Becoming a parent is a life-changing event.
A parent educator and mother of two, Jenn Lasek knows this well from both her personal and professional experience.
While she has lived in Squamish for a decade, when her youngest child started kindergarten last fall, this transition led her to expand the focus of her business with two new courses aimed at helping new moms and dads.
Preparing couples for post-baby course
Though life is never the same once a baby comes home from the hospital, there often isn’t as much preparation for — or open discussion of — what the new addition will mean for the couple as there is in preparing a nursery.
While commercials and social media posts often depict the early days of parenthood as a spotless, smiling infant cooing at his equally picture-perfect parent, sunlight streaming in the window, the reality is often far from that depiction.
A week in with a screaming baby who has exploded his diaper at 2 a.m., both parents exhausted and snippy, any relationship will feel the strain.
Lasek's Bringing Baby Home workshop — taken online over 12 hours divided over four weeks — aims to help prepare parents for the reality once junior comes home.
It is meant for couples thinking about having a baby, who are pregnant, or parenting a child under the age of three.
Single parents are welcome to join with a designated co-parent.
The workshop is based on the work of psychologists John and Julie Schwartz Gottman, who have conducted 50 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples and co-founded The Gottman Institute in Seattle.
What the Gottmans’ research found was that almost 70% of couples report a decrease in relationship satisfaction.
"Which isn't surprising if you have had a kid," Lasek said.
"There's so many things in the postpartum and early days of parenting, like, a lot of grief that a lot of people don't realize they experience... There's grieving the person that you were, the relationship that you had, that a lot of people don't even talk about."
The impact of a newborn may hit uniquely in Squamish, where so many parents have strong passions — such as mountain biking, rock climbing and the like.
There can be the sense that, "Oh, when I have a child, it won't change my life," Lasek
said. "And I live in this beautiful area where it's [all] at my doorstep, and I want to do all the things. How do I balance that?"
The online course is mostly exercise-based.
The online aspect allows couples the privacy they need to have conversations they might not want to air in a group setting, especially in a small town.
One module looks at "The Four Horsemen" of relationship demise: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling, for example.
"And then, what are communication strategies to help with those things? So then it's, let's do these exercises," Lasek said.
What the Gottmans found with their research was that kids do better and even meet developmental milestones earlier when their parents get along, she added.
Positive discipline workshop
The Positive Discipline course includes workshops from the Positive Discipline Association that offer parenting tools that focus on being both kind and firm.
"So, gentle, conscious, respectful," Lasek said.
It focuses on building connections with the child and teaching valuable social and life skills.
Research shows that when kids feel connected to their family and community, they “misbehave” less.
"How can we avoid that power struggle and work with communication strategies and choice and ... understanding that we're human, and we're going to mess up," Lasek said, adding that the tools also help parents to go back and repair when they make mistakes, and so aren't based on expectations of perfect parenting.
The tools give children autonomy, within reason, offering choices between the parents' proposed options.
So, for example, if a child is angry and hits her brother, the parent doesn’t condemn the emotion but offers more acceptable options, such as hitting a pillow.
The workshop is experiential, meaning parents role-play and practice what they learn.
This course is being offered as a one-day in-person workshop, or there will be a four-week series with child care provided to be held at Happimess.
To learn more about the workshops or Lasek, go to her website.
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