One of the comments that has been made of the Zenergy programmes is that they can have quite a profound and lasting change in the lives of people and in who they are. I had such an experience myself following this year’s Masterclass held in Raglan (Whāingaroa), New Zealand.
This Zenergy master class has been quite transformative on the ‘being with’ front with my children. I’m sure mine is a story that many parents may feel is one they can relate to. In my case, it relates to the responsibilities of a six, and a ten-year-old as well as my own. Mr Delightful and Miss Sunshine as I like to think of them as. They are both unique and wonderful in their own way. I feel blessed to have them.
However, before Zenergy’s Master class this year I had slipped into becoming the planner-project manager kind of a dad. (Is there a dad archetype for that?) I felt I could often be quite transactional with my children around all the logistics of school, lunches, homework, brushing teeth, bedtime battles, screen time, showers and the like of routine life. As I switched from modes of focus on work, on school pickups, food preparation, cleaning, I could certainly see myself as the ‘Project Manager Parent’. All hail the schedule, time, activity, sequencing, negotiating, reprioritising… monitoring and controlling ways of parenting. Pragmatic yes, and somewhat necessary, true. However, I felt I was slipping into a reductionistic connection with my children that wasn’t really where I wanted to be at with them.
One of the emergent themes in our Master Class was around being present. In the Zenergy work that presence is often focused on self, another, and then the group as three levels of a facilitator’s work in the Zenergy Person-Centred approach (see chapter 4 of Hunter, 2007; or Thomas 2008). Sometimes learnings like these return in new ways as we grow and develop as team facilitators – and even as co-leaders of training programmes.
‘Being with’ showed up in our master class in the wording of ‘Being here with you’. It was a core learning point. Being present in this sense is about the capacity to be and become an embodied, grounded, self-aware and self-reflecting person. It was clear to me that I hadn’t been making time to tune in with where my children were at.
Ever since the master class it’s been so much more focused on quality time. It also has involved separate one-on-one time with my children each week. For example, with my son, we just played together – bonding. With my daughter, I arrived without any agenda or activity in mind at all and tuned in. Honestly, it was incredible. She opened up to me and chatted away for over two hours with me. The difference was so transformational. I discovered a profound change in myself and also in what was available as a parent. I’m sure it’s good for the kids too!
Now, child-directed playing and hanging just for a chat aren’t always hitting the highest priority on the parenting Gantt chart. However, if you do find yourself in a parenting mode that you’re not so happy with, do bring presence to the kind of connection you want create with your child and be open to whatever may happen next.
Hunter, D. (2007). The art of facilitation. The essentials for leading great meetings and creating group synergy. Random House.
Thomas, G. (2008). Facilitate First Thyself: The Person-Centered Dimension of Facilitator Education. Journal of Experiential Education, 31(2), 168–188. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/105382590803100205
Thomas, G. J. (2005). Dimensions of facilitator education. In S. Schuman (Ed.), The IAF handbook of group facilitation: Best practices from the leading organisation in facilitation (pp. 525-541). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.