Ms. Ravenfeather, 11-4-98 : LUSENET : M.Ed. Cohort II : One Thread

Ms. Ravenfeather had much to say about family systems and roles we play in families, schools, and other places. What are your thoughts about her presentation?

-- Anonymous, November 06, 1998


What a great visual comparison by using a mobile to represent the family. As we all strive for balance in our families, Ms. Ravenfeather pointed out how movement creates imbalance in the family. She mentioned that some of that movement is unconscious. I was thinking that such movement could be something like children moving from one stage of development to another. It happens gradually and sometimes as parents we feel it happens overnight. I was thinking of recent times when my own family had to "seek equilibrium" and I thought of my son going off to college. I had prepared myself for this event for a year before he left but his sisters did not. They had a hard time adjusting to him being gone and I know they felt out of balance for a while and not too sure of their role in the family now that the oldest child was out of the home. This is a common, natural and anticipated event for a family. I can't imagine what imbalance is like when unanticipated events take place such as death, divorce or incarceration. One of things that I covered with my inmate students when they were close to release was their feelings of what family life would be like for them and how were they going to transition back into the family again. Talk about "mobile movement." I know a number of my students are living in foster homes and I was trying to imagine how those foster families have to constantly adjust with the constant movement they experience. Ms. Ravenfeather(what a great name) had excellent suggestions for teachers to use and the one I really like was "teach kids how to soothe themselves." I would like to know if anyone has any special techniques for doing this.

-- Anonymous, November 06, 1998

I couldn't find "holon" in my Webster Third College Edition. I am always interested in where words come from and so that word has stuck in my mind. I'm sure I will hear it again when I am attending a workshop or inservice. These "new" words can often give us insight into human service/education fields because they have cultural or ethnic meanings. Anyway--

Ms. Ravenfeather's comments on child adultification was of interest to me. I see this happen in sometimes in my work with families. The parent simply needs a friend and confidante and the child is the closest one so he/she becomes a little adult, becoming someone who the parent can chat with, talk about problems with, be a sounding board to, sometimes I even notice these young children dressed in adult clothing and the parent thinks it is so cool. It is such a sad state of affairs for the child who is not allowed to be a child and has a birds-eye-view of the adult world with all its problems and challenges before that child is able to understand the adult world. The child forms so many misconceptions. These problems and challenges can become the child's challenges and then the child is left without a childhood. It would be my hope in my work that I could somehow help parents to see the role that their child is playing and also to see the detrimental effect this role can have on a young child. I can see where this happens in a family with substance abuse--the child ends up taking care of the parent--but also I see this in systems where the parent is very young and yearns to be parented rather than being the parent--because this parent became an adult way before he/she was ready to and simply wants someone to take care of him/her.

I took away from this workshop two very hopeful thoughts:

"The family unit and each member has a need for industry or effectiveness, humor, solitude, and room to make mistakes." This thought helps me to see the importance of the family unit and that we must try to keep working and finding ways that this "holon" can become stronger and more enduring.

"We continually re-enact our roles from our family unless we do some healing work." This statement is hopeful because if we are aware of our harmful roles, we can do healing work. We can try to change.

Oops!! And one more--"Affirmations are like "jewels" for kids from chaotic families." Sincere, meaningful praise can be so worthwhile.

-- Anonymous, November 08, 1998

The discussion on how parents need to obtain energy from other adults in order to be able to parent was interesting. The effect if a parent fails to do this; taking a child's energy, makes sense and could explain why some children don't seem to have enough energy to accomplish their tasks Children today seem to be hurried from school to daycare and then to activities, really never spending much time at home or with their parents. Parents like myself, are involved and activities to futher themselves and that takes time away from parenting. My own daughter has taken on roles and tasks I previously had, partially due to my work on my masters and my new job. I had to stop and think if I am bothering her energy and leaving her without enough to succeed at school and feeling she isnot being parented enough. Energy seems to be lacking at times with some of the students in my class, looking for answers and ways to help certainly has to do with parents and their involvement with their child. I also found the discussion on feelings of value. Children have so many and do not know how to describe them or how to deal with them so their needs are met. Often they keep them in or make them public in inappropriate ways. Teaching children how to identify and express their feelings can make a difference. It opens doors for them to reach out for help and get their needs met. As teachers we can certainly model how to handle feelings. We can help children learn how to do the same. The last thing I wrote down from the presentation was "affirm kids so they can learn how to affirm themselves". This is something I hope to work on consciously with my class and my own children. Remembering that much of what we do as teachers and what parents of our students do is done unconsciously can hlep us deal with them in a more effective way. The discussion and information helps with all students, not only with those from families in conflict or under stress. As teachers we need to be aware that students bring with them the difficulties they have at home. Often we are not aware what these are and fail to recognize a problem. Curriculum driven classrooms don't have time to deal with these issuse. I have to make an effort to take time to deal with the issues beyond the texts and tests.

-- Anonymous, November 10, 1998

The mobile example of family structure and interactions was a great model. It is evident that changes in one member of the family create changes for all. I'm sure we can all relate by looking at the changes that have occured in our families while we are pursuing our M.Ed. All families change over time, with some changes for the better and some for the worse. People often wonder how two children can grow up to be so different from within the same family. They had the same parents and home, but parents are at different points in their lives and deal with their children differently, often unconsciously.

The family roles were interesting to look at and consider our own personal roles. I can see how healthy families do move from role to role while unhealthy ones tend to stick to their "safe" role. It is important to provide safe environments, like the classroom, where childen can be encouraged to try out different roles. I can see how opportunities to participate in the arts can be an excellent manner in which to do so.

I agree with Gloria's statement that "Affirmations are like jewels for kids from chaotic families." We often don't think that we are making much of a difference, but a word of praise and encouragement can mean so much.

-- Anonymous, November 10, 1998

Early childhood educators often talk about developmental stages and parenting strategies. It seems that once a child is in elementary and beyond, parents don't get what's "normal" development information as much as they should. I think it would be helpful for interested parents to get more of that kind of information so they know what appropriate behavior and expectations are for their children. It would also be good for parents to know that whole families go through developmental stages. It's sometimes hard to see the big picture when you're right there in the middle of it. We all have trouble with that at some point or another, but if one is at least aware of the fact, it's easier to deal with. Our Head Start parents all make family maps/webs and discuss how families are the same and different, how each individual in a family has a role (Ms Ravenfeather's have different names, but are much the same) and how we all need different levels of support during our lives (the mobile). Children need to have healthy parents (physically AND mentally) to be healthy themselves. As I work with families, I try to do several things: provide resources corresponding to the needs of the families, role model appropriate behaviors/feelings/listening skills/acceptance/humor, etc., teach child development and parenting skills, and above all, talk about the fact that we are all human and need comfort and help from each other-from within the family, and also from a support system that we can build in our communities. If children can go to school and feel like they are supported emotionally, they will be healthier, happier, and more successful. Ms. Ravenfeather gave so many good tips for teachers and parents to use to help children. I thought this was a list I would share with my Head Start parents to use for not only their children, but themselves, too!

-- Anonymous, November 12, 1998

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