The next step in understanding attachment and Trust-Based Relational Intervention is the new book, The Connected Parent, by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Lisa Qualls, with great assistance from Emmelie Pickett. On this episode, we interview Lisa and Emmelie about connected parenting.
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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport both the host of the show as well as the director of the nonprofit creating a family.org. Today we're going to be talking about how to be a connected parent. We're going to be talking with the author and supporter of the book is that connected parent. The book is by Dr. Karen Purvis and Lisa Qualls, and she had great assistance from Emilie Pickett. Today we're going to be talking with Lisa and Emilie about connected parenting and about the book. This was a great show, we're re airing it because it was so well received the first time around. If you are a fan of trust based relational intervention, or Dr. Purvis this book, The Connected Child, you're going to love this show. Welcome Lisa and Emilie to Creating a Family. We are so happy to have you here to talk about the book. Thank you. Thanks. Okay. So how did this book come to be? I mean, I as listeners to this show, no, I love the connected parent. I talk about tbri are recommended. And the connected parents seem to kind of have summed it all up in my mind. So first of all, how did this book come to be? How was Dr. Purvis Emily, what year did she pass away?
She passed in 2016.
In 2016. So it's been four years. And what part how much did she write of this book and and just tell us the history. Lisa, let's start with you.
Well, I have to go back a little further and tell you how I even discovered Dr. Purvis. So in 2006, we began the adoption process. And over the course of 16 months, we brought home for children from Ethiopia. And their ages ranged I know, their ages ranged from about five months to 10 and a half. And as you can imagine, our world was rocked, you know, we thought we were well prepared. I had been a mother for 20 years, I had a background in mental health. And we were really drowning. In particular, one of our children had such severe trauma that her behaviors were pretty extreme. And once we finally realized this wasn't going to just sort of get better with lots of love and all the things we knew we started searching hard for more help. And I was so so blessed. I was writing a blog, my blog back then had already started in 2006. One thankful mom, and somebody, one of my readers actually introduced me to Dr. Purvis. And she sent me links to three videos that she had done that she'd spoken at a conference. And I will never forget watching those for the first time and watching her talk and thinking, she has hope for my kids. And if she can have hope for my kids, I'm going to hold on to her hope I was at a point where I didn't really have a lot anymore. But I held on to her, you know, and I read the connected child. And it changed so much. I mean, I already understood a fair bit about trauma I understood about the parenting needs, but she gave me like very practical tools and ways of parenting my kids that began to change everything and connected your parenting with connection. Once I learned it, I've never turned back. It's really transformed my life. So for me, the book started with me meeting Dr. Purvis in that way. And then later through my writing and speaking, I got to spend time with her in person. We were doing empire to connect conferences live back then while they're still alive, but like where we were traveling, and Emily was part of that. And of course, I was completely in awe of Dr. Purvis. She was like my hero. But I had an idea for another book. I loved the connected child, I loved so many other books that had helped me. But I there was a part of me as a mom, who was just in the trenches every day, there was this part of me that thought, but none of those authors as amazing as they are, are living my life. They are not here doing this in my home every day with all these children with all these needs. So I thought, and I remember talking with Emily about this idea, I said, what if we could take like my life, my real stories about my family and how I'm trying to use these tools from Dr. Purvis and then combine them with her incredible scientific background and her years of expertise and experience and put together one book with both voices that would really serve parents. And Emily did encourage me to talk with Dr. Purvis about the book and much to my joy and amazement, she thought it was a great idea and that was the beginning of the book, and we really did start writing Way back in 2012.
Okay, so the Genesis goes all the way back to 2012. How much of it was written, but when she passed away in 2016?
Well, a good portion of it because we had been working on it so long chapter by chapter.
So it was substantially written in 2016. And sadly Dr. Purvis passed away. And at that point, Emily, you came into the process. So what was your role,
sir? So I, I was involved from the beginning watching these chapters go back and forth between Lisa and Dr. Purvis. And so was pretty familiar with the content of the book and also just had the immense honor and pleasure of accompanying Dr. Purvis most places for several years as her assistant so was really, I mean, familiar, seems like a small word, but knew her voice very well and knew the content of tbri. Very, very well as also. So Dr. Purvis was working on the book, up until a couple of months before she died, she was very, very concerned that this book would not get published and wanted it to be very badly. So Dr. Purvis, his family was gracious enough to ask me to help tie up some of her parts, just with the access, I had just so much writing she had done so much speaking, she had done, I was really able to finish her parts with Dr. purposes, own words from videos we have from audio interviews from writing she had, and so just sort of able to put it together that way. But it is very much her voice very much her wisdom very much her words, and I was honored to just have the part that I had in it.
So just briefly, and I'll let you to decide who should answer this. Briefly, how would you say, the connected parent? The the new book compares to and differs from the connected child? Which was the original impetus for really tbri?
Lisa, I'll let you start with that if you want. Alright.
