Friday, May 17, 2013

Guest Post: Intentional Parenting - Buildling Your Child's Safety Net

I came across Stacy from To Have Hope through an announcement about her new book (referenced below).  As both a foster and adoptive parent to children with traumatic backgrounds the idea of having hope was more than enough to hook mie.  We all need support on this journey.  (Speaking of - have you donated yet?).  I love what Stacy's doing and I love her message.  I asked her to share a bit with us on some of the key points that drive her mission.  After you read, I highly recommend you check out her new book, her website, and the many resources she's made available.

As we have walked our twelve year journey as adoptive parents, it has become glaringly clear that we must be Intentional Parents. We must make the choice to do “it” differently than other families, do “it” longer than other parents and sometimes do “it” under the microscope of all the bystanders in our lives. The reality is that parenting adopted/foster children has to come from a place that is rooted in meeting your child where he or she is …emotionally, psychologically, physiologically and physically, whether or not society, or even your own instincts, agree.

The question quickly becomes how? How do we deal with the everyday hurdles that get in the way of creating strong, healthy relationships such as lying, stealing, tantruming or aggression? I strongly believe that the answer is to intentionally choose to create a plan that will build your child’s safety net. A safety net is that assurance of survival an infant receives beginning in utero, the assurance that will eventually be the foundation of self-esteem, intelligence and that all important sense of belonging and worthiness. The safety net is the promise of survival. It is the respirations, heart rate and calming voice an infant is born knowing as its source of nourishment - first, nourishment for growth, but later nourishment that lends itself to creating a safe place from which your child can come-and-go to explore the world, learn that he can make a positive impact on it and then operate in relationships with a healthy sense of his own Bneeds and the needs of others. Unfortunately, our children come to us with their nets terribly damaged or totally gone; they have learned not to rely on that net—they have a difficult time trusting others, being parented and participating in intimate relationships. They need a net. Better yet, they deserve a net!

We follow a simple formula to help us intentionally build and maintain each of our children’s safety nets. The formula has to be considered a living, breathing entity because we are dealing with living, breathing children. Even though the components are numbered, it is meant to be used more in a cyclical fashion. With each developmental stage or life event, our children are being challenged and we will most likely need to revisit portions of the formula over and over again.

Component 1 – Move Your Own Stuff. In this component, we choose to look at what hurdles could possibly be put there by our own wounds, experiences and expectations. Then, it is important to sort them out and set them aside.

Component 2 – Educate Yourself. Many of us have done a lot of research and are probably more experts in our child’s diagnoses than the experts themselves, but it is important that we can apply that knowledge in everyday difficult situations.

Component 3 – Use Tools and Techniques that Build and Maintain the Net. Here’s where we get down to the actual tying of the knots of the net. It takes great consistency and perseverance, but if you are open to learning new tools and techniques, the net will begin to take shape.

Component 4 – Keep On Keepin’ On. Without Component 4, the other three are pretty much useless. Component 4 reminds us that this is a long journey and that in order to maintain the net, we must surround ourselves with support, have an action plan so we can parent in a healing manner, learn to measure progress lest we give up, nurture our closest relationships to have the strength it takes to hold the net and choose to forgive ourselves for our parenting blunders so we can begin fresh every day.

This formula has really become a way of life for us. As we intentionally hold our children’s safety nets through daily struggles and developmental stages along with the big storms of life, they have slowly come to rely on the net…they have come to rely on us. We have witnessed our older adopted children let the net hold them, protect them and even guide them…they no longer have to do it on their own...they have come to trust the net. As they trust the net to take care of them, they are beginning to trust the message the net holds…YOU are worthy of good! They are beginning to believe, at their core, that they are loved no matter what, they are good enough no matter what and that they are fully a part of our family and always will matter what!

As it is for many other adoptive/foster families, it has been a difficult and tumultuous journey. We often felt alone and hopeless and it is out of our struggles that my vow to walk beside other families was born. Over the past ten years, I have been in the trenches with many families offering advice, insight and sometimes just an understanding ear. These experiences, the unceasing devotion of so many parents and the endless stories of others out there struggling to become a family became the energy I needed to put down on paper a formula that I have seen in action, a formula that helps to create an environment conducive to attachment, a place where life can be more peaceful, a place of hope for a better future. My book is Adoptive Parent Intentional Parent: A Formula for Building and Maintaining Your Child’s Safety Net. It is packed with tools and techniques that really work in everyday situations. My hope is that your family will find it to be a useful resource.

To receive more tools, techniques and every day tid-bits please join Hope Connections on Facebook. To receive a monthly newsletter or to find my book you can visit my website or go to

Thanks for sharing Stacy!   So - what are you all doing to build your children's safety nets?  What challenges do you face as you parent intentionally?  How do you overcome those challenges? ...let's share to encourage each other toward hope :)

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