Parent coaching — what IS it, anyway — and why in the world would someone sign up for it? Can’t parents just “figure it out” on their own?
If you feel resistance to the concept of parent coaching, you’re not alone. If you’re raising children, you may feel some innate sense of responsibility to parent them without outside support. After all, parents have been raising kids since the beginning of humanity, so why do they all of a sudden need a parent coach?
The difference is that if parenting were what it used to be, parents would be literally and figuratively surrounded by their village. They’d likely have no concerns about their mental health or that of their children. Life might feel fairly easy most days.
Reality is, however, that parents rarely have the support they once did. They’re raising children without any semblance of a “village,” and frankly, it’s hard.
Parents’ mental health can suffer when they feel isolated or otherwise stuck in patterns that simply don’t seem to be working. Even if some parts of parenting are working well enough, parents may still feel an underlying sense of discomfort — and wonder if they’re missing something that would make parenting more enjoyable. They might simply have an underlying feeling that something is “off.”
Indeed, parenting is harder, in many ways, than it was in generations past. Over the past 20 years, there’s been a statistically significant and marked decline in adults’ mental health (source). If parents feel that things are simply different from how they were when they were kids, they’re absolutely right.
Fortunately, parent coaching can help bring parents back to a greater sense of peace — and make home more joyful again.
How parent coaching can create a more joyful home
1 – A parent coach can support parents with techniques that empower families to not only heal, but thrive.
Parent coaching is a path forward out of what isn’t working, and into a program that helps support the family — both parents and children — to release patterns that aren’t working. A parent coach won’t just tell parents what not to do, though. They’ll help parents replace what’s not working with proven strategies that support positive, loving, and collaborative relationships.
2 – Parent coaching can bring emotional health back to families; to help re-set their very foundation.
A parent coach can give parents an opportunity to talk through challenges related to behavior — their own as well as that of their child. It’s a place to practice using tools that drive personal development; to safely dive into a parenting world that may feel otherwise unfamiliar. It’s remarkably and helpfully habit-shifting.
A good coach won’t just give advice, however. They’ll share techniques that free parents from whatever is holding them back from a deeper connection with their child. More on that in a moment.
Parent coaching can also help families identify generational patterns. They won’t just help parents understand the why within their family history. A parent coach can also offer skills to show a family how to move forward, step by step, at whatever pace works well for them.
3 – Parent coaching can help parents create a brighter emotional future for their family’s ongoing development.
Just like children develop and change over time, so do families. They’re always growing and learning together.
Growth, like all things, can be challenging. It’s especially hard if that growth happens in a way that isn’t in line with family values. A parent coach is trained to help families uncover what their values are. From there, the coach can help families develop skills that nurture growth within the framework of those core values.
A good parent coach can understand the ongoing evolution of the family and help keep it moving forward in healthy ways.
What Parent Coaching Isn’t
Parent coaching isn’t therapy.
Therapy serves its own purpose. It provides emotional support, particularly when trauma and other issues beyond the scope of parent coaching arise. Indeed, therapy can be a wonderful tool to support mental health. However, it’s a different solution to a different set of problems. Parent coaching is professional guidance in its own right.
Depending on the situation, sometimes a parent coach will work in tandem with a therapist to support a family to provide the greatest chance for success.
It isn’t just parenting advice; not when it’s done well, anyway.
Parenting advice might help families to some degree, but unless it gets to the root cause of the issue, the problem will just keep popping up and manifesting in other ways.
Parenting advice without looking at the quality of the connection between parent and child is like putting a new set of tires on a car that really needs an oil change. Sure, it might be situationally helpful. However, true repair comes from the inside out. A good parent coach will look at the big picture and adjust their coaching accordingly.
It isn’t a one-size-fits-all set of strategies or techniques.
By design, parent coaching often isn’t a “quick fix.” There’s no single formula that works every time. Parent coaches will work to understand the child’s and adult’s interpersonal dynamic, offering the parent skills that are directly relatable and specific to their situation.
It’s a journey and an emotional investment. It helps parents discover what kind of relationship they truly want to have with their child. Indeed, parent coaching will offer some practical advice and answer questions to help improve the daily experience of the family. However, it’s also much more personal than that.
The success of a good parent coach depends on their ability to realize that every family is different. No strategies are perfect for everyone. The challenges that arise may be common, but the solutions differ based on a host of individual factors.
It isn’t a “band-aid” approach.
Parent coaching doesn’t just cover up the hard parts of the parent – child relationship. Similarly, it doesn’t just offer “in the moment” fixes for behavior. It offers parents a skill set that may offer a deeper level of healing. With this healing, children often naturally want to behave better for their parents.
Parenting classes from a coach can help parents look beneath behavior to see what’s driving that behavior in the first place. With gentle and professional guidance from the coach, parents often gain new ideas about how to address behavior and other issues in the home.
Parent coaching isn’t a way to “fix” kids.
Parents cannot “fix” their children without also examining their own side of the relationship. Parent coaching is an invitation to learn about their own contributing behavior; to increase confidence; to learn tools that nurture the self. Through this self-reflection, parents can learn how to create an environment that can support their child through a lens of compassion and collaboration.
