Empowering Parents and GrandparentsPeace Hall, Thornton Heath, 12 April 2014Report by Lance Gardiner"There is no magic formula to successful parenting", stated Nicola Bailey, "but there are some essential elements - communication, boundaries and routine - that are important foundations for raising happy, confident children”. Nicola Bailey and Tim Kahn were the main invited speakers at an event organised by the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) with the support of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) held at the Peace Hall, Thornton Heath, on 12 April 2014 on the topic “Empowering Parents and Grandparents”.Vanya Almeida, as MC for the event, set the scene by addressing the gathered audience of about 30 participants, and highlighted the fact that there is no instruction manual for all the things we will face in parenthood and we learn as we go along, often influenced by our own upbringing or the prevailing wisdom. Yet raising children is an enormous responsibility and our children and also our community rely on us to do this well. After the introduction the audience was treated to a beautiful rendition of the song “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough” by Angela Lue Tain, which prepared the atmosphere for the thoughtful presentations to follow.Our first speaker, Nicola Bailey, an Assistant Head Teacher at Archbishop Lanfranc School, has a wealth of experience in teaching children in deprived areas and providing community and family support programs. She elaborated on the importance of communication based on explanation (not just command) in helping children to process their thoughts logically, which can encourage them to gradually make sense of the world around them and learn to make predictions. She also stressed the importance of setting boundaries which allow children to feel safe and anticipate consequences of their actions. Children will progressively grow into having their own view about boundaries, become capable of assessing risks and become more confident in making decisions based on sound reasoning. Finally Nicola touched on the value of regular routines as part of a sound framework for bringing up children.Tim Kahn, as our second speaker, spoke from his extensive experience running parental support groups with the Parent-Link organisation for over a decade. He provided numerous practical tips on good parenting, including acknowledging children’s feelings, avoiding labels (such as “You’re stupid!”) and instead describing behaviour, reflective listening, and positive expression (say “Walk” instead of “Don’t Run”), which reinforced the earlier message on good communication. He spoke in particular about his efforts to help fathers become more involved in parenting and the tremendous benefits it brings but also referred to some of the challenges they face in acquiring confidence in this role. Colin Gardiner, a grandparent of 9 grandchildren, concluded the presentations with his reflections on bringing up his own children and by reading the profound words of the Founder of WFWP and UPF, Father Moon. Quoting from the autobiography “A Peace-Loving Global Citizen”, Mr Gardiner emphasised the key message from the Founder that the family is the only institution created by God and is the school of love and the training centre for practising to build peace in the world.There followed a highly engaging Q&A session with the three presenters responding to a range of questions posed by the audience which represented searching issues from their own personal experience. The importance of harmony between the father and mother was emphasised in deciding an agreed approach to parenting. The meeting concluded with a lovely sandwich buffet and an opportunity for the participants to share their parenting experiences in informal discussions.