This weekend was one we'd been looking forward to for some time. Levi would get some quality time with his Georgia grandparents while Jason and I got away for some preparation time for R's coming. We registered months ago for the Empowered to Connect conference in Orlando, FL and driving back last night to our sleeping Levi at the grandparents, we came away with more than we thought our $25 registration could buy. I'm not over-exaggerating in saying that we're coming away from the conference as better individuals, a better couple and better parents for our son and daughter. Parenting should come with the required prerequisite of this conference and a reading of The Connected Child.
The principles seemed simple enough-- nurture a child by giving them a voice, opportunities for re-dos and compromises and the understanding that they are precious. Could these techniques really lead to connected, healed children and families? The explanation of brain chemistry changes and the testimonies of changed families who used these strategies was convincing. This trust-based relational intervention (TBRI) has brought healing and attachment to children with some of the most profound traumas and diagnoses. The results were children and parents' hearts growing in connectedness. Now who wouldn't pay attention to practices that claim these kind of results?
Below we're including some, but certainly not all, of our take aways. One of my favorite things is sharing and receiving helpful tips. Like the book a friend shared that helped with a skin problem or a friend sharing her journey to freedom with food, I love learning from others and sharing things they might learn from me. So here are a few things from the conference that might be helpful to others out there reading. And just to keep this interesting, I'll be candid in our pre-conference lessons too. :)
- Credit card points can get you into amazing hotels you wouldn't afford otherwise. But when you only have enough points for one night and try to find a budget-friendly second night, being cheap can backfire severely. After a $40 Expedia gamble, we killed five roaches, cut our losses and moved to another hotel.
Now lessons from the conference...
- Lack of nurture and voice (being safe and able to safely explore and share thoughts) leads to development of overactive chemicals in the brain stem regions. Those chemicals translate into defense behaviors such as aggression, violence, manipulation, triangulation and control.
- There is hope for EVERY child. The techniques taught through Dr. Purvis' Trust-Based Relational Intervention have helped children around the world showing incredible improvements and changes even in brain chemistry.
- There is a great difference in being available for our children and in being engaged with our children. (Is our heart open and connecting with our child instead of our hearts and minds always away on something else?)
- The call to adopt is not a call to make a child "mine" but to become "mine" for a child. (Instead of them being molded into who we want them to be, we are molded to see healing and connecting in their hearts for them to be all God created them to be.)
- Seventy percent of what people take from you is based on your tone of voice. These findings are based on a ten year study conducted by UCLA.
- "There is no healing without 'being with'." (Not sure who said this...maybe Michael Monroe?)
- Fear and pain are primary emotions. Anger and aggression are secondary. Underneath violence is often fear or pain.
- Guilt is about what you do. Shame is about who you are. We should never shame our children.
- Healthy parenting is trust-based and connection-based not consequence-based.
- Discipline is not primarily about correcting wrong behavior. It is about filling a cup and meeting a need that has not been met.
While we know these isolated sentences outside of their context can't do justice to the great truths we learned at the conference, we also collected a list of resources that could give a better, clearer picture. We hope in the next few weeks to read some* ourselves. At the bottom of the post you'll find some of the great resources we came away with.
If you are stuck in a rut in your parenting, if you are an adoptive or foster parents or if you are soon to be parents, there are two more conferences this year. You can find out more about locations and costs here. We couldn't recommend the information highly enough. And if you want the info but can't attend a conference, check out the book The Connected Child and videos at both the Empowered to Connect and TCU websites. We plan to be visiting and reading here a lot in the next few months! Hope you'll find them useful too!
Websites for help with sensory issues
www.babybabyohbaby.com (Infant massage)
*The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross and Sunshine
Play by Stuart Brown
The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz
The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz
*The Whole-Brained Child by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel