Mind in the Making workshops takes on the personality of the cohort participants.
I recently had the opportunity to lead a cohort of foster parents into engaging conversations of the seven essential skills every child needs.
The first day started with uncertainty. They all chose to participate in this series to learn more about what they can do to help the foster children in their care, their biological children, and ultimately themselves.
During the first activity, there was laughter, tears, and a shared common bond, the love of helping to raise foster children, despite the challenges that came with the responsibility. There were single parents, couples who have had 30 foster kids since starting their journey, and couples who adopted their foster kids and blended them into their families.
At the end of the first day, I challenged them to come up with their favorite thing about being a foster parent. There were 18 foster parents in the room, and not one of their comments repeated.
Among this list were: helping kids, kids coming back to visit as adults, hugs, blending foster kids with biological kids, providing safety to those that need it, watching kids start to trust you, seeing the reuniting with their biological parents, the appreciation they receive from biological parents, and even adoption day! The personality of the room as we ended that day was pure ‘love.’
Following 16 hours of intense conversation, entertaining exercises, and playing a few games, these parents had a whole new perspective on things. They were open to trying new ways of doing things. One mom shared that they had a week-long Memory marathon game going on at home, inspired by playing it in the Mind in the Making workshop the prior week. The new games had been sitting on a shelf at home, and now her kids didn’t want to put them away. She was happy to have the children play and develop their executive functions. Parents reported the awareness they now had about their own executive functions, particularly ‘inhibitory control.’
Wrapping up the final class, we stood in a circle and took turns sharing our takeaways from the series of workshops. These parents shared how valuable it was to have a safe place to share their concerns and receive support. They made new like-minded friends. Some expressed relief in having new self-awareness and no longer feeling the pressure that they have to do everything perfectly every time.
The popular skill seemed to be ‘Perspective Taking.’ As these parents entered on the first day, they were thinking of how exhausted and sometimes frustrated they were. After the Perspective Taking module, they had a new perspective on how these children feel and want to be treated. Some had compassion for the biological parents as they did Perspective Taking for them as well. I gained perspective on how these parents feel judged and tired and sometimes out of ideas, yet they continue to foster.
The final session of this cohort indeed took on the personality of its participants. This cohort fostered ‘love.’