It's the most important job we'll ever take on, but forget about winning awards or recognition when you apply. Parenting is without manuals or certification and there are no real guidelines, except, maybe, to survive.
We buy books, we Google like crazy, we seek and we search for Divine Parenting Wisdom. We pick up a tip or two and then get practiced in an approach, but often times we still have questions and lots of times we are in situations that leave us frustrated, confused and burdened. And then what?
Madeleine Scott Winter has run Hand in Hand's Parents' Intensives courses for many years. She says parents are used to going it alone when it comes to raising their kids. “It’s huge – the isolation of parenting, how hard the work is, how deeply demanding of us, and when it goes wrong, we blame ourselves,” she says.
A class can change all that. Over the ten weeks, parents unite in their worries, sharing support and solutions so that they tackle them ably. “When parents join a group, we can notice that we have struggles in common with other parents and we have a chance to see that there are systematic reasons it is hard – that it is not our fault – that we have no training and not enough support,” she says.
Madeleine says that just parents taking that ‘time out' away from the stresses offers an immediate distance that can give clarity and calmness when parents return to the family and, because of this, the class works really well in supporting parents that have ongoing concerns about their kid's behaviours.
The course combines an online classroom of video content and written materials with mentoring calls with instructors like Madeleine, so that parents get fully familiar with unique parenting tools and have a chance to ask questions and get advice in using them on specific issues.
“Parents are so brave – so honest in their desire to love their children well, and prepared to do the ‘almost-impossible’ to have things go well for their families. I love being part of this gang of dedicated parents,” Madeleine says this is why she loves running the classes. Plugging in a number, joining the online classroom, and having room to talk is a sanctuary for parents. Bonds formed in the classes by the parents taking part often last way longer than the last class offering a continuing and supportive community.
Need help parenting? Thinking of taking a class? Here Madeleine gives us an inside peek:
Why are parents so hard on themselves?
In a way, every place that we ever felt bad about ourselves looks ten times worse when we become parents – because our struggles get played out in ways that sometimes hurt the people we love and care about most – our children.
How does being part of a class lighten that load?
Parents are so isolated in the work of parenting. Coming together as a team of instructors, working with a group of parents – that really cracks the isolation. How you tackle this course depends on your challenges, but I have found that people seem to breathe a sigh of relief.
Much of the materials are accessed through an online classroom, but parents connect with an instructor during weekly calls. How close do parents get? How much support is there?
There is a real sense of a community, of parents embarking on this journey together. The discussion board is full of really pithy questions as parents get their minds around the Listening Tools and how to apply them at home in their families.
Is it a hard slog to get your A-grade? How essential is it that parents complete course materials every week?
I find that there are some parents who “gobble it up” and watch every video in each class, and that’s wonderful. But many parents need to take their time to work through the coursework at their own pace – and the great thing is that parents have access to the coursework for months after the call groups finish.
So you don’t have to cram if life has kept you busy?
The most important thing, I think, is to do the work you have to do to get to the call each week – to connect with your gang of parents every week, to give support to others just by being there, and to get the questions answered that you need to yourself.
How do you keep connection high in your groups?
Teaching the intensive keeps me on my parenting toes too. I get a lot of support for keeping my own focus on connection, and being responsible around my trigger points, from mentoring the calls. And I often have a little project of my own – lately it has been being kind to my husband!
What's your proudest moment during class time?
I am most proud when parents walk away with one or two listening partnerships out of a call group. They can go “out on their own” and maintain the emotional support they will need.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox: