Discipline isn’t an easy task, we’re all well aware of that. The hardest part about it is that we have been taught so many dysfunctional things by well-meaning family members. The methods our parents used to raise us may not have been perfect; we need to admit this to ourselves. This is where The Parenting Formula comes in. The project started by Mariam Medhat aims to show parents a better way to raise their children without resorting to yelling at or beating them.
“I started changing myself. This is the only way for them to change something that I want them to change”
To Mariam, it all started by her wanting to raise her children better, “I first thought parenting is going to be so easy. I had high hopes”, she tells, “reality turned out different. And I started seeking help with counselors”. It was then that she realized that parenting is more about what the parent does, rather than what the children do; their actions are only reactions to what the parent does, “I started changing myself. This is the only way for them to change something that I want them to change”, she explains. After she finished her own counseling, Mariam started taking courses about parenting and positive discipline. Positive discipline is to parent your child without hitting them or yelling at them, but rather with a positive attitude.
As Mariam soon came to discover, Egypt is riddled with bad parenting habits, “I discovered that 70% of our discipline methods harms the child’s psyche”, she explains, “a child who is always punished tends to follow the rules only if there’s punishment”.
“I discovered that 70% of our discipline methods harms the child’s psyche”
These faulty discipline methods have harmed our society; people only follow the law if they are certain they will be punished if they don’t. This is why The Parenting Formula provide these services, “we provide workshops that act like a course for parents, teachers, grandparents; anyone dealing with children, to learn the basics of child psychology”, she elaborates, “we teach positive discipline tools and apply them practically, acting out scenes and doing role play exercises”. These 5-class workshops are attended by the parents, and if they still have further issues, we direct them to someone who can provide them with counseling.
“around 95% of our participants are female. This poses a difficulty, to convince the father that this is extremely important”
At such workshops, one would expect women to have a stronger presence, but it is a staggering difference, “around 95% of our participants are female. This poses a difficulty, to convince the father that this is extremely important”, she says. The concept of trying a new discipline technique isn’t always accepted easily by society, “I’m fighting this whole ‘we turned out okay’, concept. We didn’t, we have issues all around and they all relate to things that happened to us as children”, she confirms.
The most common mistake Egyptian parents do is resorting to physical discipline, “hitting is one of the things that are very apparent here, also the double standards of asking my child to do something that I don’t do”, she tells, “or laughing at something they did that I shouldn’t laugh about, and then when they do it again when they’re older I yell at them”.
As expected, Mariam’s class is met with some skepticism at first, “at first it’s shocking for them, they can’t believe that they’ve been doing so many wrong things, then they start feeling guilty by the third class”, she explains, “when we reflect on their own lives, they get so emotional. On the third or fourth classes a lot of moms burst into tears, because they realize that what happened to them as kids is not okay”.
“I’m fighting this whole ‘we turned out okay’, concept. We didn’t, we have issues all around and they all relate to things that happened to us as children”
As for the future of the Parenting Formula, Mariam has a lot in store, “we want to have a mothers support group, like group therapy”, she tells, “I’m also dreaming about starting a family camp that would be oriented to the idea of bonding between parents and children”.
We can’t wait to see what more The Parenting Formula has to offer Egyptian families!