Well, I think it differs in I mean, the one of the biggest ways, of course, is we have the two voices of the parent and the professional. But we start the book out with a pretty deep explanation and why attachment is, and I think we flesh that out more than was in the connected child. And we have a whole chapter on helping us understand as parents our own attachment histories, and what we're bringing to the relationship. And you know, that's been a sensitive thing for me, as an adoptive mom, I think when I first started hearing that I felt a little defensive, a little criticized, like, Oh, you think this is about me? You know? And but the truth is, we come into the relationship as ourselves just like our kids do. And so we we dive into that a little bit more, do you want to answer more about that Emily about that particular part?
Or tell you what before we get to that, let's let's let's just dive in. Now, what I'd like to do is let's start, as we always try to do, let's start at the beginning. And in particular, let's talk about, we're going to come until and talk about parental attachment, because I agree with you, it's usually important. But I think before we talk about parental attachment, let's talk about attachment in general. And Emily, you could start us off if you'd like. So, most of our audience knows, you can't be you can't even be considering adoption or fostering and not and not have heard the word attachment. But I think there is some misunderstanding about what attachment is as well. So what how do you define attachment? Or what is attachment? And why is it so important?
Sure. So a very broad definition of attachment is it's just that just that affectionate bond between a child and a caregiver. Sometimes that caregiver is a biological parent, sometimes that caregiver is an adoptive parent or someone taking care of that child in another capacity. But it's that affectionate bond and the way that that develops is from very, very early in life. It's from, you know, when it's a baby in a neurotypical situation, it's a baby crying, and that caregiver meeting needs over and over and over again. And it's really that first year of life that is most detrimental to this attachment process. And it's this process, this meeting of the child's needs over and over again, that really set the template for how that child will do relationships throughout their life. It sounds a little bit crazy that caring for a tiny baby by meeting their needs consistently and warmly is going to affect how they do relationships as a child and adolescent and later as an adult, but research is really strong on that. So that's why attachment is so very important. It's the
foundation of all of our relationships. Absolutely. Exactly. Now let's move into talking about parental attachment that Lisa had had talked about briefly before. I truly believe that there this is the the often the elephant in the room. And I hear what Lisa saying it's easy to feel defensive. But there is, there is so much shame and so much guilt. Nobody goes into the idea of adoption, thinking that they're not going to be anything short of the most loving, caring, ideal parents, we all go into parenting in general with that, but, but certainly when you work, fill out all those papers and work so hard to get this child you believe that you're worried about the child attaching to you, but it never enters your head that you may struggle with attachment, and it never enters your head that it's it's that you bring something to the table, that that also impacts how this relationship is going to go even though it seems obvious. So let's talk a little about the the parental part about what we bring to the table. Emily, I'm going to direct that one to you. And then we'll circle around and get some of Lisa's input as well.
Sure. So one thing that many parents are surprised to hear is that we are parenting out of the attachment style that we developed with our own caregivers. So the people who raised us might have taught us a lot of things expressly might have told us a lot of things, we might have experienced instrumental care, but the way we experience their affection is informing our relationship that we have with our child. So it's not the child who arrives in your home, either by birth or adoption, or fostering who is going to determine your attachment style, but it's actually the other way around. And so what I mean by that is there are unconscious things that are happening sort of in the background, our friends, that circle of security, which is a wonderful attachment based parent intervention, call it shark music, from, you know, the jaws theme how those two notes tell us that there's danger. Well, we all have shark music, playing in our heads when we have a child before us and that music is coming from what we experienced as very young children and throughout childhood and adolescence.
Okay. All right. So is it possible to change our let's say, we didn't have the strongest parenting? And, and we've done work on ourselves? Is it possible to change the type of attachment we bring to the table? Lisa?
Well, I know from personal experience that it is and it's very hopeful, I am, you know, we were blessed, very blessed to be able to go through TBR practitioner training way back in 2011. I know it's developed so much since then. But part of doing tbri training, was doing the adult attachment inventory. And that's a very deep interview, that helps the person who's doing the testing and evaluating determine what your attachment style is. And I learned something really important in that, because we can become what's called earned secure, we can develop earned secure attachment in adulthood. And so although my attachment style as a as a young child and a teen was not secure, I was able to develop that primarily through the My relationship with my husband, who became a secure base for me, and became that that person who gave me the yeses, and looked into my eyes as if I was precious, and all those kinds of things. And I also think for people of faith, there's evidence that your relationship with God can also bring about some of that insecurity. So yes, it is possible to change, it's possible for us to heal. And I think simply understanding the attachment style that we developed as a child can help us begin to change the way we relate to our children. So it is hopeful, and I think that parents sometimes feel sort of accused that they're causing the problem. And so we did want to handle that chapter really sensitively because of how I've experienced that, but I think it is a hopeful chapter and I think it will give parents the ability to reflect a little bit and in positive ways.
