Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Journal Entry 3: Relationship Enhancement Training (RET)

This is Journal Entry 3 in the series Adoption: The Wild Goose Chase. You can find the other entries in the left hand menu bar.

We had our first class; Relationship Enhancement Training (RET) on Saturday, Mar 21st. Well technically it was our second, but we don't really count Water Safety as we basically got certified to know things like: swimming and ringing bells in church steeples in a lightening storm are bad...real bad. 

But I digress, so we woke up early on Saturday morning quickly got ready and headed out the door with Team Adopt all lined up and ready to go. Right on time Mary R. picked up Josh from our house to take him to their house for the morning shift (even though they had a birthday party to prepare for!) Then off to SLOtown to drop off Jason, who would hang out with Christa S. and her son Brock for the morning.

We hung a huge u-turn south to Santa Maria (yeah we know that was backtracking, but we were just thankful to get the babysitting!) We were a bit late, which is unusual for us [sarcasm], only to find the class was all en espanol! Yeah...

So I dusted off 4 years of Spanish and Linda dusted off 3 (taken 20 years ago) and we tried to follow along. Fortunately, Anne Ward who normally teaches the class in English was there to save the day for us. At first we tried to stick with the class, but basically we ended up in the corner getting a private class, which was way cool!

So what is RET? Good question, one that I did not know the answer to, even though I worked at the agency we will be doing Fost/Adopt with, for almost 4 years! Honestly, I thought it was all about Oprahesque touchy feely mumbo jumbo, but I was so wrong!

RET is all about communication that leads to better relationships. This training has helped us with the kids we already have! One of the things they taught us, is to take more of a consultant approach with our kids. Teaching vs. Punishing.

I know that sounds mamby pamby to many of you reading this, because spare the rod spoil the child and all that. And before taking this class I would have been right there with you, but it really comes down to a saying that I've heard quite a bit since being a parent, "Rules without Relationship equals Rebellion."

There I was in the middle of class, overly convicted that I am that father. You know the one, with overly harsh words that belittle and crush the spirit of their sons and daughters. Words that estrange rather than bring closer. I have very little doubt that the way I have been communicating to my sons, especially Joshua our oldest, would likely lead to the rebellion the saying above describes.

So what's the big deal about RET? How does it work? (BTW this is just one aspect of RET, one tool so to speak.) Well let's take a common occurance here at Casa Zalamea: dirty clothes left all over the house (quite literally...even outside).

Pre-RET class
Me: Son, stop whatever you are doing right now and pick up your dang clothes! (I over exaggerate only a little.)

Son: Uuuuugggggghhhhh!

Me: What did you say to me?

Son: Nothing...

Me: Yes dad? [Like I'm talking to a parrot!]

Son: Yes dad...[he grumbles]

Followed by a 5-30min lecture on why he should be picking up his clothes right when he takes them off, how much clothes cost, how much time Linda takes to wash our clothes and how thankful he should be that she does, and would he want to wash his own clothes? [You get the picture.]

Son: No dad...can I play now?

Post-RET class
Me: I get upset when you leave clothes all over the house, because it leads to more clean up work for your mom and I at night when we are pretty tired. (Feelings, Behavior, Effect)

Son: [Contemplates this] Oh, I'm sorry.

Me: I forgive you. It seems to be a bit of a pattern, what do you think we can do about it?

Son contemplates

Me: Do you need some ideas or are you still thinking about it? [I can see the gears are turning, so I just want to make sure he doesn't need any help.]

Son: No, I know I need to pick up my clothes.

Me: Just right now or...

Son: Right now and everyday, I'll try real hard dad.

I know that seems robotic and weird, but I'm here to tell you it really works! In the first scenario I got my son to do what I wanted, but I belittled him and more importantly robbed him of the chance to really think for himself. Now that may (or may not) be fine at 3 and 8 years old, but it definitely will not fly at 13 and 18!

Even more importantly, which dad does my son want to hang out with? The pre or post RET dad? Which one would you rather hang out with and have a relationship?

I'm not perfect at this obviously, plus there is a whole 'nother class to take this coming Saturday to finish off RET, but I'm sure glad to get the training.

A big thank you to Jeff L. and the Nessies for taking Josh and Jason respectively for the afternoon. Jeff, Josh's Sunday School Teacher, even took Josh to get his whittling badge in Cub Scouts! 

So all in all, Linda and I are having a blast following God on this journey. It is hard...and I'm sure about to get harder, but I feel like we are right where He wants us to be...

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Australia now on DVD

Come Out From Down Under

Though I am sure I could find statistics to show how much our culture and our nation struggles with the family unit and raising boys to become men, I think our experiences prove that this movie touches on issues that grip our society today.

Click here for more...