The Connected Parent

“The Connected Parent: Real Life Strategies for Building Trust and Attachment”
By Karyn Purvis, PhD. & Lisa Qualls

I highly recommend that you read “The Connected Parent.” This book was specifically written to help adoptive and foster parents care for traumatized children, but it is filled with excellent, biblically sound, practical advice for how to connect with the hearts of children. This compassionate and practical advice is helpful for parents with children of any age and would also be helpful to any grandparent in their interaction with grandchildren. As we parent, it’s wise to regularly read new resources to freshen up our outlook on parenting. Regularly reading new material will cause you to re-examine blind spots in your habits and perhaps give you new possible solutions to particular points of struggle.

This book is written as a two-part conversation between Dr. Purvis and Lisa Smith. This book represents the culmination of Dr. Purvis’ remarkable life and work, but it was not completed by Lisa Qualls until after Dr. Purvis’ death from cancer. Dr. Purvis cites and explains the scientific research-based reasons for each of her conclusions, while Qualls explains the practical outworking of each principle in a busy home.

The entire book focuses on ‘Trust-Based Relational Intervention.’ The important focus that jumps off the pages to me as having been so essentially true in raising our children, is the vital need for connection with your children. As parents and grandparents, we must authentically connect with the hearts of our children. As we care for, train, educate, and direct our children, along the way our heart as a parent must truly connect with the hearts of our children. This is difficult to quantify, but every parent or grandparent knows what distance or nearness feels like. Dr. Purvis instructs the reader in a clear, compelling, and personally experienced way how to make these connections with traumatized and struggling children. However, the advice she gives is also generally helpful to parenting, even if you are not raising a particularly traumatized child. 

The authors write about:

  1. Empowering: They begin by speaking to the basic science of nutrition, hydration, food, and sensory input. If a child’s nutrition, hydration, and stimulation are all wrong, the parent is fighting an uphill battle in connecting with their child and correcting problem behavior. Simple steps are given to help correct some of these major imbalances.
  2. Connecting: Parents meet the connection needs of their child by focusing on the relationship in every interaction. The goal is not behavior modification in the child, but first establishing authentic relationship between parent and child so further parenting guidance is possible.
  3. Correcting: This part of the book is specifically focused on traumatized children. Standard parental discipline is both ineffective and inappropriate in the lives of most traumatized children. Dr. Purvis speaks to the fear and detachment of children that are trying to protect themselves from further hurt. Disarming this fear is vital, so the child can develop trust with the parent and through relationship enjoy a balanced childhood.

You may not be parenting a traumatized child, but many in our church are. We want to be a church that constantly is working to care for orphaned children. We want to demonstrate the sacrificial love of Jesus by helping the weakest and outcast of our society. This will involve everyone at Redeemer grasping these concepts to a certain extent. Everyone needs to read a book like this to develop compassion for traumatized children and to take even a few small steps toward knowing how to care for and react to children with these needs.

This book does not cover traditional aspects of discipline. It’s not an all-encompassing parenting book, but it’s extremely valuable for those that feel detachment from their children and are struggling with how to bridge that gap.

“And calling to Him a child He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea … So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” —Matthew 18:2-6, 14

May the Lord help us as parents to love our children well that they may each come to salvation,
Pastor Vic

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