Foster Family Matters

Foster Family Matters header image 1
September 5, 2019  

Four Tenets of Healthy Relationships: Part 1

Welcome to Foster Family Matters

Thank you for joining us! Welcome to another episode of Foster Family Matters with your hosts Shawn Wilson, Ryan North, and Lori Fangue. If you don’t already know, we are a foster care, adoption, and behavior health non-profit in North Texas. We believe that our show is perfect for parents of children and the people in their support networks (friends, family, co-workers, etc . . . ).

What Are We Chatting About Today?

Today we are starting a multi-part series on healthy relationships. To start things off, we’ll be chatting about what the different components to a healthy relationship are. This episode’s discussion will be an intro into these specific areas or aspects. You’ll get a preview of what to expect in upcoming episodes.

All Things Social Media

We are currently focused on social media and trying to grow the show. We are extremely grateful and excited about the success we’ve seen so far. We’ve also started posting video versions of the show on Facebook and YouTube as well as highlights on Instagram TV. Make sure to check those out!

If you aren’t already a member, you can also join our Facebook group called Foster Family Matters to find community with like-minded parents. The group is really about relationships in a familial setting and connecting with people who have similar interests in improving relationships.

You can find a video recording of this discussion on YouTube or Facebook!  Remember to subscribe and turn on notifications so you will get a friendly reminder when we upload new content.

A Little Background

Jude Cassidy did some research and formulated a theory that there are four things that a secure relationship in order to be healthy and positive. Today we are providing a foundation and introduction to those four concepts. We’ll touch on each one in this episode and then further unpack them in upcoming episodes.

In This Episode

  • What healthy relationships “look like”
  • Why bad relationships form
  • Living in isolation
  • Wired for connection
  • Unhealthy relationships passed on
  • Importance of empathy in relationships
  • Breaking the cycle
  • Serve and return

We were made to seek and form relationships. God says it’s not good for man to be alone.

We are to be in relationship, not isolation. Furthermore, we as adults are the ones who can heal and teach others, especially children, how to be in relationship.

If we as adults don’t know how to live in healthy relationships with each other it’s going to be very hard to live in healthy relationships with children. It will also be hard to teach those children how to live in healthy relationships themselves.

God is a God of relationships and the greatest therapy in the world is love. Love is fostered through relationships. When we live in isolation we don’t grow, mature or thrive.

For us to do life well, we need to be with people who love and support us, and we need to do the same. Some people have bad relationships or claim to be bad at relationships. There is a reason for that. It is learned. The good news is you can learn how to have good relationships and how to be good at relationships.

The first step is empathy. Empathy allows you to care. This is very important in having healthy relationships. The thing is we are wired for connection. We were born to live in reciprocating relationships with other people. You can get back to a place of a healthy relationship. Just because you have relationships doesn’t mean they are healthy. Negative connection is still a connection.

An unhealthy relationship can be passed on. It can be cyclical. That means it’s time to break the cycle. We must also have empathy for those that weren’t loved well. Many don’t know how to love well because they were not loved well.

All of this resonates in self-awareness. Relationships happen at the intersection of two people’s histories. Each party brings all their baggage. At baggage claim is where we have the potential for problems. In a relationship that baggage is combined and sometimes this is where problems occur. If we can work on our issues as individuals it equips us to help the kids. It also allows us to model for children what needs to be done.

During this episode, we also talk about the ability to negotiate your wants and needs, the impact of being a people-pleaser and the importance of being interdependent.

Final Thoughts

For us, this research we will be diving more into in the following episodes solidifies personal relationships. It’s about being the agent of change. You oversee the trajectory of your relationships. Yes, it is 50/50 but you can own your own part.

This is about getting to the core of who you are. A lot of times we try to fix relationships by fixing someone else, yet we don’t have any control over the other person.

We encourage you to come to this conversation with the mindset that this is about you, not someone else. Make the changes you need to make and then you can share this information with others so maybe they will do the same.

Resources Mentioned

Anatomy of the Soul

Connect

Facebook Group: Foster Family Matters

Show Website:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org

Subscribe!

Don’t forget to subscribe, like, thumbs up, heart us. We love hearts, especially in the name of love.  :)

August 22, 2019  

School is Back in Session: Parenting Tips

In episode 14, Shawn, Lori, and Ryan discuss tips for parenting success during the transition from summer routine to the school year.

