What IS a parent coach?

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“Hi, MegAnne! Thanks for joining me today! Before we get started why don’t you share with the listeners who you are and what you do!”

“Hey Ward! Thanks so much for having me, and yeah- Hi everyone, I’m MegAnne and I’m an online parenting coach!”

“So, why don’t you go ahead an unpack that a bit for anyone listening who has no idea what that is.”

“Oh right! Yeah, a parent coach is someone to helps parents release the struggle, confusion, and overwhelm that can accompany being a parent. Think of us like a personal trainer, college professor, and cheerleader all in one and focused on you reaching your parenting goals!”

This was #realtalk from a recent podcast interview I was on. I was interviewed by Ward from Memberspace- which is the platform I built all my positive parenting programs on! (You can check them out here!)

It is a conversation I have often- what IS a parent coach?

It wasn’t until I googled “How to help parents be better parents” that I even knew what a parent coach was. So let me take a quick moment to share with you my philosophy and perspective on what exactly a parent coach is!

So we’ve all heard it before “Children don’t come with a manual.” This tends to be the comment phrase that is said whenever the topic of parenting gets brought up. There are positives and negatives attached to this comment though.

Positive: I totally agree- there is no RIGHT way to parent. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t great information, strategies, and support that can help you improve your individual family. There is no quick fix or magic bullet when it comes to raising the perfect family. Which is an EXTREME positive! You get to design the family life you of your dreams. The routines, traditions, mission, focus, and values are 100% up to you!

Which is totally freeing, but can also be totally overwhelming.

Now for the other side of the coin.

Negative: Everyone has an opinion on how you SHOULD be raising your family. I read articles all day about how screentime rots your child’s brain, how red dye is a sin, and which brand of carseat will be the safest when bringing your child home from the hospital. There is so much information that some might feel like they are standing before Mt. Everest. Totally resembling the deer in headlights and not sure where to go, scared to make a mistake, and paralyzed by the fear of possibly messing their kids up for life.

Having no manual might be great for some parents, might be a pass for any personal accountability for others, and might just totally leave some parents feeling like a deer in headlights.

No matter which category of parent you fall in- a parent coach is someone who can help you sort through all the mess and learn the philosophy and strategies that support YOU and YOUR family.

So I wanted to do a quick debrief of three DOs and DON’Ts of good parent coaches!

PARENT COACHES DON’T FORCE THEIR OWN AGENDA.

A coach is someone to help guide you along the path, point out blind spots, and keep you accountable to doing the work to get you to where you want to do. If your goal is to stop yelling at your children, a coach will be the person you can be honest and check in with along the way. They are a non-judgemental ally that keeps you forward focused in the hard moments. Coaches are not in the business of judging how someone ended up where they are, they are in the business of helping better the outcome and aid in preventing some pretty painful things from happening. Parent coaches are team members, not someone to fear.

PARENT COACHES DO CALL YOU OUT ON MISALIGNED ACTIONS.

You are paying big bucks to talk to someone impartial about being a better parent. During the first session or consultation you join them for will most likely be all about hearing exactly what is going on, what you’d like to change and what’s currently preventing you from getting there. Over the next few weeks you and your coach will check in via phone or email to stay accountable to implementing the new tools you discuss during your sessions. When a coach sees you veering off course, it’s their job to call you out. This is because they are your accountability partner, not your friend.

PARENT COACH TIP #1: SET UP BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR PARENT COACH.

During that first call, it is so important that you speak open and honestly with your parent coach. If there are topics that are way off line- share those. Coaches empower clients by asking questions, sometimes those questions might start to poke triggers you weren’t even aware of. When talking with a parent coach for the first time- set up a PAUSE word for when things get too tough for you. Your parent coach will not want you to feel caught in a corner, so setting up a strong boundary will empower both parties to speak open and clearly with each other!

PARENT COACHES ARE NOT COUPLE’S COUNSELORS.

