— Our November Ho‘ohana
I am very pleased to introduce you to Pete Aldin of Great Circle; Pete answered my open call for stories of When Parenting Works, writing,
“I am so happy you are providing a focus on parenting. I look around my country and see opposite poles of bad parents and great parents. Forget about the bad ones. Unfortunately the great parents often feel like they’re doing a bad job. So a place to share stories is great.”
Here is Pete’s story.
“DMZ, Dad!” declares my son, before handing me a letter from school implicating him in some sort of mischief. I glance at the letter, open my mouth to bark an angry question, then catch myself. I can’t “legally” handle this situation that way. The Wise Son has invoked his right to leave the realm of confrontation and enter the realm of calm reasoned discussion. (Darn it!)
And so we enter into that realm”
“DMZ” has become an extremely helpful communication and relationship practise for my sons and me. A DMZ (or Demilitarised Zone) is literally the frontier or boundary between two or more military powers (or alliances), where military activity is not permitted. Often the Demilitarized Zone forms a de-facto international border. It is an area where disputes and requests are to be pursued by peaceful means such as diplomatic dialogue. In my home, the “DMZ” is a conversational “space” devoted to open communication and negotiation without the presence of weapons (such as sarcasm, accusations, or door-slamming) and without the threat of repercussions for what’s said. In establishing this kind of neutral territory, the I have had to the way and I use it for 2 purposes only:
- To hear to and to be heard
- To seek win-win outcomes.
Because of this practise, my boys and I stay in touch with each other (avoiding that awful feeling of “I don’t know you anymore”), we take some of the anxiety out of more difficult topics of conversation, we have a release valve for our frustrations, and we renew trust and affection.
So I listen to his story, to the reasons he got into trouble. Instead of erupting out of anxiety (“How could my son get into trouble at school?? How dare he impugn the family name” ” and similar garbage-ful thoughts), I calmly ask him what punishment the school have seen fit to impose on him. Then ”“ because I have time to think now ”“ I decide that he doesn’t need another set of consequences at home ”“ the school is the context and they are handling it. I thank him for telling me and we leave it at that. Because I have invested in Trust, he later begins to share some stories about what his friends are getting up to and asks me my perspective.
— Pete Aldin, Great Circle Life Coaching
For more from Pete, visit the parenthood index on his blog.
I took this snapshot at my kitchen table just now. Xander left this there as he went to school this morning. It epitomises the inner wrestle in boys/men between the Warrior and the Nurturer.
This makes me feel like he’s getting a good balance” — Pete
Peter Aldin is founder of Great Circle, a personal development practice empowering people to better navigate family and business dynamics and relationships.
Peter’s work involves empowering others’ success by
- Life-coaching in business communication, family communication, leadership, personal boundary-setting, instructional design and goal-setting
- Delivering and designing courses and workshops for professionals, teachers, church leaders and parents
- Delivering and designing competency-based training in tertiary colleges and retail businesses
- Developing a youth mentoring network