Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

June 10, 2004

woohoo! ...parent training evaluation

Here is my little essay of thoughts upon completing the facilitation of the parent training:

My personal goal for the course was to be able to do the part of facilitation where you really listen to people and help move the discussion along or keep it on track or whatever is needed, attending to the underlying issues and each person's contributions. Previously, when facilitating this course, I felt like a slave to the clock and trying to get through all of the activities that I was supposed to, hurrying people along, etc. I had found it impossible to really listen or be involved in the actual discussions while timekeeping. I felt like I really had some breakthroughs there. What I ended up doing was mostly ignoring the clock and how many activities we had gotten through and paying more attention to what people needed and how the discussion was going. I think the problem is that I really can't do both at the same time, so I just traded jobs and it was a lot more meaningful to me, and hopefully to other people too. I was very happy about that. It seems like one of those balance things that take a lot of wisdom not to go too far in either direction, something to keep growing into.

I was wary about how the kids would do being babysat in another room of the Baha'i Center by people other than their usual babysitters. It went better than expected sometimes, and worse than expected other times. I felt really torn sometimes between wanting to listen and be with the grown ups and helping the kids have a reasonable time by their standards. Maya always got too tired for the way things were set up before the end (it ended around her bed time). Billy was able to help most of the time so that I could keep facilitating, so that helped. And everyone was flexible and helpful with the kids. And the kids really learned what was expected of them and worked hard at keeping themselves busy and happily occupied. They didn't always acheive this, but I could tell they were making an effort, and they played with some grown-ups that they hadn't even talked to before. Georgia became enamored of teenagers from Christina watching them. Carlton stole the show, making them squeal with whatever games they made up.

Now the real meat of this is that this experience changed the way I parent, the way I see my kids, the quality of my interactions with them and with Billy, made me feel more connected to the people in the group, was spiritually revitalizing, and transformed the way I see myself as a mother and as a person. The intensity of these effects was largely due to the active mode of class preparation and facilitation and how being active in one area brings me up into a higher gear in many other areas of life. And then there's the whole reformulating effect that studying the Writings has, especially when it's focused and discussions thereof are delved into deeply. It created new patterns of thinking and then behavior. And there's this great thing that's so beautiful that happened in these meetings- love was there among all the members of the group and it was doing it's powerful work of creating bonds of friendship and understanding.

'it changed the way I parent, the way I see my kids, the quality of my interactions with them and with Billy': Well this is mostly from the Family Virtues Guide, which puts a lot of what we studied into everyday practise- seeing life and tests as opportunities for growing spiritual qualities and all the ramifications of that spelled out really clearly.

'made me feel more connected to the people in the group': It's a great bonding experience to study the writings with these people- so loving and interesting, and it's great to give and recieve support about such an important topic that has dominated my life for the last 5 years in such a thorough and deep way. We didn't officially do the 'parents helping parents' section that's supposed to be in every session because I couldn't see how it would work with a bunch of people who haven't had that experience yet, but the support and solutions to problems part happened anyways. I feel like I know people better.

'was spiritually revitalizing': The action of preparing the sessions, really thinking about the people in the training and trying to adjust activities and make up new ones to fit their needs was a great mental and spiritual exercise because it put me into a very active mode working with the Writings and got me thinking about how to absorb them and discover them. This is the third time I've gone through this set of quotes in the training and I'm getting to know them better, so they're not so brand new and I can work more on trying to understand them instead of feeling surprised all the time. And this training was so good for me (in the way gummy worm vitamins are good and good for you) that it makes me want to continue working with this material and with parents and parents-to-be and learn more and more as I practise this stuff at home.

'transformed the way I see myself as a mother and as a person': Right when we got to the session about roles and responsibilities in the family I found these great websites and books connecting mothers and their experiences to the rest of the prosesses and institutions at work in society and discussing the state of things and what needs to be improved and transformed there in order for mothers to live a more equitable and reasonable life. So the Writings on the mother's role and these other ideas came together and made me see that my struggles were not mine alone but were part of how life is going for many mothers in US society and with the Writings as a balance, I could see what was just and what was unjust about it. And talking about mothers' roles as an abstract helped me detach a little from it and see myself as a person with a soul instead of a person with a baby as a primary defining characteristic.

And the great thing is that all these great processes didn't end when the training ended. What grew did not die back but stayed strong and is ready for growing more, higher, more flowers and fruit, etc. I'm excited about what's next for me in working with parents and with my own parenting.

Posted by Bahiyyih at June 10, 2004 07:04 AM

Hey, thanks for writing that, Bahiyyih. I think it will be a useful reference for future years when we look back on this particular parent training class. The class was very helpful to me too -- I've been struggling with a lot of things about parenting (hey, it's a hard job), and it really helped to read the quotes, talk, and reflect with everyone at the training. Even though nobody else was a parent (yet), they are still marvelous people, many with lots of experience with children, and with such sterling character and practical insight into the application of the Writings. I think it helped too to talk with young people who still remember their own childhoods well and who had strong-willed Baha'i parents.

Posted by: Billy at June 10, 2004 12:18 PM

I really wanted to thank you for doing the training. It helped me a lot, and in many of the same ways you talk about here. What I see here, and what I saw throughout the training, is that you are really coming into your own as a teacher. I think the best teachers are those who take into account the whole of their students, the emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual aspects, and expect transformation both within themselves and their students by coming together and learning. That really came through in the training. And now that I think about it, teaching sounds a lot like parenting. Just parenting is full time and there's no union.

Posted by: Husayn at June 11, 2004 01:37 PM