and show you that it works!
P.S. If you'd like specific strategies or to build your action plan I'd be honored to teach you how in my Coaching Group.
Just click this link to join me.
Just a quick note to remind you that sometimes you just have to GO FOR IT!
I get it. I really do. For many years, I just didn't want anyone to know how hard things were and how crazy and unhappy I felt. As a matter of fact, there were days and weeks I didn't believe anything could change even if I knew how.
Well...I am here to tell you that life can be SO much better!
Many years ago I decided to muster up everything I had and just Go For It.
Yes, it usually meant swimming upstream, doing it differently than I had ever considered, questioning from friends and family and those looks from everyone.
I decided it couldn't matter. Neither could the words and behavior from my children; they didn't know how if felt to have a Mom that took good care of them or valued them they were scared. I couldn't take it personally. I just had to keep to the plan and go for it!
It paid off!
I figured out how to parent my daughters so that they could really heal...so that we could have SECURE attachment. So that they could be as happy as possible in life.
The GREAT NEWS is that you don't have to figure it all out alone...you don't have to do any of it alone!
I want to personally invite you to join my Intentional Parent Coaching Group where you will meet with me 4 times a month to tweak YOUR plan, be a part of a closed Facebook group, receive new insight plus tools and techniques that work and a vault full of 12 of my top selling classes and archived IPCG Trainings and Q & A's.
This is huge! Right at your finger tips everything you need to make the shift happen.
Aha moments, breakthroughs and stronger, more solid family connections - that's what we are looking for - and that's what your family can have beginning today!
Today is a great time to join us! With new additions of DEEPLY discounted Coaching Sessions and a video series for School Personnel and one for Family and Friends.
Don't hold back you and your family deserves SO MUCH MORE!
Click this link to GO FOR IT Now!
You know that I totally get where you are coming from. I've been there and it can get tough. Really tough.
Here's what I want to say to you totally out of love and understanding...be sure you aren't so angry or so sad or so tired that you are sabotaging your own success at meeting your child right where he/she is at.
Get Out Of Your Own Way, my friend.
So many parents feel stuck. They don't know what to do to stop the hard behaviors. They question whether they are the right parent for this child. The day in and day out roller coaster of emotions has got them totally exhausted.
I remember it well. It enveloped me.
I remember feeling like I was caught in one of those cartoons where the black cloud follows the character around - I hung on to all the negative stuff so tightly. There wasn't much else in my life.
Rather than fill myself up, I chose to stay empty.
I didn't sleep. I didn't take a break. I didn't do things with friends. All I thought about, all I talked about was how hard everything was.
Now that's crazy! I had a great life. And that's where I realized I was totally sabotaging my own success by not taking care of me so that I could get unstuck.
We get in our own way sometimes.
In order to avoid sabotaging your own journey, be sure to take care of yourself so you can have the clarity it takes to see where your child needs you to meet them.
Invest time and energy into taking time for you, nurturing your closest relationships and surrounding yourself with people that get it. You'll be energized and feel powerful to not be doing it alone.
All of the sudden, you'll have gotten out of your own way.
And then meeting your child right where he's at will become second nature. The hard behaviors and ugly words will dissipate. The connection will strengthen. You will figure out how to be the parent your child needs and can receive.
You will feel the shift. Your whole family will.
Don't let yourself stay stuck. Take care of you, too. It doesn't have to be a month's vacation. Just intentional choices along the way - choices that help you keep from getting stuck in the muck!
P.S. I want to personally invite you to be a part of my Coaching Group - A choice to help you take care of you and to keep you from getting stuck. http://www.tohavehope.com/intentional-parent-coaching-group.html
Have you ever watched an old Cheers episode? Or maybe you are like me and watched the TV Series the first time around.
Cheers was a hugely popular sitcom that ran for 11 seasons and its theme song was and still is, depending on how old you are, on the tip of everyone's tongue.
It goes like this...
"Making your way in the world today takes everything you got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away...?
Sometimes you want to GO—
Where everybody knows your name....
