We have come along way since the days when the kindergarten nativity was acted out to an empty room as no parent ever attended it. Since starting Parents School, a monthly meeting of parents with children in our projects, there has been a huge movement in attitude and sense of responsibility. Importantly parents now engage with their children, value their education and health, and aim to be better parents in the future.
PARENTS SCHOOL MEETINGS – Latest Report
The parents’ meeting was about Hyper-Protection. We wanted to address this topic with the parents because we’ve found out that some of them have manifested features of hyper-protection towards their children. We wanted to make them aware that not letting children do things on their own, (to dress and undress, feed themselves, to take care for their life, to wash themselves, to contribute to the house work – and thus to acquire, through repeated exercises, the abilities absolutely necessary for his / her autonomy) leads to disability.
Parental care is natural and beneficial (to prevent the child from accidents, illness and suffering) but it is counterproductive, when it’s in excess (=hyper-protection).
We have differentiated protection from hyper-protection by giving them the following characteristics:
- Protection means love, freedom, exploration, knowledge, care, advice, child’s happiness, a suitable environment for him to fully develop.
- Hyper-protection means control, emotional blackmail, aggressiveness, manipulation, making decisions for the lives of others, suffocating with rules, doing well with force, selfish love, constraint, ending with an emotionally disabled child.
The hyper-protective parents treat their children as perpetual babies, incapable of developing and knowing who they are and what they want. They do not let their children have initiatives, opinions and preferences or seek solutions for themselves for their own problems. The main theme that the parent repeats is “mother knows better what you want” or “what’s good for you”. The child cannot find his inner voice, he does not perceive himself as a person separate from his mother and father. It is predisposed to fuzzy problematic relations, can be easily assaulted, dominated and intimidated.
The hyper-protected child grows like a mute prince/princess, convinced that the world was born to please him; he is deprived of initiative, of self-help and becomes selfish, fearful, anxious, insecure and powerless person, always blaming others for his deeds and not accepting any responsibility.
The purpose of parents is to “train” the child for life as he grows, to help him gradually become able to live on his own and operate independently.
At the meeting, there were 20 parents attending. They participated in discussions stating the problems they face in raising children. A mother acknowledged the excessive/sick care she has towards her two boys, and the fact that she never lets them decide what they want, because “she knows better”. The effects of hyper-protection can be seen in children’s poor behavior, which were recognized by the mother. To help her, I gave her the presentation material to read it and recite it whenever she needed it, to reflect and put into practice the tips and help lines.
Evaluation of the parental education program
developed by the organization “A Future Changed”
The evaluation of the program was carried out by Mrs. Onisoru Lavinia and was structured on three dimensions: past, present and future. We present the review of the evaluation questions, some of the participants’ answers and their interpretation.
- Past. What did you think about the parental education program when you learned that it would take place? How many of you attended the parents’ school from the beginning? How did the program look like after the first meetings?
Most respondents claimed that they have been participating since the parental education program began. At the beginning, they did not know what parental education means, but they thought they would discuss about their children and the issues that arise in their education. Parents said that they enjoyed the first meeting a lot and enjoyed the fact that the meeting was different from the meeting at the state school. “I thought I was going to a parents’ meeting and Mrs. D. will tell me what my children were doing at the kindergarten” (GM, mother of 7 children);
- Present. What are the reasons that made you come here? How do you find the lessons? What did you learn about? What is some of the information you learned and you could apply in your family? What changes did these things brought to your family?
The main reasons given by parents for attending parental education meetings are “we want to find out new things”, “we learn how to raise our children”, “we get help” (42 years old, 9 children). “There are interesting meetings” (48 years old, mother of 5 children), “there are moments when we can socialize” (36 years old, mother of 7 children) “these meetings personally relax me” (32 years old, 4 children), “we get rid of children and we do more [at this meetings] than just cook food, clean and care for children “(42 years old, 6 children).
Parental education lessons from their point of view are useful, easy to understand, interesting, they understand the lessons and take them as good advice for their families. “They are good because they help us see the other side of things” (41 years, 8 children), “there is information about the family” (25 years old, 2 children) “new things, easy to understand” (27 years old, 4 children), “the lady speaks about how to raise our children” (36 years old, 7 children).
The main topics discussed were “how does a healthy family looks” (30 years old, 6 children), “about children and their education” (27 years old, 3 children), “about conflicts and their resolution” (42 years old, 8 children) “How to prepare the child for school” (35 years old, 6 children), “get the child to school… why we should bring him [to school]” (36 years old, 7 children), “how to treat our husbands” (26 years old, 4 children) and others.
