Many of the new students in the PCI (Parent Coaching Institute) training program are able to work with a senior student who is practicing their coaching. This allows new students to get a taste of how the process of coaching actually works, while senior students get practice doing it.
I was lucky enough to get paired up with a lovely woman named Julie. The night before my first conversation with her, I was asking my husband what he thought some of our parenting issues were. I wanted to be prepared and have ideas of what to work on. At that moment, we were both feeling hard-pressed to find anything very wrong. Sure, we have our challenges, but we couldn’t think of anything that warranted getting help from a coach. Had we just become desensitized to our issues? Complacent? Then my husband summed up his feelings by saying, “I just don’t think I’m the kind of person who would use a coach”. Hmmm.
So who uses parent coaches? Who needs them? After two sessions with Julie, I’m convinced the answer is: every parent.
In my situation, I am very fortunate to have good friends who are also on the parenting journey. I am also close with my mom and have a sister with two boys close in age to my girls. So my support network is strong. I talk to these people often about my kids, parenting issues, life issues, marital issues – whatever. We vent to one another, commiserate, cry, laugh, dream, and make plans for our futures. And yet, as I am now starting to realize, these relationships – as valuable as they are – cannot give me what coaching can.
The relationship between the coach and the parent is unique, as is the methodology of coaching. Coaching gives the parent an opportunity to work with a professional; someone knowledgable of child development who has an understanding of age-appropriate behaviors (as well as a whole lot of strategies for dealing with those behaviors). Gloria DeGaetano (Founder, Parent Coaching Institute thepci.org) describes the coaching experience this way:
Compassionate understanding, non-judgmental listening, and open curiosity are part of an inquiry process that over time has profound outcomes…Coaching not only provides context-specific practical strategies in a timely way, but also an opportunity for parents to reflect upon what is important, choose ideas and applications to try out, and explore what works best in his or her unique situation.
Talking with my friends and family makes me feel better in the moment. Sometimes a really good conversation may hit a nerve or bring up an idea that serves to enlighten me in some way. Mostly though, my parent friends and I are in the same boat, and we’re struggling together to chart unknown waters.
That’s why a parent coach is so amazing. I get the space to explore my parenting with someone who knows the right questions to ask. Many of us are not living consciously, let alone parenting consciously. We are just trying to keep our heads above water. A parent coach can help you stand strong in your parenting identity. Do you have a clear parenting identity? I thought a lot about this when I first became a mother. And then life got busy, and busier. The answers stayed vague in my mind. If we know who we are as parents, we can stand strong and clear in our beliefs against some pretty daunting influences. Parent coaches help you build that identity, and so much more. I’d love to write more on the subject, but life is busy and I have children pulling at me.
Lucky for me, I’m meeting with Julie tomorrow.