Friday, February 18, 2011

Everyone needs community--even dads!

We’re getting ready to go on our cruise and by the time this is posted, we will be out in the Caribbean somewhere basking in the sun and each other’s company.  I’m heading out on The Consciously Parenting Project’s first cruise retreat with some of the most amazing parents- ever.  We haven’t left the port yet as I’m writing this, yet something interesting has been happening with my husband.  You see, some people that I met in person over a year ago needed a place to stay before the cruise.  My husband agreed that they could stay, but I could tell he wasn’t really excited about it.  But being the good husband that he is, he humored me and took my word for it that he would like them.  What has happened since they arrived?  My husband has found a friend.

My friend and I were reflecting on this very topic last night.  Moms just do what they have to do, in general, to find other moms to talk to and share their lives.  Dads have it rough.  It seems that they have to find another reason to get together- like drinking beer or something.  But what has been happening here in my house when two dads were together in the same room has been heartwarming and truly what everyone has been needing.

I’m really excited to see how all the families come together this weekend on the Carnival Inspiration, especially if we haven’t even made it to port and there is already this much connection.  We have several dads who are coming along with their families or their wives, so I can’t wait to see how they are able to connect with each other.  They probably aren’t going to expect this to be good for them, too.

If you’re a dad, how do you connect with other dads?  If you’re a mom, how does your husband connect with other dads?  Have any positive stories to share?  I’d love to hear them.  Next week, I’ll give you an update about how things went on the cruise for the moms, dads, and kids who took a voyage on the Carnival Inspiration!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Can I help you create a virtual community of support?

Comment from reader: I have really looked to find other parents who believe in parenting from a conscious place and I’m just not sure they exist in my community. I know that finding others in person is the best plan, but what can I do to get support now? Any suggestions?

This is a really great question and one that I hear often from parents- moms and dads from every corner of the globe. Recently, I have received many requests for opportunities to connect with other like-minded parents. I personally have had much success finding support from online groups, as well as over the phone. When I didn’t have a strong local support for whatever I was dealing with OR I didn’t necessarily want to open up to someone I might run into next week at the grocery store, the computer seemed to be a great place to start to look for support.
2008 Consciously Parenting Retreat in St. Pete Beach, FL

A couple of years ago, a group of parents from around the world came together for a tele-class I taught. There was a mom from Australia and a mom from Oregon. Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, and Florida were also represented. Most had adopted children. All were interested in learning more about trauma - their child’s or their own - so they came together for that purpose. When the tele-class ended, no one wanted it to end. Even though I had no more curriculum ready to teach, I said that I would figure it out and offered to continue to open the space for them to come and discuss their challenges and ask their questions, so we continued to "meet" over the phone. After a little while, they learned to really listen to and support one another, and they each grew from being able to support someone else.  They had support when they needed it.  When I had a live retreat in 2008, all but one (who had recently lost her job) came from around the globe to meet one another - to meet these people they had never met in person before, but who had changed their lives forever.

That experience moved me. Who knew how powerful talking on the phone once every two weeks could be, along with a private space for questions and conversations in the meantime? And each of them grew in ways that they didn’t know they could. The each knew that no matter what they needed to bring up, they would have listeners who could hear what they needed to say without judgment. Isn’t that what we all want?  To be able to say what is really going on with us instead of just what we think someone else wants to hear?

So I’m considering starting another venture like the one I just mentioned, with parents who are wanting to come together and talk on the phone once every two weeks with opportunity for a private forum for discussions in between. I’m looking for a group no larger than 8 people who are wanting to learn how to apply the principles of Consciously Parenting to their lives. You’d need to be willing to take a look at what is going on in your home and to support others in doing the same from a place of love, honoring that everyone has their own journey. This group will be moderated and guided. If it would be easier to start with a class to have a basic foundation of information, I’m happy to do that, too. This group will be open to parents with children of any age, and families of any size, shape, or story as to how you became a family. The glue that holds us together is the fact that we are here to parent consciously and to look deeply at our stories. Tell me what you need and let’s figure out how to create it!

The cost of this venture will be minimal, at about $50/mo, which is less than one hour of consultation with me. A sliding scale is available if you have financial need.

What do you think? Would you find such a group helpful? If so, what appeals the most to you about it? If not, what would help you more?

Next week, I’ll be on my way to Cozumel, Mexico on the Consciously Parenting Project’s February cruise! I’m looking forward to some sun, and some time to play, relax, and connect with some of the most incredible families on the planet who are all excited about being warm for a few days! I’ll tell you all about it when I get back!

P.S. I’m also working on a more in-depth program for those who would like to dive in deep. This would involve training over the phone/internet monthly and two in-person groups in the Tampa/Clearwater area over about a year’s time. This would be perfect for those who are looking to really do some deep work themselves and/or for those who are professionals supporting other families in any capacity. Let me know if you’re interested in something like that, too!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Where Do You Find Your Like Minded Friends?

I had just moved to a new town and didn’t know any other parents.  The weather was hot -- way too hot to take my 18 month old to the park -- and I stopped by a consignment shop I had seen while I was driving around.  

While I was there, wandering around with my 18 month old exploring the child play area, another mom came in with a girl a little older than my son.  Our children started playing together in the play area and soon she and I began a conversation.  It turned out that she had recently moved to the area, too, and was looking for help with her daughter.  Thus began a long friendship of mutual support.  Even though we both later moved, we still kept in touch through our subsequent pregnancies, job challenges, and life’s surprises.

My friend, Tamsen, and I didn’t make all the same decisions regarding our parenting, but we found that we were both parents who cared a great deal and went out of our way to do what was best for our children.  We were great support for one another and our families enjoyed each other’s company.  Who would have thought that would be the case with someone I met at a children’s consignment shop seemingly by chance?

Do you have any stories of how you’ve met other parents or people who became a good support to you?  Let’s inspire each other with the interesting ways that we find each other!  What’s YOUR story?