“You mean you already had THE TALK, the birds and bees one?” Susie’s mom asked.
“Well, yes, I had to have the talk because my daughter was relentless,” I said. “She wouldn’t stop asking for an explanation, so I told her.” My daughter was six years old then when I attended my first Parents in Action Parent Talk meeting with about 40-plus parents (mostly moms) in my daughter’s grade.
At the start of the meeting, the two facilitators shared two important things: the Parents in Action Mission (partnering with parents to promote effective communication as the key to bringing our kids to a resilient and healthy adulthood) — and the Parent Talk ground rules — to honor confidentiality guidelines and to refrain from discussing the school administration, or sharing specifics with others who were unable to attend the meeting. The rules and the mission together created what was, to me, a sacred space in which, grade-by-grade we could talk about all things concerning us as parents.
As a group, we debated, commiserated, discussed and learned from each other in the course of the hour and a half meeting, which was for me like a group therapy session. My kindergarten parent peers were so passionate about their children too; it made me feel closer to them.
And, I was HOOKED. I loved the group’s frankness, varying points-of-view and best of all, the knowledge that I was not in this parenting thing alone. Others were dealing with overscheduling and bedtime issues, too.
Eight years and eight Parents in Action Parent Talk meetings later, our topics have become more involved and sometimes sensitive, but it never ceases to amaze me how the facilitators of these meetings keep the discussion flowing, seamlessly intervene when necessary and capture the essence of the talk in their wrap-up summaries.
Becoming a facilitator is a privilege and an honor. It means Parents in Action trusts him or her to run and manage a meeting. The facilitators I know personally say it is a great way to keep a hand on the parenting and independent school community pulse, and to stay in the know.
With over 250 Parent Talk facilitated meetings in the participating New York City Independent Schools each year, Parents in Action is always seeking interested and engaged men and women volunteers to become Parent Talk Facilitators. It’s a great opportunity to be involved, learn new skills, connect with others and give back! If interested, read more.
I remember smiling to myself when I left that first meeting, thinking I must communicate with my child about sensitive topics a bit more than other parents in her grade, and after the last meeting, it’s clear that I still over-communicate with my daughter, as compared with others. I believe in the saying, ‘Information Is Power,’ and I’d rather arm my daughter with more information than less. But that’s me. Thanks to Parent Talks, I know there are always other perspectives, and that other parents may not agree with my generous “information sharing” approach. And that’s okay.
So, thank you Parents in Action, for helping me be in the know, and for so much more.