Testimonials – Parenting Groups
The experiences that parents shared here reflect their discoveries and thoughts linked to Parenting workshops. We thank contributors for their testimonials. Some of them are extracts from articles that parents wrote for other A Time for Childhood projects.
A talk was given at the ‘The North London Rudolf Steiner School’
on the 7th of December
‘Creating Harmony in Family Life’
Lourdes has a beautiful way of talking, really getting into the essence of parenting and childhood – she takes the mundane and moves it into the spiritual realm allowing us to look deeper into ourselves for the answers to our own problems.
She began by looking at the word ‘harmony’ and reflecting on its musical meaning – the discordant evolving into the accord, and how in symphonies there is often a tension which is then resolved. The same is true for our own lives, and we often need the tension to focus ourselves and move towards our own resolution.
Life is a journey and through it we gain perspective on what has happened in our lives – Lourdes stressed the importance of being open to the possibility that tomorrow will be different, especially when we are going through hard times, as it is being open to the possibility of change that actually brings that change about.
She talked about surrender, finding the middle way and healing our past to heal our future – a transformation of the soul.
But to the practicalities – how do we cope when we have no time for ourselves, when our children are draining us of every ounce of our energy, when we can’t even make a phone call in peace! Lourdes explained that children generally feel uncomfortable and distressed when we move our attention to ‘head work’, that could be the computer, a phone call, anything that switches us into thinking mode. They need us to be present, not just physically, so to try and strengthen our centres by working manually, meditating, being at peace, being in nature, are all ways we can create harmony in our households. Taking time to meditate for a few minutes in the morning or before we go to bed, remembering our child when they are sleeping and not expecting the child to change the situation are all ways of reducing the discordant days and replacing them with harmonious ones.
“Thank you – as parents we feel we have such a big responsibility raising our children. It is great to be here in this workshop-to accept and acknowledge all the things we are doing ’right’ and to get advice on how to deal with things that are difficult.” A.S.
“Having attended the workshop, I feel uplifted; peaceful; more trustful of myself. I was lost and I found myself. I discovered a positive picture of motherhood. I have more strength and want to go and do!” F.A.
A shift in behaviour -
“It was amazing to see the immediate difference in my son’s behaviour on my return from the workshop. This must be the simple shift of how I see and understand him. After what you said, it made me realise a lot: primarily that I must continue to work on myself!!!” R.H. (from an E-mail)
Most recent contributions
An extract from a report about workshops in Kings Langley (England) See more…
Observing and Listening
“The content of these workshops helped us to have an experience of the kind of wakeful presence that children want us to have. We did exercises to stimulate our ability to observe. Could we really observe a leaf without putting our interpretation on it? Could we build a picture together with flowers and petals, being sensitive to each other's contribution? Could we become aware of each other in space and feel what was comfortable, what was too close and what was too far away? With my son, who like all children, goes through periods of rapid change and development, observation has become my touchstone. If his behaviour does not seem quite in balance, I observe him outwardly and listen inwardly to his behaviour and life situation. Then I make adjustments to our life together. If his behaviour still seems out of balance I make further adjustments until his eyes are shiny again. And if I simply need reassurance that my son is well and happy, I observe him. I see his rosy complexion, his relaxed movements and the glow around his face. I see his shining eyes. And I know he is well.”
O. A. September 08
Loving and firm
“So good to be reminded about the ‘simplicity’ of parenting and to be ‘allowed’ to be a loving and firm parent.” D.R.
“Fantastic – really enlightening and very grounding, great; – thanks to you from the centre of my heart.” L.A
Ideas to take home
“This workshop was really helpful and had practical advice. I feel invigorated and excited about introducing some of the ideas at home.” N.J.
The following experiences (*) are extracts of articles written by parents for “The Art of Creative Discipline” booklet.
