shocked that only 47 days after her diagnosis, she passed away. Celia’s mission was “to bring about societal change through working with woman and particularly the lives being led by woman at the heart of at-risk families”.
I was fortunate to be able to attend The Celia Lashlie Day which honoured her life, work and values. Celia
became well known for her work with boys, particularly helping parents to deal with adolescent males. The Good Man Project in 2004 led her to write “He'll Be OK - Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men”. Her advice to mothers of boys was well sought after and she was in demand to speak all over the world.
Spending time with the boys led Celia to working with the mothers. At the heart of Celia’s plight was the need to stop working with the children and to start working with the mothers – then we will save the children. Several speakers on the day spoke about the support that is needed for the vulnerable woman in our society – those who has been through trauma, been sexually abused, the victims of domestic violence, spent time in prison … As these are the woman that then become the mothers who are raising the children. Everything we experience as children influences who we are as adults.
The notion of transformation and change must first come from knowing what is going on and to gain some understanding. What is this woman’s story? What has contributed to her current circumstances? The way to find this out is to ask. But the relationship must be formed first. This can only take place over a period of time.
Over the next few days, I kept reflecting on The Celia Lashlie Day and wondered how can I take what I have learnt and put it into my work as a visiting teacher to nannies? Listen.
My monthly visits are usually made up of what is on my agenda – collecting sign in sheets, checking the daily diary, sharing the next Hop Skip Learn event, talking about the interests and learning of the child/ren. While these things are all important and need to be done, what is really going on for this nanny? What have the past four weeks been like for her?
It was my first visit since The Celia Lashlie Day. I arrived at the house, knocked, and then left my agenda at the door. I asked the usual “how has your month been?” question. The nanny replied by telling me about the outings they had been on, the new foods the child was eating and most excitingly that he had taken a few steps! This was like any other typical visit. But this time I just listened. I wasn’t quick to jump in with my ideas and my thoughts. I just listened. It was ok to have moments of silence. But these moments of silence were filled by the nanny sharing more.
I just listened. The more I listened, the more she spoke. The more she spoke, the more I found out about the other things that were going on in her life. Things that were affecting her as a woman. I just listened until she stopped talking. Then I leant in to comfort her as a tear fell down her cheek. “Thanks for letting me talk” she said.
It was in that moment that the words of Celia Lashlie struck me “listening is not just about hearing, it is listening”. Healing comes from being able to share your story. People are moved by empathy and emotion and this comes from story telling. In order to really get a sense of what is going on for somebody then you must be able to see things through their eyes, not through your own. To Celia, the most powerful thing we can do is to tell stories. Story telling is vital for healing. Often we just need someone to take the time to listen, to show that they care. When was the last time that you sat alongside somebody in a non-judgmental way and just let them talk?
Time is a gift. Give it. Listen
Keryn Martin Wellington visiting teacher