How A Parenting Course Turned Me Into A Non-Violence Activist.

Larissa Dann

One balmy morning, 25 years ago, my friend Kristina said,

“I booked in for this parenting course, but now I can’t do it. Do you want to take my place?”

Yehess! I grabbed the opportunity to learn about my surprise new occupation – that of being a Mum to an eight month old boy. I was excited, because I’m the sort of person who loves to delve into new information.

I was also pleased to be getting out of my lonely, quiet house. I was desperate to meet people.

You see, the white walls behind the carefully kept garden and the neat fence, hid regular abuse - psychological, financial, and physical. I lived with domestic violence (DV), so much so, that Kristina named my place ‘the house of horrors’.

She was my only friend in my newly adopted town, for my partner employed the common DV tactic of isolating me from family, preventing me making friends.

“Put down the phone”, he’d mouth when my mother rang. And hurriedly, obediently, I’d replace the receiver.

We were the family of three, alone, as he wished.

Of course, my home was also a place of love. Deep, besotted love with a new being - my son. Difficult love with his father.

But I digress. Back to this parent training. I discovered . . . so much. That we could show respect to our children, and receive respect from our children – and this respect could be borne of regard, rather than fear.

I learned that just changing the words I said could lead to a change in my thinking, in my response; and, that children were People. Mind blowing!

In between sessions, I found myself reflecting on the way I was raised, on how I was going to parent, and on my current relationship.

Was I experiencing mutual respect in my adult partnership? Hmmmm.

Halfway through the course, I found myself stumbling to my neighbour, my throat raw as I phoned the police.

“Come home” pleaded my family.

“No! That would mean I couldn’t finish this parent training . . .”

But here’s the thing, the real turning point in my life.

I was bringing up a boy. One day, this boy would be a man. I felt a responsibility to him, his future partner, his future children, his grandchildren.

I decided to be intentional in how I parented my son, and not just bring him up as I had been raised, or as his father had been raised.

I could see that if I responded to my son respectfully, if I chose to put my power into my relationship with him, rather than control over him, I might, just might, break an abusive parenting and relationship cycle.

My parenting-style choice became a life-style choice.

I turned from my hard-skills science career, to a soft-skills community career. I turned from my violently partnered life, to a single parent life.

Because now, I had a purpose. To help parents respect children, so children respect others. Without fear. Without violence.


First published 13th November 2018


© Larissa Dann. 2018.

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