To order this and see full articles contact…
“When it came to saying ‘No’ to him, I found myself really floundering. It felt like an infringement of his freedom, but in fact, as I came to learn over the next 6 years, he was crying out for clear guidelines… Everything was on his terms and there was no compromise! …So, my little Emperor soon learnt to ‘run’ the household… Unfortunately, he was not used to being told ‘No’, and he did not like it. Not one little bit! A power struggle had begun…When he was 3 years old; I became aware that my son had become strangely grown-up in his behavior. The carefree, playful 2 year-old was replaced by a rather more serious child. I learnt at Lourdes Callen’s parenting workshop that during this time my son was carrying the weight of the responsibility that I had given him. In the absence of clear guidelines he was setting his own limits and his own rules. It made the world a much more uncertain place and it was a burden he didn’t need at this time of extreme exploration and growth… his sister had known rules right from the start, whereas my son had known very few. He struck me as the vulnerable one of the two and I knew things had to change… The more time, attention and ‘firm love’ that I give him the more I see of the little boy that went missing aged 3… and the child-like lightness that I thought I had lost forever has begun to return. I now realize that really loving him means giving him that freedom to be the child he really is; loving him means ‘holding’ him as Lourdes puts it, so that he can be really free to enjoy his life.”
M.B. June 2008
My 22 months old daughter had started saying “NO” and having tantrums and I was wondering what would be the best way to accompany her through this phase. My partner and I had very different ideas on how to proceed and when these situations arose, they generated tension between us and this alone made things worse.
I believe that the talk about boundaries came at the right moment. It was simple and gratifying to tune into Lourdes’ approach about childhood. Her words reached our heart and resound there with great evidence…I suggested to my partner that we have a conversation with Lourdes. It seemed important to talk about our specific theme when we were both present. He gladly accepted…
… The benefit was great because we could explore the situation and present our personal perspectives, coloured by our own stories and background cultures. We also had the opportunity to gather simple tools to be able to accompany this moment…
With these tools, at home everything quietened down…The tantrums have diminished a lot, almost vanished.The “NO” and the tantrums stopped being something to be afraid of or be seen as a problem…The ‘No’ is like a game and, many times, it is better not to give it importance. If we had not had this help at the moment it came, I am convinced that these occasions would have become a real problem, a snow ball that grows and grows.
A.F. January 2008
The world of children
“Great workshop; it helped me to understand more of the world in which young children live, and what they need from me to enjoy it.” N. C.
A supportive experience
“A very positive and supportive experience. Helps to keep me on track. Gives hope for the future. Thanks you.” J.S.
Looking at things differently
“Thank you. I feel honoured to be here. It inspires me to look at things differently.”
“ ‘Setting Healthy Boundaries’ was very helpful. No more naughty steps or time out made sense. Fantastic.” M.V.
From a Conference for families in Alcañiz(Spain).
Organized by Social Services. See more…
“People experience calm throughout the course! We see how we are as parents and people. Lourdes addresses us with gentleness, with kindness in her affirmations and with firmness in what she believes. She accompanies us towards a world that is not new, that is already there but that we do not visit frequently: the world of our feelings, of that which is right, and simple. Little by little we relax and the feeling of being Ok with ourselves, kind of happy and satisfied grows. We think, “It is not so difficult; I can do it, because it depends on me and my effort. I DO NOT NEED TO BE AN EXPERT. I only need to look after myself and believe in the importance of my attitude towards life in order to be a positive influence on my son's present and future. Throughout the session Lourdes sets limits to our impulses of wanting quick answers to our questions. She sets limits to the times of debate…As the time passes we look at each other and little by little our gesture changes. We look and smile as if wanting to say to the other “I am OK, I am calm”. When it finishes we are eager to meet with our families once more. Ah! Of course! This is what it is about! I have experienced it and it works. This course for me was about my own learning and…now…I am off to my see my children…”
11 November 2007
The following testimonials (*) are extracts of articles for a book which is in preparation: ‘Love and Learning in Everyday Life with Children’
by Lourdes Callen
*Letting go of anxiety.
