A Small Change, A Big Impact
by Courtney McSparron
Parents' Cafe is always a hit with our residents. I often hear stories of parents using different techniques after the class. This year brought an especially moving story to light. One resident mom, A., attended the cafe regularly and often mentioned she wished her partner and step-father to her children, M., could attend. Unfortunately, her partner worked when the class was scheduled. One Monday evening M’s schedule changed and he was able to attend the workshop. He sat and listened to the other residents and the facilitator, Families First’s Pam Bailey, talk about being open to parenting styles different from the ones your own parents used. Yelling and demanding were acceptable techniques that are now giving way to discussing and understanding.
A few days later, as she prepared her other children for the day, A. could hear her youngest son who was sprawled on the living room floor yelling that he wasn't going to school. She walked into the room and saw her partner standing over her son. She assumed M. was going to give him a ‘good yelling’ in the hopes of scaring him into preparing for the day. Instead A. saw her partner lean close to the boy and say, "Seems like you are having a tough morning, how can we work together to get you ready for school?" Her youngest reacted warmly (and with surprise), talked with M., and the two of them worked together and got ready in time for him to catch the school bus. A. pulled M. aside and told him how shocked she was at his reaction to her screaming son. M. explained that Pam Bailey's words really got to him. He no longer wanted to yell and threaten his children the way his parents had.
This story, one of many, brings to light why Parents Cafe and our other adult education programs are so important. We are never too old to learn. Learning is important to ourselves, but also all those around us, perhaps especially to our children.