Yes, a child may very well benefit from learning new skills, and the parent coach can offer suggestions. It’s not the only focus, however. Parenting is a dynamic between two or more people (parent(s) and child (or children). Good parent coaching recognizes this.
Most parent coaching sessions don’t focus exclusively on changing others’ behaviors. Rather, they help each parent realize what he or she is bringing to the family dynamic. Once parents recognize that their own behavior is the only one they can ever directly control, they learn positive strategies to be a source of healing. From there, they can be a true role model for their entire family.
What to Look for in a Parent Coach
Just like with any other type of life coach, some are professionals and then some…aren’t. Ideally, look for a parenting coach who’s received formalized coaching training. Some are certified by reputable organizations that specialize in positive, respectful parenting.
Just like you would look at reviews and experience if your car needed mechanical work, check the credentials and training of a parent coach to ensure they live up to professional standards. Just like you wouldn’t hire some random person on the street to fix your car, check the source of where your prospective parenting coach learned their methods. The philosophy behind their education matters.
Also, trust your gut. A parenting coach builds a relationship with you over hours of conversation (sometimes less, but not usually). As such, you want to make sure this is someone who feels right to you. Parent coaching requires vulnerability.
In that same vein, make sure the hours your parenting coach is available are actually convenient for you. The last thing parents need are more obligations that feel inconvenient. You want to be able to learn into this process comfortably.
Parent Coaching Resources
Parenting Coach Paul Banas
Paul Banas of GreadDads.com coaches men who want to improve the way they father their children.
He understands how exhausting and challenging being a dad can be. He knows that oftentimes, the minute dads feel like they have figured something out with their kids, the kids seem to change it all up again!
Constantly feeling behind the proverbial eight-ball can be really frustrating and isolating, not to mention downright disappointing. Many dads struggle to
- Bond with their babies
- Connect with their toddlers or small kids
- Communicate effectively with teens
- Relate to adult children
- Balance being a good husband and being a good dad
- Manage conflicting parenting styles
- Raise multi-racial kids, step-kids, and/or blended families
- Navigate co-parenting and divorce
Paul understands how hard and overwhelming it can be. He knows that how real life rarely, if ever, resembles what parents see on TV. Paul works alongside dads to come up with a plan to address whatever’s holding them back from having joyful and fulfilling relationships with their families.
In his free discovery session, dads will discuss their personal values, and how their perspective will determine things they can start doing immediately to thrive in fatherhood. He will work with each dad’s natural gifts and values.
In his coaching, he takes a pragmatic approach. He will focus intently while problem-solving and find relevant solutions for his client.
As the publisher of Pregnancy Magazine and the editor of GreatDads.com, he’s been deeply involved in the details of parenting for more than 15 years. He’s also raised two children.
His practical approach focuses on problem solving and solution-focused coaching. He’s direct while being thoughtful, using his professional training from the Co-Active Institute to offer sessions that support each dad’s family to thrive.
Schedule a free discovery session with Paul here.
Parenting Coach Sarah R. Moore
Sarah R. Moore is a certified positive parenting coach. She’s concurrently the founder and owner of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting, a Master Trainer for the Jai Institute of Parenting, and editor and writer for Pregnancy Magazine.
Her writing has been published in a myriad of international parenting magazines. She’s a frequent speaker at parenting summits and on award-winning parenting podcasts. She’s releasing her first two parenting books about positive discipline later this year.
With a unique perspective on common challenges, her superpower is empathy.
Her non-judgmental approach helps create a sense of emotional safety for her clients. She balances the latest research in attachment science and neuroscience with a focus, above all, on connection. She’s a natural peacemaker, be it among family members or, on occasion, helping clients find a greater sense of peace within themselves.
Besides parent coaching, she also offers
In addition to her formal education and training, she also graduated from improvisational comedy school. She enjoys bringing levity into her daily interactions. As such, she believes play is essential for big and small humans alike. She works to weave humor, faith, and connection into her daily practice. Her life’s mission is to help make the world a kinder, more compassionate place.
Sarah is bilingual (English and French) and is raising her family in travel-based homeschooling (worldschooling).
Contact Sarah here.
How Parent Coaching Works
Depending on the parent coach, many choose to meet with a client approximately once per week over the phone, online, or in person. During the meetings, the client (the parent) and the parenting coach talk not only about tips and ideas to make life easier today, but also to heal relationships long-term.
Although sessions differ by coach, a common approach is to meet by phone or over a video call. Many sessions last approximately one hour and span across a few weeks or months. Some coaches assign reading or other “homework,” while others keep the “work” exclusive to their time together with the client.
Parent coaching can help parents rediscover their joy.
Parent coaching came about, quite simply, because there was (and is) an incredible need for parents to feel supported and empowered on their parenting journey. With a parent coach, parents can have exactly that — the head- and heart-knowledge to know that they truly are supported to have connecting, positive, and lasting relationships with their children. From that knowledge, incredible joy is free to grow within and around them.