Most respondents believe that these lessons have been useful because they can be implemented. Some parents were helped to have a better relationship with their children, to better manage a conflict, do more for the home, and others through this lessons have gained more knowledge: “you know I had a problem with D. and she was not talking, she was introverted and behaving strangely, but since we did what the lady taught us in relation to the children, it’s better” (26 years old, 4 children), “if you want to listen, any person can learn from these lessons, the lessons are beautiful” (36 years old, 7 children); “Maybe you do not need them for the moment but this information remains in your memory and when you have problems, you remember and it helps you solve the situation” (38 years old, 6 children), “I started to not get angry so much”(27 years old, 4 children), “I learned a lot about how to educate my children” (31 years old, 2 children).
“Madam, if you want to do something, you do it; I and my husband made a fountain in the yard, even if it was hard but I did not gave up, as Mrs. D told us, that if you really want a thing, you must push forward to get it”(43 years old, 3 children), “even if we do not always realize it, there are changes [due to the lessons] … “(32 years old, 4 children).
- Future. What lessons would you like to explore with more depth? Would you recommend this parental education program to other parents? If so, why?
Of the lessons that have been presented, most parents have said they would like to learn more about how to teach their teenagers because they have problems with them, how to communicate in the family, how to get a job, how to discipline their children appropriately.
Most of them expressed the wish to continue attending these parenting lessons. “I have problems with A., she’s a teenager and I do not know what to do with her, I’m arguing every day with her, I’d like to talk about how to solve my problems that I have with her” (32 years old, 4 children), “I would like to talk about how to make D. to be more funny and obedient, he only does misdeeds” (26 years old, 4 children), “I would like to find a job, but I do not know what to do, where to go, I would want some help “(41 years old, 8 children), “about children” (31 years old, 2 children), “How to improve my relationship with my husband” (36 years old, 7 children). Most respondents said these parenting lessons would be good for those around them, for those in their family, neighbors and other people they know. They recommend them and even tell other [family members and neighbors] what they’ve learned in meetings.
At the meeting were 19 parents who have children in our socio-educational project.
How to find joy in family
For the family to be strong, it must be united, and without love and joy, without self-sacrifice, the family will not last. I wanted to talk to the parents about what brings joy and fulfillment in family because we too want to have in the project, united and strong families that give birth and raise good and happy children who will successfully face hardships and trials in life.
At the meeting participated 15 mothers, who were initially invited to draw their own family. The goal was to become aware of the current state of their own family: a family united with the husband near the wife and the children close to the two, or a disorganized family with its members drawn all over the paper, as if no one had any connection between them, or the father of children having the size of a child and the mother who declares “for me he is like a child, he’s a puppet,” a mother who drew only a few of the children asking “but do we have to draw all of them?” and others …
After a brief explanation of the drawing and the position of the mother and father within the family, I began to present the topic on the following ideas: There are three types of love: 1. “I love you if” – you do what I like … (egoistic love, untrue); 2. “I love you because …” – you are beautiful, you have a good job, you are smart, etc. (but when someone else gets better, more beautiful, smarter what will happen?), or the inability to show your defects because of the fear of not being loved therefore living in dishonesty, in superficiality; and 3. “I love you, despite what can be found in your depth. I love you no matter what changes you are going through, I love you and nothing more” – this kind of unconditional love, no matter of the other’s behavior, can be experienced only by a complete and fulfilled person, by a mature soul / spirit.
They have the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to be imperfect, the courage to show who they really are.
When we do not have this courage (but we have weaknesses – certainly, because all people have) we NUMB OUR FEELINGS with alcohol, food, medicines, movies, cigarettes, etc. But the problem is that we cannot numb selectively. If you numb painful feelings, you also numb joy, gratitude, happiness, and then we feel miserable and we look for meaning.
Solution: Love sincerely and unconditionally. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Show your weaknesses and accept the others as they are, with good and bad. Give yourself to others without expecting anything in return, with kindness, and the others will imitate you soon.
Society and the media provide us with a false description of love – a cheap, unrealistic love that does not last in times of trouble that does not self-sacrifice that does not forget herself in order to bring joy to the loved one. There discord, selfishness, scandals, deception, adultery are patterns that we copy and apply unconsciously to our own family. Or it gives us a perverse happiness…
After this invitation to honesty and true love in their own families, the parents were presented with the 5 main languages through which people express their love: 1. The words of encouragement; 2. Time granted 3. Offering and receiving gifts; 4. Services; 5. Gentle gestures.
The mothers admitted that they wanted for their husbands to express their love in a certain way, but they offer something else, but also that their husbands want their affection and time, and they are tired after having spent the day with their children, having made food and cleaning, etc. … and cannot offer it anymore, so they distance themselves from each other, looking for joy outside the family.
Finally, the present wives were asked to write three things for which they are grateful to their husbands or their marriages. Interestingly, many of them said they cannot be honest and tell to the spouse that they are grateful to him, although they were able to write on the paper and recognize his qualities.
We have encouraged the mothers / wives to make an effort to open up and be sincere to their husbands, to appreciate them in order for their relationship to become a strong one.