I’m going to hold my hand up and be totally honest: when I embarked on the Parent Champion course, I wondered, deep down, whether this course was really going to be worth the time commitment – eight weeks of two hour sessions – required. I wasn’t really sure what to expect; indeed it all sounded a little nebulous. So I approached the course without the degree of enthusiasm it deserved from me!
After two sessions, something clicked, and I could sense subtle changes in the way I thought about many things, not simply my family life. Interestingly, the course started just as we were going through some particularly difficult issues with my oldest daughter (it’s funny how these ‘coincidences’ occur, isn’t it?!) and I am convinced that the turn-around we have seen in her is in large part due to the – very small but very significant – changes brought about by the Parent Champion course.
I was at a very low ebb right at the beginning, wondering how on earth we would manage to help our daughter. The support provided not only by the course guidance, but also by the other parents in our group, were both key to me being able to embark on a new approach. It is still hard work staying on track, and it is all too easy to slip into old habits, but it is possible – and life-changing.
My approach to the problems we were having at the time was to keep open the lines of communication with our teenage daughter. I had seen too many families experience difficulties through poor or no communication, and I was determined that this would not happen to us. However, subtle changes in me led me to ‘know’ intuitively and instinctively that I needed to be clearer in my approach to my daughter – even if she didn’t like what I had to say – rather than fudge issues as I had been doing. In addition to this, I was able to put responsibility for her actions back ‘in her court’, rather than feel responsible myself for every misdemeanour that occurred. But at the same time, I was able to listen – deeply listen on a totally different level to before – to what she had to say. We are on a different track now, a more positive one, which feels much better, and I feel much more optimistic about the choices she is making, as does she.
It would take a chapter in a book to explain the many and different changes I have observed; taken individually, they seem tiny, but it is the sum total of their combination, and the profound effect they have had, that is huge.
Some aspects were much easier to harness than I had thought they would be, for example, the encouragement to be aware of making judgemental comments. ‘Letting judgement go’ was considerably easier than I had expected – it was almost a relief, making me feel freer in spirit!
Our group consisted mainly of mums – with one long-suffering dad – and it was interesting how every single person professed to feelings of guilt at taking time out for themselves. It’s not easy choosing to do something that is all about you, when you have spent so many years thinking and planning with everyone else’s interests in mind. With practice, it is achievable, and it is truly uplifting to spend time doing something you really enjoy – which of course has an effect on your family, as you are in a better ‘place’ when you have taken time out. Indeed, they like this ‘different person’ who miraculously emerges at home!
I feel more light-hearted, as though a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t worry as much as I used to, particularly about things I cannot possibly affect – and this was a real problem for me as I used to take on the world’s heavy load, knowing, and feeling very sad in this knowledge, that I could only touch a micro-fraction of it. I am more able to accept the limits of what I can do. (Another concept I gained from the course – don’t be so hard on yourself all the time!)
And I have been reminded by the course that our thoughts cause our actions. Indeed, with the latter point in mind, I recall a beautiful and very true quotation that says: ‘Energy follows thought and thought attracts its own kind’ – something to bear in mind on those days when I am not naturally inclined to be truly, energetically positive in my thoughts. Each one of us can affect the world around us by subtle shifts in what we think and do.
All these – and many more – aspects need working on, as there are so many old habits that have built up over the years. But there is no doubt that, by following this path, you won’t simply be enhancing your qualities as a parent, but also as a person. By so doing, there are no limits to what you can achieve.
Mrs KA, Parent
Postscript: I understand that the course is for parents and children. Perhaps I have missed something, but are teachers usually included within the course framework? Are there Teacher Champion courses? At our school, some teachers have been given the opportunity of being involved within the course, but this is clearly not possible for all during school hours. The teachers’ frame of mind and their energy profoundly affect the school atmosphere, and therefore the progress of the students, so it seems to me that it is crucial that they are as involved in this life-changing mindset as us parents are.”