This blog has been adapted from a post on Dr. Karyn Purvis’
site Empowered to Connect.
For more helpful trust-based parenting tips, visit their resources page.
To order The Connection, a 13 week small group study for adoptive and foster
parents written by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe, click here.
When people hear our kids ask, “May I
have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely
confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is
normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less
than a dozen times each day.
We began teaching our kids to ask for
compromises when our now five-year old daughter was only two. We figured that
she was old enough to have a conversation with us, so she was old enough to
begin learning how to compromise.
One thing we’ve noticed over the
years among kids who are adopted or in foster care is that they tend to have
control issues — sometimes really BIG control issues. Many kids (and parents)
struggle with control issues, but this especially true for adopted and foster
kids that come from homes or situations where most, if not all, of their world
was out of control. Sometimes these kids had to raise younger siblings,
or had to fend for themselves to find their next meal. Sometimes these kids had
to use control and manipulation to stay safe, both physically and emotionally.
And some of these kids resorted to control as an attempt to mask their
lack of trust and feed their desire to avoid being hurt, neglected, or
abandoned ever again. Control is often an “all or nothing” proposition for
these kids, and when they come to our homes they aren’t willing to easily give
up the control they’ve worked so hard to get.
In our home we’ve decided we are
going to help our kids deal with their control issues not by taking control
away from them, but by sharing control with them. Share control with our kids?
Sounds crazy. After all, we are the parents so we need to show our kids
that we are in control, right? The thinking goes that they need to respect our
authority or everything will devolve into chaos. We followed this way of
thinking for a while, but showing our kids that we were in control was NOT
working. As we tried to suddenly take all the control away from them what we
got in return were power struggles and the very chaos we were trying to avoid.
What worked, however, was a very simple solution…compromise.
The insight that helped us grasp this
approach was actually something that Dr. Karyn Purvis said – “If you as a
parent share power with your children, you have proven that it’s your power to
share.” This helped me understand that I get to decide when and how much
power to share when I offer my kids a compromise. And offering
compromises doesn’t mean that I lose control or give my kids all of the
control. It means that I teach them how to share power and control
appropriately and by doing so, I teach them an essential skill for healthy
Here’s how a compromise works at our
Me: Son, please go clean your room.
Son: (who is playing a videogame)
Sure mom. May I have a compromise?
Me: What’s your compromise?
Son: May I finish this level on my
game and then go do it?
Since that is an acceptable middle
ground I will typically say sure and let him finish the level before going to
clean his room. Of course this is an ideal conversation. Often times it goes
more like this:
Me: Son, please go get your room
Son: (who is playing a video game)
Ugh!! Can’t I just finish this level first?
Me: Whoa! I don’t like that tone.
Are you asking for a compromise??
Son: Yes.?Me: I’m listening.?
Son: May I have a compromise?
Me: Sure! That’s a good job asking
for a compromise!
Learning compromises takes practice
for both kids and parents. As they learn this skill, it’s important to
praise your kids when they ask for a compromise correctly (even if you have to
prompt them). Still the risk remains that your child might not hold up his end
of the deal. So, as you start using compromises it’s important to remind
your kids that if they don’t hold up their end of the compromise, then you
won’t be able to offer as many compromises in the future. Contrary to
what I thought would happen, my kids have always held up their end of the
compromise. As a result, we have had far fewer control battles.
By using compromises our kids have
learned that they have a voice. They know that I can’t always give them or
agree to a compromise, but they also know that I will as often as I can.
And the funny thing is that they now are able to accept ‘no’ much better
than in the past.
Remember – compromising is NOT about allowing our
kids to argue or debate with us, nor is it about losing our control or giving
them all of the control. It is about sharing power – our power.
Compromises give our kids a voice and allow them to RESPECTFULLY
ask for what they want and need. And compromises give us as parents the
opportunity to teach our kids an important way of relating that builds trust
This article, written by Elizabeth Styffe, Global Director of the Orphan Care Initiative, originally appeared in Ministry Today Magazine.
adoption plan provides the church with the perfect ministry model
At the heart
of orphan care at Saddleback Church is the desire to end the orphan crisis. We
believe every child deserves a loving, lasting, legal, lifelong family of their
own—and we believe this is doable. If every church empowered their members to
care for orphans in ways that helped and didn’t hurt, the orphan crisis could
though there are still more than 163 million orphans and vulnerable children in
the world today, little has been done yet to help orphans stop being
orphans. As a culture, we’ve spent years trying to put Band-Aids on the
orphanage institution. But children need more than food, shelter, clothing and
education. We don’t want children to just survive, but to thrive—and children
thrive in family.
we began asking ourselves, “How can we end the orphan crisis, and is there
something every church can do?” Here are what we believe are the answers to
being orphans when they become sons and daughters. At Saddleback, we’ve been
challenged to change everything about how we care for orphans and how we engage
members to care. We have two goals: (1) to end the orphan crisis; and (2) to
get every member on mission, caring for orphans locally and globally by helping
them find a family of their own.
God’s remedy for orphanhood. The church doing for orphans what God has done for
us is His solution. Because of this, we believe that if more Christians would
do physically for orphans what God has done spiritually for us, the orphan
crisis would be solved.
