Group begins Thursday June 6th @ 7pm. Space is limited - register by Saturday June 1st to reserve your spot!
I want to invite you to join me on an 8-week transformation journey designed to move you toward a more meaningful relationship with your parent(s). If you’ve ever felt frustrated by the interactions you have with your parents – whether it’s arguments around the holidays or the tension of avoiding meaningful conversation – then this group is for you! We will meet face-to-face in Oak Cliff over the course of 8 weeks (June/July), discussing relevant topics and engaging in practical exercises (see below for more details) that will move you toward a more life-giving relationship with your parents.
To any external observer, it probably looks like I have a decent relationship with my parents. We celebrate major holidays together, I talk to them on the phone periodically, and we don’t tend to argue or say hurtful things to one another. But there’s a reason we don’t argue, and it’s because we’ve figured out what topics to avoid to keep the peace. This has definitely not always been the case. Ten years ago, we had gotten into a pattern where almost every time I was in town visiting, there would inevitably be some kind of dramatic explosion between us, usually triggered by a political or theological topic that we disagree on. And it wore me out. I came to dread those interactions, and eventually learned to avoid them by not going anywhere near any topic that I knew we disagreed on. The problem is, this meant I was avoiding just about every topic I really cared about. I got the “peace” I thought I wanted, but the cost was a meaningful connection with my parents.
Now, I have known that there was a problem for quite some time (5+ years). But to be honest, I had not been in a place where I was willing to put emotional energy into working toward change. First I was angry, then I was tired, then I was indifferent. I had no compelling vision for what could be. But a couple of things have happened recently that are telling me it might be time to get into action. First, my parents will both turn 60 this year, and I will be 30 before the year is over. There’s something about both of those ages that spurs me forward – on my end, I guess I want to enter my 30s in a better place with my parents, and on their end, I know they won’t be around forever.
The second thing that changed for me is getting married last summer and becoming a stepparent. Watching Joel be a parent to Grace is helping to provide that compelling vision that I was lacking. And trying to be a parent myself also raises questions about how to give what I haven’t received. I want to be able to have challenging conversations with my kids, even when we disagree, even when it's uncomfortable. But I know that for me to grow into that kind of person, I have to take responsibility for who I am in my relationship with my parents. I'm done playing the blame game, and am ready to get to work!
Why this work is so challenging AND why it is so worth it!
Do you ever wonder why it’s so hard to be your true self around your parents? Consider this: Your family existed long before you were born. In whatever environment you were raised, you were surrounded by people who were already trapped in emotional patterns before your entrance into the world. As a young child, you adapted yourself to these patterns and figured out the optimal way to “be” to get your needs met in that environment. And as a child, that was brilliant! If your father had an anger problem, it made a lot of sense to minimize your needs and keep quiet. If your family was so busy they barely noticed you, it made sense to obsess over your grades in an attempt to get some attention. These “ways of being” served you well as a child and helped you to survive to adulthood. But now that you’re here, you might be starting to realize that some of these patterns are still with you, and they aren’t serving you anymore.
Now, many of us have learned to “be” different around friends and co-workers, but our family of origin is the final frontier. The absolute hardest place to break old patterns and learn new ways of being is with your family of origin. And this makes sense – we have been “practicing” these patterns with them since birth! Everything in our bodies is wired to respond the way we’ve always responded, so even when our thinking changes, it is an uphill battle to get our bodies to cooperate. This is why psychologist Murray Bowen (a pioneer in Family Systems Theory) suggested that our emotional maturity can never progress beyond what it is with our family of origin. We may feel “grown up” because we can behave with maturity in other settings, but according to Bowen, this is only the appearance of maturity. Our true maturity is revealed in our interactions with our parents and our siblings.
And that is why this work is so important! And so worth it! Your relationship with your parents is the highest leverage arena for personal transformation. As you work in this one area, the impact of that work will spill over into every other area of life. For example, my struggle to “make space for myself” in important relationships – e.g. asking for what I need, expressing my feelings, initiating important conversations – flows directly from my struggle to “make space for myself” with my parents. But as I do this work with them, the fruit is already starting to show in other relationships and contexts.
What about you? Are there areas in your life where you feel stuck? Relationships where you aren’t able to show up the way you want to? Arenas where your growth has felt limited by voices from your past? Opportunities you have let pass you by for fear of putting yourself out there? What if working on your relationship with your parents could change all of that? It might sound crazy, but what do you have to lose? And if it worked, what could you stand to gain?
This group MAY be a good fit if…
- You are between the ages of 25 and 50.
- You have at least one living parent with whom you desire a more meaningful relationship.
- You’re tired of being stuck in the same patterns – whether that’s arguments around the holidays, or the tension of avoiding meaningful conversation.
- You’re frustrated that you aren’t able to relax and be your true “adult self” around your parents.