If you have a community in which you already draw support, consider using this series to fuel your discussion topics.  If you are looking for community consider joining our Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters where you can get direct access to Shawn, Ryan, and Lori.

The transition back to school can be a source of mixed feelings for both parents and children. Some kids may be making a transition from homeschooling into a private/public school. Others may be coming back from an amazing summer holiday and are forced to face the reality of going back to school. The drastic change of events can be accompanied by strong feelings of emptiness and anxiety. Parents have a major role to play to help their school-going children to manage the transition back to school.

Tips for Parents to Help Children Transition Back to School

Develop a bedtime routine

Start to bring the child up to a consistent routine before school begins. Allowing the child to go to bed early every night for two weeks until they get to a typical school routine will ease them into school-life with minimal stress and disruption.

Perform Test Runs to the school with the Child

Make a few trips to the school where the child will be reporting in a few weeks to achieve a sense of familiarity. A predictable run will help bring the child up to the challenge of making a transition back to school. The child will eventually work up to his/her typical school routine before making the transition. Parents can also make appointments with the school administration and other related professionals to have the child meet them in person before school begins.

Approach and Develop a Relationship with Teachers

Parents should also cultivate a positive relationship with teachers. Treat the teachers kindly and with respect because they will also reciprocate in a similar manner. Teaching is a challenging profession as it is, and no teacher would appreciate a cruel and rude parent. A positive and fulfilling parent-teacher relationship will work in favor of the child’s welfare in school.

Help Children Get Organized

Have all necessities for your child ready prior to his/her first school day. It will minimize confusion and chaos on the first day of school.

Cultivate a Relationship with your Child

A parent-child relationship is critical because only then will the parent understand the child’s needs. Children need to feel supported regardless of how minute their fears may seem. They need to know that their parents are close and available during this often challenging transition. Parents can set aside quality time to spend with children. Breakfast, dinner, and bedtime are among the activities that can be used to listen to their needs.

Advocate and Support your Child’s Needs

School-going children have various physical, social and academic needs that can only be explained fully by their parents. Therefore, parents should advocate for their children’s needs by meeting with relevant parties, including counselors, therapists, and school nurses. They should ensure that their children’s needs are accommodated for a smooth transition. Some children have special needs that will need to be addressed as soon as they transition back to school. Parents should ensure that they are met and satisfied to facilitate learning. Only then will the transition be successful. Failure to do will create an unhealthy transition that may become traumatic for the child. Parents have to understand that children have no capacity to learn when they are unsettled. 

Stay Involved

Parents need to continue being involved. They should know their children’s schedule. They should also take advantage of any help that the school offers.

Thank you for downloading and joining with us in this study/discussion.  If you enjoy the content, please remember to help us grow-the-show by sharing a link to our podcast or its episodes with your friends and family.  Also, remember to subscribe and give us a positive review.  Doing so helps the podcast directories better understand who else might be interested in our discussions.

If you have not already, join our Facebook Group here:  www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters

If you are looking for our website, you will find it here:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org 

Remember to subscribe and turn on notifications so that you don't miss an episode. God bless!

August 8, 2019  

Part 5: “The Whole Brain Child” Book Discussion

Shawn, Ryan, and Lori discuss Chapter 6 of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.  This is one of several books that CK Family Services recommends that all parents read, and it holds a special place with our show hosts.  We invite you to join us and read through the book alongside us this Summer.  Whether you are new to the book or have already read it through, we are confident that you’ll be glad you did.  If you need a copy of the book, please consider using the link above to purchase a copy via smile.Amazon.com.  Be sure to choose CK Family Services as your charity and Amazon will make a donation to support the work of our staff and volunteers each time you make a purchase.  Doing so will help support the show.

If you have a community in which you already draw support, consider using this series to fuel your discussion topics.  If you are looking for community consider joining our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/ where you can get direct access to Shawn, Ryan, and Lori.

The focus of this chapter is the "Me-We Connection: Integrating Self and Other".  The team covers the “me-we” connections in parent-child relationships. Relationships are the foundation of human need, beginning as found in the Bible when God recognizes that Adam should not be alone. This can also be seen when a baby smiles at an adult and the adult naturally smiles. Emotional responses and engagement learned as children contribute to the development of skills children need for healthy relationships as adults. Fun-filled discussions around the purpose and pronunciation of mirror neurons, or “Looking Glass” neurons create a lively beginning to the podcast. As explained, mirror neurons are the neurons people have the enable the reflection of other people's emotions, such as smiling when another person smiles. 

