“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.
So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's
when you find out who you are." - Joss Whedon

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gottman's Emotional Coaching

One of the principles presented at the Bringing Baby Home Workshop was Gottman's 5 Steps to Emotion Coaching with children. Emotion Coaching is a great concept and is discussed in great detail in Gottman's Book and Lecture, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.  (Which can be found here on the Gottman Website).

Although Emotion Coaching is not directly related to Adoption, it is crucial to good communication and important skill for all children (especially those who may have experienced a lot before joining your family).  Check out John and Julie Gottman speaking more about  it on HERE on YouTube.  Or a slightly more detailed interview with John Gottman HERE.
If you are curious about the 5 Steps, feel free to read on (or buy or borrow Gottman's Highly Recommended book  Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child).

1. Become aware of the child’s emotion. -- To do this, a parent must be aware of and comfortable with their own emotions. This can be scary or intimidating, but is crucial in allowing for all feelings in a non-judgmental way. 

2. Recognize the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching. -- As parents, we can teach empathy, build intimacy with our children, and teach them ways to handle their feelings. Here, negative emotions are not threats to our authority or something else we need to fix. When you talk to your kids when problems are small, you show that you are their ally, and that together you can face their difficulties-they don’t have to do it alone!  

3. Listen empathetically, validating the child’s feelings. -- Here, listen in many different ways, with your ears for information, with your eyes for physical evidence of emotion, with your imagination to see the situation from the child’s perspective, and with your words to reflect back what they are hearing and to help label emotions. But most importantly, use your heart to feel what the child is feeling. Simple observations may work better than probing questions in making a connection. Also, avoid questions to which you already know the answer-don’t set up mistrust or ask them to lie.  

4. Help the child find words to label the emotion he is having. -- This goes hand in hand with empathy. Saying to a child who is in tears “You feel very sad, don’t you?” not only shows understanding, but helps the child to describe this intense feeling. This is labeling only what IS, and not telling what kids OUGHT to feel. Be as precise with the child as possible-not just angry, but frustrated, jealous, enraged, or confused It is important to name and allow for several, often contradictory feelings at once.   

5. Set limits while exploring strategies to solve the problem at hand. -- There are five steps involved here. 1-SET LIMITS-set limits on the behaviors or actions, not the feelings or wishes. State clearly what is not appropriate about what happened. Allow here for “normal” kid stuff. Provide consequences that are fair, consistent, and related to the misbehavior.  2-IDENTIFY GOALS-Ask or work with your child to figure out what they would like to accomplish related to the problem at hand, whether it’s accepting the loss that led to the anger, or fix the broken item that led to the tantrum.  3-THINK OF POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS- What can get you toward the goals? Have the kid come up with these as much as possible, directing them toward past successes (when older), but when young, try several and then decide what worked the best.  4-EVALUATE YOUR PROPOSED SOLUTIONS BASED ON YOUR FAMILY’S VALUES-Validate their ideas, and perhaps use these questions-Is the solution fair? Will this solution work?, Is it safe?, How am I likely to feel? How are other people likely to feel?   5-HELP YOUR CHILD CHOOSE A SOLUTION-Encourage them to choose, but involve yourself a bit more here. Tell how you solved a problem like this and what you learned from it. Allow them to pick one that you don’t think will work, and encourage them toward another if it fails. Help this be a learning process and show that failures don’t mean all is lost. 

A little tip toward happy and educated communication with children!  Have any of you read this book?  What did you think?  Would you recommend this book to parents or those working with and associating with children?  Feel free to comment below!
Paraphrased from Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting by John Gottman 1997 and found online. ;-)

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bringing Baby Home Course was GREAT!!!!  Aimee Heffernan and Kayleen Faucette are EXCELLENT presenters and those who attended found the information very valuable.  The course is set up to benefit anyone in a relationship, so if we are lucky enough to have another opportunity to offer the course, it is a great opportunity and is worthwhile to attend (even if you aren't currently parenting but are in a relationship and striving to keep it and your communication strong).

If you are interested in purchasing the materials used in the course, here is the information on where to purchase:

2)  Hover over the Parenting Tab up at the top.
3) Click the Bringing Baby Home link.
4) Scroll to the bottom and you will see the products and where they can be ordered.

Also, if you would like to learn more or find out if the Bringing Baby Home Course is offered in your community, visit their website at:  http://www.bbhonline.org/.

Outside Agency Adoption Options

Matching Assistance Program -- Offered Through A Family For Every Child
The Matching Assistance Program at AFFEC is now FREE! By changing their program to a free program, they hope to better fulfill their mission of finding loving, permanent families for waiting foster children.

The program is designed to assist current approved AFFAC home studied families looking to adopt waiting foster children. Their goal is to work alongside families, providing them with one-on-one communication, assurance, and support during the submission and waiting process.

Signing up for Matching Assistance is easy! Click this link, Sign Up for MAP
Sign up for MAP and get started on your family profile and biography today!  You can follow the how-to guide to help you through the process. It is located under the Matching Assistance drop-down menu on the home page.

This is a great opportunity for those interested in exploring building their family trough foster children.  Visit the AFFEC website HERE.

A Feeling of Entitlement with Adoption (An Interesting Article and Perspective from Adoption.com)

A Feeling of Entitlement with Adoption 

(An opinion article on adoption and entitlement by Russell)

My wife and I have been following a story that has been going on about a thousand miles away from us and their experience begs the question- At what point is the baby “our” baby? It’s not something that I hadn’t thought about before, but I ache when I see the way this particular couple has been handling their situation.

I’ll get back to that couple’s story in a second, but permit me to go back early into our second adoption when we were first contacted. When we met our daughter’s birthmother for the first time, she told us about the couple she had originally chosen. For reasons that are her own, she changed her mind about the couple she was originally considering. We ached for her as she told us about the things the couple said and how rotten they made her feel when she broke the news to them. We assured her that we understood that the decision was hers to make and that nobody should feel “entitled” to the baby growing in her belly. As I say that, I’m sure some people are thinking that it’s easy for me to say since her change of heart was in our favor. Was it, though? She was talking to us, but she wasn’t committing. She made it clear that she was only considering us and not committing to us.

Because of how that couple handled it, she wouldn’t commit to us and we knew that we couldn’t ask her to. Even on the day the baby was born, with my wife and me in the hospital delivery room, the answer was still “maybe”. Even after our daughter came home with us from the hospital, the answer was still “probably”. It wasn’t until a month later once she stood in front of a judge, when she couldn’t put the decision off any longer, that the answer was “yes”.

She had us feeling pretty confident that she wasn’t going to change her mind about placing the baby with us… if she chose adoption. During that whole time without committing, she was deciding whether or not to even choose adoption. It was tough for us to handle the situation with things the way they were, mainly because we knew we weren’t entitled to that child and yet we were madly in love with the infant in our home. We loved her more and more every day, but even though we were the ones waking up at all hours of the night and changing stinky diapers, the baby wasn’t yet ours.

That brings us back to what has just taken place with someone else. Their story seemed to share a lot of the same aspects, except that we ended up avoiding the pain of a failed placement. They didn’t. What ails me is to see how this couple has handled it. I’ve seen blog posts and things about how bitter they are. I know it hurts. I know it does, but that decision has always been for the birthparents to make (in this particular case, just the birthmom). To hear her say things like “she made the wrong decision” and such, only the birthmom can know that. I know quite a few single mothers who had considered adoption and not chosen it and their decision was the right one for them.

Adoption is one of the most wonderful things this world can offer. Don’t ever let yourself fall into the idea that someone owes you something because you want it so badly.  Posted by Russell. This article can be found online at this link at adoption.com.