I Was Thinking…
Our oldest daughter moved out in early August. This is our daughter who struggles the most with deficits from her past. She is an incredibly intelligent young lady who really struggles with relationships and regulation. She of course would not agree, but it is clear to the rest of the world. She was very adamant about going so, as I have written about before, we set her up a little bubble of a world in an attempt to help her succeed.
Well, she has done okay. She’s not been well regulated when it has come to money, asking for help, keeping in contact with family, sleeping and eating right, and a few other areas. On a positive note she has done a good job of holding down a pretty labor-intensive job, even though she is really tired of it. However, her dis-regulation has begun to spin out of control even more lately and we were getting a little worried about what our next move would be.
Then it hit me. She has lost the connection. Her foundation. She is in survival! So, I planted a seed about her coming home to visit on her next day off. Not exactly my first desire...our home has been very peaceful since she left, but it was the right thing to do. She lives in a town about 45 miles away, which happens to be where my husband is presently working. It would be easy; she could ride with him both ways. She said she would love to and seemed genuinely excited. Well then she hit the wall…she spent more money than she had and got “denied” again. Shame took control. She texted and said how stupid she was and that she couldn’t come because she had to stay there and deal with her problems. And so on and so on...major drama!
I just calmly reminded her that we could help her fix her problems. I asked why she would punish herself this way. I told her I knew it was hard to admit she made the same dumb choices again, but that all in all we were in this NO MATTER WHAT. There was a bit more discussion and finally she decided to come home after all. I sunk a lot of energy into supporting her to make this decision because I knew if she did not come home the spiral was going to get totally out of control!
Well, long story short - she came home. It was awkward at first because she expected the world to stop and be about her…typical RAD viewpoint. But we got past that. I spent a few 30 or 40 minute chunks of time just with her. I listened to half-truths, exaggerations and complaints, but didn’t call them out too much – NEUTRAL was the name of the game. If I did, it was with humor or overly mushy concern. This is how best to get this child’s attention. I took her shopping and bought her vitamins and fruit and some of her favorite foods for groceries. She was happy as a lark!
She left early the next morning filled up, reconnected and ready to deal with reality again. It’s amazing the difference getting plugged back in can make. It is not always easy from my end…time with her is often like being on a rollercoaster after having eaten a lot of junk food. Not very fun! But when she is plugged into us she is less likely to spin totally out of control. Her gauge is more affected by our morals and values. She can ask us for help more easily. The roller coaster ride is a little less dramatic. She called that night and texted the next day. Just keeping me in the loop. Sounding happy.
It works…this intentional parenting stuff! It doesn’t make it all go away, but it makes it doable. And most importantly it gives a child who has lost so much in her life a place she can go that helps her feel safe enough to sleep like a log (her words not mine), people that do see past the façade she uses to protect herself into her true heart, and enough hope to fill her bucket time and time again!
This certainly is NOT an easy job. And it absolutely won’t be over anytime soon. But for right now this is working…meeting our 18.5 year old where she is at and keeping our connection strong!
I was thinking…
Not a long one today…more of a mental note put down on paper!
It just doesn’t matter how long I do this, it just keeps coming back to…you just have to have a plan! There’s really no room for copping out! Things just go so much more smoothly. No matter how crazy life gets, no matter how tired I am, it remains my job as an Intentional Parent to have the plan!
I know my kids and I know how they will react in any given situation. I know what they are capable of and I know what will throw them. It is always my goal to help them succeed so I work hard to meet them where they are at! When I say hard I mean hard. Sometimes it takes everything I’ve got! Sometimes I really don’t like where they are at…but if I meet them there they will do best! I want to help create moments where my kids feel about themselves the way I do! They can do anything, be anything, they are not defined by their past losses or deficits!
Another call from school? Another note home from the teacher?
School is HARD for our kids! Too many interactions and transitions. Not enough permanence. We are called in to deal with school stuff time and time again!
IT IS EXHAUSTING!
Here is the key…the connection is being lost! We are our children’s best chance at healing. We are the foundation, the consistent safety net that they count on. When they lose that connection, anxiety increases, regulation is lost, old fears and beliefs take over and they struggle. Friendships are impacted, learning is delayed and many families have even had to leave their school due to uncontrolled behaviors.
I have fought this battle too! It felt like running into a brick wall year after year. You have my word on it, it can be different! You can have some RELIEF. Some support.
I want to teach you tools that are POWERFUL SOLUTIONS to dealing with frustrated teachers, the feelings of being judged by school personnel and other parents and the hard behaviors caused by the increased anxiety of your child. Tools that will ultimately lighten your load while enhancing healing for your child. It can’t get better than that!
Step by step techniques that will make a difference at school faster than you ever thought possible!
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You Deserve A Break
By the end of the day I am beat! I love being a Mom that is for sure, but my days are full. When it is time for my kids to go to bed, I just need that routine to go smoothly and once they are in their beds it is REALLY important that they STAY in their beds!
