One would think being immersed with Nonviolent Communication at a young, impressionable age would magically make that person an expert in NVC. Being raised around an NVC consciousness and someone modeling the communication tools surely should result in some form of imprinting…
Unfortunately, that was not the case for me. My mom started learning NVC when I was in my early teens, the time you’re supposed to rebel against anything your parents do. A Capricorn destined to be stubborn, I continued rejecting NVC into my early 20s. But somehow, someway, NVC worked it’s way into my heart, and I actually willingly took workshops, hired my mom to give presentations to my co-workers and even ended up joining the GROK team and teaching my own workshops.
When I had my own daughter two years ago, I was surprised by the cultural and habitual words I would say to her (“don’t cry, you’re ok, don’t be scared.”) I knew I was going to need a course specifically designed for parenting, and the earlier I signed up for it, the better.
And that’s when I came across the nine month long course called Parenting Peer Leadership Program with NVC masters Ingrid Bauer and Stephanie Bachmann Mattei. With a primary focus on parenting, the course is designed to understand NVC, live NVC and share NVC. The original founder of PPLP, Inbal Kashtan (1965-2014), writes:
“My dream is to have hundreds of parents around the world -- no, THOUSANDS -- living in integrity with their values of prioritizing connection in their family, holding everyone' s needs with care, sharing power, building trust, making peace -- and sharing their experiences and learning with others.”
I was so nervous for the start of the class. Committing to nine months felt like an eternity, and I didn’t feel like I met the requested experience for the course. My daughter had just turned one, and was as verbal as one year olds tend to be. Was I taking this course before I really needed to? I wasn’t going to have examples of parenting experience to contribute. My old friend self-doubt sat heavy on my shoulders.
Time did its funny thing of passing, and before I felt mentally ready, I was sitting in a zoom room staring at the faces of 20 others from around the world. Our teachers were from Canada and Italy, and my classmates were from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the US. Our classmates were moms, dads, grandparents, and even a prison pastor who wanted skills to re-parent his students. I got lost in melodic accents, colorful backgrounds of prayer flags, global artwork and even unfamiliar animal background sounds. But what connected us all was a desire to deepen our empathy and compassion skills, and share this work with our family and anyone else who was willing to listen. The vulnerability and shared eagerness transcended our differences. The “Language of the Heart” knew no boundaries.
We deep dove into NVC fundamentals, the NVC Tree of Life, healthy attachment parenting techniques, unpacking anger, conflict resolution, mediations, “power with”, role playing, making, keeping and changing agreements with care, and a rather heated discussion on the patriarchy. The coursework load was heavy, but I got so much out of it. I looked forward to each class and for the opportunity for learning and growth and the deep connection I would get from the teachers and my classmates.
This was one of my favorite handouts from the Attachment class that I printed and posted on the fridge:
After nine months, the expectation is to teach a modified, shortened eight week course to parents. While I didn’t quite feel ready for that, I did pair up with one of my classmates and we formed our own class. Using GROK cards in each class, we drew from PPLP, courses we had taken, workshops we had attended and life lessons we’d learned. It all culminated into one of the richest and rewarding teaching experiences of my life.
While nine months is a large time commitment, the material you’ll get from the course will serve you throughout your entire parenting or grand parenting journey. And you might even feel ready to test your wings and teach your own class.