“The truth is that after the workshop day, we both (my child of five months and myself ) experienced together and at the same time, a surprising change. After a week he neither seemed the same baby nor I the same mother…
During the work in the group there were several contributions that I found revealing:
- the need to break vicious circles;
- fears of emptiness that are projected on children;
- looking at children as if from the corner of your eye rather than too directly;
and protecting them by working from the periphery.
I learnt that it is important to accompany children with a certain amount of self-restraint so that they have space to grow. It was liberating to hear all these since I was already completely worn-out. It is as though I have found harmony! The constant anxiety I thought was inherent in this first year of life has disappeared. Things are not always perfect of course. But I can now say that we both have very happy moments.” R.A 2002
“Well, after a few days I saw it more clearly and I became aware that life talks to me constantly in metaphorical language and brings me what I need to receive. This certainty gives me great serenity. It is important, though, to be attentive, awake and receptive and the answer comes from everywhere…My decision about what language do I talk to my child was firm and quick… I reached a sense of calm and relief that makes me feel this decision is right…
…The fact is that this dialogue with Lourdes was a great help in the decision making process. It is important for me ‘to listen’ to my son in this way and discover the best for him. Though I am his mother he does not belong to me. Before he became part of this family I thought about “how many things I would teach him”. Now I say, “How much he is teaching me”. M.J.L. 2002
*A sense of Calm.
(In this article a mother describes how she tries to create a sense of calm while being in a hurry and under pressure throughout her day)
”I wanted her day to be unaffected by my stress of…My daughter need not be a party to that, that is me and how I deal with my plans should be kept from her…
…Looking back, I am grateful for this experience, and for writing it down, because, early on in my role as a mother, it highlighted how important it is to keep a sense of calm around my child. If I feel hurried and try to hurry her then I know there will be conflict as she tries to resist it. Transitional times have the greatest potential for this dynamic, for example leaving the house. So I allow ample time and find myself calmly singing or humming to her to create a smooth, rhythmical and secure "bridge". Life can be busy for me, but what I've experienced is that this pace does not suit my child!”
G.S. June 2005
* Given a Choice
“When our daughter was very young I was determined to give her a voice; I didn’t want to be a controlling parent. With the best of intentions and with what I thought were my child’s best interests at heart, I wanted to let her make her own decisions, something my parents had not given me during my childhood (or adolescence). So, from a tiny child, barely able to speak, I asked her to choose which clothes to wear, what food to eat at mealtimes and even whether or not to wear a hat or coat…
…I realised that through my desire to be a good and open parent, I was placing our daughter under enormous pressure. I was asking her to make choices that were beyond her capability; choices that were my responsibility…
…The flip side of my behaviour was that having given my daughter choice in some areas she expected to have choice, or control, in all areas. I therefore found it impossible to lead her…What I experienced as I continually asked my daughter’s opinion was that I was asking her to become a little adult…
…I am so thrilled to have pulled back from the direction in which I was headed and as I see the fruits of this change, each day, I would urge any parent to consider the role of choice within their parenting what is choice and what is its role and who is it for?
…What I see now, in general terms, is a happier, calmer and more peaceful child (and certainly a calmer, kinder mother!).” D.M. December 2006
To read more… look for this article at
Testimonials – Biography Group
The experiences shared in this page reflect the thoughts and discoveries of fathers and mothers in connection with Biography Work in groups.
Thank you for your contributions
When we ended the course “Biographical Learning and Parenting”, (of 6 sessions) on the 18 June 2011, participants in Barcelona offered their reflections and experiences…and here they are:
This course has given me a new way of looking at life. It has given me inner peace, gratitude and the strength to start shining. A.
To be able to come to the biography Group has been one of the most precious opportunities that life has given me and therefore a great present.
To accept, to learn, to love, transform situations and find the middle way has been some of the things that I have acquired in this course.
Force, energy, joy and peace are constant feelings that now live within me.
Thanks Lourdes. C.
