Two weeks ago I gave a talk at the local Middle School. The topic was helping parents to learn a few communication techniques that would enable them to communicate more effectively with the pre-teens and teens in their lives. We had a packed house including many couples which was great to see, since it always helps if both parents and/or all caretakers are on the same page when it comes to how you want to approach raising your children.
As I shared a few of the techniques from Dr. Thomas Gordon's book, Parent Effectiveness Training, including; avoiding Communication Roadblocks, Active Listening and Problem Solving versus punishment, parents shared a few of the communication challenges they were encountering. As each parent shared their story there were many nods of acknowledgement from the others in attendance. For many the change from elementary school to middle school had brought with it new relationship dynamics in addition to academic concerns, challenges getting into new study and homework habits, social challenges that seemed to change depending on the day and the list goes on.
From my vantage point in the front of the auditorium I could see the looks of relief on their faces as they realized that they weren't the only one experiencing these challenges. So often we are watching from the outside and wondering how everyone else is coping and often assuming we are alone with the parenting challenges we inevitably face.
As I reflected on the evening it dawned on me that one of the most rewarding aspects for those in attendance was realizing that they are not alone. We are all doing the best that we can and we could all use the opportunity to share openly and receive a bit of non-judgemental help navigating our parenting roles.