Out of the box. Pretty sure I’ve always been an Out of the Box thinker. A big thinker. Not afraid to do things differently. But I have to say…when I began this journey of parenting my 3 adopted daughters, that’s when “the rubber meets the road” really happened in terms of out the box thinking.
Before my girls had joined our family, I’d been parenting for several years. We had 3 bio sons and things were going well. I was a good mom. In fact, I was a really good mom. Enter parenting adopted kiddos. Things changed. Drastically.
What I was doing was no longer working. At all. And believe me, I tried everything. Nothing was working. My strategies, my tools & techniques, were not working with my girls. And…I no longer felt like a good mom.
My girls came with deep, deep loss. The loss of their family. The loss of their culture. The loss of their home. But most importantly, the loss of their primary attachment…their biological mom.
My girls came to me as survivors. They’d been through A LOT. Of course they were survivors. And with that came behaviors that worked in terms of surviving, but not in terms of being in a family.
My girls came to me with fear. Fear of losing another family. Fear of losing it all…again.
My girls came to me with a lack of trust. Understandable for sure. The one person who was to protect them, the person that they were wired for, the person they depended on let them down. They had no reason to believe I was someone they could count on, someone they could trust to protect them, someone they could trust their heart with.
And so I needed new tools. New strategies. Ones that met them right where they were at. Ones that took into consideration all the things that came with the loss and trauma that have impacted them.
It’s now 17 years later, and wow does it look different. A whole lot different!
My girls are no longer survivors.
They no longer have such fear that stops them in up in all they do. They take chances. They are confident. They are becoming sure of who they are.
They trust. They trust that I will always be there for them. They know they can count on me. Know that I’ll protect them. Know they can trust me with their heart.
We have come a long way. There were days, weeks, and months I never thought we’d get to here. But we did.
I share this with you to give you HOPE. Hope when getting to Happy & Healthy seems impossible. Hope when you feel like you’re not a good mom. Hope when you feel like nothing’s working. HOPE. Happy & Healthy IS possible. My family is proof of it.
With dedication to helping your family to Happy and Healthy,
P.S. I'd love to teach you tools and strategies that work. Join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group. You'll be empowered with tools & techniques and surrounded with the best support out there.
This morning I woke up thinking of all the parents out there who are doing such an important job of raising kiddos - adopted, bio, foster, kinship, step, grand. Wow, it's a BIG job, isn't it?
So many parents come to me hurting. Exhausted. Worn out. Just getting by. Is that you? Then my answer to you...let's make it better. A LOT better.
So many parents come to me feeling pretty settled, but their kiddos aren't as connected as they'd like. That attachment isn't as secure as it can be. Is that you? Then my answer to you...let's make the connection STRONG.
Here's the deal...we all want our kiddos to be happy and healthy. Physically healthy yes, but emotionally as well. And when we can do that, the behaviors get better, things calm down, and we can create that family bond we set out to have when we began this journey.
I can help you get those behaviors turned around. I can help you get your family to happy & healthy. Join me in my Intentional Parent Coaching Group. We meet online weekly where we can get you a plan and your questions answered. You'll also get access to an entire learning library of classes. And you'll be part of a closed Facebook page where you'll be surrounded by the best support out there.
Seriously, this is making the difference for so many parents. I can't tell you how much better they feel...empowered, relieved, supported, equipped. Let's get you there!
Join us today.
Yesterday was the last day of school for my daughter. All the rest of my kiddos were done last week. So...here we go. SUMMER!
For many families, their hopes and vision for summer don't always match how it ends up really looking. They picture carefree days. Relaxation. Fun. Happy. But...that's not always the case. Summer can be challenging for lots of kiddos. A big transition. Increased intimacy. Change in routine. Less structure. And that can lead to anxiety. Behaviors. Meltdowns. Struggles. Suddenly summer doesn't feel so happy and relaxing.
As summer goes on, I get phone calls and emails from parent after parent after parent. They're exhausted. At their wit's end. Sad. Frustrated. And are counting down the days til the school year. But...it doesn't have to be that way.
That's why I'm kicking off summer with an all new class...A Successful Summer. I'm teaching a step-by-step plan for parents to make this summer HAPPIER & HEALTHIER for their kiddo, and for their entire family.
If want this summer to be smoother, happier, calmer...this class is for YOU!
