A year or so before I discovered The Connect Child : Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family, I had already theorized that fear was the root of my son’s illogical and maladaptive behavior. I strongly believed that if I could help him to avoid shifting into “fight or flight” mode, I could reason with him. Then maybe he might risk trusting me to keep him safe. What I did not have was professional help or at least a family with the same theory and “been there, done that” experience to guide me—until I discovered this book.
The Connected Child is divided into 12 chapters:
- Hope and Healing
- Where Your Child Began
- Solving the Puzzle of Difficult Behavior
- Disarming the Fear Response with Felt Safety
- Teaching Life Values
- You Are the Boss
- Dealing with Defiance
- Nurturing at Every Opportunity
- Proactive Strategies to Make Life Easier
- Supporting Healthy Brain Chemistry
- Handling Setbacks
- Healing Yourself to Heal Your Child
As the title suggests, the entire premise of the authors’ approach and philosophy is that parents must meet their child where she is at right now, making every attempt to positively connect with her and reiterate that she is safe and lovable. This is achieved through a variety of factors, such as identifying and disarming the fear response, setting clear parental boundaries, responding with sensitivity and compassion and promoting healthy brain function.
Throughout the book, parents are reminded to continually be working toward connecting with their child, drawing her close for nurturing and helping her to feel a sense of “felt safety.” A lot of time is spent on emotions, feelings and nurturing. Nutrition is also explored as a key to healing and connection because a healthy brain is crucial for learning and development. They suggest that parents look at misbehavior as a learning experience and to avoid taking it personally. In fact, there is a chapter devoted to setbacks and how to see progress amid them. The authors even suggest that parents reflect on their own past and how it effects their own ability to cope, attach and respond to their child.
The size and style of the font make the text easy to read, and inclusion of bulleted items, checklists and text boxes help the reader not only move quickly through down the page but also help with skimming when searching for a particular piece of information. Before the index at the end of the book, there is a section called References and Resources with a comprehensive list of the authors’ sources for each chapter. Most are professional journals, but any reader with access to them can read for themselves the studies and literature the authors’ cite in support of their position.
Applying the authors’ suggestions requires patience, flexibility and the being proactive. While this may be difficult for some parents, it is possible. Mistakes are okay, and learning from them is key. My copy of this book is well-worn from using it as a daily reference, especially when I made mistakes or forgot what the authors suggested in a given situation. It was a great "pick me up" whenever I was discouraged and helped me to resolve to keep on trying. Even after all my previous readings, I learned from it all over again when I reread it for the purpose of writing this review.
I have read a lot of books on parenting in general and adoptive parenting. There are few books that I recommend highly, and this one tops the list.
The Connect Child : Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family was published by McGraw-Hill in 2007. Two of the authors, Karyn B. Purvis, Ph.D. and David R. Cross, Ph.D., are the Director and Associate Director, respectively, of Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development, home to the Hope Connection™ camp. Dr. Cross is also a professor in TCU’s Psychology Department. Wendy Lyons Sunshine is an award winning journalist.
You can find The Connected Child : Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family at your local library or favorite book store. You can also read a complimentary copy of Chapter 4 on the website for TCU's Institute of Child Development.
Buy The Connected Child : Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family on Amazon.com
Note: I purchased this book with my own funds for my personal use.