During our almost three-month drive through the “Support, not perfection” program, we experienced hundreds of beautiful moments and met wonderful people. If I would describe each workshop, ultimately I would write one good travelogue.
Parenting is, in a way, like a scientific discipline. Sounds simple. As if anyone can be brilliant and successful in this area. It sounds like that because no one says parenting is a science. And in order to be good in this scientific “discipline”, it is not enough just to have “talent”, but also to research, make mistakes, accept, correct our mistakes and thus learn. My wish, and my husband Ivan’s dream, was to start a family. We decided on this “venture” after a whole decade. We say “endeavor” because it was for us. I believe it is for a large number of other parents as well. However, something like that requires determination, courage and a lot of love. But, we quickly realized that even that is not enough, that we need more skills and more knowledge. We turned to different, accessible, literature. We learned a lot from all that and applied something new. But we didn’t know for sure if we were on the right track.
At times when our son Philip is asleep, usually in the evening, Ivan and I talk. About Philip, about his behavior, our attitude towards him, the decisions we made that day and the outcomes that those decisions had. Sometimes we go back to our childhood, considering how our parents treated us, how we felt and very often we say that we will not be like our parents. But, in any case, we soon realize that, no matter how much we don’t want to be “the same”, we often do exactly what we said we wouldn’t. In the literature we read, it is written how we should “act” in certain situations in relation to the child. But even though we understand and accept that theory, it is often difficult for us to apply it. Such situations frustrate us and lead to an outburst of various emotions, especially those less desirable, such as anger, nervousness, grumpiness, dissatisfaction. Those feelings almost always lead us to make the wrong decisions. Therefore, we decided that we should still learn about parenting and what it brings, and we joined the Novak Djokovic Foundation’s “Support, not Perfection” program.
The “Support, not perfection” program is actually a map. Someone invested a lot of knowledge, skills, time and resources in making that map. But to read a map, a person often needs navigation. Our navigation in the form of workshop facilitators worked flawlessly. And we, the participants, are passengers. During the program, I was the driver and Ivan the co-driver. But do you know those passengers who pull the brake instead of you? Well, he was that co-driver. Always there and on alert. Parenting is a common battle and that is why Ivan and I started and finished this ride together.
During our almost three-month drive, we saw and experienced hundreds of beautiful moments and met wonderful people. If I would write about each individual destination (workshop), I could write one good travelogue. I will single out a couple of moments that were the most important to us. The revelation to us was the realization that our emotions and behaviors are in a direct, cause-and-effect relationship with our own (un) fulfilled needs. This has become a starting point for us in resolving certain situations. And we learned that already at the FIRST workshop! Of course, with that realization, we started to, in some situations with Philip, primarily think about his needs that are (not) fulfilled or realized. That is how we understood how to see in Philip the causes of the outburst of anger, sadness or sudden joy, thus solving the situation. After the first workshop, nine more equally great, instructive, inspiring workshops followed. We have also learned to focus on “realizing” our (parental) desires and needs, by making a good plan, with clear and realistic goals, whose movement we can monitor, measure the effects and establish outcomes.
And finally, the most encouraging finding is that we are not the only parents who struggle with their own thoughts and feelings when it comes to raising children. That we most need to love, understand and support them. That we do not need to be perfect, but present, completely committed. And what is perfect in general? I still haven’t come across something perfect. Except for this program. It is, one might say, perfect. And you?
The goal of our free program for parents and caregivers “Support, not perfection”, is to empower them to recognize the needs and feelings of the child. The seventh cycle has just been completed, and so far the program has supported almost 2,000 parents and caregivers. The program “Support, not perfection” is implemented in cooperation with Generali Osiguranje Srbija and The Humany Safety Net.