Just recently, I ran another Better Parenting skills workshop and Gal (my boyfriend, husband, the father of my kids and business partner) was there during the first part of the day. He said to me, “This is very special. You have to write about this”.
“But if running a full day workshop took me 8 hours, writing about it might take me 3-4 days”, I said.
Gal said, “It’s important for people to understand what happens in your workshops and how they transform a group of 25 parents and change their life so dramatically”.
Gal has been saying this for a long time. Every time I showed him what people write on the feedback forms or told him stories from the workshop, he would say, “This is valuable stuff. It must be recorded and shared”.
I knew he was right, but I never had enough time to actually sit and write it down until now. I also thought Gal may be just a little biased.
Last time I ran a parenting workshop, one of the mothers (who was a system analyst and took a day off to participate) said to me “Ronit, what people say here is a treasure. You just have to record everything that happens here”. Then I realized that maybe it is more important than I had thought.
So here goes.
It was Thursday morning and I was ready with my laptop, stacks of my books, workbooks and a box full of workshop equipment and materials to set the room for 25 parents who had fought to register for the workshop booked by their school. The secretary gave me a list of 30 people and I nearly freaked out.
“We had so many people on the waiting list, including some parents who came last time and wanted to register again, but we don’t have enough room for everyone”, she said, “So we told them we would just book you again and give another 25 families a chance to change their lives”.
I smiled and walked to the school’s community room.
Next to the door stood Jenna, a mother from the previous workshop. She said she would just sit at the back and listen.
“Why are you here again?” I asked her, “I’ll be running exactly the same workshop”.
“Well, the workshop was very meaningful and I’ve changed many things since. It was like magic, just like you said. It was so easy, but I couldn’t concentrate on everything. I know this time I will focus on other things. It’s just like seeing a movie for the second time – you see things you didn’t notice the first time”.
Happy parents raise happy kids
Derek Brady, the school principal, is a visionary. His philosophy of enhancing parents’ emotional strength to contribute to their kids’ performance and emotional wellbeing was a 100% match to Be Happy in LIFE philosophy “Happy parents raise happy kids”. After the first workshop, he contacted me immediately and said, “My school is buzzing with parents in the playground talking to each other about the workshop. Some teachers who participated in the workshop said all the parents and teachers should participate”. He then booked another parenting workshop and a professional development workshop for his teachers.
I told the parents about myself and my educational journey and asked them to tell me why they came to the workshop and what they expected to get out of it.
I looked around the room and saw we had more dads than usual, which was great. Some parents were dressed casually and some more formally. Two pairs of husband and wife attended together, both working couples. The school chaplain (the most adorable person on Earth) was there with a representative from Kids Matter. There was one dad who had registered on our website to confirm his place. He had bruises on his face and some missing teeth. There was a mom who looked like she must have had her kids when she was 12, because she looked and sounded like a girl in high school.
It is always surprising for me to discover that parents are parents regardless of their age, profession, number of kids, age gaps between the kids, gender, money in the bank or the number of teeth in their mouth. They all want to be happy, be better parents and raise happy kids. Although some of them were homemakers, most of them had to take a day off work to participate.
I told them, “Your kids will thank you for making this effort”.
In case you wonder what other parents think and expect when they go to such an event, here is a list I have gathered over time:
- “I can’t seem to control my kids. I hope to learn something new”
- “My kids watch too much TV and I need new techniques to stop that”
- “I’m looking for ways to manage my kids’ behavior”
- “My house is chaotic. I need to find a way to calm things down”
- “I want to know how to convince my son not to drink and do drugs”
- “My kids fight all the time. It drives me nuts”
- “I am not managing my house. I need some tips to do it better”
- “I don’t have the time to be with my kids. Anything I can learn here will be great”
- “I have a teen and he’s hormonal. I don’t know what to do”
- “My kids are young, but I want to be prepared for their teen years and I googled you and found out you have expertise in education and teens and I hope to learn from you everything I can”
- “I want to learn how to discipline my kids”
- “My son is not doing well at school and I want to find out what to do”
- “I just don’t know how to parent my kids. I never learned to do that”
- “Too much computer time in my house. It is out of control”
- “My parents weren’t a good example and I discovered that I do all the things they did that I hated. I want to find a way to change and do it differently and it’s so hard”
- “My kids don’t listen to me. I want to learn how to make them do what I want them to do”
- “My teen daughter is going through a tough period at school. I am looking for ideas to help her”
- “I grew up without a father, so I don’t know how it is to be a father. I came here to learn how to be a good father and also hear other parents”
- “My son is not friendly and has lots of social problems and it tortures me to watch him struggle so much. He is a wonderful kid, but he just can’t seem to gel with other kids. I came here today because I read about this program and I have a strong belief you have the answer”
- “We have communication problems at home. I want to know how to communicate with my children and my husband”
- “I am in a relationship with a women who has kids and I want to know how to parent them”
- “I don’t get along with one of my kids. I need to understand him better. I hope to learn something today that will help me understand my son better”
- “My husband and I are separated and I want to help my kids survive this separation. Anything I can learn will be awesome”
- “I am doing really well and my kids are wonderful, but I came for myself. I know that if I’m happy and I take care of myself, they will be happy too. I came to learn how to help myself be a happier parent”
- “My kids struggle at school and I hope to hear something here that will help me help them do better”
- “I’m a teacher. I came to learn everything I can to help my students and their parents”
- “My wife came to your workshop and told me I must be here” (I get this a lot and usually tell the man I appreciate his honest answer)
- “Other parents came to your workshop and said it is a must”
The Ronit Treatment
The most surprising reason I got this time was from a father who was not from the school. He said, “I have a teen son and three weeks ago, I had a fight with him. It was such a big fight, I was willing to send him to a boarding school. That night, I met a friend of mine who is a teacher at this school and told her about what had happened. She looked at me and said, “You need the Ronit Treatment”, so I begged the principal to allow me to participate. I’m here for the Ronit Treatment”.
“I’m an accountant and a contractor. I gave up a paid day in order to come here today, because my friend said it’s worth it,” he continued.
By saying this, the man raised the bar for all the participants in the room. I knew the level of expectation from the workshop was high and I was very happy about it, but this took things up another notch. If you have been reading my posts for a while, you know I believe that the more you expect to get, the more effort you put in and the more you will get in the end. These parents expected a lot and now they expected even more!
I asked the group to open their workbooks in page 2 …
… 8 hours later, 25 parents left the school community room, some rushing to pick up their kids who were waiting outside. I stood in the doorway to say goodbye and most of them stopped for a hug.
As he was hugging me, one dad said, “I don’t know how it happened, but I never thought you can change in 8 hours. The person who came in today is not the same person leaving. That’s what open heart surgery must feel like. Thank you”.
If parenting is one of the most important aspects of you in life,
if you wonder about discipline, teenagers, sibling rivalry, academic achievements or social skills,
if you understand that taking care of yourself as a parent will immediately reflect positively on your kids’ behavior and performance,
if you want to give the best to your kids by having better parenting skills,
find a parenting program in your area and know that big changes can happen in just 8 hours. Hundreds of parents have done this with me and you can too. Find a program that will teach how to be a happy parent, because happy parents raise happy kids.
If you cannot find a program next to you, or if you want my program, talk to other parents, to your school or even to your HR/Training person at work and book my Better Parenting Skills workshop (available anywhere in the world).