Meet Erika

I'm enthusiastic about this chapter in my life, a continuous journey I’ve been on for over two decades. Beginning with my college education and continuing through graduate school, I prepared for a long-awaited career in teaching. Soon after graduating, I was hired to teach fifth grade. What a wonderful opportunity to practice all I’d learned in seminars now in my very own classroom! As a teacher I was exposed to the lives of the many children who passed through my classroom as well as their families. When you have the privilege to teach in an elementary school day after day, year after year, the wealth of knowledge you acquire is priceless.

My job was obviously to work with the students, but incidentally, I was working with their parents as well. A child's success seemed to come naturally when we all worked together-communicating, encouraging, and disciplining as a “team.” The children I taught thrived from open-communication, clear and consistent expectations as well as respect and compassion for one another. My goal was to establish this kind of utopia in the classroom each year, only the biggest obstacle was the contradiction to life at home for many children. It was then that I realized “parenting skills” were a necessity for raising well-adjusted, self-sufficient young people
with a thirst for learning about the world around them. Similarly, “teaching skills” were a necessity not only for an eligible teaching position but for managing a classroom full of developing young minds with complex backgrounds and a variety of learning styles.

During this time I had the unique opportunity to work for The Human Connections Institute, Inc. where I learned the art of facilitating. This new approach worked just as well in my teaching career, allowing me a new perspective in the classroom, to guide and observe my students rather than instruct and dictate. When given the chance, students of all ages became empowered and enlightened through self-discovery and cooperative decision-making. Becoming a facilitator offered me the experience to work with children of all ages, from diverse backgrounds, as well as parents and fellow educators. We dealt with topics including leadership, self-esteem, team-building, peer mediation, and conflict resolution. During this time, conducting workshops, meeting with so many people, both young and old, male and female, despite ethnicity or religious beliefs, I realized that all of the participants shared something in common - the desire to be acknowledged, validated and loved.  

The next phase of my life came when my husband and I decided to start a family of our own. After my son was born I made the decision to resign from teaching and remain at home to be a full-time mother/homemaker. This decision changed my life forever and allowed me to grow in ways that I couldn’t have imagined possible! I spent my time learning how to to care for my son while observing and honoring his spirit. My lifestyle changed dramatically now that I was “working” from home. Rather than waking to commute, meet with colleagues, and experience the stimulation that came from having a career, I was on a new schedule. It was a lonely time, compounded by sleep deprivation and overwhelming, mixed emotions. Many new parents, women, in particular, can likely relate to this feeling of solitude and disorientation.

I decided to engross myself in the “art of parenting” and live each day consciously while reflecting in a journal, noting my deepest thoughts on motherhood. Along the way, I met parents, grandparents and caregivers at playgrounds, “mommy-and me” classes and just strolling around the neighborhood. I read many articles, books and websites on becoming a better and more effective parent. Each time my son and I interacted with others, either in organized or informal settings, we were offered the first-hand opportunity to learn about the diversified way in which people choose to live.

My son was two and one/half years old when my daughter was born. Although it seemed inconceivable to love another child, I fell in love again, as my baby girl instantly completed our family. This time was unique, learning how to balance my energy and affection between both children, with sensitivity toward my first and his delicate feelings about his new sibling. We tried to the best of our abilities to create a smooth transition using books, videos and dialogue to prepare our son for this wonderful, yet, uncertain time in our family. Despite our efforts, natural tendencies to compete for our love and attention occurred daily. This new dynamic would change my son's identity forever, no longer an only child, he was now a "brother." It was essential for me at this time to seek the support of other parents with similar experience to exchange ideas and learn ways to cope with the new relationships within my family.

Through the years there have been many “teachable moments,” through which it occurred to me that most men and women did not have any formal training in “parenting." Most couples admitted to the fact that there was little to no planning for parenthood at all before having a baby. Instead most people were likely following in the patterns of generations before them. I began to think back to the mandatory course we all attended in the hospital before our first child was born. The registered nurse was trained to teach us all basic infant care including how to feed, diaper and put our babies to sleep. However, there wasn’t a course being offered in nurturing, encouraging, communicating, listening, guiding, and the importance of positive role modeling. Common sense and love are just not enough when it comes to raising children, like in any rewarding career, special skills are required.
I am “enthusiastic” today about empowering parents/caregivers in small group settings or private consultations to promote communication with care and listening with love. I draw from my life experience as a teacher, facilitator and dedicated mother, to engage others in a setting where their individual beliefs and values are affirmed and techniques are offered to strengthen relationships within families.

My journey continues as I parent from the heart while supporting others in their quest to do the same. 

Proactive & Passionate Parents of Long Island

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