By Lance D. Davis, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs October 5, 2016
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Oct. 6, 2016) - Army Community Service hosted a two-day seminar called "ScreamFree" Sept. 29-30 at Camp Zama Community Club and Zama American High School.
This was part of ACS's commitment to providing quality programs and services to Army families and communities, according to Austin Stanley, family advocacy manager for ACS.
The ScreamFree seminar focused on the idea that "peace begins with pause," offering best practices for dealing with conflict, relationships and choices.
Hal Runkel - licensed marriage and family therapist and New York Times best seller who calls himself the "Peacemaker" - hosted three different sessions for parents, married couples and teens.
1. ScreamFree Parenting: Launching Hope
Runkel addressed parents during his first workshop "Launching Hope" at CZCC with the theme: "Let's Stop Raising Kids and Start Launching Our Teens into Adulthood."
He spoke on the challenges children and youth will face in their adulthood when parents do not allow them to grow up - citing a story of a mother who still wakes her adult child up in the morning.
"Parenting is not about raising kids; it's about launching new adults," said Runkel.
"We're not training them to live here; we're training them to leave here," he said.
The Peacemaker also said that anxiety is not a strategy for good parenting, using a remote as a metaphor.
He said parents should learn how to maintain control of their remotes (emotions) by pushing PAUSE to calm their anxieties and think about their responses before pushing PLAY again.
Runkel also said parents often times push FAST FORWARD, going into overdrive and emotionally reacting rather than having a thoughtful response.
He concluded that pushing PAUSE provides an opportunity to respond in a relationship-building way.
"It was nice to see that I don't struggle alone; we've all got these same difficulties as parents," said Gregg Rodgers, community member.
Rodgers also had his teenaged son and daughter with him.
Lauren Rodgers, 14, said this workshop was helpful to her because she is the middle child, helping to take care of her younger brother and often disagreeing with her older brother.
"It's better to learn communication now than to learn it later in life when you really need it," said Lauren.
Ellis Rodgers, 16, said the seminar was very beneficial to learn the key aspects of parenting because he realizes his father is trying, and he should meet him in the middle.
"So I thought to myself maybe I can try to work harder with him so we don't have the arguments on a daily basis... he's trying to work on my behalf and trying to talk to me... maybe I can think of how to talk to him," said Ellis.
Lauren added the session helped her understand her father better when it comes to letting her have independence.
"I understand now ... the reason why he doesn't want to let me go is not because he doesn't trust me ... it's because he loves me."
2. ScreamFree Marriage
That evening Runkel shared principles for anxiety, conflict and stress during his workshop for married couples at CZCC.
Runkel said couples have to "calm down," "grow up" and "get closer."
"If you're not willing to be a part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution.
"If you want a warm marriage, you have to walk through fire," he said.
Sgt. Jamie Jones, musician assigned to U.S. Army Japan Band, and his wife, Noelle Austin-Jones, said the seminar was really good as they embark on 11 years of marriage.
"For me, the take away is to stay calm ... learn to express yourself and your feelings of where you are in the moment ... in a productive way and not be so reactive," said Austin-Jones.
"We're always trying to change our partners," said Jones. "If they're doing something wrong, we want them to change ... if you change yourself first, then naturally your partner will respond better."
A younger couple explained how taking the screaming out of their marriage "hit home" and the importance of having events like these.
Staff Sgt. Whitley Wright, supply non-commissioned officer assigned to 88th Military Police Detachment, said she is a "yeller" but considers the lessons from the seminar confirmation to stop, especially because she and her husband are expecting their first child.
Whitley Wright said she understands the need to be scream free because a "different delivery" can bring a "different outcome."
Sgt. Jamel Wright, food inspector assigned to Public Health Command-Pacific, said he learned a lot and Camp Zama needs seminars like these more often.
"A lot of younger couples need this information to help them grow, especially with young marriages being on the rise," said Jamel Wright. "This will be very beneficial."
3. Choose Your Own Adulthood
Finally, several students and teachers attended Runkel's teen-focused seminar held in the auditorium at ZAHS.
This seminar was based on his book "Choose Your Own Adulthood: A Small Book about the Small Choices that Make the Biggest Difference" - written and presented to his daughter when she went off to college last year.
Runkel told the audience of students how some of the most successful people have chosen delayed gratification rather than instant gratification.
"Choose more of what you want most and less of what you want right now," he said.
He also emphasized the idea of pausing to "respond more, react less." In addition, he gave advice on likability, recommending to "be more interested" and "be less interested."
Based on their facial expressions, Runkel surprised the audience members when he said "loyalty is overrated," suggesting it's best to "be more loyal to principles" and "be less loyal to people."
Runkel engaged the students, encouraging their feedback during his dialogue with them.
He asked one student, Kalep Logan, sophomore, "what do you want to do when you grow up?"
"Save lives," Kalep responded, explaining that he wants to be a doctor.
Kalep asked Runkel, "Why are you here today?"
"To heal lives," Runkel answered, clarifying that his difficult childhood is his motivation for "being here."
The seminar concluded with the Peacemaker meeting students and signing exclusive copies of "Choose Your Own Adulthood" that will be released to the public in spring 2017.
"This really was enriching and it gave me a lot of hope, ideas and tips to prepare for college and adulthood," said Ny'Ara Willis, junior, regarding her experience with the seminar. "A lot of us need this guidance."
Before Runkel departed, he shared a message for military families, acknowledging the challenges of serving overseas and how that can tempt many to "long for home."
He went on to clarify that home is not defined by history, geography or infrastructure. Instead, he suggested that home is with family.
"Your home is wherever you are with your immediate family. So begin to embrace that.
"That's my strongest message to military families."