A time for reflection and progress
The biography course has given me a time for reflection and dedication to myself in a group that has turned into a friendship. And many improvements have started in my life…I created the time to find a new house, I sleep better and, I have more strength and connection to myself and my children.…As well as having laughter with my companions in the group, we spend really good days working together. Thank you. I.
An open door
I can only say thanks for the opportunity of being here, and for having shared with others a deeper knowledge of what has been a continuous thread in my life. To discover more about the roles that I have always played helps me to understand who I am now. Above all, I can see an open door with many paths leading from it. I will choose from these paths, but the important thing is that the door is open now. O.
Tools and confidence to move forward
In my case, the course has meant awakening awareness for a world that I had already intuited existed, but was not capable of approaching myself. This has helped me to open up “doors and windows” to an unexpected universe that reveals itself as essentially fascinating. Undoubtedly this has given me tools to progress in the knowledge of my “Self”, and of my surroundings. It gives me confidence to face the challenges still to come and helps me to understand and analyse the force that moves me forward. Thank you. L.
The past in the present – creating the future.
These meetings have been an opportunity to “persuade myself” to reflect about my biography, how this is affecting my present life and how to create my future. Sharing with others brings new and varied ways of see things, and new perspectives. G.
Connecting to oneself
In the area of ‘thinking’, this is well thought through, well planned and brought into reality. In terms of ‘feeling’, it has been a present that I am thankful for.
In the area of the ‘will’, the aims were fulfilled since it sets in movement something inside each person. Personally, I have connected to myself more. J.
Inner work brings light
This course helps to find oneself and see oneself without prejudice. It served me to understand myself better and have confidence in myself’ It demonstrated to me that inner work brings much light, peace, and comprehension. I am enormously grateful for this opportunity and very happy with the people who have formed the group. R.
Testimonials from the Biographical Learning – Development Group, 2011-12
Contemplating each phase of life – Collecting new impulses for the future
Taking part in the Biographical Course for Parents has made me remember and contemplate each phase of my life, one by one, enabling me to brush the dust away.It is as if I open up the dirty and untidy drawers to clean and organise them again. Although I felt lazy and scared to do that, it freed me up from a heavy load--those things you know are there and disturb you and nevertheless, you do not know what to do with them. My rucksack is now lighter and I can look at my life having integrated it.
I know I am not what I experienced, good or bad. All this forms part of me, but it is not me. I am more than that. I take with me what was good and also what was not so, because everything helped me on the way to grow and be who I am now. I have made peace with certain things from the past. Therefore, from now on, I have more strength and motivation to face the future. Thanks Lourdes
Gratitude towards life – Finding peace
Embarking on the Biography course has been a great help in healing my wounds and finding some peace. When I started, I had the wish 'to tidy up' and also felt great resistance to doing it. I felt my life as a big carriage full of heavy bundles that I have been pulling away with much effort. To open those bundles, to unravel them was scary. I knew it would bring up a lot of pain in me.
Little by little, first with the individual help from Lourdes and later with the participants in the group, I have been uncovering, looking and understanding the phases of my biography. I have been able to forgive myself that which produced pain inside. I recognized and feel gratitude for what I have received and learnt. I feel lighter. A clean air has come into most of the bundles and with it, the heaviness and sadness has transformed into the joy of living. I am grateful for what life brings me. I feel everything is fine, and this fills me with peace. Thanks you Lourdes
The process in Biography work – Helping children to grow
What to say about the process of working with my own biography? Uf! So many things! Some stand up with greater clarity and a deeper resonance. I started my biographical work in a moment in which, in general, I can say my life was well. I have not begun this work motivated by discomfort and anxiety but by curiosity and desire to know. And also, as in many other things, for the wish to help and follow my daughter's development and vital processes. She will soon enter adolescence and I would like to be up for the challenge. Through biographical work, with its magic, I was able to convey to my adolescent daughter, from experience, that the world is beautiful. Thank you to Lourdes for accompanying me in this discovery.
