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Family Therapist Examines "Empowered Parenting"

Saanich News, May 2000

An Interview with Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Victoria Child Family Marriage Therapist

Interviewer: Paul you've called your course for parents Empowered Parenting. What do you mean by that term?

Paul: I mean our right as parents to an ease and natural effectiveness in our job as parents. To be "empowered" is to be nurtured in our relationships with our children in the face of the demands and responsibilities. To be in the experience of love with our children. That is what the course is all about.

Int: Are you suggesting that parents are struggling in their job of parenting?

Paul: Yes, all too often. Sure, we know we love out children. Yet there is something happening in our present-day understanding of our job as parents that has us entangled, " caught up" "working so hard at it," somehow. We feel enormously responsible for how it all turns out. We are so closely invested with our children that we can lose our balance; we are so often in "reaction" with our children.

Int: Why do you think this happens?

Paul: We all began our family life with clear hopes and dreams about being a parent. It was going to be easy, fun, rewarding. Personally I had this vision that parenting was going to be so easy that I would just be celebrating my relationship with my children. I would be a darn good parent. They would love me. And that would be it.

What a surprise I had. Even with all my direct experience and expertise with children as a professional, there was something very different about being with my own. Parenting turns out to be the biggest job of our lives. It brings incredible surprises and unexpected challenges. We are so close to our own children. So attached to how it is all turning out. That's where our relationship with our children begins to include so much personal "reaction." And when we are in reaction we are stuck somehow - we are labouring, fixing, solving, correcting. Whatever we do from the state of reaction is not very satisfying and not really very effective with our children.

Int: And you assist parents with this?

Paul: Yes, the Empowered Parenting course teaches parents about recovering their sense of balance and clarity with their children and in their job as parents. And they have fun while they are doing it.

Int: What then happens in the course?

Paul: First of all, we explore the various causes of "reactions." We take on the question, "what gets us so entangled at times with our children?" And we see certain things as a result.

For example, let's say as parents we react to something our child is doing, something he or she is not doing. Most of us fail to notice it is not what he is doing or not doing that puts us in a reactive state. It is what we make the behaviors mean that stirs the fears in us.

We are not just responding to our child with his or her untidy room. We are reacting to our idea that if he does not learn this now "he will never be a responsible person!" Understanding what produces reactions allows us to become disentangled.

Int: What else do you explore in the program?

Paul: In the course, it becomes clear that so many concerns around our children can be released. In our day together we learn how to do this. Parents see that without being driven by concerns they can still act spontaneously, effectively, and responsibly. There is a simple and natural authority in our actions right in the moment we find ourselves.

Also in the course we see that there are different expressions of love. There is the kind of love that expresses itself with our children by meeting needs, taking care of them. There is another kind of love, an empowering kind of love, in which we're simply enjoying another person's unique way of being in the world, delighting in the way they and life are moving together.

We all remember this when our children were little. The "Wow!" at how absolutely perfect our tiny baby girl looked as she slept. The excitement at our little boy's first step! The thrill of their first words. Or when a front tooth came out, right on schedule. Something is happening here that is bigger than us as parents. It's all there for us to see.

And it is awesome. Wonderful. We get to see the magnificence and the uniqueness of our children. We delight in their victories and their challenges. It's a love in which we marvel at their developing growing skills and the unique gifts they bring to life and to our lives.

This is a powerful kind of love. And along with it, there is an ease. This experience of our children is beyond reaction. And when we are not in reaction we can respond creatively. There's a sense of certainty and clarity in the moment. Not force. What we do is authentic and right. It's feels good and works naturally. We can all recall having moments like this. In the workshop we learn to more readily access these moments. This is what I am calling "Empowered Parenting."

Paul Beckow is a trained individual, marriage, and family therapist with over 20 years experience. If you have a relationship and/or family concern, write to him c/o Victoria Family Institute, 4046 Century Rd., Victoria B.C., V8X 2E4, e-mail him at pbeckowLETSTALK@shaw.ca., or call 250 721 2477.

For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.

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