Chapter 6 provides us with two more strategies; #11:  Increase the Family Fun Factor: Making a Point to Enjoy Each Other, and #12:  Connect Through Conflict: Teach Kids to Argue with a "We" in Mind.

Engaging in play is largely discussed in parenting classes and therapy; however, the team really brings this discussion into the real world with stories of their own personal experiences. Play provides an opportunity to include children in daily chores and activities by promoting shared experiences. Further, engaging children through dancing, funny sounds, and even storytelling contributes to communicative channels. Shared experiences, such as cleaning up or heading to bed can increase understanding of how tasks that are generally a source of argument in the family can be developed into bonding opportunities. Some examples found in the podcast include racing to bed, contests for evening cleaning, and cooperative interactions. 

Lori introduces the concepts from the book regarding the philosophy of enjoyment having a larger place in the family interactions than that of conflict experienced. Conflict is an aspect that parents can work towards reducing negative responses from children or in communication with the child. Engagement can be developed in a way that reduces the amount of conflict to increase the positive in the interactions. This returns to the "me versus we" relationship development, which is necessary for healthy relationship building skills. Although conflict is unavoidable in life, conflict management and resolution development require learning experiences during childhood. The team discusses how children are expected to achieve conflict management skills and other adult understanding when they have barely learned to tie their shoes. As described in the podcast, children must see how conflict is resolved to be able to repeat these behaviors themselves.

Mindfulness is considering how the past influences the future, such as experiences as children or relationships with parents and other adults. “Making sense” of the narrative of your life, as indicated by Lori, creates situations that we “pass on emotional life” to our children, whether good or bad. Further, repressing childhood or working towards doing the opposite of your parents, can create situations that are unaware to us as parents, and prevents us from making sense of the past and managing our understanding of those incidents.

This episode concludes our summer-long discussion of The Whole-Brain Child.  We hope you found it informative and entertaining.  Thank you for downloading and joining with us in this study/discussion.  If you enjoy the content, please remember to help us grow-the-show by sharing a link to our podcast or its episodes with your friends and family.  Also, remember to subscribe and give us a positive review.  Doing so helps the podcast directories better understand who else might be interested in our discussions.

If you have not already, join our Facebook Group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/

If you have not already, pick up a copy of the book here:  https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4

If you are looking for our website, you will find it here:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org 

Remember to subscribe and turn on notifications so that you don't miss an episode.  In our next episode, we will discuss the process of transitioning from summer to the school year.  God bless!

July 25, 2019  

Part 4: “The Whole Brain Child” Book Discussion

Shawn, Ryan, and Lori discuss Chapter 5 of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.  This is one of several books that CK Family Services recommends that all parents read, and it holds a special place with our show hosts.  We invite you to join us and read through the book alongside us this Summer.  Whether you are new to the book or have already read it through, we are confident that you’ll be glad you did.  If you need a copy of the book, please consider using the link above to purchase a copy via smile.Amazon.com.  Be sure to choose CK Family Services as your charity and Amazon will make a donation to support the work of our staff and volunteers each time you make a purchase.  Doing so will help support the show.

If you have a community in which you already draw support, consider using this series to fuel your discussion topics.  If you are looking for community consider joining our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/ where you can get direct access to Shawn, Ryan, and Lori.

Chapter 5 of The Whole-Brain Child talks about our feelings – what they are and how can we distinguish between how we’re feeling as compared to who we really are. This chapter, like most of the book, can be applied not only to children but also to adults. Successful people are always incredibly self-aware, so understanding ourselves and integrating our feelings and our minds is crucial for transferring that same behavior to our children – we can’t expect them to behave in a certain way if we don’t do the same. That’s why it’s important to learn how to distinguish between feeling like a failure and actually thinking you’re a failure. When we think we’re a failure this becomes our reality, so we stop trying harder, and this completely changes who we are. So, the idea behind Strategy 8 (Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll: Teaching That Feelings Come and Go) is to understand that we all have feelings but there is a difference between what we feel and what the reality is like. No matter how terrible we might feel at the moment, these feelings will eventually pass.

