"The Modern Village - Continuing Education Classes for Parents," a workshop series founded by local mom/blogger Lisa Duggan kicks off on October 4. Classes will be held at The Map Building Annex in the offices of umojawa (515 Valley Street, Suite 2, Maplewood) on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
The complete Maplewood class schedule and links to register are listed at the end of this article; there are also classes in New York City. For more information visit the website.
Recently, Patch asked Duggan -- who runs the web project Parent du Jour -- some questions about the program. Here is what she had to say:
What gave you the idea to launch The Modern Village? Did you sense a demand for this kind of programming from parents?
The idea to host workshops for parents was born at the same time I began publishing The MotherHood Magazine in Maplewood & South Orange, back in 2006 (we stopped publishing in 2008). We published quarterly and we would choose one topic from each issue and host a community discussion based on that.
Our first discussion was about teaching morality from a secular point of view; my friend Nina Mandel, a Reformist Rabbi from Pennsylvania led the class. Parents loved the discussions. Since then I think the need for 'in real life' conversation has only increased. We're all talking, online, but the conversations are brief. Nothing replaces getting together with your friends and neighbors when you have a problem or challenge to solve — in parenting, or anything else.
What is the most common comment/complaint you hear from the parents you speak to about parenting today?
Not enough time or help! More families are made of two-working parents than ever before — despite the recession, or in some cases, because of it — and parents struggle to manage their and their family's schedules. The need for connecting to our community only increases when we have children; our kids are the ones who truly live in our "village" while we're at work but when do we make those connections? How does a parent meet all their obligations for work or career and for their children's needs, simultaneously? More time and an extra set of hands, that's what all the parents I talk to want — including me!
You wrote that parents are suffering from an information void, but some might say modern parents are faced with a barrage of information on how to raise their children. What will make Modern Village different?
There is a tremendous difference between information — which is plentiful — and knowledge, which is only acquired when we have the time to absorb and analyze the information we find. Our series of classes offers parents the space and time to really take in information and understand it and, perhaps the most critical piece — we've recruited educated and experienced teachers to guide parents in their search for knowledge and understanding.
Can (Google) help you find the doctor, teacher or therapist in your community that meets your budget, your schedule, and your kids' needs — can Google tell me who I can trust? An entire village of resources exist all around us. Our hope is to make visible those resources that already exist by finding the best local experts and leaders in a number of areas, and put them all under one virtual roof.
How did you decide what topics to include in the series?
From talking and listening to parents, not just here in our community, but via The Parent du Jour. We ask parents — both moms and dads — from all over the country (we've published parent-stories from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and the UK, some in two languages!) how they are 'doing it all', how they are combining work + family.
Common themes emerged...over how to manage children's access to all the screens and media in any given household; how separation and divorce changes entire family structures, including affecting the friends and extended families of those separating; and acknowledging and discussing the critical importance of the hired caregivers in our lives.
What I found was that despite the obvious differences of geography and ethnic background, families across the world enjoy more similarities than differences. All families are trying to do the best they can for their families with the resources they have.
What do you hope that parents will get from these sessions, and how will they be structured?
I hope parents find Help and Hope in these workshops. I want these sessions to help parents understand that they are not alone in their struggles. That there are other moms and dads — right in their neighborhood — seeking answers to their son's anxiety disorder or their daughter's adjustment to a new babysitter, and together they can find solutions.
The classes will be fun and very friendly...and very focused. I've been adamant in instructing our teachers to keep it simple, clear and short! I've asked them to think of 5 things they absolutely want parents to know about their given topic before leaving class that night. Teachers will talk for 30-45 minutes at the most; the remainder of the class (until 9 p.m.) is dedicated to taking questions from parents, and open discussion.
Tell us about one of the speakers, CV Harquail.
CV is a management professor and consultant (who also runs) a terrifically popular website called AuPairMoms.com. CV best represents the combination of professional experience and personal knowledge ALL parents bring to parenting today.
To me, CV embodies the idea that being a good parent is not a fixed point, it is a continuum. If we're lucky, we continue to learn right along with our children as they grow.
October 4: Everybody is a Scientist: Science Literacy for the 21st Century Parent, with Dr. Donald Cotler, a local physician. Event details here: http://themodernvillage-scientificliteracy.eventbrite.com/
November 8: Village for Hire: 5 Strategies and 1 Secret Insight to Building Strong Relationships with Your Child’s Caregivers, with CV Harqauil, PhD, founder of Authentic Organizations and AuPairMom.com. Event details here: http://themodernvillage-villageforhire.eventbrite.com/
December 13: Separated, Divorced or Remarried: Now What?, with Ian Grodman, Esq. (family law and mediation), Rhonda J. Panken, Esq. (matrimonial and family law, NY and NJ) and Daniela Lavalva, psychotherapist at private practice (divorce planning and family therapy). Event details here: http://themodernvillage-separationdivorceremarriage.eventbrite.com/
There are also three classes being held in Manhattan, which will feature some speakers from the Maplewood area as well. Full details for all six fall events available here:http://theparentdujour.eventbrite.com/