How having an ‘energetic connection’ affects parent-child relationships
I work as a family coach, and although I am not a counsellor, or a psychotherapist, over the last 11 years I have felt driven to unleash the potential in young people coming from dysfunctional families and have pioneered a number of personal development programmes within a project called Every Family Matters. This project currently runs the Parent Champion Programme which takes place in two Children’s Centres in Medway and involves a weekly social, information and learning experience, followed by two levels of training, one of which is accredited by the National Open College Network (NOCN) accredited and university evaluated. We have also developed an online community to provide sustainability.
The second programme, commencing in September 2013 at Stepping Stones School, is the Ethos of Empowerment programme. Here we are working with the teachers, support staff, pupils and parents.
Firstly let me explain what I mean by this: entering a room full of strangers, are there times when you feel either distinctly comfortable or uncomfortable, without knowing why? Or someone may say to you, ‘I was just thinking of that’, when you speak, or you may have said it yourself when they have voiced your unspoken thoughts? Or the phone rings and it is someone you have not seen, or heard from, for some time; but it is a person you have recently been thinking about? Or you can sense that there is someone behind you without hearing them approach?
I wanted a generic term for this type of ‘connection’, so described it as an ‘energetic connection’. It can also be described as sensory awareness, intuition, instinct, gut feeling, knowing, spiritual awareness and even love. Daniel Goleman explains this kind of interconnectedness with others, saying: ‘Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us affect the brain – and so the body – of everyone we interact with, just as they do us1.’ This energetic connection can have profound implications for our personal relationships, especially within families. Within our work with families at Every Family Matters we have noticed that children are infinitely more sensitive than adults to these interactions.
2002 was a life-changing year for me as this was when I discovered the power of life coaching and identified that my passion was to help children holistically, although I had no idea how to go about it. Because I had a growing interest in spirituality I also had a sense that what I would describe as ‘my higher self’ could connect directly with a client’s ‘higher self’ and that this could remove the negativity experienced in our everyday interactions.
Originally I started working with a group of eight, eight-year-old ‘underachievers’, helping them to set goals. Buoyed up with the success within this group, I then progressed to working with a group of teenagers. These were young people from a youth club in a very deprived area and here I discovered that every child I met who had a problem, had a parent with a bigger problem.
I decided I needed further training and went to the USA to study to become a parent coach. When I returned to the UK I was taken on as a parenting tutor by my local Adult Education Authority, a post I held for six years. The key to successful outcomes, I discovered, was to engage the more challenged parents and carers, retain their interest/respect, and help them to move forward. As you can imagine, this was a wonderful learning experience.
Every Family Matters
In this intervening period I became more confident in my theories about ‘connection to energy’ and was talking about it with the groups of parents that I worked with. By now we had set up Every Family Matters as a registered charity, and had started to get small funding grants to trial the programmes I had written. The most successful was the Whole Family Coaching programme, but it was very expensive to replicate because of the time that was needed to develop rapport and be trusted by the whole family. This programme consisted of 12 three-hour sessions with the whole family.
The concept of supporting a dysfunctional family into becoming a fully empowered unit was a vision. I still get very excited when I think of the impact this could have on local communities and our society in general. Every group of parents and carers that we work with is different, and every session is different; so our response to them is also unique and tailored to what the group in front of us needs at the time. This flexibility has the advantage of allowing us to give individual coaching (sometimes from other parents in the group) to those we feel are the most challenged on the day. The courses run over eight two-hour sessions and we ensure that during this time the four key tools, described below, are delivered, learnt and integrated into the families’ lives. Parents may see that when they are happy, their children are happy, but often fail to recognise that children are sensitive to a parent’s emotional state and that, as parents, they need to take responsibility for that emotional state. Children do not have the confidence, the communication skills or the emotional abilities to express their concern, so they ‘act out’ their feelings to get attention.
The key tools we use in our courses are:
• The power of thought – a person can create their own reality.
• Levels of listening – energetic listening/ connection – intuition/gut feeling/ instincts/sixth sense/love. When a person connects with their child on this level, the child feels connected, loved and heard. Parents are able to let go of non-verbal communication and ‘labels’ such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and learning difficulties.
• Success breeds success – when someone focuses on their successes, the more success appears in their life; we use a ‘success diary’ every day and review this every week.
• SMART goals, where the ‘T’ stands for timed and tangible: ‘I want to be happy’ is not tangible!
The more open a parent is to doing something different, the more they will take away from the course. For me, the most important factor is that when parents start to love themselves, then their personal relationships change beyond their wildest expectation.
I think that parents, mothers particularly, often recognise that when they are focused on their baby they instinctively know what the baby needs before it cries out. I believe this is because when we are relaxed we can more easily pick up on the energy that flows between us and others. I also consider that the biggest influence on our potential to connect energetically is how good we feel about ourselves. When we feel good within ourselves, everything feels easier – the children are happier and more content, for example; but when we are angry or stressed, the opposite is true. When our emotions are turbulent, or we are focusing on our problems, we are very unlikely to have a positive connection.
I believe there is huge potential in this positive energetic connection and it is available to us all the time, if we choose to use it.The key is that we need to be in our ‘most resourceful state’ and that is the foundation of our work here at Every Family Matters. Developing an awareness of these experiences opens up possibilities for positive energetic connection in our relationships.
It is important in our parent support programmes because:
• It helps the parent to realise that they can trust their instincts/intuition/sense of ‘knowing’.
• It is important to understand how sensitive children are, how innately connected they are and how even unspoken thoughts are transmitted through their relationship with their parent.
• According to what the parents we have worked with say, children with labels such as ‘learning difficulties’, ‘dyslexia’ and ‘ASD’ (autism spectrum disorder) seem to be even more sensitive to others’ energy.
• Professionals working with children have often confirmed that children appear to take responsibility for their parents’ emotional state.
• By developing children’s awareness of this energetic connection, they can learn to trust their innate abilities and have confidence in themselves.
• By encouraging children to explore their energetic connection with others, they are opening up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities.
The benefits of life-coaching are becoming widely known. Through asking powerful questions and allowing a person to find their own solutions, (a coach will never tell someone what to do), people are empowered. By reconnecting with their innate ability to manage issues related to self-esteem, self-awareness, and emotional resilience, parents go on to develop self-responsibility. With a growing awareness of the energetic connection for themselves and their children they have the tools and techniques and the ‘choice’ of trusting themselves and having self- reliance for the rest of their lives.
Alongside the Parent Champion programme described by the course participant on page 9, we have just received news of a successful funding application from the Big Lottery Fund to run a pilot of our Ethos of Empowerment programme. This will enable us to work together with the teachers, students and families within a mainstream teaching academy in order to develop a learning environment where the emphasis is on self-empowerment.
For more information about all of our courses, see: www.developyourchild.co.uk