Let me read a comment that we received for this topic. I am a mom of two biological siblings. I am an adopted mom for two biological siblings. I have completely attached to my daughter who is now six and I am struggling with my son. He was six years old when we brought him home. He is constantly lying and stealing. I have been through counseling and a psychologist. I have read so many books and articles in two years. I I have tried so many techniques, nothing is working. Please help. Lisa, I'm going to throw that one to you. This is a mom who has attached to one of the children that should they adopted siblings. She's attached to one but not the other. And she is really struggling. Can you help just in general, we're gonna go into some of the real practical details that the book is full of. But just for a mom who is struggling with attaching to one of her children, I think this the child has attached to her, she she said in another part of the email?
Well, I think that last little part I'm not really sure about because attachment is an affectionate bond between the two. So but I do think it's interesting, and something for us to reflect on that she has two children who are biological siblings, and yet those children experience some things differently. And their brains have been impacted by their trauma. And they've been, you know, rewired due to trauma differently. So I have a dear dear friend who adopted twins, and one of her children, because of a number of situations, experienced more trauma, and that child has had significant challenges with attachment, whereas the twin sister has not experienced it nearly as much. So I think even though these children are siblings, their brains are different. And their their ability to be open to receive the nurture and care of the parent is going to be different. And I I completely understand how disheartening that is, you know, that she can experience this loving connection with one child and not with the other. And I think we almost have to think of them. Well, we have to think of them as individuals that it's okay, that is different. And that this other, her second child is just going to require a higher level of intentional parenting. You know, Dr. Purvis told us with completely healthy attached children, the window and you can say this better Emily, but there's sort of a wider range of how our parenting can go, and they're still going to thrive and do well. But with children who have experienced a lot of trauma, that window is much narrower, we have to be much more intentional. So I understand why this mom is discouraged. But I think she just has to dive in with a child who has different needs. Emily, do you want to come in on that? Let's do
I would add to that. And in the chapter in the book that talks about knowing yourself, we touched a little bit on triggers. And it's been quite a bit of time on mindfulness. And I think that even with siblings that are biologically related, of course, they're going to behave differently. And so without knowing a whole lot about this mom's story, it might, it might help to do some time reflecting back and seeing what it is about. Those behaviors that are, are so very difficult for her and lying and stealing and things of that nature. Those are difficult for any parent, but really being a detective, which is what Dr. Purvis always said, encouraging us to be detective about our history, and seeing if we can if she can point to a place in her life where maybe she felt maybe those issues came up in early childhood or something like that. And really being a detective about those things. She's mentioned that she's seen counselors, things of that nature, of course, that's very important. A trauma informed therapist is going to be your best friend when you're helping a child who has experienced trauma or adversity.
This what her son, why is his behavior more triggering to her. And honestly, sometimes it can be temperament we all have, you know, we're we we come to this world with a specific temperament and, and but I like the term intentional parenting because if it's not happening easily, that means we've got to bring more to the table. Yes, absolutely. All right. Let me remind everybody that this show is underwritten by the jockey being Family Foundation, jockey being family is committed to providing support to families nationwide to help them help these forever homes become lasting places of love. Your support is vital to their success. They as with many organizations have had to cancel their big fundraiser this year they have a gala, that picture was supposed to be this coming up weekend, they are having to cancel that. And as a result, they their support means goes even further for them right now. So please visit their website jockey being family calm, to see how you can support and impact families nationwide. Alright, now we're gonna dive into the the heart of the book, and that is the section on real life strategies. One of the things I always appreciated whenever I talked with Dr. Purvis is how practical she was, I tend to be a really practical person as well. And I really liked her practicality and not hedging her bets and diving in. So I love the fact that, that this book, it spends time doing that. Okay, you have an entire chapter on scripts. Emilie starting with you. What do you mean by scripts? The chapter title is simplify with scripts. But let's first start off by saying, what do you what do you mean by scripts?
Sure. So I think that one of the hallmarks of Doctor purposes intervention, trust based relational intervention, or tbri, as we call it, is this usage of scripts, because it is such a practical tool for parents. And what we mean by that are just short phrases that are going to help remind a child of, I guess, the desired behavior and how to get back on track. The thing about these scripts is, they're not best taught in the situation where the child is struggling behaviorally, it's something that the parent or the caregiver is going to need to spend a little time proactively teaching. So that later when mom or dad or caregiver is reminding them of, of what's expected, they can easily recall. Okay, this is what I'm supposed to be doing and get back on track. So we spent a good deal of time in this book, talking about the importance of those scripts, and some scripts that we recommend, and then also how to develop a vocabulary for your own family of scripts that makes sense for your family culture.
Lisa, can you give us an example of and then I'm gonna come back to Emily for another example. Kevin, an example of what you mean by a script?
