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"Respect and Gratitude" – A Participant’s Reflections of Teacher Maryanne’s Parenting Workshop

Hailing from Germany, Teacher Maryanne is a renowned international systemic constellation facilitator, specializing in applying systemic principles to parenting and teacher-student relationships. Teacher Maryanne's book, "When We Are Together," translated and published by the International Systemic Constellation Organization founded by Teacher Chou Ting Wen, has given me the opportunity to read and deepen my understanding of systemic concepts in this field.

Upon learning that Teacher Maryanne would be hosting a 4-day workshop in China, I eagerly decided to attend, keen to witness her expertise firsthand. My experience at the 4-day workshop was enriching, and I'd like to share my impressions to provide a glimpse for those who couldn't attend, hoping to impart some insights.

Teacher Maryanne’s profound understanding of children stems from her 25 years of teaching experience in German secondary schools and her personal experience as a mother of two boys. She emphasized on the hidden patterns within the family system, such as the fact that kids innately love their parents despite their mischievous behavior or angry remarks. Teacher Maryanne shared an incident where a child openly expressed hatred for his father due to alcoholism and negligence. However, when the father fell critically ill, the child skipped school, called for an ambulance and accompanied his father to the hospital. Teacher Maryanne questioned the child, asking if he truly hated his father. The child shrugged, saying, "He's still my dad." This illustrates the depth of a child's love. Children will often go to great lengths to fulfill tasks assigned by their parents. However, when they experience emotional distress, loneliness, or pain, their capacity to concentrate on learning diminishes. It's crucial to address the emotional needs of children in such circumstances.

Mothers are the most important to children, and her love is the source of their security. Besides loving their child, a mother's crucial duty is to facilitate a bond between the child and the father, and encourage the child to love their father. Even if a mother does everything for her child, preventing them from loving their father makes her an inadequate mother. This is an abuse of the power of motherhood, denying the child of their own empowerment. This is especially important for mothers raising boys because men and women are fundamentally different, and mothers may struggle to understand the thoughts and behaviors of men. It's challenging for a woman to single-handedly raise a son into a genuine man. In the workshop, whenever a participant said, "my child," Teacher Maryanne always corrected them, saying, "Your child is not just yours; you should say 'our child.' Children always have both a mom and a dad. Don't claim the child as exclusively yours."

According to Teacher Maryanne, teachers need to have deep respect for what the parents do for their children. When teachers can convey to students that their parents' work takes precedence and that the teacher's role is secondary, the students can respond with smiles and relaxation, which encourages them to be fully engaged in class. In classrooms, workplaces, and any situation, there are "absent attendants" — those unseen influencers and supporters, often our parents. When we realize that we are not alone, that the power and influence of our parents stand behind us, we feel more capable and empowered to face challenges. Teacher Maryanne often reflects warmly on her own experiences, recalling her father, a musician who also served as a school principal. Witnessing these recollections, I was also deeply moved. Perhaps, it is this support that fuels Teacher Maryanne’s ongoing exploration in the field of education.

Teacher Maryanne places special emphasis on "feeling what you feel". She explains that while the mind is adept at providing various reasons and justifications, there is only one true sensation in the body, and the truth exists within the body. To discover the mysteries behind events, we need to open our heart and embrace bodily sensations. In today’s age, modern education places an emphasis on knowledge transfer, often neglecting or forbidding children to discuss and explore their feelings. When we are alone with ourselves, the mind will tell us what to do, but it doesn't let us discover the 'truth'. When we experience uncomfortable emotions, simply exhaling and taking a deep breath can help release the pent-up emotions within us. By allowing ourselves to experience and pass through them, we become masters of our emotional well-being. 

Teacher Maryanne has her own distinctive style in her constellation sessions. Viewing cases from the perspective of a female facilitator, she combines maternal gentleness with teacher-like strictness, addressing core issues directly. She often said, "If you can't do this, you will lose this son!" When concluding the session, she would invite everyone present to stand and bow, expressing the utmost sincere respect for the fate of all family members involved. Teacher Maryanne places huge trust in the representatives in the session. She doesn't explain much about their role or what they should do; she just starts the constellation right away. Despite the fact that many participants were new to systemic constellation, everyone quickly became involved in the process due to Teacher Maryanne’s open approach. Through these cases, I've gained valuable insights. I'll briefly share a few, hoping that more people will have the chance to attend in person next time and personally experience the teacher's expertise in systemic constellation.

The workshop I attended this time had many children attending, ranging from as young as 6 or 7 to those already in adulthood. A consistent pattern emerged in cases involving parents and children: the prioritization of the spousal relationship over the parent-child relationship. Loving one's partner is the foundation of loving one's children. This holds particular significance for mothers, as women possess a natural power that can evoke fear in men. Men are uncertain whether women will choose to bring their children into the world and care for them. If a mother lacks an open heart, to not allow her child to love their father, the child may lose their own power and struggle to thrive in school, as the school is often seen as a symbol of paternal authority.

Additionally, many Chinese mothers have a common attitude of wishing for their children to grow up quickly and become independent as soon as possible. However, this disrupts the natural process of a child's growth. Allowing children to be just that—children—is a correct attitude for mothers. Mothers often project their own unfulfilled needs—which stem from their own childhood experiences of not receiving enough affection from their mothers—onto their children, which drives their expectations for their children.

In many of the cases this time, there were many people who felt helpless in facing issues related to their relationships, careers, and personal challenges. To wrap up each case, Teacher Maryanne would have the mother's representative embrace the person for about 20 minutes. This allowed them to feel a return to a mother's comforting embrace, rediscovering love and strength from that maternal connection. When we enter this world, our first source of love is always our mother. As children grow and venture into the world, encountering challenges and setbacks, the comforting embrace of a mother remains essential—a source of solace and rejuvenation, where maternal love offers warmth and strength, akin to recharging one's batteries.

There were also some cases where individuals who hadn't expressed grief for their deceased loved ones, leaving emotions blocked and unresolved. Our lives will always have beginnings and endings. Emotions, too, follow this pattern—sadness needs to begin before it can have an end. Otherwise, the pain will persist because we are unwilling to let our loved ones go. Grief is also a gift from heaven; we cannot control how another person expresses their grief. The same goes for other 'negative' emotions; the more you try to get rid of them, the stronger they become. For example, if you discover that you no longer have any anxiety, you may even wonder, 'Am I still alive?' Teacher Maryanne provided insightful perspectives on emotions, but I shall not delve into them one by one here. 

Teacher Maryanne demonstrated exceptional skill in handling individual cases, and in this workshop, she even conducted two cases involving organizational systemic constellations for businesses. The children's experiences in school serve as their personal journeys of socialization. With this understanding, Teacher Maryanne shared insightful perspectives on teamwork, collaboration, and management, making the cases exceptionally engaging.

Teacher Maryanne would always emphasize on ‘respect and gratitude’ in each case—a sentiment everyone needs to express. Respecting our lives and accepting them as a precious gift from our parents is the only treasure. Expressing gratitude for what our parents have done for us and for all events in our lives is essential. When we begin to bow, thank, and submit, love starts to flow, life becomes meaningful, and we experience more joy and happiness.

At the end of the workshop, all participants were filled with gratitude for the teacher, particularly those involved in the cases, who expressed immense joy at regaining emotional freedom. I've learned a great deal from this workshop, and what I'm sharing is just my personal perspective. It's not the whole picture, but I truly wish more people could witness the captivating presence of Teacher Maryanne in person! 

Reflections by a participant of Teacher Maryanne’s Parenting Workshop

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