That hour or two of quiet is really important to my mental health. Sometimes I just sit mindlessly watching t.v., sometimes I read and relax, sometimes I get work done. Lots of times those couple of hours is when my husband and I get a little break and have time to reconnect! We get to have a conversation without interruption or play a game and laugh together. It’s our time to find each other, support one another and figure out our plan going forward. We always do better and feel stronger and more hopeful when we are a united front!
There were years when that break did NOT exist! Bedtime was horrible! Tantrums, whining, sneaking, in bed & out of bed & in bed & over and over! By the time they were all finally asleep (at least they looked like they were), my husband and I were exhausted, unproductive and even cross with each other many times. We went to bed in survival mode…feeling anything but like a united front!
Every day people ask me about bedtime! How do we get our children to go to sleep? To stay in their beds? How about bedwetting – it seems purposeful. How long will all of this last?
Well, the good news is that it usually doesn’t last forever! And the EVEN BETTER NEWS is that you don’t have to just sit and wait for it to change! YOU have the power to start getting that time NOW! I can teach you tools and techniques that can get your children the rest they need and that break you need! It’s all about keeping that connection between you and your child “alive” even when they can’t hear you, or see you.
Let me show you how to make EASY TWEAKS to your routine so that you can get a little time to take care of you! You CAN do this! Everyone wins here. We can all be better more intentional parents when we are filled up emotionally, physically rested and well connected with our support team!
Join me for Stacy Manning’s…You Deserve A Break
I Was Thinking…
Lately it feels like I just keep going from fire to fire. The routine I try so hard to create for my kids keeps getting interrupted by life! This job is hard just on a regular day, but when life throws you a curve ball it can get even more difficult. It can create anxiety for our kids, which comes out as behaviors and choices that are not only unhealthy for them, but that create chaos in all of our lives.
My parents have had some health struggles lately and as I am the only living child, it falls to me to help. Don’t get me wrong; it is my honor to help them. They have been there for me always and now it is my turn. The reality is that I am absolutely okay helping them and my husband is a great support of me doing so; however, it is some of my kids that aren’t so flexible - they need a different level of “me” to feel safe and secure in their everyday life. They do best when I am with them. They feel unsafe when things change, especially unexpectedly. They go to survival behaviors if they feel like I am unplugged from them emotionally. Life as we know it kind of implodes!
While this kind of situation is light years ahead of where it used to be, it still happens even 13 years later! I am reminded that even though things are stressful outside our home, even though I am called on in a different role, I still need to do the work here at home as well. My kids can handle a lot more than they ever could and are growing and flourishing in many areas of their lives. But at their core they are still healing. They are still touched by their loss. It still sneaks up on them and creates times of insecurity and fear.
So, I hit myself upside the head and do what I know to do. Even 13 years later. I intentionally do those things I know helps them to hold onto our connection, even when I can’t physically be here with them. They stay calmer, life is more peaceful! I can do what I need to do for my parents and take care of my children too. It feels good. It just comes down to the fact that as parents of kids who have suffered loss and pain we still need to do the hard work even when life gets in the way! If we are Intentional Parents, we have a plan that works!
I just wanted to let you and your spouse know that it IS possible to get time together! That not only is it possible, but that I absolutely know how much you long for it! I know that it feels like you don’t even know each other anymore and that you struggle to agree on the simplest things sometimes. I know that you are often challenged to find the energy to take care of you, much less make time to spend together. Time that doesn’t cost your child emotionally so that you can really enjoy yourselves.
Do you want to know how I know? I lived it! We struggled too, as do many adoptive and foster parents. Our first goal is to do the best for our children. However, it often came at the expense of our time to take care of ourselves and our marriage. It almost felt like we lived two different lives. I was caught in the spin of all the ups and downs of daily life with kids who struggle and my husband was out navigating the world and its pressures. It almost felt like we were losing each other and ourselves!
We knew we needed time together, but it was really hard to do. I felt like it was too much of a risk. Our kids were so anxious beforehand and then I dealt with tons of behaviors afterward. My husband didn’t understand my worry and he felt powerless to make things better. It was time to do it differently! Thank goodness we figured things out and came up with answers that worked.
Here is the secret…to make spending time alone together work, you have to know how to keep the connection between you and your kids “alive” even when you are not with them physically.
You CAN do this! These are simple tweaks we have to make as part of a new way of parenting. They take some planning, but otherwise are not hard. Here’s the great news…once you master them you can teach them to your support system, teachers, and babysitters so that they can help you keep that connection “alive” when they are in the care of your kids!
I will share tons of really effective tools with you both in my upcoming teleseminar. You will know exactly what to say and do. You will have a specific plan to help you ban together as a couple. It will help you understand what that connection means to your child. It will give you a way to restore your most important relationship. It will offer you the opportunity to fill yourselves up, which will assure your best efforts for your children!
I just have one concern…seats are going fast! Get your seats quickly!
Make this important decision to intentionally take time to strengthen your marriage! To nurture your closest relationship. You are important too!
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You Deserve A Break
I Was Thinking…
Well another birthday is happening in our house tomorrow. My baby girl is turning 15. She has been part of our family for just about 13 years and it’s like we were never without her!
