Smile. Shake hands. Small talk. Exchange of pleasantries. Kids. Parenthood. Jobs. ‘Oh! A parent coach…..” Then she leaned forward and in more hushed tones asked “How do YOU know if I need a coach or a counselor? How do I know?” Great questions.
A coach’s job is to help parents who are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, stretched beyond their comfort zone. But not in crisis. That’s the province of counselors. What’s the difference? Where’s the line? Well, it isn’t in a fixed place. It moves for each of us. A situation that merits therapy for one would be coaching for another, and vice versa. There is no definitive list. No True / False test. Because life doesn’t come in a neat stack of clearly labeled boxes, we never know what we will find inside.
It isn’t decided by the events in our lives, but in our emotional responses to them.
And, if you’ve been reading for a while, you can guess I’ll further explain with an analogy or personal story. Today we’re going for the former. Here’s the analogy. It’s the state championship game. The players on the field are focused, intent, dedicated. There’s a rush for the soccer ball and in the scuffle a player goes down. She grips her thigh, grimacing in pain.
What now? Option A: pulled hamstring. The coach is there with experience and information: ice this, elevate that, compress there, rest for these many days. Option B: broken bone. The physician takes it from there. Surgery. Setting. Cast. Crutches.
Which way did it play out? There’s no way to predict, because the identical play on the ball would result in varying injuries for other players. Or even the same player on two different days would experience alternate outcomes based on fatigue or stress.
In either scenario, the helping professions are here. We are all trained to help direct you to the right place for guidance.
So what does working with a parent coach look like?
Parents arrive in my office with either a specific or systemic issue. It might be that you want help teaching a toddler to use the toilet, or a tween to manage homework, or a teen to respect curfew. But it also might be that you want help with blending together two families, or a mother-daughter dynamic. It might be a dad who wants to go beyond where his father lead, but doesn’t know quite how to do it. We meet for a session, a series or a season.
What happens in a coaching session?
A session is the place for the Oprah A-ha’s! and Homer Simpson Dohs! of life. It’s a safe space to laugh, to cry, to grow. It’s rare in our lives to stop and take the time to reflect. Coaching allows you to slow down, consider, and shift. Can I provide you with practical nuts and bolts? Yes, absolutely. But I also help you examine the issue from a different angle, a new perspective. Often, when we can see the exact same situation from a new place our understanding opens, awareness blossoms. A change of spirit alters the outcome. We live in a dynamic system in our families, and the alchemy of change means that often it’s not that the problem gets solved, it’s that the problem dissolves.
What’s my role as your coach?
My focus is to help you with the issue immediately in front of you, and to also add tools to your tool-box for when the next event comes along. Because they always do. When a different situation arises, you will have the skills and perspectives in place to problem solve. And, if it is still a challenge, you are always welcome to come back and see me. I’d love to have you.
Back to our analogy.
A coach on the field observes a player’s skills- then works with them on specific changes to enhance their abilities. The coach sees not just one player, but the team, the field, the flow of the game. Through sharing these perspectives, the coach expands the player’s understanding of themselves and of the game.
Option C. Let’s assume our player gets back up. This time the coach helps her pause. Take a deep breath. Focus. A well-coached player returns to the field with confidence, a leader of the team.
As a coach I help you see the parenting and family field from a different direction, a different perspective. I help you see the strength of the ‘opposing’ team. Because let’s face it- sometimes our kids feel like they are playing for the other side instead of being on our own J.V. squad.
And when we work together, it’s the game of life.
So let’s suit up. Game On.