Well, you know, as Emily said, Every family is going to develop some of their own. But Dr. Purvis taught us some fantastic ones that I, you know, when my brain was completely overloaded, and I was trying so hard to learn how to parent, she gave me these little scripts, and they, they really helped me focus on getting my kids head in the right direction. So some of the ones that I used a lot and continue to use are, try that, again, with respect, you know, my child to say something not respectful. And rather than going into a long series of words about why that wasn't the way to ask her to say try that again, with respect, I still probably say that nearly every day. She she would say, let me see your beautiful eyes to try to get the child to turn toward her and make eye contact. And I use that a lot as well. Not in those words anymore. My youngest boys are in middle school, they don't necessarily want those kinds of phrases. But we do in the book include scripts for older kids and teens as well.
Okay, give us some examples of the older we're going to talk about teens at the end. But give me an example of how you would with a team? Well, say the game with respect, try to give with respect would work with a team, but what would you say with what would be a script that with having their eyes turn to you that you might say with a team EMELIN?
Well, one, one thing I wanted to mention is Dr. Purvis really loved working with teenagers because they provide such a wonderful, they can partner with you in a way that a young child cannot. And so she would actually ask the the teen, okay, if I'm needing to have some eye contact with you, what how would you like me to ask? So I think it's really important to mention that you do partner with the teen in your care for something like let me see your eyes, you might say, hey, check in with me, or, Hey, can you turn around real quick, just something like that, whatever makes sense for your family culture or an organization if that's where you're serving and working with teenagers.
Gotcha. And Emily, can you talk about another script? I'd say try that, again, with respect is one that she that Dr. Purvis used, and I so love that one. But what are some other tried and true ones that you guys include in the book,
one I really love is use your words. And the longer version of that is we want the child or teen to use their words and their behaviors. And oftentimes they don't have the language for it. They may not cognitively be able to express what they're feeling, but by teaching us your words, and in a time where everyone's calm and where everyone is regulated, when they're in a behavioral meltdown and are maybe using their body instead of their words. It's the hope that a caregiver could say, Hey, buddy, use your words. Tell me what you need. And that would be a cue for the child to say, Oh, I'm disappointed this happened. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. Whatever the case may be that's causing the behavioral episode. Mm.
Yeah. And sometimes, the behavioral episode could be things such as lying at An hour because the first instinct is to, is to slip into the easy and which are really one that we use was give yourself a minute, don't answer, right? Give yourself a minute, because the minute is often what it took to think through and think. Okay. And or if you're not sure, just say not now, you know, giving giving them time to process is an important one. All right. So why are scripts Lisa important? The idea of a script is something that is is almost something wrote something that is, and some people think it feels fake, that that it's not real, because it's a memorized speech. It's a memorized phrase that you're using. So why why scripts? Why are they important?
Well, for people like me, who tend to want to talk, they they force us, they help us limit our words. And we know that when a child is dysregulated, right there when we know that when a child is dysregulated, their brain can process a very limited number of words. And so you know, Dr. Purvis really wanted us to use as few words as possible to communicate what we were trying to say. And so, for me, I think that's one of the most helpful aspects of scripts. I also, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, I just remember feeling so completely overwhelmed. And to have even a couple of them written down, and on my refrigerator, so I could remember to, to use those, it was a relief to me, and my children learn them quickly. They learned they understood what I meant. And it was really funny when I had my my teenage daughter read the manuscript. She came into the kitchen after reading, she said, Mom, you know, those things that you say, like, try that, again, with respect or got it things like that? She said, I always thought you were just saying that I didn't know that they were actual scripts. So I think it seemed natural enough. But they were they've been very powerful, even still,
can I add just one thing to that? I think that Lisa touched on this a little bit. But when you're giving a script, the tone in which you deliver that script is very, very important. If you are saying try that, again, with respect in a sarcastic or punitive or angry tone, it's not going to have the effect that a pleasant countenance and a calm voice saying, Can you try that, again, with respect is going to have and so again, you're going to want to adapt the scripts to fit your family culture. If that doesn't sound like something your your kiddos are going to respond to, by all means, come up with something that's going to make sense to them. And do make sure that you're delivering those scripts in a way that is approachable and gentle and not punitive or punishing.
Or not even wrote, yes, you know that, you know, when you're if you're really ticked and if they say it again, with respect in, that's probably not the way you want to deliver a survey
that's not going to calm their nervous system.
nor yours. Very, very true. Very true. All right. Another chapter in the book is combat chronic fear. Chronic fear is real. It is it's absolutely real, let's but but make sure I'm understanding where you're coming from when you say chronic fear. I'm thinking that parents are often just fearful that that these children are not going to heal. But you may mean it from a different way. So Lisa, what do you mean by chronic fear?