If you want to enjoy the summer instead of dealing with meltdowns, tantrums, and so on...this class is for YOU!
If you want to have a plan that works instead of just hoping for good days...this class is for YOU!
And to make it even better...this class is FREE for the members of the Intentional Parent Coaching Group. So join us in group today and I'll see you in class on June 12th!
Let's make this summer a happy & healthy one for your entire family.
Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Twenty-three years – a pretty big accomplishment I think.
I’d always hoped that we would mark our 20th anniversary with a trip to Ireland and Scotland. Well…we reached that anniversary 3 years ago and didn’t make it there, yet! It’s still on my bucket list.
Life took different twists and turns. Our kiddos still needed us here. Yes, they were teenagers. Yes, they’ve come a long way. A really long way. But…it just wasn’t the right time for us to be across the globe for a couple of weeks. And guess what…that’s okay.
There will be a time that is right. A time that I can get on the plane and go on a trip of a lifetime. A time to see where my ancestors came from. Just not yet.
As Intentional Parents, we have to make choices. What we want to do isn’t always best for our kiddos. That doesn’t mean you need to set aside your dreams and goals. Sometimes it means putting them off a bit. Sometimes it means doing them differently. And sometimes the goals and dreams change, evolve.
So while we didn’t celebrate in the way I originally had hoped, we did celebrate the day. Dinner out. Remembering our wedding day. Giving ourselves a pat on the back for all we’ve done. And looking forward…with HOPE! And that’s success in my book.
Have hope friends. Look forward.
Mom...oh, that word/name encompasses so much! It's just 3 letters, but the power it holds to heal, to guide, to teach, to shape self-esteem, to fill with joy, to assure, to love, and so much more - is just awesome.
YOU are awesome!
My hope for you this Mother's Day is simply that you KNOW that you are ENOUGH. That your child's struggles on this special day, or any other for that matter, is not a reflection of whether you are a good Mom or not. YOU are a good Mom.
My advice for you is to go forward into Mother's Day the same as any other...fighting for your family, eyes wide open about how bittersweet this day is for your child, and armed with an Intentional Plan that takes into account your whole child.
So many of our children are caught between their desire to celebrate and the hurdles of their own wounds of loss, loyalty struggles and self-worth questions. It doesn't always come out looking pretty or sounding sweet.
Actually, many times the bitter of the bittersweet is aimed right at us, the Mom, and is much louder and uglier than the sweet. But does that mean you don't matter? Does it mean they don't care about you? Should you let it ruin your day?
No, it's NOT about ruining your day. The ugly and loud is not really about you at all - it's deep grief, pain, fear, longing, and confusion. What it IS about is needing YOU to be the best Mom you can be especially on Mother's Day. It's about needing you to use your MOM POWERS to get all of you through.
YOU can do this. YOU. Are. The. MOM! You are Enough.
This Mother's Day...use your Mom Powers to take in the sweet because you deserve it and help your child get through the bitter, reminding yourself it's not about you.
Happy Mother's Day,
Two of my kiddos will be graduating from high school this spring. Along with the feelings of excitement, anxiety is creeping in. Stress about completing a senior project. Anxiety about the future. Should I go to college and where? What next? For my son, he was getting more anxious and feeling stuck. He needed a plan.
So…as an Intentional Parent, I helped him come up with a plan. An action plan. Guess what? His anxiety is down. He has a plan. He is now excited. And hopeful.
As parents, we can feel that same way. Stuck. Anxious about the future. Not sure what to do. When it comes to parenting adopted and foster kiddos, it can be challenging – and exhausting. Often, parents are just hanging on. Reacting.
I know what that feels like. When I began this journey almost 17 years ago, I spent a lot of time just getting by. There was very little research about parenting adopted and foster children, and even less support. It became a survival game. Hanging on til bedtime. Going to bed exhausted and starting all over again the next day.
But…that kind of functioning was not getting us to where I wanted my kiddos and our family to be. We were not getting to HAPPY & HEALTHY. I needed a plan. An action plan.
Every week in my Intentional Parent Coaching Group, that is exactly what I am helping give parents. An action plan. A plan based on THEIR kiddo’s needs. THEIR family’s needs. A plan tweaked just for them.
With an action plan, they are no longer just hanging on. They are PROACTIVE rather than reactive. They are feeling empowered. Relieved. Hopeful. They are seeing success. Progress. Healing.
