Course Outline

Session 1: Why Collaborative Parenting Is Difficult 

A bit of historical perspective and a lot of tenderness will be the backbone of this session. The trainers focus on the key role that socialization plays in sustaining any social order. They then look at: 

  • What socialization needs to be to sustain social orders based on scarcity, separation, and powerless, the triplet foundation of patriarchy; 
  • How, given we are all products of this socialization, so many parents find it difficult to sustain a commitment to collaboration because of both external and internalized challenges. 

Session 2: Shaming and Obedience – How Internalization Works  

Once domination was established, maintaining it can never be sufficiently assured based on coercion alone. Every system of domination requires its own internalization as "the right way" in order to sustain itself. This is because life resists domination. It's easy to see with each new child, never willing to be controlled; never accepting the norms of society without struggle. This is why patriarchy's core value, when it comes to children, is obedience. 

The focus of this session is on showing the intricate mechanisms that lead the majority of us to split our needs into two bundles – freedom and security – and to give up on freedom in order to get belonging. The commitment to collaborative parenting, then, can be channeled into two pathways. One is reclaiming your own full humanity, integrating all your needs, bringing tenderness to your patterns and habits, and finding courage to shift behaviors towards yourself and towards your children. The other is opening your heart in full to your children and their struggle to maintain their own fullness in the context of patriarchy's assault on their being. 

Session 3: Healing and Transformation for Parents – Why Collaborative Parenting Is Possible 

The deepest premise of this work, both with parents and elsewhere, is uncompromising faith in the human heart. Despite thousands of years of patriarchy and all domination forms that emerged from it; despite all we've been told about human nature for so long; despite seeing massive destruction of human and other life in the hands of humans – Miki and Arnina continue to hold fast to the fundamental premise of Nonviolent Communication: that everything anyone ever does is motivated by a finite set of needs that we all share; and that none of us would ever do harm to anyone else when our needs are met. The radical implication of this premise is that all of us are redeemable, and that children don't need to be controlled. 

Collaborative parenting is possible because you can restore your capacity to operate from choice instead of powerlessness; togetherness instead of separation; flow instead of scarcity; and, overall release the right/wrong straitjacket and embrace trust in life, and, centrally, in children's capacity to be full human beings at any point in life. 

Session 4: Seeing the Humanity of Our Children – Same Needs, Different Stories 

Embracing collaborative parenting means including children's needs as fully as adults' needs in making decisions about everything. This means, first of all, seeing their needs, even and especially when their behavior makes no sense, when they appear to not care about anything or anyone, when they make choices that frighten you, or when you are under-resourced. Over time, this means being able to stay present and engage fully even in those most difficult moments of "no", tantrums, or the teenage distance. 

Seeing their needs through their eyes is different from seeing their needs as you understand them. It means: 

  • Being with their present experience rather than your future concerns about their well-being into adulthood; 
  • Offering them verbal acknowledgment of their experience, even when you are the one they are upset with; 
  • Remembering that their struggles are just as significant for them as yours are for you, and offering them empathy first and foremost, before or even instead of telling them how to solve their problems or diminishing their struggle. 

Learning to put children's needs as they see them at the center of your attention is the cornerstone of what this session is dedicated to: the commitment to nurture all of your children's needs, so that, unlike so many generations before them, they won't have to choose between freedom and belonging. This then serves as the foundation for what we want all humans to know how to do: to care for their own needs alongside others' needs. 

Session 5: The Basics of Collaborating with Children – Needs, Impacts, and Resources 

Collaborative parenting requires a deep commitment to live now as if the future is already in place. To even begin to do this, you will need much more support than parents usually receive, so that you can care sufficiently for yourself, your children, and those who challenge what you are struggling to implement. This means: 

  • Dialogue instead of telling them what to do; 
  • Supporting children to find choice; 
  • Making decisions together with them based on looking at all the needs; 
  • Checking in about all known and anticipated impacts; and 
  • Bringing to bear all available resources for which there is wholehearted willingness. 

The gap between this vision and how human societies now function is big enough that a core practice to sustain this is compassion for yourself for all the times this simply isn't possible to implement. With that basis, you are likely to: 

  • Grow – over time – your capacity to remain empathic with your children even in challenging moments; 
  • Be fully transparent about your own needs as natural limits; 
  • Engage proactively with your children to create supportive agreements based on everyone's true capacity; and 
  • Accompany them on those harsh encounters with the current realities of the larger human life.