Tamar Khachilashvili, a mother of two feels happy that her children, 20-year-old Achiko and 15-year-old Lela, are open with her and say their mother is their friend. But, this was not always the case. Even just a few months ago, the situation was very different.
Tamar says she used to follow the traditional style of raising children in Georgia. She treated them very strictly until she took part in World Vision’s Celebrating Family trainings during the summer of 2013, an experience that changed her attitude towards her children and her husband.
“Before, I was more strong did not let my children express their opinions. This created a distance between us. My daughter became more isolated and preferred to sit in her room rather than talk to us,” she remembers.
“After the trainings I have changed totally. I have tried to be more close to them, let them express their opinions, and give them more freedom,” she says.
“Every time I tried to express my opinion I was told: ‘You are small. Do not interrupt when adults are talking,’ even if [my] parents were discussing [a] situation that affected me,” recalls Lela, Tamar’s daughter. “So I was just trying to be alone in my room with books or [my] computer,” she says. “Now, I just cannot recognize my mother,” she said, surprised. “I wish she [would have] given me this freedom before,” she added.
Under World Vision’s Faith and Development programme, the Celebrating Families Training of Trainers sessions were held for parent clubs in all three Area Development Programmes. The goal of the trainings was to support parents with training and a manual with methodology that explains how to equip families so that they can create safe and loving environments for wellbeing and nurture of their children.
Approximately 75 parent club members participated in the trainings which were led by partners from the Psychological Counselling and Training Centre of the Patriarchate of Georgia. The trainers were supported by World Vision in their preparation and were also provided printed copies of the manuals which were used.
Especially in rural areas areas of Georgia, authoritarian parenting has been the norm. Over time, society has been able to observe that children who are bi-products of this strict and traditional parenting style often achieve successful careers, but they rarely enjoy good and balanced social lives because they have often spent their entire lives simply striving to please their parents.
After the trainings, most of the parents confess that their relationships with their children have changed in a positive way. “My beloved phrase is for parents to ‘become love and receive people as they are,’” said Tinatin Mgebrishvili from Kakheti ADP. “Children become more open and we share our thoughts,” she said. “I treat them as adults and they feel respect from my side. I can say the same about my husband. I [am] trying to be much warm towards him and I feel the same feelings from his side,” she added .
After the trainings, World Vision Georgia, in cooperation with Georgian Orthodox Church, produced a series of TV programmes based on the “Celebrating Families” module, drawing the themes for the shows from the actual experiences of the community.
“At first it was difficult for me to talk about problems in the family on a TV program,” said Kakheti, parent club member who participated in the TV programmes. “But, the talk show was made in a very professional way and the journalist made the process very smooth with her questions and suggestions. After her participation in the TV programmes, Kakheti went on to lead the trainings for other parents in her community.
Twelve talk shows were broadcasted over the course of three months. The most popular topics included: creating a family, violence, hild development, and parents and children. “The programme turned out [to be] very successful, not only for the specific audience segment but also for the wider society as well. It is clearly shown by the TV rating,” added the producer Tamar Bolkvadze.