Following the weekend parent workshop in Salt Lake City, one of our parents jokingly explained, “When I walked in and saw the chairs in the circle, I thought to myself, ‘Oh boy, here we go’, but now I couldn’t be happier with how the experience turned out.”
What many of them had assumed to be a purely informative, scholastic presentation turned out to be an emotionally powerful experience. The Second Nature Workshops in Utah serve a dual purpose of not only giving parents a venue to find a community of families going through similar struggles, but also a time to refocus their own goals. And so, parents had the opportunity learn why their children were selecting various “impulsive” or “maladaptive” options and how over time their children learned methods to manipulate. This came as a comfort to many parents as they were given the empowering permission to focus on improving themselves rather than trying to “fix” their children. What occurred during the weekend was a group of parents, hurting due to their child’s struggles, found strength and guidance by coming together and connecting. Participants commented that the Workshop helped guide them to the insight that their sadness has been growing because it was sourced on their child’s behaviors but … due to their experiences in the Workshop, they’d come to understand the multiple contributions: their child’s impulsivity and diminishing options but also a major component is from their own vulnerability/inability to “correct” the behavior.
As the weekend evolved, the focus shifted more towards them as individuals and learning how to care for themselves and role-model this for their families. They challenged each other to step out of the parental role and focus on their own needs and insecurities.
Parents also engaged in some of the hard skills that their children are learning in the field. Parents learned the art of bow-drilling or “busting” and were able to connect with their children through sharing similar struggles with the process: the frustration, impatience, incompetence and hopefully, the near joy at seeing an ember.
Additionally, a former student spoke about his life after the field; this was a powerful dialogue for the families to encounter a student who “came out on the other side” speak about their difficulties and eventual success. Meeting field instructors was also a highlight as parents asked questions about the routine and got a better sense of what life looks like in the field for their children. It also gave them a sense of just how caring and knowledgeable the field instructors are.
Parents this weekend found the courage to take advantage of the time and gain what they deserved, a sense of hope.
The workshop can be a special and powerful time for families searching for support and guidance. Please join your colleagues and Second Nature at the next National Parent Workshop.