Category Archives: Mindfulness

What’s Your Parenting GPS?

What happens when your electronic GPS system doesn’t work?  You have to rely on something else — maybe even something so antiquated as your inner guidance system. Remember what it used to be like to get somewhere by feel? You had to tune in to something within.

But what?

If you are or will be a parent by adoption  or donor conception, you may want to consciously decide whether you will root your parenting inner guidance system in fear — or in love. The decision, consciously or unconsciously made — will have a profound impact on the rest of your life, and on the life of your child.

It’s a decision you’ll have to make again and again. This is why we are called on to cultivate mindfulness.

If regular old parenting takes courage, adoptive parenting takes super-courage. Did you know that the word courage comes from the same root as coronary? Ha — no coincidence!

Cuer (Old Fr), Cor (Lat) = heart. The heart as your parenting GPS.

gps for parenting via third-party reproduction

From Fearful to Fearless in Adoptive Parenting

Here’s the fourth and final question I was asked by an audience member in a webinar I led earlier this year. The webinar was on openness in parenting via donor conception, which has a lot in common with parenting via traditional adoption. Once again, I’m encouraged the question came up, as it indicates that adoption professionals, embryo or otherwise, are grasping the WHY of true openness and ready to focus on the HOW.

Q: ­As an adoption professional, how can I assist waiting adoptive families to move from fearful to fearless?­

I set out a few years ago to create such a guide. People living in adoption shared their stories with me and the result is  The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, which turned 2 years old this week.  This post from my archives, ” ‘Real’ in Adoption and How it Splits Our Babies” offers a brief intro to shifting from an Either/Or mindset to Both/And heartset, which is one of the steps of moving from fearful to fearless. Thirdly, in the book there is a link to this audio exercise on mindfulness. Becoming more mindful about our own fears and motivations is a key part of resolving fear and becoming fearless as we parent via adoption.

Other resources I highly recommend to help adoption professionals and their clients better understand the openness (and the effects of closedness):

What do you think? How can people move from fearful to fearless in parenting? How can they continually orient their parenting decisions in their hearts rather than in their fears?

Other questions in this series:

Image courtesy nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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This post is also part of #Microblog Mondays. What’s that? A post that is not too long. Head over to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

My Teen Wants to Live With His Birth Mom. Now What?

Of all the questions I’ve received while leading workshops and  webinars on openness, this one stands out because it gets at the heart of the the deepest fears people have about undertaking a parenting journey in which our child has (shudder) other parents.

Fear causes us to close down.

And as we see from so many comments on the previous post in this series, closing down can so easily cause us to lose what we want most.  Think of loving a flower so much you crush it in your hand.

The Effect of Fear and Closedness on Adoptive Parents’ Relationships with Their Kids

Here’s the third question that came at the end of a webinar I delivered on parenting via donor conception (donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos). You’ll see again that third-party reproduction and traditional adoption have a lot in common for both parents and children.

How do you handle a 17 year old who you have raised with love and understanding and all of a sudden they decide they want to go live with there birth parents because they say your rules aren’t fair?

gps for parenting via third-party reproduction

This is where mindfulness and resolving our own triggers can keep an issue from being magnified. For if we are able to neutralize fears within us, then we are free to focus only on the teen’s issue. As the grownups in the equation, isn’t that how we’d like to parent — to make sure our kids don’t have to navigate our issues as well as theirs?

So that’s the first thing: resolve any fears you may have about not being good enough parents, about being abandoned by your teen, about feeling unappreciated (“after all I’ve done for you”), about losing your teen to his birth parents.

The second thing is to tune in with your teen. Sometimes that’s simply abiding with him — bearing witness to his angst without question or lecture. Sometimes it’s finding a good counselor or therapist (an adoption-competent one if at all possible) to help work through knotty problems like control issues — common to adoptees, according to the Primal Wound theory — identity, relationships, self-esteem, and other things teens grapple with. Wanting to move in with birth parents may not be the actual issue, but a piece of a bigger puzzle.

(Then again, maybe it is the actual issue. Teen issues are notoriously difficult to suss out.)

Why Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is allowing  space and light  into a dark,  tight place. Mindfulness is stopping to breathe. Mindfulness is a tool that helps us open to our inner selves. Mindfulness enables us to pull out our fears and resolve them.

Without mindfulness, your issues and your teen’s issues could mix in a toxic way, with everyone reacting from deep-seated fear, everyone panicking, and with things so much harder than they need to be. If you’re in the grip of fear at the same time your kiddo is, who’s driving the bus down the craggy mountain?