Finally, the biographical process means to let go. It is not to fragment and analyse your life flooding it with words and concepts, but it is to open a window and allowing oneself be filled by images of one's life. It is not speaking about life but letting life speak to you. It is about looking at it with new eyes and listening to it with new ears, clear and open.
The biographical process is also discovering an order in things. It is to feel unique and, at the same time part of something bigger. It is to observe serenely the best and the worse moments in life, making peace and going forward. It is to flow with the colour and to find grounding in breathing, cultivating the roots and exercising the wings. I feel as if this process has only started for me. M.
This year (2012-13 ) our Biographical Learning – Development Group, has given workshops both in Barcelona and Emerson College in England. Teachers, parents and carer participating share with us their experiences:
For the Emerson blog:
Biography & Parenting: Learning at Emerson College
My name is Hollie Holden and I have just completed a course at Emerson College on Biographical Learning & Parenting. We have been a group of 8 men and women involved in this support and development group with Lourdes Callén, with contributions and support from Rainer Bauer. We met up on 6 occasions over the past year for a day of teaching, exploration and conversation together.
I first signed up for this course because I am a mum to two young children and I wanted to deepen my understanding of myself – and of their development – so that I could be a more loving, aware parent. My daughter attends a Steiner kindergarten in London, so this seemed an obvious path to follow.
Attending the course every six weeks or so has been so nurturing, informative and profoundly healing. We have studied all the major life phases together as a group and we have learned so much from looking back at our lives with this new and empowering map in our hands to read from.
As we have placed ourselves and found our way, we have shared our stories and our worries, our strengths and our struggles and we have all become stronger and more resilient as parents and as people.
Lourdes believes that the best way to love and bring balance to our children is to do exactly that for ourselves first. And that is what I feel we all achieved by doing this course.
A few members of our group have shared some words about their experience during the last year – and particularly about how it was to do this beautiful work with Emerson College as our base. I would like to include them here:
- Being part of the beauty of the seasons unfolding within Emerson's grounds and buildings has supported the path of this course.
The course has worked like a gentle yet potent enzyme, giving me a deep and rich framework of questions and phases. Out of this it is as if my own life has emerged like a landscape suddenly popping up in 3D.
- Studying my biography has been like finding a map I didn’t know I needed. And studying this in a group, with other like-minded parents, teachers and caregivers has been a profound and very enriching experience.
Attending the course throughout the year at Emerson College – and watching the seasons change as we make our own inner shifts – has been very beautiful and nurturing.
I would recommend this study to anyone who wants to learn and transform gently but profoundly. I signed up to this course be a better mum to my children – and to understand them more - and I ended up achieving so much more than that.
- Set in the beautiful Emerson College, the garden and surrounding nature is very nurturing for the spirit. I have found the biographic development course really important to help me understand my life and its processes. Revisiting the story of your life gives opportunity to heal old wounds and frees you to be who you could be. The journeys of the other members of the group can inspire and hold us whilst we discover our true selves.
I will always treasure the memories of our sharing and learning together at Emerson. The image that is most deeply etched in my mind is the moment when we stood around the magnolia tree, on a cold but sunny Spring day, practicing presence and mindfulness by studying the flowers – and then looking at the tree as a whole from different angles.
We are so grateful for the gentle, strong foundation we have felt at Emerson College during our journey together. And for the beauty that has surrounded us along the way.
Participantes en el Grupo 2012-13 en Barcelona:
“Something inside me was telling me that this course will touch my heart, and so it has been. This process has helped me to go inward, to know myself better and understand myself more, to love myself and find who I am. I think this is a journey that is subtle, and requires being awake and receptive in order to feel it, but this is worth it. I feel I have recapitulated and from this, I get forces to continue my path. Thanks you.” T.
Testimonials – Biographical Counselling
The experiences described here come from the work in Biographical Counselling sessions. We are grateful to these parents who shared their process, worries, discoveries and improvement in their lives.