And they're always glad you came....
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name....
You wanna go where people know
People are all the same
You wanna go where everybody knows your name...!"
I really think Cheers became so popular because it embodied a REAL human need...fitting in somewhere, being part of the group, finding where you matter.
The characters of the show all had their ups and downs, their own distinct personalities, and even some real-life challenges that they brought to the "place" where they felt safe. Day after day they got through life with the support of their "crew." And at the end of the day, they all went back to their own personal journey strengthened by having been around people who were just like them.
I know it's kind of corny, but the reality is that this is what the Intentional Parent Coaching Group has really become.
A place where you can feel safe because everybody gets your struggle - it's their struggle too.
A place where you can share your victories as well as your worries and they'll be there to share them without judgement.
A place where you can just be you.
A place where it's not so much work to feel understood and accepted.
A place that will help lift the weight off of your shoulders.
I remember watching the show and smiling. It was "somewhere" we all wanted to find for ourselves. That place where you can walk into and hear a collective..."Norm!"
One word, one action that says it all - You Matter. You Are Good Enough. You Are Accepted. You Are Loved. You Are Supported. You Are ONE OF US. You Belong Here!
Fifteen or Sixteen years ago when we were in the trenches of this journey, a place like Cheers was what we needed. It was what we craved. It would have been so healing. Our lives would have been changed. It didn't exist then - but I've made sure that it exists NOW - for you!
Like the song says...You wanna be where you can see. Our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name...A powerful tool to get you through.
I want to personally invite you to be a part of my Coaching Group - You're going to be glad you came!
I can't wait to see you in group.
P.S. I just wanted to apologize for the fact that you are now going to walk around all day humming the Cheers theme song :)
So many parents come to me worried that they are not helping their child heal. They comment on not knowing what to do or say in those difficult moments. Actually, many believe they are making things worse. They want me to help them do it differently.
Here's my answer...it takes an Action Plan.
Having an action plan allows us to be ready to respond to the challenges. We can be proactive rather than reactive. By becoming proactive, you will be more likely to say and do the most healing thing at the roughest of times. And you will be more apt to meet your child right where they are at - and that's where healing happens.
When there's a go-to plan, everyone feels more successful. Everyone IS more SUCCESSFUL. You find clarity about what to do next. You will also experience a lot less stress and find that your energy and zest for life increases.
Ultimately, having an Action Plan in place - one that includes support, tools and strategies that work and a way to measure its success - allows you to experience joy right next to the challenge. Now that's what we are all looking for, isn't it?
Let me help you get your family's Action Plan in place. You will feel the shift you have been waiting for. My Coaching Group has everything you need to get your family to Happy and Healthy.
Finally, know what to do and say in the moment! Join me in my Intentional Parent Coaching Group
Success. Joy. Healing. That's what we're talking about!
Does the phrase "I forgot" trigger you? It can't be real, right? It happens all of the time. No one forgets that much!
Well, the TRUTH of the matter is that it is REAL! Short term memory struggles are definitely an impact of trauma and a result of high anxiety.
Children who come from where our kids come from carry with them impacts of that trauma. Their Limbic Systems have been "over used" and flooded with brain chemistry that has physically impacted how their brains developed.
In the moment it helps to think of that area of the brain being like Swiss Cheese. Sometimes the neurons connect, but most of the time they miss each other. There are holes now. When they miss, your child deals with challenges remembering.
Short term memory and the Limbic System don't just deal with remembering the names of things or the order of things. They also help your mind and body to remember what experience or person is safe or not. In addition, they also help you remember so that you can apply what happened yesterday to today.
We are talking DEFICIT NOT DEFIANCE. Not having these abilities is the source of so many triggers.
Knowing that "I forgot" is real and meeting your child right where he/she is at is where healing happens. Do what you need to do to help your child be successful in these areas and you will feel the shift towards trust, self-confidence, and a more peaceful every day.
P.S. Not sure how to meet your child where they are at? Join me in my Intentional Parent Coaching Group today.
We will get your Action Plan in place TODAY!