Then, we go on to talk about the ways to deal with anxiety in children. It’s very common for parents to deny and dismiss children when they express their fears or anxieties. A great example of this is when children are afraid at night – parents usually just say “there’s nothing to be afraid of, go to sleep, you’re safe.” We’re almost all guilty of dismissing our children when we feel that they’re being “childish”, but the relationship we form with them by doing so is rarely the relationship we want to have with them. When they’re afraid, children seek out those who are supposed to protect them and care for them, so when we deny their feelings and dismiss them, we don’t help them overcome their issues. Even worse, when they grow up and enter adolescence, their lives get more complicated, and although we, then, desperately want to know what’s happening with them, we’ll see that we have already taught our children not to come to us with their problems.

In fact, most of us have been raised with the phrase “If you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about,” but this and other such phrases have now been labeled as emotional abuse of children – parents want the child to stop bothering them and suppress his/her feelings, but the child is injured. So, when we say that sentence, what we really mean is “if you don’t deny your emotions, I will hurt you.” So, ultimately, if we want our children to be compassionate and empathetic, we need to be mindful in order to know how to connect with them and facilitate them in that process.

Strategy 9 (SIFT: Paying Attention to What's Going On Inside) is all about helping our children to soft through the variety of sensations, images, feelings and thoughts that are affecting their state of being.  What we need to do is to teach children what feelings they are experiencing. It’s extremely useful to teach them how to name their feelings and be able to tell when they’re feeling angry, sad, or even when they’re experiencing mixed feelings. In this way, we give them the vocabulary they need to actually process and understand their feelings. In addition, it’s important to understand that we (and our children) are not only made of feelings but also of thoughts, sensations, and images. So, knowing all this can help us in times when we feel overwhelmed or when we freeze, because it can guide us in understanding and evaluating what we’re feeling at the moment. This is closely related to the idea of replacing scary images related to certain experiences in the minds of children with positive images.

This brings us to the last strategy, Strategy 10 Exercise Mindsight:  Getting Back to the Hub, which refers to talking children through their feelings rather than letting their feelings dominate. We might sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about thoughts and feelings with our children in such a detail, but that’s likely the case between we do not understand ourselves and our minds very well yet, so, then, we need to work not only on the child but also on ourselves.

Our next episode will focus on the strategies in chapter 6 of The Whole-Brain Child and will also be the last episode in our series discussing the book.  Thank you for downloading and joining with us in this study/discussion.  If you enjoy the content, please remember to help us grow-the-show by sharing a link to our podcast or its episodes with your friends and family.  Also, remember to subscribe and give us a positive review.  Doing so helps the podcast directories better understand who else might be interested in our discussions.

If you have not already, join our Facebook Group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/

If you have not already, pick up a copy of the book here:  https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4

If you are looking for our website, you will find it here:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org 

God bless!

July 11, 2019  

Part 3: “The Whole Brain Child” Book Discussion

Shawn, Ryan, and Lori discuss Chapter 4 of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.  This is one of several books that CK Family Services recommends that all parents read, and it holds a special place with our show hosts.  We invite you to join us and read through the book alongside us this Summer.  Whether you are new to the book or have already read it through, we are confident that you’ll be glad you did.  If you need a copy of the book, please consider using the link above to purchase a copy via smile.Amazon.com.  Be sure to choose CK Family Services as your charity and Amazon will make a donation to support the work of our staff and volunteers each time you make a purchase.  Doing so will help support the show.

If you have a community in which you already draw support, consider using this series to fuel your discussion topics.  If you are looking for community consider joining our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/ where you can get direct access to Shawn, Ryan, and Lori.

The book describes two types of memory: explicit and implicit.  The differences and significance of these two types of memories can be hard to grasp.  The book describes implicit memories as those you don't actively recall.  Implicit memories are your past experiences that influence your behavior in the present without any realization that your memory has even been triggered.  The example provided in the book is that when you "remember" how to change the diaper on a child, you don't actively remember the steps.  Your brain triggers the memories from your past experiences that influence the actions you take in the present to accomplish the task.  Explicit memories are those you thoughtfully access, for example, if you were to pause while changing the diaper and recall the first time you learned to change a diaper.  Those thoughtfully recallable memories are explicit.  