When we were
orphans, God adopted us. Scripture teaches that the reason God made the world
was so He could adopt (see Eph. 1:4-6). Our triune God, who needed nothing but
wanted a family of His own, allows us through the blood of His Son to share in
the rich communion as His sons and daughters (see Eph. 1). When God adopted us,
He made us part of His permanent family, so we would no longer be orphans. Even
though we were not His bloodline, He grafted us in through adoption, giving us
permanent security and a family, and meeting our need to belong. His adoption
of us is a legal process that cost Him everything. It gives us an inheritance
and the right to call Him Abba, or “Father” (see Gal. 4, Rom. 8). As a
result, at Saddleback we are in the work of reconciling people to God through
adoption (spiritual adoption), and helping children stay in their families, be
reunited with their families or find a new family through adoption (physical
There are 163
million children at risk in the world today but 2.4 billion people who claim
the name of Jesus. This means the solution for every child is a church where
all the members are caring about orphans. Churches can help orphans find a new
family through adoption. They can help them remain in their current family if
it is safe. Or they can help them reunite with their families if they are
separated (since most children in orphanages have families in the communities
but need the church to help the family become safe, healthy, and financially
and emotionally ready to care).
Care Initiative at Saddleback empowers ordinary believers to help orphans and
vulnerable children locally and globally, and it also focuses on helping
children find families. On the local level, this could mean doing several
things: volunteering to serve children recently removed from their home,
helping with sessions for people thinking about adoption, giving financially to
someone who is adopting, or caring for newly adopted children while their
families gain support. Even if you can’t adopt (and not everyone should), you
can help someone who is adopting.
changed what Saddleback does cross-culturally. We send teams to help churches
start orphan ministries that provide permanent, legal, lifelong families for
children. We don’t invest in group homes or orphanages or other often harmful substitutes
We help local
churches and governments find and equip families for adoption. The emphasis is
on solving the orphan crisis through adoption. We’re not talking about
Americans adopting (although the very small and declining number of adoptions
last year in the U.S. is evidence that more people should). Instead, this is
about helping churches all over the world legally adopt children, doing what’s
best for a child and ending the orphan crisis.
Every Church Can Do
So what can
you do to help eradicate such a global problem? Here are six things every
church (including yours!) can use to launch an orphan-care ministry:
Open your heart to God’s heart for the
Recognize your responsibility to find
Prevent children from being orphaned.
Help orphans in ways that move them out of
Affirm loving, legal and lasting families
by preservation, reunification, or adoption.
Never forget the local church is key.
approach to orphan care has changed dramatically from what it once was. Let’s
continue moving closer to God’s heart for adoption, as found in His Word. He’s given
us the perfect ministry model, so let’s embrace it. By working together, churches
can end the current worldwide orphan crisis.
printed in Ministry Today Magazine)
John was no stranger to the heartbreak of loss. The Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of his entire family, his first and second wives died, and he was left alone to care for his infant son, Daniel. Doing what he thought was best for his child, John gave Daniel to an orphanage.
10 year old Joshua’s little hands are rough and deeply scratched. These are not the typical marks of childhood play; Joshua’s scars are the result of hours spent everyday under the hot sun digging holes in the dry Rwandan soil at the orphanage where he grew up. His physical injuries only mirror in part the emotional damage he still carries with him.
A sprawling campus atop a mountainside covered in pineapples, his former orphanage looks for all appearances to be an idyllic place for an orphaned child to grow up. It prides itself on being a self-sustaining orphanage. By having the children farm pineapples on the hillside, the orphanage owners claim they are able to dry and export the extra fruit while the children learn the value of hard work.
The reality is that this orphanage has been the setting for an untold number of tragedies. Joshua recently left the orphanage, finally adopted into a home and a Rwandan family all his own. Yet every morning he still wakes up and asks his new mama and papa if it’s time to work in the field. For Joshua, unending labor is all he has ever known. When his new mother served him pineapple, he looked at her quizzically. “What is this?” he asked. His mother realized with horror that Joshua had never tasted pineapple – the fruit he had been forced to farm for the entirety of his childhood.
This month, that same orphanage on the hillside saw the sprouting of new, miraculous seeds of hope as twenty children walked off the grounds to join permanent families. After hearing about the vision of orphan care from the PEACE Plan, a group of local Seventh Day Adventist churches from the surrounding community decided that enough was enough. They spoke to their church members, asking them if God was calling them to adopt. Twenty families stepped up to answer the call and rescued a child from the isolation of the orphanage this month. Thanks to them, and the support of Orphan Sponsorship donors, twenty children are no longer nameless workers for the would-be labor camp. Twenty children get to feel the embrace of a mother for the first time. Twenty children have regained a childhood.
PRAY FOR ORPHANS
This month, join us in praying that the remaining children in the orphanage would know the love of a family through adoption. Pray that the local churches all across Rwanda would continue to lead the way in caring for orphans in an unprecedented way. Also, pray for the families that have made the decision to take a new child into their home – that God would bless the transition as they work to heal the past hurts of their new sons and daughters.
Click here to learn more about the Orphan Sponsorship program, or to become a Sponsor!
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