Natalie and I packed up and trundled off to Oakland all day both days last weekend and underwent the 14-hour training to become certified Positive Discipline Parent Educators. Huzzah!
It was a wonderful and potent experience. We studied technique and material for helping parents learn about the concepts of Positive Discipline — and not just learn about them, but feel them to the bone. In fact, the main take-away from the training for me was very much about the powerful difference between just hearing an idea and actually stepping into the perspective to which it relates. Even principles to which I’d already felt wholly devoted became richer and more poignant because I spent time tasting the quality(s) involved.
I’ll give you a perfect example. At one interval, our certified PD trainer, the wonderful (and very pregnant 🙂 ) Heather Cantero, solicited brave volunteers and walked us through an activity where two participants sit in the middle and role-play being children simply repeating the phrase, “I’m a child. And I just want to belong.”. Those of you who’ve been to a PD course that used this activity will know what I mean when I say that part alone, regardless of the other parts of the sketch, is enough to bring any parent to tears (or at least to his emotional knees…). But then, twice as many volunteers (the poor sods) circle the two in the center who are repeating the phrase above, and speak harshly to them, and use intense, raised voices to toss out “parentisms” (as Heather called them). It went something like: “Why don’t you ever do what I tell you?!” (“I’m a child and I just want to belong.”); “You’re so unreliable!” (“I’m a child and I just want to belong.”); “Sit up straight! Don’t put your elbows on the table! Chew with your mouth closed!” (“I’m a child and I just want to belong”). On and on it went, way longer than I would be comfortable letting it go as a facilitator, long after I myself had looked away several times and began fanning myself with my shirt to stave the heat rushing up my neck into my face and prickling into tiny beads of sweat at my hairline. I think I even said under my breath, “That’s enough…that’s enough…”.
Afterward, Heather also walked us through the recovery that she always has the participants do in the courses she facilitates with parents and teachers. We all needed it. And we could all feel the palpable poison in the neuro-emotional veins of the room getting pumped back out and reprocessed into a deep, deep knowing… I can’t even articulate what it is. “Something something all those times I…” and “Something something belonging…”, mixed with a little “Something something I want mine to feel sure…”, and a “Bottom line communication something something…”. It isn’t a set of phrases; it’s a bedrock feeling. A feeling of wanting to do better by my girls in communicating their welcomeness at all turns. A feeling of recognizing where we’ve all failed and been failed. A feeling of fierce protectiveness of all the world’s children, even us. A feeling of tenderness for the whole Earth; and of hope; and of love for everyone…
Now I could and probably will try to deliver the message of that sensation to every workshop full of parents that I lead from here on out. I could/will try to just tell parents, “Look — your kids are only ever seeking to secure and sustain a sense of belonging and significance with you and in this world. Period. So make certain that everything you communicate to them carries the message you want them to have about how much they belong (in your eyes) no matter what they do or say, nor the thoughts, feelings, or responses they may illicit from you. Make sure they know and feel that you always already love them no matter what else you need to do, say, or teach — and at the same time! Make sure they know they belong no matter what else is happening.”. But regardless of how well I craft my phrases, regardless of how expertly I deliver my lines — I could never say anything like the feelings I had sitting there watching the run-through of that role-play activity. It was even doubly removed from reality — a how-to rehearsal of a two-minute improvised skit — but it punched me in the heart in a way that I will never be able to forget.
And that was just one of many life-tweaking moments from the weekend. And again, we weren’t even going through the actual course, we were just going through the training on how to teach it…
We’ve come away from it energized and inspired to say the least. Both days on the hour-plus drive back home after class, Natalie and I debated and distilled, between plotting and planning, before and after swearing and sharing our “mosts”. We’d picked our alignment with the Positive Discipline Association intentionally because we were amazed at how well the PDA’s message matches our own (even though we’d known nothing about each other when creating those messages) — but we were floored by both how well the two independent systems matched, as well as the important complements that we both offer to each other’s ideas. I believe it’s the beginning of beautiful relationship!
And, of course, you’re all bound to benefit from that collaboration as well. 😉
So there you have it. I’m official! An officially certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator! And an official official of the Positive Discipline Association, as well. Congratulations, self!
I also feel like I got another round of the “certification bug”. I love the training experience so much — even though I hate hate hate it — because it moves and challenges me and draws me out of my own inner world of thought and feeling, welcoming me into brighter, fuller vistas and deeper knowing. I come away from a weekend like that exponentially more dedicated to my core values, filled up with my purpose, and ready to rewrite future history. And whenever I get a taste of more knowledge, more wisdom, more tools, more love — I always get caught-up, and like 18-month-old Echo used to shout, I “Need more ‘mation! Need more ‘mation!”. I want to know everything worth knowing. I want to feel everything worth feeling. I want to share everything worth sharing. Benefit everything. Nurture everything. Love every thing.
There’s nothing (next to my children, of course…) that I value more than learning, feeling, and sharing. I’m hooked and hungry. Looking for my next hit. Totally addicted to growth and process. And I hope I never kick…
Follow your blisses, loves. Follow your blisses!
And be well.
P.S. Anyone interested in more information on the PDA or the basic tenets of Positive Discipline (maybe you’re like me and you bristle/d a little bit at the name…?) — here’s a link to the PDA’s site.