Editor’s note: Several weeks ago the decision was made to publish a post at the conclusion of the Empowered to Connect Conference this past weekend (April 7-8). The conference was a success, and we returned to the daily grind with no idea that God would call Dr. Karyn Purvis (director of TCU) into His presence just 3 days after her conference concluded. We have chosen to proceed with the post below because we believe it has the ability to encourage and inspire families to love children from tough places–which is what Dr. Purvis so successfully gave her life to accomplish.
Ask any of the thousands of people who attended Empowered to Connect over the weekend and you’ll receive just as many answers to the question, “What practical ideas will you take away from the conference?” Here are 5 potential responses:
1. “Do not go after a gnat with an elephant gun” (Dr. Karyn Purvis). As parents, sometimes it is easy–and tempting–to treat every rule violation as an equal opportunity offense, but Dr. Purvis challenged parents to treat lightweight offenses … as lightweight offenses. Not everything needs to be a “10.”
2. “If you use force with a child from trauma, you may get compliance, but you will never get trust” (Karyn Purvis). Inappropriate behaviors for children from hard places are driven by old traumas, neurological limitations, and the appropriate urge to survive. A kind tone, a positive disposition, and a compromising attitude go a long way in building trust.
3. “You shape your reaction to a child’s behavior when you stop and ask yourself, ‘What does this child need?’ ” (Daren Jones). Sometimes children don’t know how to tell us what they need. Sometimes a behavior is the child telling us what he or she needs. We can save ourselves (and our children) some grief if we stop and consider what the child needs. Is he hungry or tired? Is she afraid?
4. “You can’t take a survival strategy from a kid if you don’t give them a strategy to survive.” (Daren Jones). Children from hard places often invent creative coping mechanisms and sometimes they are alarming or destructive. As parents, we may want to put an end to a particular behavior or choice, but we must be prepared to replace the child’s instinctive survival strategy with a better one. Instead of parenting that says, “Don’t do that!” we should be prepared to parent in a way that says, “Do this.”
5. “It is better to err and repair than to have never erred at all” (Dr. David Cross). Perhaps the greatest takeaway (biased opinion alert!) from the weekend conference was the advice to do your best. At every conference guilt sneaks in like an unwanted guest and sits with attendees who recognize past or current parenting blunders. When Dr. David Cross said, “It is better to err and repair than to have never erred at all,” a collective sigh of relief could be heard at simulcast locations around the country.
Learn all you can. Do your best. Love your kids.
For more information, check out 10 Questions Adoptive Parents Ask.
Did you attend the Empowered to Connect Conference?
What did you learn? Leave a comment below or
connect with us on Facebook.
Take a look at our resources for adopting/adoptive families