|Beyond the Consulting Room - Page 7|
The Putting Family First leadership group came into being that night. A dozen parents, representing a wide swath of the community, went on to develop a Putting Family First Seal of Approval for local organizations that offer activities for kids, and a Consumer's Guide to Kids' Activities, a handbook that rates all the community and school sports programs on the family friendliness of their schedules. The key to launching this initiative was the public event that captured the energy of the community and got them working together creatively.
Use Your Clinical Skills
During the night of the public launch event for Putting Family First, I learned how to combine my skills as a therapist with my new citizen-professional role in a public forum. When the discussion veered toward bashing coaches and community leaders, I interrupted with the speed of a family therapist witnessing a session heading south. "I don't think anybody is setting out to hurt kids," I said, "and I know that there are a lot of competitive pressures on coaches and parents alike. In my view, we're all part of this problem, and we can all be part of the solution." This made sense to most parents and became a mantra for the Putting Family First initiative: no villains.
Another key moment for a quick intervention came when two parents uttered a couple of classic energy deflators for a public meeting. A woman sitting in the front declared self-righteously, "This is all well and good, but we're preaching to the choir. It's the parents who aren't here who are the problem." Then somebody added, "There should have been three times as many people here tonight." As I watched heads nodding, my heart sank momentarily.