Bringing a Child to an Adult Workshop

The following is an answer from Marya Axner, the International Liberation Reference Person for Parents, to a question on the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of parents.

Our policy is that we generally don’t have children over two years old at adult RC workshops. This is because we don’t want to act out young people’s oppression by having young people at a workshop without the program being built around them—something that is very much like how the rest of the world is.

This is why we invented family work as a way to offer RC to young people. We’ve designed special time, playdays, and family workshops to fit young people’s needs. These formats help us think about young people and put them at the center. They are also re-emergent for adults, and they move the whole Community forward.

At adult workshops we sometimes make an exception and allow children under two years old to attend, so that they can be close to their parents when they’re at an age when they need close, regular contact with them. It also allows parents to come to a workshop during a child’s first two years.

To have a child under two at a workshop a parent needs to bring a caregiver who already has a relationship with the child and who is also not someone the parent met through Co-Counseling. This person could be another parent, a relative, a friend of the family, or a paid caregiver. She or he should be familiar enough with RC to not be restimulated by hearing the discharge process.

The parent needs to spend a good part of the workshop with the child. This keeps the child from getting confused and having hurt feelings, and it lets the caregiver take breaks. Because the parent spends time with the child, being at the workshop is not the same as being there without the child. It might be good for parents to discharge on this ahead of time.

The workshop site has to allow for the child to have a room or space away from where people are having sessions—as it can be scary for young people to hear loud yelling or heavy fear discharge. Also, since the child may need to discharge in the middle of night, she or he needs a sleeping room away from the rooms of other workshop participants. If these spaces aren’t available, it may not work for the parent to bring the child to the workshop.

You said something about possibly having two children at a workshop. That would be challenging and most likely not workable. The child under two would need to be with you for a chunk of time. Then the other child would also want to be with you. It would be hard to participate in the workshop in that situation.

We need to counsel parents on the feelings that come up as they figure out childcare. It would be good if someone had a workshop job of giving parents time, well before the workshop, to discharge and think about childcare options. (Parents also need help thinking about childcare so that they can have Co-Counseling se``ssions and go to RC classes. It might be a Community job to listen, and get others to listen, to parents so they can discharge and think about that.)

At the workshop, a participant can have the job of being an ally to the parent who has a child there. She or he can act as a liaison between the family and the workshop, communicating to the workshop what it should know about the family and communicating to the parent what she or he should know about the workshop.

The ally can also help the parent think about problems that arise, but he or she is a limited resource for the parent and is not a counselor for the child. If it makes sense to the workshop leader and organizer, the ally can invite other workshop participants to be with the parent and child during meals or breaks, but no one is obligated to do this, and the parent gets final say as to who spends time with the family.

The oppression of parents is rough, and I realize things are especially hard for single parents. I’m glad you’ve been able to go to some workshops and been able to participate in the Community.

Marya Axner

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

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