Lina Cramer, one of our Stewardship Council Members, shares her experience with World Cafe in her work with parents and families:
I was introduced to the World Cafe a little over 10 years ago. I was searching for a way to impart information to parents that honored their commitment, respected their knowledge and encouraged them to keep loving and learning. I knew a lot about child development, had studied various parenting curricula – even written a couple, yet I was never truly satisfied with the many approaches that assumed that parents need to be ‘trained’ or ‘taught’. And, as a parent myself, I was well aware that parenting is a continual on the job training opportunity. Kids are different, times are different, family life is often a ‘juggling act’.
Parents know a lot, do a lot and care a lot. Yet, no parent has it all figured out all of the time. Most parents always carry a long ‘to do’ list in their heads – only to be matched by a ‘worry list’ about all the things that aren’t working or what they should have done. In truth, we parents are our own worst critics.
I wanted something different. Something that would engage parents in ways that foster learning and sharing. In Summer 2006, I invited a colleague and friend Lisa to work with our Design Team of Parent Leaders who had accepted the challenge of creating an innovative way to share information about protective factors with parents. Protective Factors are qualities in families that contribute to keeping children safe and families strong. Early in our work together, Lisa suggested we create Parent Cafes to share our information. She held up her book: The World Cafe: Shaping Our Future Through Conversations That Matter and said we could adapt the World Cafe to work with parents, i.e. Parent Cafes. We were intrigued; none of us were familiar with World Cafe. That same day, Lisa hosted a Cafe with our team to explore the protective factors. We were amazed – we laughed, we cried, we shared stories, worries and hopes for our families. We had never had such a deep conversation together! Inspired, we set about designing conversations that would elicit the wisdom and desires of parents about keeping their children safe and their families strong.