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Parenthood: The Unconference Receives High Praise from Parents

by Eddie Rayner

The third and final day of Parenthood: The Unconference, organised by Abu Dhabi Department of Education & Knowledge (ADEK), got into the practicalities of conscious parenting to break generational patterns of negative parenting habits, why siblings fight and what to do about it, emotional regulation for parents before kids, as well as keeping children safe online.  

 The morning started with an enlightening talk from mindfulness expert Hunter Clarke-Fields on emotional regulation for parents and how to stop yelling. She got into the science of the stress response, how to recognise when it’s triggered and the importance of removing yourself in the moment to enable the brain to respond instead of reacting. Clarke-Fields shared some simple techniques to calm the nervous system like deep breathing, mindfulness meditations, and calm-down mantras. Each action helps parents avoid the negative consequences of reacting to their children in anger. “Yelling is not your fault but it is your responsibility to manage your behaviour. Our job as parents is to model to our children how to be calmer and down-regulate the nervous system,” she said. 

 Sama Al Azzawi explained how negative parenting habits are most often inherited from previous generations. “They are our frame of reference when we enter parenthood and it can be easy for this to become a default position in times of stress. Recognising those negative traits, like toxic positivity, is the first step to awakening a higher consciousness and cultivating a relationship of mutual respect between parent and child so they can acquire the necessary security attachment for their development,” she explained.

Emotional regulation, conscious parenting, resolving sibling rivalry and digital safety in focus on last day of Parenthood: The Unconference in Abu Dhabi 

This sentiment was echoed by Dr Ehab Hamarneh during his ‘Inside Out Parenting’ seminar. He talked in depth about how to ‘use’ parenting as an opportunity to expand our consciousness to raise more authentic and empowered children. Doing so not only unlocks the best version of you as a parent but creates a safe space for children to discover their own selves and their talents.  

 While sibling rivalry, the feeling of jealousy that all siblings occasionally feel towards each other, is normal in any family, Dr Laura Markham’s session taught parents how to help children fight in a way that actually brings them closer. The clinical psychologist advised parents to resist the temptation to intervene or take sides in arguments and shared practical scripts to turn sibling conflicts into opportunities to build life skills like emotional self-management and conflict resolution. Parents also gained tips on fostering a loving family culture that celebrates affection, connection and humour to create an environment in which conflicts can be resolved happily.  

An award-winning teacher and author, Douglas Haddad shared actionable steps parents can implement daily to help their children become confident, independent, emotionally-aware individuals who embrace a growth mindset in his workshop, ‘Raising a ‘6 S’ child: smart, successful, self-motivated, savvy, safe and self-disciplined’. Parents left the session with tools that can help their children to self-regulate with empathy, and become better problem solvers, goal-setters and leaders who are more resilient to adversity.   

Attendees praised the UAE for an enlightening event and for opening the doors to a new community for parents  

In Dr Elizabeth Milovidov’s interactive session ‘Digital Parenting, Safety and Wellbeing’ parents breathed a collective sigh of relief as they learnt how to make use of the parental controls available on their mobile devices, how a ‘family media agreement’ can set fair expectations for everyone’s use of technology and how children remain safe online, as well as getting children to embrace a healthy, more balanced relationship with their screens.   

Commenting on her experience at the first-ever Parenthood: The Unconference, Prachi Jawalikar Deshpande, mother of two said: “Parenthood: The Unconference has been very enlightening, especially when you are confused between the parenting of your parents’ generation versus raising children in an era that is so different from the time you’ve been raised. Conferences like this are a huge benefit because we get exposed to the wisdom, advice and latest research of experts that we can then impart in our day-to-day lives so we can raise the future of tomorrow.” 

Abdullah Khouri, a father of three said: “The event is truly a first-of-its-kind here in the UAE. I came from Al Ain to attend. It introduced new principles from around the world and made me think about things in a different way. Parenting is truly a unique journey and this event opened the doors to form a great community in the UAE for learning about these things.” 

 All sessions from Parenthood: The Unconference have been recorded and are available to watch at parenthooduc.com