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Posted by April O’Neil

Let’s take a glimpse into a parent-child connection. Picture this... a young girl is bubbling over with joy about something that happened at school.  Upon returning home, she bursts through the front door and screams, “Mom, you won’t believe what happened today in math class!” Mom is busy preparing food for dinner, looks up for a moment to say hello, only to cast her eyes back down as she continues cutting vegetables to toss into the pot of boiling soup.  Her daughter is spilling over with excitement, eager to tell her story.  Squealing with delight, the girl begins describing how her math teacher highlighted her as an exceptional model to the rest of the class, and chose her to represent the school at the upcoming regional math competition.  Even with her more than enthusiastic delivery, the young girl notices that her mother’s eyes are cast down on the cutting board, and no matter how hard she tries to create engagement with her earth-shattering story, her mother remains disconnected and uninterested.  From time to time her mother glances up, but by the time her daughter finishes recounting her moment of celebrity in class, she feels rejected and de-valued.  Her mother’s detached body language, and minimal eye contact, deflated this girl’s confidence and left her feeling dejected and heartbroken.

We were made for connection.  Without connection we fall victim to loneliness and indifference.  Without connection, love cannot take root. Trust has no foundation to grow.  Hopes and dreams are broken.

Had this mother stopped and offered her undivided attention, this precious child would have preserved her happiness and felt validated and loved.   

Today at the pre-summit intensive, Karyn Purvis Ph.D, and Elizabeth Styffe RN MN taught us that authentic and Christ-centered connection is rooted in attunement to another, with empathetic connection to their history and pain.  In the parent-child relationship, this tender-loving regard for a child’s individual perception of felt-safety and our ability to give them a voice and disarm fear is the key to building trust and attachment.  It’s the relational connection that uncovers deep hurts and offers a blanket of acceptance to a child who yearns to be loved. It means the way in which we parent can heal. Parents who adopt children that have survived hard places can learn empowering principles that will lead their child out of shame and fear and into a thriving landscape of hope and faith.

During this year’s Summit, don’t miss the opportunity to purchase the unprecedented and newly published curriculum by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe. It’s called Connection:  Where Hearts Meet.  This 13-week video curriculum is a practical tool to use as a couple, small group or with your entire congregation while supporting adoptive and foster families in your community.

To learn more about Dr. Karyn Purvis’ Trust-Based-Relational Intervention research and programs, please visit: http://www.child.tcu.edu/default.asp.

April O’Neil is a mother member of Saddleback Church, a mother of 4, two of whom were adopted from Russia as siblings when they were 14 years old.


Interested in an interactive small group study designed to help you and your child build a lasting, loving connection? Check out The Connection.



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