If you’re just hanging on or if your plan isn’t working, let’s get you an action plan to get your child & your family to HAPPY & HEALTHY.
YOU belong here...This is where it happens!
Join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group - JOIN US TODAY!
I heard it again this weekend...the dreaded, Oh that is just typical ________________behavior, mine did that too comment. (fill in the blank with a variety of descriptions like 3 year old, boy, teenage, girl, etc...)
It took all I could do to not get into this conversation. Actually, I didn't need to because Mom handled it quite well - pretty sure she had been there before. But had I opened my mouth, the earful would have included the following. Yes, the behaviors look like typical childhood behavior, but they are rooted in a very different place!
Here's the thing...children really only have a very limited number of behaviors they can really use to cope with hard emotions. They can't go jump in a car and drive fast and they can't go out and buy a pack of cigarettes. They can't pay someone to fix the situation and they can't decide to make life changes.
So yes, on the surface it looks the same. Tantrums, lying, stealing, bathrooming issues, sleeping struggles, and the like are behaviors used by all children when they can't express their emotions in a healthier manner.
The fact is, it stops being TYPICAL childhood behavior when we are clear about where those behaviors come from and our ability as parent to help our children feel safe.
Our children act out because they have a hair-trigger Limbic System. Much of the time we are trying to parent children who are in fight, flight, or freeze. They actually fear for their own safety and don't have the ability to use executive functioning.
Our children act out because they didn't have or lost the ONE relationship meant to teach them that they can regulate their emotions and how to do that.
Our children act out because they don't feel worthy of good things. They spend much of their emotional energy wondering when things are going to change again - when they will lose everything or have to start over.
Our children struggle because they never got a chance to move through all of the developmental stages because they lived in chaos and fear. They are emotionally younger than their biological counterparts.
Our children don't have friends because they miss social cues and nuances due to the impacts of the trauma they have survived.
Our children say and do things that are disrespectful because they haven't had an adult in their life that have taught them what that means - by being there for them no matter what.
Our children look angry and aggressive because a survivor can't be vulnerable...after all if they showed the deep sadness and loss that is behind that wall, they surely would be in danger of not surviving at all.
You see...this is why I kept my mouth shut because we would have been there all day. There's more, but I'll stop here except to say...
Our children's struggle is NOT like yours. It is NOT typical childhood behavior. Nor can how we parent them be typical. We need to do it differently, we need to meet them right where they are at - eyes wide open!
Those behaviors you call typical may look like your child's behaviors, but what your child knows to his core is that you will always be there for him, provide for him, and love him NO MATTER WHAT, which allows him to stand up, forgive himself, and start over...my child has none of that!
My child's struggle is that he is scared to death to trust an adult in that way again and risk that kind of pain and loss again. My child doesn't have that No Matter What assurance yet. There's no one to keep him safe, yet - but that's what I'm doing and why I'm doing it my way.
My child deserves the best.
End of conversation - whether you've said something like this out loud or to yourself, just remind yourself that people who are not walking this path can't really get it - so don't take it personally.
You are doing an incredible job. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Keep meeting your child right where HE/SHE is at...that is where healing happens!
When I set out to write the book Adoptive Parent Intentional Parent, I not only wanted adoptive, foster, and kinship parents to not feel alone, I wanted to give them tools that actually worked with their kiddos. I wanted to empower them, because the reality is they are their children’s best chance at healing. I think almost anyone on this journey would agree that lots of parenting strategies don’t really work with our kiddos. They have been impacted by loss and trauma, so we need to go about it a different way.
The other day, I came across the latest review.
“This book was a life saver. We found it at a really bad time, a time, when as an adoptive family we were falling apart. We had no help and had been abandoned by the very people who were supposed to be helping us. We were bless to find this book and then from there Stacy and her Facebook page, video blogs, global conference groups and tools needed to help heal our family and move forward being intentional and meeting our kids where they were at. Highly recommended for every family. Thank you Stacy because being alone is soul destroying and we now know it doesn't have to be like that <3”
I am so honored, so grateful. But…even more so, I am so happy that this family is no longer just surviving. It is why I set out to do what I do.
P.S. If you have read my book, you can help me help other families find tools and strategies that work by writing a quick review on Amazon. The more reviews written the easier it is to find in a search - we have to stick together!