We typically mean explicit memory, when we discuss memories.  They are the memories we draw from when trying to pass a test, remember a work colleague's name or when we are searching for our keys.  But it is important that we understand the role that implicit memories play in influencing our present-day actions.  Once we grasp the concepts ourselves, we can transfer them to our understanding of our children's present behaviors and use them to inform our parenting strategies. To accomplish this, we need a few strategies to help us learn to integrate the implicit and the explicit.  Integration of these two types of memories can be like assembling a puzzle.  We (and our children) often wonder why we behave a certain way today; maybe we suffer from poor dietary choices or staying up too late.  When we connect with the implicit and turn them into explicit memories, we can name them and tame them.

The first strategy of Chapter 4 (the 6th strategy of the book) is Use the Remote of the Mind: Replaying Memories.  Many of our children become familiar with the way remote controls allow us to rewind, pause, play and fast-forward TV shows, movies, and music.  We can use the symbol of remote control and our children's familiarity with its function to help them rewind and find implicit memories.

The second strategy of Chapter 4 (the 7th of the book) is Remember to Remember:  Making Recollection a Part of Your Family's Daily Life.  The ability to recall memories is like many of our functions, the more you use it (or practice remembering) the better you will become at it.  By creating a culture within your family of recollecting memories from the past, you set the stage for empowering yourself and your children to become better rememberers and thereby pave the way for deeper and more insightful self-awareness.

Our next episode will focus on the strategies in chapter 5 of The Whole-Brain Child.  Thank you for downloading and joining with us in this study/discussion.  If you enjoy the content, please remember to help us grow-the-show by sharing a link to our podcast or its episodes with your friends and family.  Also, remember to subscribe and give us a positive review.  Doing so helps the podcast directories better understand who else might be interested in our discussions.

If you have not already, join our Facebook Group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/

If you have not already, pick up a copy of the book here:  https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4

If you are looking for our website, you will find it here:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org 

God bless!

June 27, 2019  

Part 2: “The Whole Brain Child” Book Discussion

Shawn, Ryan, and Lori discuss The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. (https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4)  This is one of several books that CK Family Services recommends that all parents read, and it holds a special place with our show hosts.  We invite you to join us and read through the book alongside us this Summer.  Whether you are new to the book or have already read it through, we are confident that you’ll be glad you did.  If you need a copy of the book, please consider using the link above to purchase a copy via Amazon.com.  Doing so will help support the show.

If you have a community in which you already draw support, consider using this series to fuel your discussion topics.  If you are looking for community consider joining our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/ where you can get direct access to Shawn, Ryan and Lori.

In this episode, we continue with chapter 3 and we talk about the concept of the upstairs-downstairs brain. The authors of The Whole-Brain Child describe the brain not only as divided horizontally but also vertically, like a house. In that sense, the downstairs part is the fundamental part and it controls basic functions such as breathing, reacting to danger, experiencing strong emotions and so on. The upstairs brain is the more complex part where processes like thinking, planning, and imagining happen. This is the part of the brain that allows critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making processes to take place.

So, for example, it is much more difficult to make a good connection between the downstairs and upstairs brain for children who have experienced trauma – it is much more difficult to smoothly climb the stairs. The trauma produces obstacles which make the process of climbing slower and more laborious or, practically speaking, make it harder for the child to properly respond to real life situation due to the trauma.

This also shows that approaching a crying child being only guided by the left-brain-right-brain division may not be enough because sometimes, the child is unable to calm because of the trauma. So, in such cases, an upstairs-downstairs approach is necessary to understand and calm the tantrum because it might be coming from the downstairs brain which is not always rational.

Among some great illustrations of the brain’s functioning in this episode is the example of asking a person to use the browser to find a nice place for dinner while there is no internet connection. This is very similar to parents demanding something from a child when the child is unable to properly respond due to the fact that his or her brain is not developed yet. In other words, the physical structure is there but it is not connected yet, it is not “online”.

The rest of the chapter – and of our discussion – focuses on how to approach that developing upstairs part of the child’s brain, how to help the child navigate, and how to protect it in that new unknown territory. There are 3 strategies proposed by the authors of the book.

The first one is Engage, Don’t Enrage. That means engaging with the child, showing them that you are there for them both emotionally and physically, comforting them, and showing them that you can climb those stairs together. As parents, we often deal with our own upstairs-downstairs issues and forget that our children are not adults. What we need to do, instead, is to put our personal problems away and help the children get into the rational part of their own experience.

