By Paige Trevor
Angst, inspiration, change, feeling stuck, solutions, confusion—it’s all there in a PEP class. One brave participant brings up a problem or concern and we grapple with it, dissect it, generate possible solutions, new perspectives, and a little light of encouragement and humor shines down on all of us. When parents hear and empathize with one another and share what they know, the circle of understanding and creativity expands.
This is the power and energy in a human group. We now have access to all the information, ideas and inspiration we could possibly consume on the Internet. Parenting classes are online, and I know there is something delicious and freeing about learning in your jammies and I do understand we all have limited time. That said, I believe there is reason for this group, this human interaction, to live on and not be forgotten or cast aside in the wake of online convenience.
Magic happens as we make room for someone we don’t know to sit next to us. Serendipity abounds as we learn the person lives in our neighborhood, or went to our college or knows our aunt.
And, when we are all together in person we can do fun things, like role play! In PEP we know people learn in a variety of ways, so we talk, we show slides, we read books and handouts, we assign worksheets, we put you in small groups, and we role play. Love it or hate it, it’s a powerful way to learn.
Last week we role played training kids how to crack eggs. I am always surprised by something the volunteer “child” does. They inevitably throw (figuratively and sometimes even literally) something new at me. PEP provides effective training for dealing with the unexpected, as one of our mottoes is, “Have the courage to be imperfect.” This means if the demo goes terribly wrong I am not made smaller by it; my worth isn’t caught up in doing the perfect training demo. I know I can stop, laugh and say, “Oh, that went differently than planned. Let me tell you what usually happens.” And off we go into an interesting and lively discussion.
The demo stayed on the rails and the “child” wowed us all by trying and, successfully, cracking an egg with one hand! We learned from the role play that training isn’t telling the child what to do. Training does not concern itself with the end product. Those eggs were not for cooking or consuming, just for practicing. Our kids are worth the $4-ish a whole dozen eggs cost to learn how to crack eggs for the rest of their lives.
Training occurs when parents have ample time. Children are invited (not required) to be trained. Training asks first what the child already knows how to do. Parents are there to observe, to notice and sprinkle in nifty tips when required or asked for. Training provides time and space for the parent/child relationship. It builds on strengths instead of attempting to fix, control or change.
I, for one, went home and quietly tried to crack an egg with one hand. Another truth learned at PEP: the parent gets just as much, if not more, out of the training than the child. How great is that?!
Paige Trevor is a certified parent educator, writer, public speaker and founder of Balancing Act, LLC, an organizing consultancy providing tried-and-true methods for establishing efficient routines and a peaceful household. She is the mother of two teenagers.