Yesterday, I got the incredible gift of being able to speak with two very different couples who have been working with me to become Intentional Parents.
One is a biological family whose child struggles with anxiety and fear and the other was an adoptive family whose child struggles with anxiety, disregulation, mistrust, and a multitude of hard behaviors.
The really great news is that they both shared with me that they are focusing on meeting their child right where he/she is at and are using the tools we talked about and are seeing PROGRESS. They smiled the whole time they were telling me success stories of instances that would have normally been very frustrating, but are now much more doable.
There were even tears...tears of relief. (I SO get that) The relief you feel when you realize that your child is going to make it. I have to tell you...it made my day!
Before we parted, I asked each of them the same question - what is it that changed? The first Mom I was talking with said that it was first her mindset and then the fact that she had people around her who were supporting her like never before.
She talked about the fact that because she had the support of people that "got it", she was strong enough to consistently "do it differently." She could really meet her son where he was at!
The second couple, who I talked to later in the day, answered by telling me they finally are all-in. They said that they have embraced the fact that they need to use new tools and techniques. They said that they have finally come to terms with the fact that they have to do it differently and they found that doing it differently has proven to be a good thing for ALL of their children!
The Dad said that they aren't perfect at it yet, but that they are getting there...they were both beaming. Honestly, it didn't just make my day- it made my year! Two families who are finally happy and healthy!
I want this for ALL families...it IS possible. And these are the kinds of results you get when you work with me in my Intentional Parent Coaching Group.
We meet weekly, learn new tools and techniques, are surrounded by other people that really get it and decide to become Intentional Parents. Being a part of my Coaching Group gets you these kinds of results!
Here's what I know for sure...If you want the shift these families have felt, you have to take action.
Stop waiting for the perfect time. Stop the excuses. Your whole family deserves happy and healthy
Join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group - JOIN US TODAY!
One of the most asked questions I get from adoptive & foster parents is...How long is this going to take? (By this they mean until my child doesn't get triggered, until my child doesn't have melt downs or until my child has positive self esteem. How long is it going to take for my child to heal?)
Well, this is a part of who our adopted and foster children are. It's a part of their story. The truth is that this is really a lifelong deal.
Are they going to have lifelong tantrums? Will the melt downs still be in place when they are 20 years old? No!
Most of our adopted & foster children will be past that, but when other life stressors come up, when they are in new relationships, will they question their worth? Will they question their value and wonder if they are loveable? Probably.
That doesn't mean they are sentenced to gloom and doom. It doesn't mean they can't go to their "second way of thinking", which is what we have helped them form. However, we have to know that what we do now as adoptive and foster parents and how we meet them where they are at right now REALLY matters.
Our daughter has a special day coming up. One which the other 5 have already done. They dress up. They have to be in front of others. Not her cup of tea at all. But she's prepared for it for a year now and wants to do it.
So...the night before the scheduled trip to get a new outfit turns ugly. Very ugly.
It starts with mopey and pouty then moves to nasty comments and walking off. Then comes back for more ugly words and behavior. Wow, really doesn't make a Mom and Dad want to drop a load of cash on said kid.
However, after all these years we know it is important to look "behind" the behavior to meet our kids right where they are at. Turns out there was some real fear about dresses not fitting and a real challenge receiving the goodness of a new outfit and clothes and everything else! (Can I just say that that is NOT what it looked or felt like at all!)
She tried to sabotage it. She tried to manage the situation her way. She tried to be in control. She wanted us to cancel cause the anxiety was too great. But I just informed her we were going because she deserved it. She calmed down and got some sleep.
I have to tell you that she held herself together pretty well. And it was a really enjoyable morning of shopping - said the Mom who hates to shop. Oh and did I tell you that we are SIXTEEN PLUS YEARS IN!
This is simply a part of our children and always will be. And in order to help it to fade into the background, we have to intentionally parent them - meet them where they are at, stay in it no matter what and for as long as it takes.
Remember...this is forever. So look beyond the behavior and just decide now to parent intentionally from here on in...that is where healing will happen!
If you're parenting an Adopted or Foster child, join me in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group. We meet online weekly with live Q & A sessions to get YOUR questions answered and a plan tweaked for YOUR family! Plus you'll be surrounded by support on a closed Facebook page. Join us today.