The second strategy is Use It Or Lose It and it urges parents to teach children everything they can from tying their shoes to showing empathy; in other words, it appeals to parents’ responsibility to make children use their brains. If they do not motivate the child to exercise his or her brain and if they do not teach new things, the child will be late to learn so many things that he or she could have learned sooner; on top of that, they will learn them from someone else.

The final strategy is Move It Or Lose It and it is based on the idea that movement helps the body relax and, consequently, changes our emotional state. Whether that may be going for a walk around the block or just going for a run, moving the body helps us calm and establish better self-regulation. In addition, movement increases the connection between the left and right brain. So, when in conflict, instead of continuing to yell at each other, we should go out and take a walk until we calm down and then continue the conversation.

Our next episode will focus on the strategies in chapter 4 of The Whole-Brain Child.  We look forward to engaging with you over the course of the summer.

If you have not already, join our Facebook Group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/

If you have not already, pick up a copy of the book here:  https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4

If you are looking for our website, you will find it here:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org 

June 13, 2019  

Part 1: “The Whole Brain Child” Book Discussion

Shawn, Ryan, and Lori discuss the introduction, chapter 1 and chapter 2 of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.

 

This Summer we are going to dive into a discussion of the book, The Whole-Brain Child:  12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. (https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4)  This is one of several books that CK Family Services recommends that all parents read, and it holds a special place with our show hosts.  We invite you to join us and read through the book alongside us this Summer.  Whether you are new to the book or have already read it through, we are confident that you’ll be glad you did.  If you need a copy of the book, please consider using the link above to purchase a copy via Amazon.com.  Doing so will help support the show.

 

If you have a community in which you already draw support, consider using this series to fuel your discussion topics.  If you are looking for community consider joining our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/ where you can get direct access to Shawn, Ryan and Lori.

 

One of the things we like about this book is that the strategies are practical and well stated.  The combination of Dan and Tina is a one-two punch of intellect and relatability that provides contextual visual examples and explanations that are easy to understand and readily applicable to modern day parenting.

 

In this episode, we start by discussing the introduction through chapter 2.  We focus on the importance of understanding that our children’s brains are a work in progress and that by the choices we make as parents we guide the development of their brains and the way our children view and function in their environment.  For anyone who has concerns that the way things are now is the way they will be forever, this book will spark hope that you can change your stars through purposeful and intentional parenting strategies.

 

One of our favorite illustrations from this first part of the book is the depiction of chaos, calm, and rigidity as a river.  Too frequently parents view chaos and calm as the ends of the spectrum, but we learn in the book that the calm place is in the middle of the stream halfway between the opposing shores of chaos and rigidity.

 

Our brains have natural hemispheres.  In this first part of our discussion, we talk about the left brain and the right brain.  Our left brains can be equated with our logical thought processes and our right brains can be equated with emotional thought processes.  Each hemisphere provides an important aspect of our humanity.  The left brain is the letter of the law and the right brain is the spirit of the law.  The left-brain provides content and the right brain provides context.  As parents, we can take steps to help our children more readily integrate their left-brain, right-brain connectivity and engagement.  The two halves of our brain must work together for us to make sense of the world.

 

The first strategy presented in the book is Connect and Redirect: Surfing Emotional Waves.  The strategy involves encouraging left/right integration by first connecting with your child right-brain to right-brain.  Make an emotional connection.  Join your child and validate their feelings.  Express empathy and listen to their words and reflect with them.  The second part of the strategy is to redirect.  This is not the same sort of redirection many of us deploy when correcting behavior that is basically a distraction.  This redirection is purposeful and intentional focusing the child’s logical thoughts toward the desired outcome.  For this strategy to work, we must first connect right-brain to right-brain and then we can leverage the left brain through redirection.

 

The second strategy for the promotion of left/right integration is Name It to Tame It: Telling Stories to Calm Big Emotions.  If you really want to be set free from your trauma and from the big emotions that seem to control your behavior, you must come to terms with it.  Parents must help our children tell their story to help them name it and tame it.  “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32.

 

We are so glad that you have listened to this episode and we invite you to subscribe to our show via the subscription feature on your favorite podcast tool.  We are trying to increase our audience and so we ask you to help us by sharing, liking, staring, and leaving positive reviews (if you have positive thoughts on our show).

