In Mumbai, India, there are rarely any places where parents can go to offload tensions and get answers for their parenting worries. There are few parenting workshops or support groups.
So, when Dipali Ved began learning Hand in Hand Parenting’s empathetic parenting approach she knew she had something to share. “There is really a dearth of understanding, appreciation, readily available support and a larger community to support parents,” she says.
Setting Up Parent Workshops for Mothers in Mumbai
Dipali set up a host of parent-child communication skills workshops that focus on fostering respectful empathetic communication between parents or teachers and the children they care for.
It hasn’t always been easy. One of the main challenges is to have people actually attend these talks.
“Parenting is considered to be low priority and people most often look for quick solutions to problems. The workshops I facilitate require an investment of time to read and understand, parents need to invest time to connect with their children and also look beyond behaviour,” she says.
But, she is seeing real changes in her community.
A New Way To Listen and Communicate for Parents in Mumbai
In India’s long history of patriarchal society, which is only now slowly changing, mothers have been expected to take the lead in raising children. Many of the women that Diipali works with have challenging lives and have to work to make ends meet.
Hand in Hand’s approach helps mothers see the role they play in parenting begins right with them.
The workshops Dipali runs focus on them putting themselves on their list of priorities and dealing with guilt and raising assertiveness. “I have made that transformation to my own life and have seen many women do that too. I would think of this as a transformation to an age-old mindset,” Dipali says.
Aside from four Hand in Hand Parenting tools that Dipali shares to help parents handle common parenting challenges, from tantrums to sibling rivalry, she saw a real need to introduce one tool designed to offer support to parents. This tool, listening partnerships, practices an active listening model that makes space for the moms to share the worries and concerns they have in a peer-supported environment – with other parents.
“They all work together, commute to their homes together, speak Marathi, the local language, and understand each other’s struggles well. I thought of introducing this tool so they would know how to release their daily frustrations with each other before they got home to their children,” Dipali says.
Creating a New, Supportive Environments for Parents in India
She set the sessions up using games and ice-breakers that lightened the mood with movement, laughter, and fun and then demonstrated an unhelpful listening model, where she interrupted, advised and otherwise negated a volunteer’s current parenting challenge. After modeling a more useful way to listen, highlighting how it’s helpful to offer full attention and support over advice and judgment, each mother partnered and shared their own issues for two minutes each.
“They felt light telling someone how they felt and happy someone had the time to listen,” Dipali says.
Because it can be a challenge for parents to adapt to methods so different from the ones they grew up with and still surrounding them, Dipali has begun offering monthly parenting meetups. She sees parents thriving.
Families Thrive When They Have Support and Strategies
The tools impact parents in numerous ways. By paying attention to their triggers and sharing them with a listener, they learn to prioritise and be kind to themselves. They begin to understand the effects of yelling and blame, shaming and spanking and find new strategies to use that work. Mothers find renewed confidence in their parenting role, while strengthening their relationships with their children.
“Parents I connect with tell me that they have learnt to see their child in a new light, to create and enjoy “moments” with their child, and to understand that behind every behaviour is a feeling and that they can to learn to look for that feeling,” she says.
Dipali’s mission is to spread an understanding that children are “absolutely fine the way they are,” she says. “We, as parents, do not need to control them. Rather we need to enjoy and cherish our moments with them. And there are methods available in the world to do that,” she says.
“As I go on with my Hand in Hand certification training, I can see so many outlets like hospitals, schools, and daycare centers where these tools can be immensely valuable.”
Dipali Ved is a Certification Candidate with Hand in Hand Parenting.
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