Changing the World for Generations to Come

Excerpts from a letter that Marya Axner, the International Liberation Reference Person for Parents, recently wrote to her constituency


Congratulations that you are a parent. The deep connection we parents have with our children strengthens our awareness of the magnificence of life and the loveliness of the universe. We have the awesome job of guiding and caring for our young ones as they grow from babies into children and then into teens and eventually adults.

Our children remind us every moment of the nature of reality. They love with all their hearts. They are eager, ready to play, creative, and curious. Their access to the discharge process demonstrates to us every day the basics of Co-Counseling. And we get to love them with all our hearts. It is okay that we love them as much as we do. It’s helpful to have lots of Co-Counseling sessions on how much we love them. We will be working on our early struggles at the same time, and that’s just right.


As parents we are the folks who care about, protect, teach, love, guide, and shepherd the next generation of human beings. No work is more important, yet parenting is an unpaid job. To survive, we have to put a lot of time into earning a living and meeting other challenges. We have to squeeze our parenting in between our work and sleep. Patty Wipfler1 has often stated that parenting is given the same economic status as having a hobby or owning a pet. This lack of recognition and support for parents is one of the main ways that parents are oppressed.

Parents are part of a larger community of workers, paid and unpaid, all of whom are being squeezed to keep the system going. Our liberation is tied to the liberation of all other workers.


The current economic system is not neutral to families. It sucks resources from families. Defenders of capitalism rationalize its existence with a set of values and assumptions, such as, human beings need to function at all costs; children need to become “independent” from their parents; some children have “chemical imbalances”; children need to be “taught” to be good; people need a lot of material goods to be happy; if people work hard, they will make enough money; if a child has a problem, it is the parent’s fault; and so on. These assumptions, built into our economic system, are founded in distress. They are in opposition to what we know in RC to be true.

It’s helpful to understand what we are up against in the current period, so that we don’t blame ourselves for how tough our job is and how inadequate we feel as we try to create a culture based on connection and meeting real human needs.

As capitalism takes its last breaths, it becomes harsher toward human beings. Families have to work harder to get basic needs met. Some parents don’t have jobs, and some families have lost their homes. Schools are becoming more disciplinary, less flexible, and have fewer resources. Racism, sexism, and all the oppressions have a sharper edge. People are more insecure and frightened. Even those of us who have jobs and places to live are impacted by watching friends, relatives, and neighbors struggle. No one is immune.

In RC we understand that nothing is more important than cherishing, respecting, and caring for human beings; meeting everyone’s basic needs; and prioritizing connection, intelligence, and cooperation. We understand that it is a priority to build communities that stand against racism, classism, and all the other oppressions. We understand that we need to fight to have sessions and build support groups so that we have the attention we would like to have.

The society today will tell us at every turn that our work is not important or that we are doing it wrong. (These messages are often built into the society’s structure and are therefore hard to notice.) It won’t applaud us for fighting for what we know is right. We have to figure out how to fight for it using the tools of RC and building support around ourselves.

The RC work we are doing in our families, extended families, neighborhoods, and beyond is creating the infrastructure for a new culture and a new system. As our current economic system falls, people are more eager for help and more open to the ideas we have to offer. As parents we are lucky to be in the position we are in today.


Our relationships are our greatest resource. The more we can contradict isolation by reaching to get help, the better. Sometimes it is hard to prioritize discharge and connection, but they are key to having the kinds of lives we want for ourselves, our children, and our partners. We can’t do this project by ourselves. Reaching to pick up the phone and call one of our Co-Counselors, or leading a parents’ support group, is a quick way to get the help we need to be able to think about our children, partners, and allies.

Each of us parents hits rough spots with our children. When that happens, we need to get the help necessary to shift things and find a new perspective. Doing this is truly revolutionary!

In our support groups we get to show what’s going on2 in our families—the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s great to cheer each other on for our heroic journey as parents and what a great job we are doing. It’s also great to be able to talk about what’s going on at home. Go ahead and paint a detailed picture. You get to tell all the gory details about your day. What is wake-up really like at your house? Who is yelling at whom? What kinds of struggles do your children show that you’d like to hide? Do you worry that they are self-centered or bullies? Are you and your spouse having a particularly difficult time? What is nighttime in your family like? Who has addictions?

When we know that others have a picture of the reality of our lives, we have more safety to go after3 the early hurts that are at the root of what gets hard for us. Go ahead and use your job as a parent to re-emerge completely from those hard spots. Why not? Your love for your child is going to shovel up all those yucky feelings that you hoped never to look at again. What a great opportunity. Don’t be bashful or hesitant about having lots of sessions and mini-sessions.


Luckily for us, almost everything we do as parents has wide-world impact. Every time you let your child discharge, you are making a profound difference. People around you take note.4 When you give instructions to your babysitter, listen to the parents of your child’s friend, give your perspective to your child’s doctor, or talk to your child on the bus or at the grocery store, you are teaching others RC.

The more you are able to fight for yourself and your family and be confident in what you believe, the more people will want to follow you. This may happen when you stand up for your child in the principal’s office, or on the playground or the soccer field. If it makes sense for you to take on5 bigger challenges, you can lead a group of the other parents you’ve listened to over the years, take a stand against racism in your school system, or fight in your religious institution, or on your school board or city council, for correct policies for all families.

Many people will get interested in your thinking and ask questions and follow you. Others will not immediately be pleased with you. They may disagree with, criticize, or attack you. That’s okay. They will still notice what you are doing and will chew on what you have to say.

I recommend that you counsel on people criticizing you for your parenting. I will lend you my confidence that you are doing an heroic job. You can remind each other that you are good parents every day. Also, whatever you are doing, it is enough. No need to heap guilt on yourself for not doing more.

Eliminating racism is the first goal of the RC Communities. It is also central to parents’ liberation. Whether we and our children are targeted by racism or are in the oppressor role, it doesn’t take long to understand how racism impacts our precious children and ourselves. We can notice this heartbreak, discharge on it, and support each other to stand against racism.


It is okay to notice daily how fabulous you are. The reality is that you are that fabulous. You are important. Your children love you deeply—and their love is steady and forever. Even during the teen years when they may not express their love in the way they used to, they love you deeply, and trust you to know that.

We are changing the world for generations to come. There is a trajectory of change that begins with each of us loving our children with all our hearts, and it spreads out forever. Please remind each other of this when you doubt yourselves.

Parents’ liberation is a movement, and we need every one of us to be as powerful as we can be. We are going to change everything.

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA 

1 Patty Wipfler is the former International Liberation Reference Person for Parents.
2 Going on means happening.
3 Go after means pursue discharging.
4 Take note means notice.
5 Take on means undertake.

Last modified: 2014-10-18 00:57:58+00