 

Our next episode will focus on the strategies in chapter 3 of The Whole-Brain Child.  We look forward to engaging with you over the course of the summer.

 

If you have not already, join our Facebook Group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/

If you have not already, pick up a copy of the book here:  https://amzn.to/2IJuJh4

If you are looking for our website, you will find it here:  www.fosterfamilymatters.org 

May 30, 2019  

Summer is Here! Managing Transitions (Part 2)

A well-managed transition can make or break your day.  It can be the difference maker, for the difference maker (a.k.a. YOU).  Whether you are preparing for a macro-level transition like school year to summer break, graduation to life after school, or something as world-changing as becoming a foster or adoptive parent . . . the ability to recognize, anticipate, plan for and then roll with the actual experience of transition is essential for you and your family's well being.

In this episode Ryan, Lori, and Shawn pick up where they left off with part 1 "Summer is Coming, Managing Transitions".  You don't have to skip over there now.  It is perfectly fine to listen to these out of order.  But we do encourage you to make time for both.

We are excited to announce that our next several show discussions after this one will be a study of the 12 strategies presented by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson in their book, The Whole-Brain Child.  We encourage every parent to own this book and incorporate these strategies into your own parenting toolbox.  If you don't already own a copy, we encourage you to use the link below to make the purchase from Amazon.  Amazon will give us a percentage of the purchase which will go to help support our show.

We encourage you to read along with us over the course of the summer.  We will tackle the introduction, chapter 1 and chapter 2 in our next episode.  If you are part of a small group or supportive community, you might even consider taking the summer to process these strategies together, using our discussions as a sort of study guide or conversation starter.

Here is the link:  https://amzn.to/2W9Vxka 

Also, we have started a Facebook Group for listeners of the show to connect with one another and engage with our hosts.  You can join the group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/fosterfamilymatters/ This will be a great place to engage in our discussions and we would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for upcoming episodes and topics.

May 16, 2019  

Summer is Coming, Managing Transitions

While many have been focused on the arrival of Winter in recent months, I assure you . . . Summer is Coming.  One of the best methods parents can use for improving their own experiences is to plan ahead and help their children manage transitions.  As the school year comes to end, opportunities to manage transitions abound.  Ryan, Lori, and Shawn discuss the importance of helping our children prepare for transitions in this episode.

May 9, 2019  

Happy Mother’s Day?

May 12, 2019, we celebrate Mother’s Day, which became a national holiday in the United States in May 1914.  Anna Jarvis is credited with founding Mother’s Day several years earlier in 1908 as a day to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

Today, celebrations vary by family and culture, but most include children honoring their mother by giving her gifts and setting aside time to spend with her.  The holiday can be challenging for those who have experienced the loss of their mother and for mothers who have lost children. Commercialization of the holiday inflates expectations and enhances feelings of stress, grief, and loss.

Parents (mothers and fathers) of children who have experienced loss of one or more mothers may find their children’s behavior changes during the holiday season.  These children may not be enthusiastic to honor the sacrifices of their current mother (be that a step-mother, an adoptive mother, a foster mother, or other) and may act out against their current mother with hurtful words or actions.

We are not all the same.  In fact, we are each very much unique and the experiences that have led each of us (from newborn babies to the most seasoned of us all) to this upcoming Mother’s Day will greatly impact how we celebrate it and how we experience it.

This episode is for parents among us who are parenting children who have experienced the loss of one or more mothers and those who need a reminder of why mothers are such a blessing.  In this episode, Ryan and Lori share from their personal and professional experiences, parenting and supporting children who have suffered the loss of their mothers.

Arguably, some mothers have behaved in ways which leave us scratching our heads and wondering why our children would want to honor or even remember them, but we must step outside of our experiences and walk in the shoes of our children.

There are as many ways to mitigate the flood of emotions during this time both for the children, their mothers, and their fathers.  One of the ways is discussed in this episode and it involves gaining awareness and setting appropriate expectations for the season.  Another idea is to set aside separate days to honor the sacrifices made by each mother in a child’s life.  In the end, we should all lean into honoring the mothers in our lives 365 days a year.

We decided to publish this bonus episode because we believe in mothers.  We know that mothering can be thankless.  But this Mother’s Day we say thank you.  Thank you for choosing to be a mother.  You are loved and we are right here walking alongside you.

You can read more about the founding and history of Mother’s Day in America here:  https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day.