“I was lucky to get involved with Hand in Hand (then Parents Leadership Institute) when my children were aged 6, 3, and just-born, over twenty years ago. I was in quite a lot of stress, as we were trying to cope with joint custody for the two older ones, attachment issues for an adopted child, and anger issues for another one of the kids.”
On days when it's hard, when you've listened to tantrums long and deep, when you've heard “I hate you,” more than you can stand, you might think, Is this all worth it? What am I doing here?
When you are tired of explaining to others why you don't yell or give punishments, and even you find yourself wondering how this respectful listening approach can “work”, long-term.
Know that it does.
Listening to children, responding calmly and openly, can seem like a giant leap for parenting. It does, for many of us, feel like we are doing something so radically different. The knowledge of the brain science behind the tools has only been begun to be recognised in more recent years. Yet, if your goal is long-term, lasting connection and close relationships with your children as they grow, Hand in Hand has seen that power of transformation over four decades, regardless of age, race and class.
“One of the moms who was a regular at a parent support group many moons ago just contacted me to say that her kids are all doing great, thanks to the support she got and the skills she learned,” says Hand in Hand's founder Patty Wipfler. “She's now coaching her youngest son on listening to his girlfriend's young child.”
Here's what that mom had to say:
“I was lucky to get involved with Hand in Hand (then Parents Leadership Institute) when my children were aged 6, 3, and just-born, over twenty years ago. I was in quite a lot of stress, as we were trying to cope with joint custody for the two older ones, attachment issues for an adopted child, and anger issues for another one of the kids.
I had my own grief I was carrying around, and there was serious friction between my husband and his ex. I felt like I was in a pressure cooker all day.
Patty Wipfler's ideas came as an incredible gift! They are so loving and wise. I immediately knew I was in good hands.
I learned to welcome tantrums, as once I knew all I had to do was listen and love, the children could express their frustrations and return to their sunny selves quickly. My children even started to help each other when one was in a tantrum or distress.
Special time became a beloved ritual for all the kids. My youngest was once asked how he knew his mother loved him, for a Mother's Day pamphlet his kindergarten created. He answered, “Because she gives me Special Time.”
Parent support groups were amazing for helping me to alleviate my stress, and feel clear, strong, and ready to keep going. Another invaluable aspect of the classes was that my husband and I gained a shared philosophy and language for raising our children.
Today, these kids are 22, 25 and 28. They are all pursuing very different careers, each marching to their own drummer. They are all close with both my husband and myself.
And most importantly, in my view, they are all kind, caring people who are constantly reaching out to help others, each in their own way.
My children are engaged and whole. I don't know what more I could ask for.”
— A grateful mother, El Cerrito, CA