Reaching Out, One Big Step After Another

My life is going well. My projects are going well. I run a parenting program with low-income parents. I am finding that we can't go faster with the children than the parents can handle. The parents don't have enough time to discharge in the parent support group about all the different problems and restimulations they need to discharge about. They are overwhelmed because of the class system (lack of money, lack of resource, lack of respect, generational dysfunctional patterns resulting from a dysfunctional society). They often need to just talk about immediate practical survival concerns. They don't have much slack for parenting issues. The parent support group is beneficial, and I believe that training the sharpest and least overwhelmed mothers will work well.

Providing the play group for the children is more tricky. The young people immediately make use of the attention of the adult players (our players are really good), and some show their heaviest distresses and are eager to work on them. The parents see or hear the discharge (heavy discharge of grief, terror, and rage) and are scared and puzzled by the intensity, even if they understand and are in favor of the idea of discharge. I am learning that the parents need to take the lead in assisting their children with the discharge process and that their ability to be there for that process is directly related to the healing of their own hurts.

This is all good to find out. I am going to try and set up more parent support groups where the parents figure out some way to organize their own child care.

It works well to get the parents and young people together for what I call a "play-lab," where the parents are encouraged to play with their children and give them something like special time in a supportive environment in which this kind of play is modeled by the other adult players.

One exciting possibility is developing my organization, "The Parent Empowerment Project," on a community-wide scale. Jerry and I are thinking about buying a piece of land down the street from us and building a family community center on it. We are talking with different family-oriented organizations in Eugene to see about the possibility of sharing this space communally. There is a possible zoning problem with the site, but gathering different community organizations together will set something in motion, even if the building does not work out. We might be able to rent something communally. It would be so much fun to have a building with a huge playroom where children could roughhouse without fear of wrecking anything, with an outside play yard as well as inside small-group meeting and counseling spaces. This is my dream! It is good to think big. To spur myself on to think big I am going to Diane Balser's workshop on "Building Your Own World Organization" in Hartford, Connecticut, USA this July. I have to constantly battle the old internalized oppressions of being raised poor, female, Catholic, and disabled, and being from a small country and experiencing terror from the war. It is still hard to see myself as an important person, but I keep acting on the direction that I am.

Truus Jansen
Eugene, Oregon, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00