Think about what you want most with your kids. I’m guessing in the top 3 would be a healthy, vibrant, eternal relationship. Are you more likely to get that by being closed or by being open?

Mindfulness brings about openness.

You can see that my response to the participant’s question is more about how to figure out what to do rather than offering actual advice what to do. In preparation to handle this very difficult situation — which I may very well face myself one day — I aim to do two things.

  1. Preserve the relationship with my kids above all else.
  2. Remain vigilant of my own fears and insecurities and deal with them so that they don’t affect my judgment or my relationship with my kids.

What do you think? What advice do you have for the parents of a teen who wants to live with a birth parent? Is that different from wanting to live with another person? Why or why not?

Other questions in this series:

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Lori Holden's book coverLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.

 

  Image courtesy of nuttakit at  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Peace I Leave With You, My Friends

Especially in light of so many polarizing events in 2014, I’m featuring this little story, retold from my teacher, Ethel, who was, herself, retelling it.

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Why Can’t There Be Peace on Earth?

A child asked at bedtime, “Mommy why is there war? Why can’t there be peace in the world?”

peace in the world

“Well, to have peace in the world, we need peace in our country.

“To have peace in our country, we must have peace in our city.

“To have peace in our city, we must have peace in our neighborhood.

“To have peace in our neighborhood we must have peace in our home.

“To have peace in our homes we must have peace in our hearts.

“My child, do you have peace in your heart? Are you always kind to your siblings? Friends? Acquaintances? Strangers? Enemies?

To have peace in the world we must cultivate peace within.”

peace begins hyper locally

I wish each of you dear readers — and myself — peace within.

And here’s my annual singing Christmas card

…delivered with a little help from my sisters.

Images courtesy Stuart Miles and supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Confession: I’m with Gwyneth

Gwyneth Paltrow via MingleMediaTVNetworkI remember seeing Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love back in the day, but I haven’t sought her out in any later movies. And until this week, I’d never even heard of her lifestyle website, Goop, much less visited it. Sure, she’s been faintly on my radar for years — she’s gorgeous, wealthy, and married to a lead singer for a band I’ve been known to sing along to. I know that together they have two kids, a bit younger than mine, and that surely they live a life of glamor and riches.

I didn’t see much that we had in common other than raising two children (unless she also sings Viva La Vida in the shower).

I was also aware that, like Anne Hathaway, Gwyneth is one of those women — seemingly blessed in all the big ways — that other women love to hate. I get it. Some of her quotes do sound blesseder-than-thou, Marie Antoinette-esque in their disconnection from the lives we mere commoners experience.

As much as I feel zilch for Gwyneth regarding most of her life, I admit that I liked when I heard that she’d said she and her husband, Chris Martin, were “consciously uncoupling.” (Although if she’d researched the “50 percent of marriages end in divorce” statistic, she wouldn’t have perpetuated the myth on her site.)

uncoupling train per Daniel SchwenOf course, I wasn’t clapping for the “uncoupling” part. The death of a long-term relationship doesn’t make me happy, especially when children are involved. I wonder if part of the uproar about Gwyneth’s announcement was the fact that she used the more uppity “uncoupling” rather than “breaking up” or “separating” or “divorcing.” Perhaps people thought she was attempting to call donkey a unicorn and think we wouldn’t notice.

But it was the other word that resonated for me: consciously.

I seek to do everything more consciously, more mindfully: Be with my kids. Prepare meals. Write. Drive. Be with my husband. Shower. Wash the dishes. Walk the dog. Really be with whomever I’m with. To do so requires single-tasking in a world that highly values — almost requires — multi-tasking. I do this in varying degrees of success. Indeed, at this moment I have 11 tabs open (plus a whole other browser!) and am simultaneously making coffee and observing my daughter play with our dog.

I’m a work in progress.

To live with intention is to go off auto-pilot, one moment at a time and then another and another and another. It requires a person to tune in and choose her words and actions deliberately over and over again. I have seen some really nasty divorces, and I applaud Gwyneth’s pledge to navigate the upcoming turbulent waters — ones that are sure to dredge up deep insecurities and fears — with mindful intention. It will not be easy.

Even for Gwyneth.

How did Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement of conscious uncoupling come across to you?

Image of Gwyneth Paltrow via MingleMediaTVNetwork, Creative Commons 2.0.
Train image via Daniel Schwen, Creative Commons 3.0.