The PartnershipProjects NVR Accreditation Module offered me a ringside seat to the NVR journeys and experiences of other practitioners. I welcomed the inspiration of this bigger perspective. I was in the last weeks of my role as a parenting practitioner in a local authority team, delivering groups and one-to-ones. In my blog I reflect on a shift in parenting practice: our liberation from the need to control our child allows the emergence of conscious, self-aware parenting.

Among NVR’s life-affirming philosophy and principles, its focus on parents as a valuable resource invites embattled parents to invest in themselves. For those who have been dismissed and abused by their children, blamed by agencies and harsh on their own perceived failings, this is a gamechanger. It gives permission for acts of care and kindness for themselves and others, invites mindfulness, grounding and compassion. It gives the right and power to choose what you say and do, how you speak to yourself and how you invite others to help your family. For parents living with multi-generational deprivation and violence, with no sense of personal power, the idea that their effectiveness depends on their own strength and wellbeing, rather than control, is revolutionary – and a little counter-cultural.

Swerving away from the dead end of confrontation and the illusion of control, we gain access to endless possibility for positive action within the NVR approach. Parents use their power to create a solid but fluid framework – a behavioural and relational space which allows people to find what’s good in themselves and others, a space where therapeutic change can occur.  It’s been a joy to witness parents’ strength and courage, once ephemeral, become more reliable and tangible. NVR has given me confidence as a practitioner because I’ve seen it promote people’s human dignity by creating change without breaking the spirit, and reducing conflict without humiliating or expecting a face-losing step-down.

When I consider how I’ve absorbed NVR, I see a parallel story: just as we urge parents to let go of seeking validation of their efforts in immediate change in their child’s behaviour, so I resist the impact on my self-esteem and practitioner presence of a group’s response. I’ve learnt to persist and hold my nerve, safe in my experience that NVR is effective. Indeed, I’m sometimes tempted to call the approach non-violent persistence. Through NVR practice, I’ve acquired greater substance in my interactions.  When I need courage, I ‘NVR’ myself, planning de-escalatory responses, moments to reach out, grounding myself, making up a spur of the moment announcement to inspire change.

It could be said that NVR’s rewriting of how control and power are used in the family, tips tradition on its head in a society based for so long on fear and punishment. I’d suggest the move away from coercion is as natural as our joint rejection of hitting children, but it will take time and patience. In a world where power, backed by violence, is the default response to conflict – on a global, national and sometimes a domestic level – NVR offers a practical alternative which is profoundly respectful and transcends culture in inviting us to resist what is destructive. NVR has us absorbed in using all its principles to create our own better future.

Rowan Stewart – formerly local authority parenting practitioner, now freelance NVR practitioner.


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