By Karen Minihan
I had seen the posters advertising ‘Parent Plus, Ages 6-12’, hanging around the village for a while. Although I had thought it would be a good idea to attend a parenting course, I never took the step of making enquiries or, more daunting still, booking in. Then the small note arrived in the school bag. I read it a few times and put it aside. The night before the course was due to start I came across it again and thought I’d not bother going, we’d be fine.
Why did I even consider it? Because I was tired of the same arguments, silly things about going to school or helping out at home, the storming out, raised voices, that sort of thing. Not desperately bad behaviour, but very tiring for me. And what would the communication be like in my children’s teenage years if this was the way things were now? As they became more confident and knowing?
So I went on the first Monday morning in March and I knew five of the six other women in the course and one of the two facilitators. Seven parents in total, striving to find strategies to deal with our relationships with our children for two hours a week over eight sessions.
During that time we were given a booklet and watched some very helpful videos of parents handling situations. We also had homework to do, implementing ideas and noting any changes in the interactions between ourselves and the members of the family.
Central to the process was the discussion between us about our situations and sharing our own experiences. It is a space to raise what you are comfortable with sharing, sometimes looking at specific issues that arise. Especially important is that there is no judgement on our way of being a parent, there is respect for each person within the group. It was immediately accepted that each person and family has their unique way of organising their family life and that a parent is the one who knows their child intimately.
Linking in, with other mothers in particular, was an enormous help to me in the early days of my children’s lives. This applied here too. What was common between us was the love we had for our children and the need to find strategies to deal with the tensions of life.
That is what the course brought to me, simple steps to take when situations arise. One such step was ‘pressing the pause button’, stopping before I react to a situation, becoming calmer and not becoming involved in emotions as I face an issue. Consequently, I address it in a better frame of mind.
Actually, the central message for me was to look after myself. If you, as the Mum or Dad can be as well in your mind and body and as calm as you can be then you are more likely to avoid ratcheting up the energy of a dispute and then follow the other steps that are suggested within the course.
These steps have made a huge impact on my family. I see my children responding in a different way, having skills that will serve them well in school and beyond.
I think you have to be brave to take the first step. As the saying goes, there is no manual when you bring children into the world. Living in this fast-moving pace of life it is fantastic to find caring support.
It is the HSE that runs and sponsors this fantastic programme for a nominal fee of up to €5. The courses cover Ages 0-6, 6-12 and for Teenagers 12 plus and are held all over the West Cork area.
For any enquiries contact:
Bantry & Mizen: Contact West Cork Development Partnership at (027) 52266
Beara: The Caha Centre
Skibbereen: Family Resource Centre (028) 23572
Dunmanway: Family Resource Centre (023) 8856 818
Clonakilty: Traveller Centre (023) 8835039