- You’re jealous of friends who seem to have deep and meaningful relationships with their parents.
- You’re at a place in life where you feel generally positive feelings toward your parent(s). (This doesn’t mean that every past conflict has been resolved, but it does mean that you don’t primarily feel anger or resentment. You genuinely want good things for them.)
- You feel that this is a good season to begin taking small action steps toward this goal.
- You would benefit from the accountability of weekly face-to-face meetings to talk about your situation, steps you’ve taken, where you feel stuck, etc.
- You live in the Oak Cliff area, or are willing to travel to OC for face-to-face meetings. (I would consider facilitating a group online if at least 3 people wanted that option.)
This group may NOT be a good fit if…
- You are extremely satisfied with your relationship with both parents.
- Your parents are no longer living.
- You’re under 25 years of age. (I’m open to pushback on this, but it feels like a good rule of thumb.)
- Your primary feeling toward your parents is anger or resentment.
- Your parents are actively abusive and pose a threat to you and/or your children.
- You don’t have the emotional energy and/or time in your schedule to engage with four assignments over eight weeks, and to meet weekly with the group to share about your experiences.
- You’re not in a place where you can share about this issue vulnerably in a small group.
- Time Frame: June 6 - Aug 1 (8 weeks)
- Day/Time: Thursdays @ 7pm
- Meetings: 1 hour / week
- Exercises: 1 “assignment” every 2 weeks (4 total)
- Commitment: attend a min. of 6 out of 8 meetings, and engage with every assignment at whatever level you are able. (Assignments will not be wildly time-consuming, probably 1-2 hrs / week.)
- Format: Each week you will either have a reading or an assignment. On “odd” weeks we will discuss a topic/reading. On “even” weeks we will share about our experience doing the assignment.
- Group size: All groups will be capped at 6 participants so that everyone is able to share.
Readings (“odd” weeks):
- Week 1: One Person Can Change the System
- Week 3: Grieving Wounds, Accepting Reality
- Week 5: Seeing Larger Patterns in Your Family of Origin
- Week 7: Engaging in Dialogue
Assignments (“even” weeks):
- Week 2: Brainstorm Vision + Current Reality; Write out Transformation Conversation
- Week 4: Letter of Grief (to “child self”) + Letter of Gratitude (to parents)
- Week 6: Interview parents about relationship with their parents; create Genogram
- Week 8: Capstone Project (related to your “Vision,” different for everyone)
- Base: $80 deposit (+$12 if you want a hard copy of the notebook; digital copy included for free)
- Bonus: I want to offer every participant of this pilot group a COMPLIMENTARY mini-coaching package of THREE coaching sessions at no additional cost (valued at $225).
- Session #1: Before the group starts - to help you get clear on your vision and what you want to get out of the experience.
- Session #2: During the course of the eight weeks, at any point – to give you extra guidance around a particular assignment, or to provide additional support when you are feeling stuck.
- Session #3: After the group ends - to help you cement your takeaways and get clear on next steps.
- A note to donors: If you are currently a donor to Body Oak Cliff, then you can choose to pay for any of the above out of your gift. If you choose to do this, the amount that is diverted toward this course will be considered a “program fee” and will no longer be tax deductible.
- If you thoroughly read this document and conclude that this group is a good fit for you, I can pretty much guarantee that the value you get will drastically exceed the cost.
- That being said, if you have a negative experience for whatever reason, I will issue a FULL refund, no questions asked. (Ok, I’ll ask some questions, but it will be for my learning to know what I can do better next time, not to argue with you about the refund!)
- On the flip side, if you have a positive experience, at the conclusion of the group I will invite you to make a donation in ANY amount that reflects the value you received. If you feel like the amount you’ve already paid accurately reflects your experience, then there is no pressure to give more. If, however, you have an amazing experience and your relationship with your parents drastically improves, then consider what that’s worth to you and “pay it forward” so that I can continuing providing these experiences for folks.
In case it’s not evident from my story, I have not yet gotten to where I want to be in my relationship with my parents. I am leading this group not as someone who has “arrived,” but as a fellow traveler on the journey. My hope is that this will allow me to engage in the assignments more wholeheartedly and to empathize with your struggles more fully, since they will be my struggles too. This is an experiment, but one that my experience in coaching, group facilitation, personal formation, and family systems theory suits me for.
Furthermore, I want it to be clear from the outset that I am not promising (or even suggesting) that your relationship with your parents will be magically transformed in 8 weeks. It has taken a lifetime to get to where you are, so it will take some time to unlearn the old ways of being. However, I do believe it’s possible to see substantive change in this period of time, and to gain enough awareness and momentum that you can continue the work after the group ends.
Group begins Thursday June 6th @ 7pm. Space is limited - register by Saturday June 1st to reserve your spot!