I started on the parenting journey like most parents, thinking that I knew enough and it couldn’t be that hard. I came from a loving family and figured I knew the basics. When my son was first born I threw myself into the attachment parenting literature and decided that was definitely the path for me. The books had assured me that if my child had a good attachment, he just wouldn’t have the need for crying. But my son did! He cried inconsolably as a baby, waking up every 45 minutes overnight for 18 months, and he was unsettled. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong and didn’t know how to help him. As he became a toddler I was horrified that my gentle approach to parenting had fostered a child whose behaviour included bitting, hitting and hurting other kids. I didn’t want to be punitive, but didn’t know how to set limits with him. I knew I didn’t want to shame him, but also felt so embarrassed in social situations and my mental health was not great. I felt so alone. I constantly had the feeling that I was doing it all wrong. In 2012, while heavily pregnant with my second child, a friend of mine encouraged me to do the Hand in Hand course. So I did. My life immediately and dramatically changed.
I found that the Hand in Hand tools enabled me to know what was going on, why it was happening and what I could do to help shift things. Finally I had found an approach that resonated with my values and offered practical support and suggestions for what I could do to help my child with the feelings behind his behaviours. Importantly I had the opportunity to reach out as a parent, to share and release my own fears and worries and struggles. Within two weeks of doing the Starter Class I had seen dramatic changes in my son’s behaviours. He could have water splashed on his face without panicking, he could put a t-shirt on over his head without being in fear. I realised these powerful tools were working to help him heal from old hurts and fears so that he could be the person he really is. It was these old fears that had led to his aggressive behaviour, and now I knew how to help him. My husband also did the course with me and the dynamic of the household shifted, as he became a more hands on parent with a renewed confidence. Things became easier, more playful and fun. Still, 5 years later, there is not a day that goes by where I am not grateful for learning these tools! I can see immediately when my children are disconnected and have a range of tools to use to offer connection and healing to my kids.
What I love about this approach is that it offers true healing to both parents and children, and in the process empowers us all. I didn’t realise how much I underestimated children and how much society encourages parents to intervene and impose solutions on children. I love that I now can hold space for my children to work through their own fears, sibling rivalry and life’s challenges and resolve their own issues through connection, rather than direction, from me. Kids are amazing! Learning to be vulnerable myself, to reach out and connect and heal with other adults has also enabled me to offer so much more to my family.
For years now I have been talking about Hand in Hand to so many people and referring them to the course and hearing back about the amazing shifts they have had in their families and relationships. Since I can’t seem to stop talking about it, I figured I should go ahead and get certified to teach it. This is a huge passion for me and links also into my academic career in social and environmental justice. The principles hold across so many contexts.
I am loving teaching the Hand in Hand approach and sharing these simple, yet healing and empowering tools with other families!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or +61427102696.