Well, what we were addressing in that chapter primarily is the chronic fear that the child is experiencing that, you know, we understand their brains have been deeply impacted by trauma. And their neuro chemistry has been impacted. And they're on high alert, you know, they're always watching for the next dangerous thing. And I used to say that it seemed like my daughter had a river of fear running through her veins. And that fear didn't necessarily look like fear, it looked like aggression and look like anger. It looked like competition for every tiny thing with her, her siblings, it looked like control. But really, all of that was rooted in this deep river of fear that she had in her body. And so that chapter is about how to address that fear and how to increase safety for the child so that then they can be calmed enough and feel safe enough that they can actually learn these new things and heal
and the security of a home is what provides that ability for them to to really process and learn anything, Emily thoughts on how we can work to first of all calm our children's fear and then I want to talk about calming parents fear because parents all So, bring fear to this. But Emily, let's talk first about calming our children. Sure. Well, I
think that one thing that's important to know, is just because the parent knows that the child is safe in their care, that does not mean that the child is experiencing safety, and feels safe. So a child who's experienced harm, just depending on their history, is not going to arrive in a safe home and all of that history to be to not be impacting how they're currently experiencing the world. And so even if a parent knows that the child is safe, they should be asking themselves constantly how to make the child feel safe. And one example that Dr. Purvis used to give is that a child may be afraid at night. And you may think to yourself, well, this child is 11, or 12 years old, they're too old to be scared at night to come to my room. But if the child has experienced harm at night, or if a child is in a strange house, for the first few weeks, or even goodness years of being home, it's important to empower that child to feel safe. So maybe that means having a baby monitor in your room and in the child's room where they can talk to you on the monitor to let you know that they're feeling scared, or maybe it's making a plan during a calm time that they can come and lay out a pallet on the floor by your bed where they can rest when they're feeling scared or unsure about something. And just proactively planning for those times. And in recognizing that fear may look different than how the parent may traditionally see fear and a child who has not experienced any kind of trauma.
Yeah, and it often does, as Lisa points out, fear brings out an emotion in us that makes us want to, uh, to, to help, but when a child's fear is being expressed as anger are, are shutting, shutting down or rejecting or anything like that, it's harder for us to feel the the sense of Okay, love, this child is really needing my help now, because you're feeling rejected or are pushed away or angry yourself, certainly.
Right, because their behaviors then can bring up fear in us. And so all of a sudden, you have a child, who's in this state of dysregulation, and all that fear, and You Your brain is responding with fear to and then nobody can think clearly. And we have to calm down. And I can remember when my daughter after, like raging and being so out of control, when I could finally calm her enough to get her to come sit in my lap. And I can remember just rocking and rocking with her just saying, you know, we're okay. We're okay. And it wasn't saying it just for her. I was saying Yeah. Like, we are okay, and we're rocking, and we're calming our brains. And we're, we're bringing down that high level of anxiety.
Well, yeah, and that's the end. That's why I want to talk about parental fear, because we are human. And, and oftentimes, we are fearful. We are fearful that because we don't understand why our children are behaving the way they are. And we and it's so easy to do what I would I call spinning where you're just starting to spin, if they're like this now, what are they going to be like, when they're 15? What are they going to like when they're 20? Oh, my gosh, you know, and what have I done? Have I ruined my family? You know, I will never be able to help this child, we will never feel like a family. And and in those fears are their real were human. So, Emily, how do we address our fears as as we approach our children, because we are not calming when we're terrified?
Sure. Well, I think one thing that is so important is all of these strategies that we talked about in the book and all of the strategies that tbri is giving caregivers to use with young children, you also need to use on yourself, you need to give yourself voice, you need to make sure you're taking care of your body and empowering your physical needs. And you know, eating healthy exercising if you can, and making sure that you have people who can connect to the place where you are in life. If you're really struggling with children in your home, the people that you need to talk to may not be the people who have that seemingly picture perfect family, you need to find people who are experiencing things that are similar to you. And Lee says so her work is so powerful in that way connecting with moms. And so, it I think we talked about this a bit in the chapter about taking care of yourself that it's important to use these strategies for your own heart to help calm your own fears and so that you can parent out of a place of hope and your own felt safety rather than a place of anxiety spinning and ultimately fear
That is so true. Yeah, we the same the the techniques work on humans and we parents are humans as well.
Absolutely. I think parents need nurture. And if you can find a therapist for yourself, or a really good trauma informed therapist who will nurture you, as you work together for the sake of your child, that's extremely powerful, or even a mom who's walked through this, who's coming out the other side, who can walk alongside you, and, and care for you, in the same way that you're trying to care for your child.
You know, one of the things that that I think is a misunderstanding that a lot of people who are not, who are not truly invested in the trust based relational intervention approach tbri That's as described in the connected child, as well as the connected parent book, is the assumption that, that this type of parenting is permissive parenting, that it's basically letting kids do whatever they want. It is and not only that, but I have actually seen a number of parents who are believing that they are connected parents that they're there using the attachment parenting styles, who are who basically don't have any forms of discipline or not much, and, and knowing, having known are having talked with, interviewed Dr. Purvis a number of times, I know for a fact that that's not her approach. So let's talk some about the disciplining. And when as a utilizing the tbri and connected approach, is it possible to still have expectations of behavior and enforce those expectations? Lisa says, I'm going to start with you as a mom of 12.
