We Can All Use a Little TLC
Many of us grew up with our parents or teachers saying “maybe she needs some TLC” and we knew what those three letters stood for, tender loving care. Some of us even grew up dancing to “Waterfalls” by the band TLC - I know I did!
When the team at FIA sat down in a planning session trying to put into words, as simply as we could, what we really do in our support circles the acronym TLC came to mind right away. We do offer tender loving care, but even more specifically FIA’s groups focus on supporting students in schools, or parents on zoom to TALK, LISTEN and CONNECT about what is going on in their heads and hearts. Doing so allows these groups to be places where great empathy is generated and each member leaves feeling comforted knowing they are not alone in the courageous, messy, challenging, beautiful work of being a fully feeling human.
One of our ‘norms’ in the group is for everyone to have the bravery to talk courageously about what is weighing on their minds or brewing in their hearts. We start the group by establishing this norm and then others as they would support creating safe and confidential spaces, and then we, as facilitators, say something like, “this is your group…” and we sit back to pass the stage to anyone in the group who is ready to share.
Another important norm in our groups is silence. We always explain that silence is crucial so that each member has the time to listen to their thoughts and gather the courage to share. Listening is also the gift we give to each other. We sit quietly while someone opens up and shares. Holding vigil to their experience. Without the L in TLC there is no C.
When we talk and we listen, we really listen, as a group, the most beautiful thing happens…connection! It is this connection between the members of a group that provides the healing. It gives us the understanding that we are not alone in our struggle. When someone has listened, has witnessed us, has held us in their hearts it is easier to keep going, students are more likely to open up again the next time they need support and parents are calmer with their children knowing they aren’t the only ones finding parenting challenging.
TLC is the guiding post for our support circles AND the next time you’re talking to a friend and notice yourself thinking “they just need some tender loving care”, see if you can let them TALK if you can LISTEN and notice the beautiful CONNECTION.
- Leslie Richardson, Mom of 4 and FIA Team Member