Category: Family Program

Lesson 3 (Family Program)

Activities for Month Three (PRINT VERSION AVAILABLE HERE)  The following activities are options for you to implement as works best for your family throughout the entire month. None are very demanding, but each one requires of us our full presence of mind and heart. You are invited to be creative with the activities: find your own way to make it work for the children with whom you participating. Invite each other to add to the activities in ways that add to their meaning and beauty. Here’s a list of the activities for the month. Find descriptions below. Journal Family Meeting Gandhi Searches for Truth, Reading and Discussion (for whole family) Search for a Nonviolent Future, Reading and Discussion (for older teens and adults) Mealtime Activity Wisdom Tradition Passage Nature Activity Journal Write about one way that you hope to see your family grow in the next five years. Write about how you feel called to be of service to that deepening bond. Take time to think about “cooperation.” Who taught it to you? How did your definition of it change throughout your life? How might your children understand it? Read this blog about “Six Things My Kids are Allowed to Say to Adults.” Note any thoughts you have about it. Do you agree with the blogger? Do you disagree? Why?   Family Meeting This could take place around your nonviolence altar. Or in a space that you create intentionally to hold this meeting. Begin the meeting with something beautiful. Maybe a short song or a poem or an inspiring quote. Allow time for quiet reflection. Then, invite each other into the discussion. Suggested topic for this month: Safety with other children and with adults. Take time to talk with your family about having boundaries with grown-ups and what to do if grown-ups ask them–or force them– to do something that is harmful, scary, or makes them feel generally unsafe. Here is one resource from ChildMind, “10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse” (For younger children, however, this can also be reviewed and discussed with older children, to ask them how they might apply similar concepts to their life as a teenager) N.B. There are no right or wrong answers. The goal of this exercise is to be honest with each other, to try to go a little deeper with each other as a group, and to share from our hearts. The family meeting can also serve as a space to work out problems in a collaborative way (not parents vs. children).   Reading and Discussion with Children: Gandhi Searches for Truth can help grown-ups and children have important conversations about ideas related to nonviolence. It’s most effective when we take our time with the content. Each chapter is divided into a quote, a story, and a nonviolence principle. The quote is intended largely for the older child/adult reader, but feel free to read and then explain, in your own words, to the children with whom […]

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Lesson 2 (Family Program)

Activities for Month Two (PRINT VERSION AVAILABLE HERE)  The following activities are options for you to implement as works best for your family throughout the entire month. None are very demanding, but each one requires of us our full presence of mind and heart. You are invited to be creative with the activities: find your own way to make it work for the children with whom you participating. Invite each other to add to the activities in ways that add to their meaning and beauty. Here’s a list of the activities for the month. Find descriptions below. Journal Nonviolence Pledge Family Meeting Gandhi Searches for Truth, Reading and Discussion (for whole family) Search for a Nonviolent Future, Reading and Discussion (for older teens and adults) Mealtime Activity Wisdom Tradition Passage Nature Activity Journal Reflect and journal about a time when you experienced nonviolence for yourself. How did that moment change you? How did it change the situation or relationship that was in question? Write a letter (in your journal) to yourself from the perspective of someone who may be in conflict with you. Upholding a higher image of both yourself and the person with whom you have a conflict, try to see it from their eyes. Imagine what they may request of you. Were you raised in a home where there was violence? In what ways are you working to break the cycle of violence in your own family? Nonviolence Pledge Either in a family meeting or around your nonviolence altar, take time together, as parents and with the children, to commit to the principles of a pledge of nonviolence for the family. There is a pledge for parents from the Action Team to End Hitting Children, which is very powerful. You can see a version of it here. Print it out. Read it with other adults or on your own, sign it, and put it somewhere to be reminded of your commitment. Then, take time to create a pledge of nonviolence with your children. Here is a sample family pledge of nonviolence. You can use it or adjust it with everyone’s input.   Family Meeting This could take place around your nonviolence altar. Or in a space that you create intentionally to hold this meeting. Begin the meeting with something beautiful. Maybe a short song or a poem or an inspiring quote. Allow time for quiet reflection. Then, invite each other into the discussion. Continue the exercise from last month: Ask and answer the questions: Who are we as a family and what is the purpose of our family? What do we care about in the world? How do we hope to treat one another? What do we wish for one another? Invite a conversation about how we have a deep power within us for peace as individuals and how as a family we can expand ourselves into our wider community as a force for goodness. Invite some creative expression to wrap up the family meeting, such as coloring, […]

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Lesson 1 (Family Program)

Love is the strongest force the world possesses, yet it is the humblest imaginable. ~M.K. Gandhi   Dear Friends, Welcome to our Family Program. This is a 12-month curriculum designed for families of all kinds–whether in our homes or in our classrooms–where we get a chance to deepen our practice of nonviolence with the help of children. As Gandhi pointed out, love is as humble as it is powerful–and who is more humble in our midst than the children that surround us at every turn? They are watching our choices; learning from our behaviors; listening to what we do and contrasting it with what we say; all while trying to make sense of the world, their place in it, and harnessing the great and latent powers they have to contribute to life around them. Indeed, a goal of this program is to help children find their inner potential. In its essence, nonviolence is the practice of discovering and putting that force of love to work in ourselves and in the world, and we cannot think of a more appropriate place to begin to explore that force than in the family. What you are engaging in throughout this project is more than helping your own family or helping your own children grow and develop into a force for nonviolence in our world; you’re helping the structure of family itself rediscover its purpose (dharma): to be a heart-centered space for the transmission of life-affirmation and constructive values that connect all of us into one larger, massive human family. The program will follow two main books: Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children and The Search for a Nonviolent Future. A supplement will be Eknath Easwaran’s God Makes the Rivers to Flow: Selections from the Sacred Literature of the World. We will share simple exercises, food for thought, and activities for the participants in this program to begin or else deepen what nonviolence looks like in the home setting. You are warmly invited to expand on any topic/activity or branch out in any way that you feel is right for you. We want this to be both flexible and engaging. Finally, this project is a work-in-progress, so your constructive feedback along the way is very welcome. Especially, please share with us your positive experiments or other materials that you have found useful. With admiration, Stephanie Van Hook, on behalf of the Metta Center Team   _______________________________________________________________   Activities for Month ONE Link to print-out here   The following activities are options for you to implement as works best for your family throughout the entire month. None are very demanding, but each one requires of us our full presence of mind and heart. You are invited to be creative with the activities: find your own way to make it work for the children with whom you participating. Invite each other to add to the activities in ways that add to their meaning and beauty. Here’s a list of the activities for the month. […]

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Family Program

In an effort to mentor the nonviolent leadership of the future, The Metta Center for Nonviolence is piloting a Family Program at our new office at 205 Keller (suite 202D). When: SECOND TUESDAY of the month, 3:30-4:30 pm.  Children will join a peace circle, with a story, snack, song, and creative activity/craft. Grown-ups are invited to join a parents circle to talk parenting, find inspiration and creative ideas for tough situations, and learn skills of Nonviolent Communication that can be used in all departments of life. The children’s circle will be facilitated by Stephanie Van Hook, Executive Director of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, Assistant Teacher at Red Barn Montessori, creator of Parent Power Podcast, and author of Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children. The parents’ circle will be facilitated by Lou Zweier, a long time practitioner and teacher of nonviolent communication and conflict resolution skills.  He has been married for 35 years and has two adult children. We warmly welcome you to stop by. Please send a note to Stephanie at stephanie@mettacenter.org, or call 707-774-6299. That way we will prepare enough materials.

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