Well, I think all of us we parents, we come to this with our own sort of style. And of course, we've talked about attachment, we're wired differently. And so I think some parents are naturally more high structure are better at following through and holding standards and other parents default, probably too much toward nurture, and don't find that balance and a lot of couples, one will be one and one will be the other, which is definitely true for my husband and me. And I think this is where we talk about the balance of nurture, and structure, because we need both for our children to feel safe. And so it's like a ditch on either side of the road. And if we, if we start to drift too far toward one ditch, we're not helping our children in either way, we need to be in the middle. And children definitely need boundaries, they need very clear expectations in order to feel safe, they cannot even come close to meeting our standards if they don't understand what they are. And so I think it's important for us to be consistent for their sake. And I know for me, I definitely drifted into that place of being probably too nurturing and maybe even a little too permissive. And I had to learn that I could do both, you know that I could hold my kids to a standard as much as possible. But we also have to be realistic, we have to set a bar that's low enough for them to get over, you know, if parents have an idea that their children are going to be able to obey the way other children do. And they set a standard for them. The child may not be successful, and may and then our children need to experience success. So even say, with eye contact, you know, we might expect a child to be able to connect with our eyes while we speak to them. But for a child who's had a lot of trauma, the very best they might be able to do is just glance up at your eyes and glance away and glance up and glance away. And that's success for that child. So we have to be really realistic and mindful as we set the standards we expect our kids to be able to to achieve
whenever we need to have both. Emily, any thoughts on that before we move
on? Well, quote from Dr. harvests that I love that I'm just going to read so I don't get it wrong is if a child needs nurture, and I give him structure, I harm his ability to trust me. If a child needs structure and I give him nurture, I harm his ability to grow. Both must be used hand in hand. And I think that just sort of as a microcosm of what Lisa was saying, an analogy that Dr. Purvis used is that parents have a structure foot and a nurture foot and you need both to walk forward and if you are upping the structure You need to up the nurture as well. And if you're upping the nurture, then it's okay to up the structure in a way that's developmentally respectful to your child's not only chronological age, but their developmental age, which may be much younger for a child who is experienced trauma.
Yeah, that and that's very true is that we do have to look at our children's developmental age, and how it has been impacted by their early trauma. Because as Lisa was saying, we want our kids to succeed. And if our expectations are unrealistic, then we're setting them up for failure.
And shame, they will go to that deep core of shame, I'm, I'm worthless, I'm not good enough. I'm all those things. So yes, their success is really important. Mm hmm.
And how does this tie into as our children age into young adulthood and into their 20s? have is this? And then Lisa, I'll direct this because I believe you have children who have are in that age. How does this approach work with that age? Young Adult,
the approach of connected parenting? Is that what you're referring to
Yes, well, in that nurture, that nurture, structure balance, but also connected parenting,
well, we could do a whole episode on teens and young adults for certain, because I am so in the thick of that. But you
know, right there with Yes,
I think, because my children, even my children who came to my family later, they've all had years of my parenting now. And they know, I think even if they've struggled with attachment, they do know that that we are a safe place for them, and that we're always going to love them. And so with my young adult kids, I think I've had to really just open my hands and let them you know, they're making their own choices. But when things don't go well, or they make a decision that turns out to be a poor one, they know that we are still we have their back, you know, and we can't control their decisions at all, as you know, Don, at this point, we have very large gotten us, right, very little control. So I think it becomes a lot at this point for me about managing my own anxieties, and not letting myself spin, you know, like you were referring to, but just try to be as calm and patient as I can with my kids. And fortunately, I really love the people my kids are turning out to be and I love being with them. And that doesn't mean it's all easy. You know, I have one daughter who's still struggling quite a bit. And I have to respect her and just continue to tell her I love her and just let her process to.
Yeah, okay. Let me announce one of our partner agencies. These are agencies and organizations who believe in our mission of providing unbiased, accurate, expert based trauma informed education and resources to adoptive Foster and kinship families and the professionals who support them and these agencies have backed up that belief by support for this for this podcast as well as all of our resources. One such agency is hopscotch adoptions. They are a Hague accredited international adoption agency placing children from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, gada, Qian, Morocco, Pakistan, Serbia, Ukraine, and they also specialize in the placement of children with Down Syndrome and they also do a lot of kinship adoptions throughout the world. So we thank them for their support. What the topic of respect is one that comes up a lot both in we've already quoted can say that again with respect which if you've talked with Dr. Purvis you would know that that's that's something that she said a lot. But the but but also with parents, we hear a lot from parents the importance of respect, because in some ways, it just undermines your undermines your confidence as a parent it undermines it gets under your skin. It also sets the balance off off kilter in a family. So how Emily, can we help establish in teach respect for our children who've come from as Dr. Purvis would say hard places or from a tribe from traumatic backgrounds? Sure.
