30 participant turned up for my workshop on parenting on Sunday, lured in part by the possibility that their child can be ‘fixed’. It was the biggest workshop attendance of the festival with parents from all walks of life, including some of the teachers I’d presented to on Wednesday. I began by asking them to break into groups and to write a job description and person specification for parents, including renumeration, benefits and retirement age. The exercise worked as an ice breaker and the energy in the room reflected the level of engagement.
I then took them on a whistle stop tour of the stages of child development, discipline styles and parenting styles, before asking them to consider alternatives to physical discipline. It was a very interactive session with passions running high at times. Even the camera man who had been silent in all the other workshops felt moved to make a contribution. I was allowed to let the session run on beyond it allotted 90 minutes because of the interest generated. It was heartened to observe the level of involvement by the men in the workshop, and to see that they were seriously reevaluating their own style of parenting, looking at it through new eyes.
The feedback from some of the participants who accosted me later included:
1. Realizing how big the job of parenting is and how ill prepared they were for it.
2. Using the stages of child development as part of the disciplining process, rather than relying just on the age of the child.
3. Validating what they were already doing well as parents and grandparents.
4. Never considered before the link between physical discipline (hitting children) and domestic and other types of violence.
5. Should have been longer.
6. Helpful to think of parenting from a point of love, not fear.
The public health promotion officer asked if I’d be prepared to conduct an interview on Radio Montserrat so that the messages of the workshop could be made available to a wider audience. Happy to.
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