The ongoing cycle of workshops within the “Support, NOT perfection” program continues today, with the help of our partners – Generali Osiguranje Serbia and The Human Safety Net. We are sharing with you Jelena Lukic’s heartfelt story. All stories are in their original form, written with a pure heart and tons of love.
The first thing I thought of when I heard about this program was””is it possible that someone wants to voluntarily dedicate time and attention to a bunch of ordinary, tired parents, feed them with tasty croissants and strudels and give them coffee and lemonade after a hard day at work? And to also watch their kids and entertain them, while someone else is listening to the parents, caring for them and making them laugh, asking them what troubles them. All that completely free, here in Serbia? Apparently, yes.
What an amazing gesture of kindness and philanthropy of our hosts from the Foundation – we felt like we were in their living room all this time, chatting over coffee about the children’s tantrums or jealousy between brothers and sisters, our childhood and parenting models – sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter. And yes – with encouragement from our wonderful facilitator Nata and her approach full of care and love, coziness and honest interest, we learned a lot about where we make mistakes as parents, how we could be better, rested, more patient, how to motivate ourselves and the child to overcome everyday challenges. We met many moms and dads who are more or less like us. We cried and laughed together, shared our stories and experiences. We had a feeling that someone really understood us. Some type of group therapy and a safe place for all of us with different experiences and stories.
For me and my family, “Support, NOT perfection” was particularly important because of the specific situation we were in at the time of workshops. My husband was without a job after working abroad for some time, and I received an offer for a job in my hometown, so we decided to move from Arilje to Kovacica. Our Mihailo had to abandon his friends at the kindergarten and grandma and grandpa in Arilje, to transfer to a preschool in Kovacica. To our great joy, he had wonderfully accepted new friends and teachers, and they accepted him too. I started working as a teacher in a new school and had to adapt to the new/old environment and various new demands.
We had been unable to find an apartment for a long time, so we stayed with my parents, who helped us a lot. All in all, it was a fairly stressful experience. We didn’t know many people there, especially parents like us. Since my husband had much spare time, having heard from Mihailo’s teachers about this program, I decided that it could be a good way to make both of us more active, to meet new people and to give him and myself something to think about, something that is truly beneficial and humane, so that we can get inspired for some future steps, small and big undertakings, and I signed us up for the workshop without him knowing it. Initially, he minded that I didn’t ask him, but then he agreed to come with me to the first workshop, and we made a deal that if he didn’t like it, he could quit. However, either because of our Nata, or because of her poppy seed strudel, or the inspirational examples and stories, he was more and more eager to come to every subsequent workshop, and was more involved. Now we have many new friends with shared interests and many strategies for successful parenting.
From what we learned at the workshops, I would like to underscore the reward technique, for every independent new behavior that the child didn’t demonstrate up to that point. For the whole week, he would collect coins, and in the morning, he would jump out of bed and brush his teeth by himself, wash his face, get dressed, try a new form of food – all the things he had not been so eager to do up to that point. He was very satisfied with himself and his achievements, and we would proudly high-five each other behind his back.
With these techniques, parenting became much easier and more creative. In the meantime, we moved into a new apartment, Rade found a job and we got used to the new environment. We were much more relaxed, and the workshops and the socialization helped us with that.
I will certainly try to share this story and what I learned with as many people as possible, particularly if I see that it interests them and that they want to improve themselves and their families. This program made my and my family’s life better, as a wonderful gift from the Novak Djokovic Foundation to all parents, because through every word – read or spoken – at the workshop, we would feel the energy connecting us with our hosts, their love and dedication, as well as their endless positive energy toward all of us.
To everyone involved in this wonderful initiative, I’d like to say the following:
Thank you for this true act of philanthropy, for the wonderful idea and inspiration you gave us with your example! For an opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other in a pleasant environment, and help each other be even better and happier. For love and understanding, time and support, which is in this overly quick, digital, and increasingly alienated world a completely magic, precious, and unbelievable opportunity for an honest connection with another human being – which we all miss so direly. Thank you so much for everything, and I hope that this love and emotion comes back to you and that it enriches your lives too, at least as much as it contributed to ours.