When you step into a group with me, I want to know about you. I want to hear your struggles and fears and frustrations and heartbreaks. I hope you feel at ease enough to speak what's on your mind, and together we get real about parenting.
Why then do I begin every group by suggesting that you default to not sharing? I want to facilitate a conversation that protects your vulnerability but I can't create what some would call a "safe space." I don't have the power to keep you safe. No one does. You cannot open your heart without risking its wounding.
I welcome every tender morsel you bring into conversation, and I also hope you keep to yourself until you feel at home. While we can only grow and learn and know each other better if we're willing to open up, I don't want you to regret it. If you leave with what Brené Brown calls a "vulnerability hangover," next time you might fortify your defenses, rather than inviting anyone in.
There's a risk to voicing your ideas and experiences, especially about something as personal and important as raising your children. What you offer may not be received as you would like. You may feel unheard, misunderstood, or discounted. Even when those listening have the best of intentions, you may get hurt.
I hope you speak anyway, because the risky topics are the ones that mean something to you, that you care about. They take courage to discuss. Still, courage alone isn't enough. You can be courageous and discover that the risk was too great. You might have shared too much too soon, or with the wrong people, and get laid low by that vulnerability hangover.
A coach I admire, Desiree Adaway, leads conversations about race, inclusivity, and social justice. She introduced me to a term describing a context for courageous conversations: brave space. I invite you to step into a brave space. I also invite you to take your time.
Get to know the group a little. Get to know me. Decide if we're worthy of your trust, worthy of the heart you would open to us. And if you find your ease with us, then take the risk. Not because we can keep you from hurting, but because if we hurt you, you can survive it in our company. We can get through it.
I'm glad you're here. Let's get started.