Well maybe some are, but not all. You’ll know on that first call who you’re working with and exactly what lane they will stay in. I like to think of therapist, counselors and coaches all as siblings- but each very different. A good parent coach will have plenty of referrals to offer if something goes out of their scope of practice. (Another reason for setting up clear boundaries!) Parenting is a very personal conversation- and like chores, finances and sex- it’s a conversation that many couples don’t have directly and just rely on luck and a feather! By ignoring these big conversations, it can lead to not only parenting stress by marital stress. So working with a coach is a piece to the puzzle focused on getting both parents to enjoy their role as a parent.

PARENT COACHES DO HELP EDUCATE AND STRATEGIZE.

When you work with any type of coach: a personal trainer, executive coach, a money-mindset coach, they will be teaching you new methods of how to work through your struggles. In parenting it’s often educating both parents about child development, neuroscience and approaches that will help you and your child lean towards each other- instead of running away and hiding from each other.

Parent Coach Tip #2: COMMUNICATE WHO IS ON YOUR ENTIRE TEAM WITH YOUR PARENT COACH.

If you are working with a therapist, counselor, or other coach- make sure you share that with your parent coach. They will want to make sure the strategies align. It would be the worst if you are working with people from different perspectives pointing you in different directions.

PARENT COACHES ARE NOT FOREVER.

Working with a parent coach must have a clear end date. After the initial consultation there will be a plan of action drawn up- including how many sessions are included in the package. This is designed to have you LAUNCH! Coaches are meant to work with clients for a contained amount of time. This doesn’t mean you will not ever work with them again, but coaches are not designed to become the google of parenting, nor should they become the vent space- hiring a good coach will provide you with the tools, space, support and practice to fully launch you to do this work on your own!

PARENT COACHES DO OFFER TUNE UPS!

It is not uncommon to fall off the wagon and need a little tune-up. After working with a coach to make some pretty awesome progress it’s natural to need a little bit of fine tuning and refocusing. This doesn’t mean you failed, are a bad parent, or a total klutz- this just means that it’s hard to keep the new practice fresh and on spot! I offer “Coaching Tune Ups” to all my former clients as a way to just touch base and refocus. It’s not as intense as a full set of sessions, but it just enough to be that breath of fresh air. I have found it’s like providing a little lily pad of relief to refocus and clear up any unnecessary fog that has accumulated.

PARENT COACH TIP#3: ASK FOR HELP BEFORE THINGS GET WORSE AGAIN.

After you work with your coach, the goal is to be feeling awesome and doing the work to show up how your desire to feel. It’s natural to slip back into your old habits and welcome in the old ways- sometimes simply because it’s easier in the short term. But when things start to get to be too much or you have the gut feels that it’s going off course- REACH OUT AND SCHEDULE A SESSION! It’s better to invest in a tune up then get to the point where “things are back to how they were before we worked together”. There are ways to prevent to total landslide and give you that respite- but you have to reach out to your support network! We are not mind readers! Though sometimes it might feel like it!

So there you have it- my 3 DOs and DON’Ts about parent coaches.

This is a new field and it’s growing fast! Which is awesome for me- it means that there is better market recognition, but that also means that you, as the consumer, will need to do your homework and find a parent coach that aligns with your parenting goals and desires!

The parents I am perfect to work with are the parents who are raising children of strong wills. They are facing daily power struggles with their toddlers. They find themselves walking on eggshells trying desperately to avoid a meltdown and are burned out from all the negotiating and bribing. They feel guilty after screaming and yelling- but just don’t know what else to do, except make a promise to themselves to “be more patient next time.” What they don’t realize is that this adds more pressure to the situation- I am looking to relieve the pressure by teaching them WHAT to do and HOW to do it. It’s a beautiful magic and what I was born to do!

So, if this sounds like you- reach out and say HI! I coach parents 100% virtually and all over the globe! I run online positive parenting programs that are self-paces and group guided! You can find out all the information by checking out my parenting vault of programs!

My recommended first step though is taking my parenting style quiz “How Kind is Your Family” and downloading the FREE parenting style guide attached!