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Interview
Family

Conversation with Don Rossmoore
and Lisa Lainer


Recently Don Rossmoore sat down with Lisa Lainer, to talk about her experience as an ECPC parent.

Don: Why were you looking for a parenting program? I mean here you are a PhD in psychology. Why did you want this?

Lisa: What I realized is that while I felt pretty confident in myself and with my skills out in the real world, after having a child none of those things would help me. It was like “now what do I do?” I had a colicky infant and I didn’t feel very confident. I didn’t know if the things that I were doing were helpful or if there were other things that I could be doing that would be more helpful. And all the child development research that I had done as part of my schooling wasn’t particularly helpful. So I needed a place that would give me tools and structure and some advice. And really that's what I found at ECPC .

I started when my daughter was 9 or 10 weeks old and joined the infant group. We’d sit in a circle and the babies would lie on the floor. We would nurse and the babies would play and we’d sit with a child development specialist and a mental health specialist and talk about parenting…what’s practical, what’s hard. We’d get suggestions from other mom’s and from the staff that had more professional experience. When my daughter was doing something and I didn’t know what it was there was someone there to give me a sense of whether it was something to worry about or not. And it was very interesting to watch and have somebody be able to notice things for me that I didn‘t know to notice – like fine motor skills or social interactions., and to have a place to speak with other mothers that were going through the same things that I was going through.

I was in the program for 3 years – 1 year in the infant program and 2 years in the toddler program. When she was three she graduated into pre-school. And about a half a year later I started with my infant son when he was six weeks old. I continued again with him for three years. I like that the ECPC program is continuous and the expectation is that you will continue for the whole three years. You learn about the different stages of child development and how parenting changes and what important changes need to happen as you go from infant to two and three and out into the world.

Don: Why do it a second time?

Lisa: Because I loved it the first time. I met really nice people and nice women that were like me and I learned a lot. And my second child was different from my first. And I wanted a place to go – I was dealing with sibling issues and having two instead of one was different for me. There are always issues to be mindful of if you want to be the best parent you can be.

Don: So it sound like it’s not just a matter of learning something but also being in a place with people going through the same things as you are and also it attunes your awareness about what is going on.

Lisa: All of those things. It is a community of people going through similar experiences with their children and families and it's a great resource for other people’s ideas in a contained setting. It’s not just putting your questions out there on the Internet and hoping you get some reasonable advice. It’s having a discussion about this is the problem that I’m having and this is what I’ve tried. It’s being with others with the same kinds of struggles and this is what they’ve tried. It's a community of advice givers and there are always things to be gleaned and always things to be learned.

Don: What was the most surprising or most helpful thing you learned?

Lisa: That in our family I was controlling of the care of my daughter. I didn’t realize this until I had someone help me think this through out loud. When she would cry when she was with my husband, I would take over because it was easier. It was through ECPC’s program that I came to understand that I was interfering with my husband’s learning and my daughter’s learning. By taking over I wasn’t giving him a chance to learn and I wasn’t giving her a chance to see that her dad did things differently and that wasn’t wrong. It was through talking about my feeling responsible for all the daily chores and why that was that I came to understand the importance of letting my husband and daughter struggle it out so they could both be comfortable with each other.

Don: Can you describe the process that led you to figure this out?

Lisa: The process was a lot of discussions in groups – my frustration of always being the diaper changer, always being the one my daughter wanted to be with, what was normal behavior and what was being exasperated by my own behavior. And then thinking about this discussion, going home and talking to my husband about it, and then making the conscious decision to change. I really saw the benefit of this with my second and third child because I knew then how to do it differently. I knew from the beginning that my husband needed his chance for them to figure out their relationship without my interference.

Don: Tell me about the staff.

Lisa: Ultimately that is what is different about ECPC than any other Mommy and Me program. They are a professional staff of mental health and child development experts, and of students who are learning about child development. Not only do you get advice from other mothers, you also get the opportunity to get information and support from people for whom this is their expertise and this is what they do everyday.

Don: Did you develop any special relationships?

Lisa: I have a very long-term relationship with Renee who was the leader of the group for my first child. I’ve known Renee now for 12 years as both her role as the leader of the group for my first child and now again with my third, but also as somebody I can call and talk about the kinds of things that are going on personally for me. Renee is the grandmother you wish you had. She treats you like an adult and believes you are capable of figuring these things out and that you are capable of being great. She is not afraid to tell you if she agrees or disagrees with what you are doing. But it’s done in a way that’s not punitive and not threatening. It’s done in a way so that you feel that she just wants you to be great, and happy and satisfied at the end. She also has a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience with parents of children. After many years of working with the parent/child dyad she’s seen what works and what doesn’t. She is very knowledgeable.

Don: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Lisa: The thing that I’d want someone who is looking for a Mommy and Me program to know about ECPC is that the program really encourages mindfulness and thinking. It is a great forum for back and forth about parenting philosophy, of life goals… and the program really encourages relationships among the mothers so you have a community of people like you. It’s not just meeting people and together watching your kids play. It’s meeting people and getting to know them and having a built in support network. And I’m still friends with some of the people who I was in the group with with my first child. Two women in particular, one of whom I see monthly and one who moved away but we still talk frequently. And we call ourselves the ‘mommy’ group because that's where we started to get to know each other.

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Articles:
>> Your New Baby
>> Choosing a Pediatrician
>> Toilet Training
>> The Security Blanket
>> The Hospital Visit
>> Head Banging
>> Enjoy Eating
>> Over Eating
>> Sleeping Well
>> Sleep Disruptions
>> Medical Emergency
>> Separation
>> Temper Tantrums
>> Sibling Rivalry

Early Childhood Parenting Center  /  1440 Harvard Street  /  Santa Monica, CA 90404  /  Phone: (310) 281-9770  / Los Angeles Parenting Classes and Groups