I’ve had an unusually busy couple of weeks, which is an encouraging thing for someone building a business. In recent days I’ve presented to a MOPS group, spoken at a foster and adoptive mothers group, facilitated a couple discussion groups, participated in a parenting panel, and begun building community alliances. Not bad for some hard days’ work.
One of the especially encouraging things has been getting feedback from those who have experienced coaching as a client. When I am asked to speak to a group I always try to identify how I can be of most benefit to my audience. This involves trying to simplify and clarify my message about what coaching is and how it can help. But sometimes the best way to find out how coaching can help is to listen to those who’ve been helped by it. I was fortunate at one my recent events to hear a couple past clients speak about how the coaching experience impacted them. They mentioned some things that I sometimes overlook, or perhaps explain in too complicated of a way. But this is what they shared that stuck with me this time (completely paraphrased by me):
Coaching helped me recognize that my kids’ behavior wan’t a problem to be solved, but rather me and my kids are in this together, working toward a common goal.
I like to talk about how coaching gets us away from “problem solving mode,” but sometimes people have a hard time understanding what exactly that means. It means that we begin to see “problems” rather as challenges that require us to put our strengths and skills to good use, and we see our children as allies in that process. When a parent shifts away from frustration or anger at their child toward benevolent leadership, they communicate to their child “I love you and I’m here to work this out; we’re on the same team.” This parent is well prepared to face whatever challenges come their way, and is much more likely to enjoy their children even in the process of working through struggles.
I appreciated that the coach didn’t swoop in and tell me how to parent, but instead helped me get in touch with what I really felt I should do as a parent and supported me to execute my own plan of action.
When I talk about parents being the experts in their own families, this is what I mean. I love that, as a coach, I don’t really give out advice. Because truth be told, I really don’t know the best way to parent your children. I don’t know your children. But thankfully, you do! It is a joy to watch parents grow in confidence as they realize I am not here to tell them what to do, but to get them in touch with their own powerful abilities and instincts to parent well. We all struggle with insecurities and sometimes want the “expert” to come tell us what to do, but coaching is a great reminder that the one best suited to parent your children is you. I’m just here to offer some guidance and input along the way.
At a time when I felt discouraged and pessimistic, coaching helped me see that there were still a lot of things in my family that worked really well.
This is what I’m talking about when I say that coaching is strength-based, but I can see how sometimes it’s helpful to be more blunt. No matter how hard things have gotten in a family, there is always something going well. There is always something that brings a smile to a parent’s face, that ignites a glimmer of hope, joy, or pride. As a coach, I love uncovering these little gems. Coaching is a great tool to help you feel more vibrant and alive. By shifting our focus to what is going well, without denying that challenges exist, we actually put those challenges in perspective and find encouragement in a more balanced view. When all we see is trouble, the world looks dismal and dark. But when we see evidence of joy, love, excellence, and satisfaction alongside that trouble, we find hope to motivate us toward a better future.