My baby girl was 30 inches tall and weighed 30 pounds…a square little girl built like a Russian babushka. So cute. Cheeks, cheeks and more cheeks. Yes she struggled. Still does sometimes, but…for the most part she is a very strong, independent, young woman who is really finding HER way in the world. Her fiery personality, quick wit and incredible sense of humor are some of her most magnetic characteristics. A far cry from the emotionally and physically shut down little girl from so many years ago!
I couldn't be more proud of my baby girl! I am so lucky to be her Mom! Life flies by so fast...don't regret any minute, don't overlook any opportunity and don't ever ever give up HOPE!
I get it!
Every day I have parents telling me how exhausted they are and yet they can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel because a break would only create anxiety for their children. To add to that many talk about the reality that there really aren't a lot of choices of people to help them out because in the past the behavior of their child was too difficult.
I do know how hard it is to leave and not have what I call “fall-out” before and after. It used to feel like my long awaited break was not worth it! I would come home to really hard stuff and whatever I gained or relief I had gotten was quickly forgotten! I was back to overdrive, stress and feeling tired immediately!
Yes! As parents to kids who struggle with hurdles like anxiety, abandonment, and behavior issues (along with many other things) we need to be especially intentional about how, when and with whom we leave our kids!
Just as important though, we need to be intentional about how and when we take care of ourselves! It is important to refuel so we can commit to NO MATTER WHAT!
I have learned that the answer to HOW is in the ability to keep the connection between us and our child alive even when we cannot be physically together! It lessens the anxiety about possible re-abandonment helping our child feel confident that we will always take care of them. That we will NEVER leave them for good – we will always come back! This confidence frees them up to follow directions better, trust those we put in charge, learn, and overall think more clearly.
I want to teach you these tools and techniques so that you can refuel! So that you can feel again. Breathe again. Nourish your closest relationships. I want you to take care of you a bit! Laugh. Read. Dance! Whatever your heart needs to be filled up!
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You Deserve A Break
I Was Thinking…
As Intentional Parents, we have to be careful about the words we choose when we talk to our adopted and foster kids. We have to be sure we do not add to their already incorrect view of themselves. So many of our children have a hard time defining themselves as someone free of their history. Many of our children believe that they are not good enough, that they are just bad, that they can’t change because it is…"just who they are.”
As Intentional Parents, we know that we have to meet our children right where THEY are. We have to understand that our kids have suffered impacts of trauma. That they deal with deficits every day and in every relationship. Deficits like impulsivity, irrational beliefs about others and the world - about whether others know, understand or even care enough to take care of their needs. Deficits that get in the way of making good choices, especially within the family unit.
Instead of using words like stealing and lying, we need to be intentional about how we talk to and about our children. The reality is that our children don’t make the choices they do to be defiant. They are typically reacting to life with the tools they have. Tools that include loss, grief, mistrust, unmet needs, missed development, impacted brain development and more. Let’s teach them about why they do what they do. Let’s give them tools they can use to work “around” their deficits. Let’s show them what WE believe they can do and who they are. Let’s offer them another explanation for their struggles…one that doesn't add to the negative misbeliefs they already have. One that is positive and hopeful!
You ARE worth it!
I have to tell you my passion is pretty huge when it comes to helping parents of hurt kids take care of themselves as well as they take care of their kids! This is not something I did very well! Not something anyone really was able to help me with. Now, I am committed to do it for you if you will let me!
I never wanted to take any time away from the kids because I felt like it was't worth it! The fall-out that I had to deal with when I got home was hard and I worried all the emotional work we had done had been lost. Lots of times I was barely holding on and thinking of having to do it all again was not pretty. I grocery shopped in the middle of the night so that I didn't have to take the kids with me because that caused them anxiety and I didn't have to leave them with someone else because that caused them anxiety. Time alone with my husband came after everyone was asleep, which was usually long past when we had any energy to have a discussion much less watch a movie or play a game. A couple of my kids burned bridges with people who would care for them and friends and family were not willing to care for them the way we asked them to. There was NO such thing as a break!
Here is the thing...I love my kids. I am a stay at home mom by choice. The hurdle is that my adopted kids have needs that are intense. Needs that are born out of irrational beliefs of the world and other human beings due to trauma. A history that causes them to not trust my ability much less desire to take care of them. Needs that are nothing like my biological children. In fact, needs that I want to meet. Needs that they deserve to have met. The hurdle…their needs are driven by their concern for basic survival so the intensity is CONSUMING!
My life and the lives of many are consumed by our children's needs. We get weak and tired. We begin to question whether or not we can really do this job. Whether we are the right parent for this child. Our closest relationships are affected by our inability to invest in them because we are tired. We lose ourselves! How can this be good for us or for our kids?
It is not good for us! We have to do it differently. We have to take time to take care of us! We have to find a way to fill ourselves up! The tools and techniques I finally figured out allowed me to get some rest, enrich my life, and put time and energy into other important relationships! My life and my children's lives are better for it! Let me teach you how to be able to keep a connection with your child even when you can't be physically together! Important times like school, church, work, daycare, and Mom or Dad time!
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Stacy Manning's...You Deserve A Break