Recently, I visited our Saturday parenting class.
It was the first class of the series and some of the parents looked as if they really did not want to be there. Some were guarded, a few were anxious and some were closed down. Many of our parents come to us voluntarily, but we do have some parents who have been sent by the court or social services and who see Echo parenting classes as an extension of the system – the system that may have already removed their children or be threatening to do so.
Jorge, the trainer, asked parents what qualities they would like to see in their children when they became adults. Slowly, the room warmed to the theme, throwing out:
“kind to others,
“And how do you think our children will learn to be these things?” asked Jorge.
I watched as understanding dawned on the intent faces, a man in work clothes clasping and unclasping big hands, the young woman next to me finally looking up from text messaging. The implication was clear – unless we model these things in our relationship with our children how can we expect them to grow into the kind of adults we want them to be?
And what are we modeling? Intimidation, shaming, blaming, manipulation… all the things that were modeled by the way our parents interacted with us.
Toward the end of the class a woman spoke up. “I have been fighting the system all my life. I was an alcoholic and came to these classes because they took my children away. I’ve been sober six months and have two of my children with me now. I keep coming back to the classes even though I am no longer mandated because I learn something new every time I hear the information.”
As I was leaving, I heard some of the parents speak to our trainer. A man in dress pants and a crisp shirt who had been sitting stiffly beside his wife looked noticeably more relaxed. “I had no idea what to expect,” he told Jorge, “but I wasn’t expecting this. I’m looking forward to coming back.”
Observing the class reminded me that Echo’s work is quite literally life changing. Please support us with a donation and help us to continue to assist parents tasked with the most important job for our future world – shaping the next generation.
Executive Director, Echo