By Teresa Graham Brett, JD
We grow up believing that family relationships and parent-child relationships are merely personal experiences. Parenthood and childhood are much more than a deeply personal experience. These experiences are deeply rooted in culture and context that reinforces control, power over, and domination in our culture.
When we are able to put the experience of parenthood and childhood in the broader context of socialization or enculturation we can begin to bring to consciousness the unconscious world-view that harms our relationships with each other and ultimately creates disconnection, separation, fear, and mistrust.
This program will help focus on understanding how we come to have a particular frame-of-reference, or world-view, about parents and children What we often refer to as the collective story of parenting in our cultures. We will examine all the experiences and messages we received that form the foundation for our actions as parents and our experience of parenthood.
In order to create and live a new vision of parenthood and childhood, we have to be willing to use processes that critically reflect on what we believe to unique individual experiences in the broader context of our cultures.
We will also increase awareness in your own process. Using moments when you are triggered, you will have the opportunity to bring awareness and consciousness to your parenting process. You’ll learn more about how triggers offer opportunities for growth and learning as a human being.
We will focus on issues of control and how as a parent you can begin to reduce your need to control. We’ll understand how control of children a social constructed mandate, one that is not necessarily rooted in science, neuroscience, and research. You’ll look at your own experiences in childhood where you had no control over your life to create deeper understanding of the impact of that loss of control as an adult.
We also will explore increasing your time in the here and now as a means to interrupt the cycle of control and rewrite the story of parenthood. By examining how fears of the future and ghosts from the past impact you, you’ll gain greater insight into the importance of presence in your parenting. Presence and mindfulness are effective tools for liberating you from fear that is rooted in cultural views and experiences.
Our purpose in exploring what influences us as parents is to increase our understanding of how we have been socialized to view childhood and our role as parents. The process of creating relationships with children based on trust, respect, and empowerment begins with critical examination of what we were taught as children and ultimately what assumptions, beliefs, and values we internalized as a result.
When we are moving beyond paradigms of parenting that focus on control and behavioral outcomes, to liberation-centered parenting that focuses on trust and respect, we must understand the ways our thinking and behavior have been influenced by our culture and social institutions.
Even if we already rejected much of what our mainstream culture has offered us, and have chosen alternative parenting paradigms, we still need to look at the underlying assumptions and beliefs of those paradigms. If they are fundamentally rooted in control and behavioral outcomes, they are harmful to creating connected, empowering relationships with children.