For as long as I remember, I have longed for a world in which children are safe, a world in which children are nourished and nurtured and allowed to express their essence through creative discovery. My childhood was scary and confusing, sometimes fun and sometimes loving, but mostly my memory is a childhood full of uncertainty, fear, loss and anguish.
My journey with Nonviolent Communication (NVC) began with my son who I thought was extremely bossy. When he was five, he told me “Mama, when I grow up, I’m going to be the government!” I also thought he was terribly self-centred, and I remember saying to him on more than one occasion: “You are not the centre of the universe! The world doesn’t revolve around you!” My husband and I used threats, punishments and rewards to make him conform to the daily demands of school and work life. Of course, this was how he then communicated with his friends and his little sister. Once, I was complaining about his bossiness to a friend who told me that this is simply leadership in its infancy, and I suddenly realised that if I was going to raise a democratic leader and not a dictator, then I needed to model a different type of leadership as a parent. I needed to be the change I wished to see in my children. This led me to signing up for my first weekend workshop in Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
Ten years later as my son is about to turn 16, I look back and marvel how far we have come in our family. These days, people regularly compliment my son’s empathy, his emotional intelligence, and his communication skills. I listen to my 12-year-old daughter compassionately supporting her friends when they are in pain, and my heart fills with joy and gratitude – this was a girl who, not so many years ago, couldn’t tolerate difficult emotions and would run away with her hands over her ears. I realised how much this had changed one evening when I was trying to alleviate her feelings of shame over a situation she was in and consoling her (because I couldn’t tolerate her pain). She turned to me in frustration and said “Mama, let me feel!”
These days, it is my children who remind me when I’m not being present or not being authentic with them. I have learnt to make decisions with them rather than for them. I have realised that they are sovereign beings in their own right and my job is simply to live by example and in alignment with my values and do my best to keep them safe. I believe that the rest will take care of itself. I trust that they know what is harmful and what is helpful, and that they will find their way in the world. I don’t need to shape them. I just need to see them and love them for who they truly are.
My passion is sharing the magical simplicity and beauty of Nonviolent Communication as a way of living and being in the world. NVC helps to cultivate kindness and compassion, belonging and inclusion. I can now see the real possibility of a world of kindness in which children are safe and nurtured, in which our children are supported to grow into whole, loving and kind adults. By changing the way in which I related to my children, I have been able to hopefully make a difference to their future, and to help them to grow into adults who can take this even further in being the change. This is about future generations and creating a brighter future for all.