You know the feeling when you’re having a difficult time making a decision as a parent? You ask other parents for advice, or you go onto forums. But, the answers seem to come from all ends of the spectrum. No one seems to know what is ‘right.’ So, you read a parenting book. Then, that seems to contradict what another parenting book says.
But all the while, you still don’t have a solution to your parenting problem. Should you be strict or loving? Should you be liberal or conservative? Does the choice have to be so black and white? What about consistency and follow-through? What are your kids learning from your parenting in the long run? Are you just trying hard not be your own mother or father? Is there merit in that?
In cases like this, you may want to ask yourself if you need a parenting coach. Because in truth, the answers may be case-specific. Or not. But a parenting coach trained in psychology can also help you get a grip on your stress. They can show you that parenting can be just as much about you, as it is about children. And, they can aim to improve your entire family’s dynamic – not just the challenges you have with your children.
They can also help with divorced families and those who are opting to co-parent, but with different parenting styles. Or they can help blended families, and adoptive families.
So, what is a parenting coach? Do you you need one? We’ll attempt to cover that in this article.
The definition of a parenting coach, and some basics to know when hiring one:
Parent coaching can be as simple as an experienced person giving advice. But in the professional sense, it can refer to someone who is hired as an expert to help you find answers, and execute solutions, to your parenting struggles. The latter is what this term means in the general sense, and probably in the way most people understand it.
You may find that some parent coaches are actually trained in psychotherapy, such as this one, who writes for the Huffington Post on parenting issues. People who offer parenting coaching services may be child or family therapists. Their practice can be angled from different points of view, and come with differing levels of expertise, in that regard. So, they may be able to work with individual family members to help the whole situation, and not just the ones taking the role of parents.
Some parenting coaches go to school to be certified as one. They may not be qualified in psychotherapy, but they have completed training focused on being a coach for parents (or other types of coaching). Parent coaching can also be part of a trademarked term, for certification.
Though, if you hire someone who is not officially certified as a parent coach, that doesn’t mean you didn’t get parent coaching. It will be up to you to decide where you can get value from someone who is claiming to help you with parenting. You should look at all qualifications, and make an informed decision before picking someone who will work with your family.
As this article explains, there is a difference between therapy and coaching. Therapy can be focused on finding the root cause of issues. Whereas coaching is more about leaving that ‘cause’ behind, and focusing on what can be done to improve the current problem, or to achieve the goal at hand.
Both forms of help may have a valid place in your life, and in your family. It will be up to you to decide which is best for your case. Some of these professionals offer short, free consultations. You can use that to ask them for their opinions, if you’re not sure what service to pick.
Do I need a parenting coach? What do they do to help parents?
Now that you know more about what a parenting coach is, the question becomes: do I need one? You may also ask: can’t I just read forums and google answers to fix my parenting issues? Well, as we mentioned in the intro to this article, that method can come with its own set of confusing outcomes.
It’s not hard to see that all parents struggle with the art of being a good parent. So any support you can get is probably good for you. Even if that’s asking friends for advice (healthily, though), or googling, or posting questions to forums, and seeing what replies come back.
However, if you constantly struggle with any of the following issues, to the the point that they affect your ability to live ‘normally,’ it may be wise to seek the support of a professional parenting coach, and possibly a family or child therapist. The types of issues are:
- Feeling overwhelmed by everyday parenting duties, to the point that, some days, you ‘give up.’ That may mean staying in bed, or not taking care of kids as one would expect.
- Having arguments with another parent about how to raise children.
- Feeling a lost sense of love and attachment with your children.
- Having trouble enforcing rules in the household.
- Difficulty controlling overly rebellious children, or children who can’t regulate their own emotions.
- Difficulty consoling a child who is having nightmares, wetting the bed, or who can’t get over separation anxiety.
- Difficulty helping a child make friends.
- Solving the problem of bullying – either your child being the bully or being bullied by others.
- Raising a child with special needs, or a child in an extraneous family situation (such as one dealing with death or trauma).
- Raising a child who has been fostered or adopted (especially later in life), and who doesn’t ‘fit in’ with their new family.
And so on. The reasons for hiring a parenting coach can be as unique as you are. And, each coach can have their own strengths and abilities to help you in an individual situation.
A parenting coach can help you see the above types of issues from a third-party perspective. They can help you get a grip on a situation, when you are feeling like you’re ‘picking your battles’ every single day. They can answer questions like:
- Do your kids need to do chores to earn an allowance? Or are chores just part of life? How else do you teach kids to manage their own money?
- Do you ‘force’ your kids to do things, like clean up, even if they absolutely refuse? What should appropriate punishments be?
- Are you going too far with your punishments? Are they out of anger? Or, are you not following through and letting things ‘slide’ too much? Are you not being stern enough?
- How do you get kids to sleep happily through the night, without coming to your bed? Are you doing something wrong in this department?
- What do you do if your kids refuse to go to school or do their homework? How do you stop this daily struggle? Is there something you’re missing that could be happening in their lives, or with their health?
- How do you help your child overcome irrational fears that they should be over by now? For example, silly things, like getting their hair wet, or looking at squirrels? (Those can be scary for some kids!)
- Are your kids abnormally rebellious, or is this just how some kids are?
- What makes a bad parent, really? And a good one?
- Are you better off sending kids to daycare and going back to work? Or are you just not managing yourself well enough at home? Or, do you need to start spending more time at home?
And so on – the above are just examples. But you may get the idea by now.
Parenting is hard, and there are no ‘black and white’ answers, sometimes. A lot of the above situations can come with answers that are case-specific. You can see that they open up a ‘can of worms,’ and several follow up questions.
A professional parenting coach is not only experienced with what to do in various situations, but can also take the time to look at the big picture, including the specifics. They can also help you reach goals that you want to achieve with your family – and again, that can be unique to you.
To conclude: parenting coaches can help any parent, but they don’t always have to be from the same source
Being coached as a parent can come in many forms. It can be from a therapist, a person with specific training in the subject, or a very experienced individual. It can be from reading or asking around. But usually, the term refers to a professional who is acting in an expert capacity to help you with your specific parenting struggles.
Either way, seeking out help is the first step to finding a solution to the problem you’re having. And the fact that you’re seeking answers shows that you really do care about your kids and your family. That’s an excellent way to start, in our opinion.
Sometimes, community centers or non-profits offer parent coaching, or parenting workshops. For example, we have found some at the links below:
There are more you can google, of course. We encourage you to find help if you think you need it. And it doesn’t always have to be expensive or paid help, if you can’t afford it.