So I think that something that you'll notice quite a bit in the book is Dr. Purvis and Lisa asked you to go back to the beginning in almost every chapter and what we mean is, do your own history and so what that means is asking yourself why you're experiencing your child's behavior is disrespectful, it very well could be disrespectful. But it's also important to understand what you might be bringing to the table in that interaction. So aside from that, I think the first step, or maybe the second step in teaching respect to children or teens who come to your home, is to first show them respect for their histories. And so, thinking to yourself, Okay, this is what this child has experienced. So biologically, they may be younger than a chronological age, there's a very important research study that Dr. Purvis quoted quite a bit. And we mentioned in the book that talks about children who have experienced trauma are often half or less developmentally, then there, they may be chronologically. So a child who is 13, maybe more like a seven year old developmentally. So it's important to act with respect towards that developmental age and adjust our expectations appropriately. As far as teaching respect to kids and teens, as I mentioned in the scripts chapter, or as Dr. Purvis mentioned the script chapter. And as I mentioned earlier, we want to teach those skills in calm times where everybody is regulated. So with younger children, that might look like having a family meeting a couple of times a month, every week, saying, hey, you know, this is what, what the parents in this house are, we want to treat each other with respect. And so you're going to want to model that maybe you're doing a little bit of roleplay. Maybe you're making it fun with puppet play, things of that nature. With teens, maybe you're shooting basketball hoops, and saying, hey, it's important in our house that we treat each other with respect. And so what are some ways that I can show respect for you? Okay, well, for me, it's important to me that you don't use that language, it's important to me that you try to look at my eyes when you talk. So could we try to do that. And then, since you're teaching that in a calm, regulated time, it's going to be much easier to remind the child or the teen of that behavior, when the rubber meets the road when you're in a tough situation at the perfect time to teach a script and show respect. So you can remind the child Hey, remember to show respect, and then hopefully get the train back on track rather than making it a huge for deal? Meltdown? What have you.
Okay, Lisa, something that that Emily said, that I'm curious about? Because I think that, as I'm thinking about myself, it rings really true. And that is going back to the beginning and thinking about okay, why? Why is this triggering a disrespect? Why do I help? Why is this threatening to me? Why does this feel disrespectful for me? Can you think of an example if yours are so one of the other parents that you've worked with? Where there was a behavior that could be interpreted either way, and that it helped to understand what we were bringing to the table what the parent is bringing to the table?
Well, first of all, I have very strong memories of my daughter who came home at 10 and a half. And we were talking about the importance of respect. And the thing is, she had no idea why that would matter, because she had never had parents. And in fact, it felt very invasive to her to have a mother, she felt like I was keeping an eye on her. And she was used to being able to do pretty much whatever she wanted in the orphanage, you know, within reason. And so to her, it felt so invasive, and she just pushed back against that, and did not feel that I really, she couldn't see why she should respect me. I was just another caregiver. Right. And so it did bother me a lot. And I think partly it bothered me because of my own theology. And the way I had traditionally parented my other children before in the children should respect their parents. Well, for a child who's never had parents, I just think we have to be very realistic that that is not going to come naturally at all. Because adults haven't even been trustworthy. Why would you respect them? So it's, I think it's it's something that's going to take a while, especially for older kids who come to our home and we do have to just keep open communication about that you know that this is something we expect we want you to keep working on it will will help you remember by saying try that again with respect
Okay, excellent. I'd also like I think that it is when we're talking about attachment it is easy to slip into the the the idea that every issue we see with children who have been adopted particularly adopted at past infancy are every or every foster child or or in kinship families, you know, their every grandchild or cousin or niece or nephew that's come from having experienced trauma, that we can immediately assume that all issues are related to either The term either the trauma or the lack of attachment. And so I was thankful to see that you had a section in the book on sensory issues. Lisa, how can sensory issues mimic or are confused us in our assumptions of what is behind our children's actions and behaviors?
Well, some kids who have sensory processing challenges will be aversive to eye contact, they'll be aversive to touch, they may resist your closeness, all kinds of different things. And for me, I think when I was seeing this, and one of my children, I was assuming it was all about attachment. Like the reason I would give a kiss and it would be wiped off was because deep in the child's heart, they didn't want me as a mother, you know, things like that. And it was it was personal to me. And it also increased my fear, because then I thought, oh, no, this is terrible road, we're going down. And I remember a day being in a therapist office, and she was a an incredible adoption, trauma informed therapist, and my child was playing with something and I was talking with her. And he came running up to me and his head smacked into my chin. And it really hurt. And she said, decide kind of thing happened often. And I was telling her yes, and everything. And she said, You know, I think he needs to be evaluated by an occupational therapist. I think what we're seeing here is sensory processing disorder. And so we did follow through on that. And I just remember, it gave me such a shift in the way that I saw my child, it also gave me a ton of hope, because sensory was something that I could tackle, you know, there were so many practical things I can do to help with sensory challenges. And I think it just it opened my eyes and it also renewed my hope. And sensory is kind of a fun thing to explore. Once you figure out your child's sensory differences, there all kinds of things, you can try to help them with that.
