by Ben Wright, Echo Parenting & Education Staff
When I take my children places, they will almost always end up playing with other children. As often as they do it, it still amazes me. The connection doesn’t always happen, but when it does it’s not a big deal to them — they just say “Hey, you want to play with me?” or they sort of fall into a natural rhythm of playing with someone else. My children expect connection from people, especially children, because they have experienced it from us AND that expectation is also a great model for us as adults.
Much of the job of parenting happens in isolation and play can relieve some of the loneliness that parents may feel. When fun is involved, playing with our children gives us implicit permission to connect in a way that otherwise might make us uncomfortable. When we can enter the world of play, we allow ourselves to relax a bit and soften our defenses.
Play also gives us time to relate to other adults – either while playing with our children or watching each other’s children play together. In fact, one of the Five Protective Factors is that parents need to set up time together to interact socially. However, building social connections is something that we often put on the back burner, especially when we’ve made the commitment to focus our attention on our kids. Establishing connections between our families, friends and neighbors is necessary to our emotional well being and help us with our practice of nonviolent parenting. Organizing play days, family events or day trips with friends are fun ways for parents spend time with each other as well as offer the opportunity for both emotional, informational and material support.
Echo Parenting & Education offers many community events with these needs in mind. So we hope to see you this Sunday, March 30 for for some fun and connection at our Dance Party (taking place from 2pm – 5pm at The Echo – 1822 Sunset Blvd.) Tickets and information here. You can also buy tickets at the door for the same price. Or if you can’t swing the full amount, we’d still love to have you on the dance floor (just email Azucena). We’ll have pizza, a bake sale and ice cream, as well as arts & crafts.
Maybe you can’t make it Sunday…we also have our annual Festival of Childhood on Saturday, April 26 from 1pm – 5pm. For those who haven’t been, it’s an open-air street festival (on Reservior Street in Echo Park) featuring arts & crafts, food and performances for the whole family. It’s a day when families can experience the possibility of nonviolence in the world! The Festival of Childhood is held in conjunction with The Day of the Child, National Child Abuse Prevention Month and International Spank Out Day. This free outdoor event especially for children offers a variety of creative activities with messages of self care, supporting child development, and nonviolence. We hope you’ll join us — let us know by RSVPing!