Yeah. Emily, any thoughts on the impact of sensory issues on our kids who are struggling?
Sure. Um, I love the example that Lisa shared, because sometimes it really is that quote, unquote, simple it may not be the the huge, scary, emotional situation that we're thinking it might be. But I do think that and Dr. Purvis talks about this all the time, how sensory issues and attachment issues can afford me inform each other, for better or for worse. And so in Lisa's example, by meeting her child's sensory needs, and being able to partner with that child and say, Okay, what is going to make you feel better in your body or able able to listen, that is meeting attachment needs as well. Dr. Purvis used to talk about these issues, as if, like in an old encyclopedia, how they were all all of these body systems, and belief systems and behavior systems are layered on top of each other. So you've got attachment, and you've got sensory, you've got neuro chemistry, and those are all layered on top of each other, they all inform one another, but we can look at them separately as well. And so that's just one really good example of how this is a holistic parenting style that is, is aiming to look at the whole child. And by taking up this one sensory part. It's impacting the relational needs, and potentially behavior needs as well as meeting physical needs.
Oh, absolutely behavioral, and also what setting our children off and, and trying if we can, if we can address some of their sensory issues, then that we create a safer, calmer space for them in order and we've talked about it before when they need they need that secure space in order to grow and learn. Absolutely. All right. In the remaining time, we have we've already talked to some about how we adapt this approach. They conducted a parenting approach to working with teens, tweens and teens, but let's just stick with teens. One thing you've mentioned, I think, Emily, you are the one who said adapt your script to fit to fit the age of the child. What are some other ways, Lisa, that we can adapt this approach when we're working with adolescents?
Well, I think what we have to do is we you know, we've already talked about chronological age versus developmental age. And I think what we have to do is sort of lay that filter over everything as we're parenting that we have to you know, what is felt safety for a team? I mean, I remember with my foster daughter giving her she had a cell phone I remember giving her a code that she could text me at any time, or a keyword that she could call me and say, and that when she did that, I would get in the car and go get her, you know, that's a very different kind of way of increasing a sense of safety and trust than with a three year old, you know, and she only had to do it once. But she knew that I would be there. So I think that's maybe a stronger example. But food choices, free choices is so important for building trust, and disarming fear. And when you get to be talking about teens, it's even more important, they are at that natural phase of beginning to be more and more independent. So we need to be willing, I think, to offer them more choices, in order to give them the power if we want to use that word, to make decisions that affect them. For me, another way I've had to adapt with my older kids, is to realize that what is important to me may not be important to them. So just because a child is capable of taking an honors class, and school does not mean that that is going to actually be good for them and to be able to listen with with respect to have respect for that child and understand that, that class and this actually happened to me where I just pushed and prodded a little bit. And because I knew what the child's ability was, but what I didn't fully understand was that that class raised a lot of fear, internal fear of failure. And so I think we just have to put the wrap our minds around the fact that they are capable of making more decisions, and we need to let them do that.
Emily, last word for you. How can this approach be and should be adapted to work with teens?
Certainly. Well, I think that Lisa has given so many great practical strategies from her own experience. Just a couple of things that come to mind that Dr. Purvis modeled for all of us is that in working with teens, Dr. Purvis was able to model disclosure in a way that may not resonate quite as well with the younger child. So if, if your your team is experiencing something difficult, you're able to have a conversation with that team in a different way than you would a young child. And that's a benefit. As Lisa was saying, you're also able to partner with them in a different way. Because if they're having some food insecurity or something of that nature, they're they have the, during the big physical body, even though they might be a young child inside a big body to help you prepare a meal that's huge and wonderful at building the relationship meeting, the physical need, and also addressing the fear behind that. Also, all the examples that we see with Dr. Purvis and teenagers, she is able to just come alongside and meet them in a place where you can saralee with a younger child. And so I think it's just important to remember that behavior is the symptom of an unmet need, even in a team like it is with a young child. And like Lisa said, just to remember that and to be looking at the parenting through that lens of developmental age and biological age.
And also, I think that parents of younger children often fear the teen years and i would say i i love the fact that Dr. Purvis enjoyed the teen years I have loved my kids teen years, not every moment of their teen years. Not Not every day even. But in general, if we take the, you know, the 30,000 foot approach, I've truly enjoyed the teen years, so to not approach it, to look upon it as the time of you really get to know the people that they that they will be for the rest of their lives. So that's an added advantage. Thank you so much, Lisa Qualls and Emily Pickett, authors of the connected parent for being with us today to talk about the book. Thank you. Again, keep in mind that the views expressed in this show are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of creating a family. Our partners are our underwriters. And the information given in this interview is general advice. To understand how it applies to your specific situation. You need to work with your adoption, our foster care professional. Thank you for joining us today and I will see you all next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai