Thoughts from a Mom About the PCI Coaching Process

Kristen is a professional working mother of two young daughters. PCI Course 4 students coached her as part of their practicum during the summer of 2016. During that 3-month period Kristen participated in 12 coaching sessions with our soon-to-be PCI graduates. Through our coaching, she realized her desired parenting outcomes, as well as several unexpected, delightful results. Kristen summed up her thoughts about her experience with the PCI Coaching Process in this letter.

Dear Gloria,

I wanted to take a moment to put in writing the many thoughts I shared with you verbally during the coaching process with the summer PCI students. I think of you all so often in my daily parenting interactions and even, truthfully, in instances that have very little to do with parenting but have everything to do with the person I have become during this process. Thus, I find it important to let you know how much I was changed by our coaching relationship. In the enclosed letter you’ll find an emphasis on both the process (in order to reveal the helpful exercises and techniques used by your students) and the outcome (in order to reveal the progress that I have made).

I should begin with a frank disclosure. When I first began the process of PCI Parent Coaching, I was worried about the experience. As someone who had already done a lot of reading about parenting, attachment, and daughters, I was worried that I would not learn or do anything new. It felt to me that I had already tried everything. And, yet, problems persisted. So, I was worried that things would stay the same in my life and I would have wasted your time and mine. Some of my hesitation was seen in the early process calls when I had trouble constructing the dream phase of my plan. That said, I should have known then—in just my third week—that under the guidance of the PCI students I was already growing. When I felt stuck, the students helped me construct a lofty but important dream. That dream was that I would be a more relaxed and carefree mom and partner. And the students were quick to reassure me that they would work with me to discover how I could release myself from guilt, doubt, and then support my children in their transition to sleeping on their own. When I look back at my notes and the student summaries from those weeks, I still remember doubting that it was possible.

But, then, slowly the dream started to be realized. I can point to a few specific things that helped make my parenting days filled with relief, relaxation, and grace. First, I want to point to the amazing skills that the students had during the coaching sessions. Not only were the students experts in helping me unpack the preparation work I had done during the previous week but they were supportive, encouraging, and honest. Because they listened so well, they seemed to know exactly what strategies, support and affirmations to offer. I always hung up with the coach feeling a renewed commitment to my goal and I was equipped with tools to help me make alternations during the week to stay on track. The tools were always rooted in my strengths—strengths that I never really saw as strengths until I became involved in the PCI process. A phrase they always said to me that I believe and repeat to myself still today is, “You are capable to do this.”

Second, the coaches gave me several questions, practices, and phrases to ask and repeat during the process. Some that are important to me are: the encouragement to decipher between a need and a habit; the different relaxation techniques for myself and my children; the idea of an authentic contribution; affirmation cards; loving but firm boundaries; and thinking through individual parts and the system of our family. While this reads like a list, each of these elements is uniquely important to my success as a parent and a woman. I am so grateful for the coaches for helping me discover them and encouraging me to use them.

The last thing I want to stress is closely related and is important to me as someone who is trained in research and theory. The coaches were so intelligent and well read that the process calls were often very intellectually stimulating. I loved the opportunity to think about my parenting from an intellectual angle. The pleasure of working during many weeks with so many intelligent, qualified women who were also compassionate and honest was transformative.

Last, I want to speak to the process itself. Obviously over the weeks I was working on my specific issues I was focused on those specific things. What I realized as the process came to a close was that, while it was important that I had made so much progress as a parent (my kids were more confident and sleeping better!), the process of doing the coaching was more important. The strategies the coaches gave me have helped me set firm but supportive boundaries in other areas of my life. And the actualization of my parenting goals gave me confidence that transcended my role as a mother. The opportunity you provided allowed me, under such careful guidance, to look within myself and illuminate tools that I already had. I wish these feelings of empowerment on any parent!

In short, Gloria, I feel profoundly lucky. Lucky to have found my way to this service. Lucky to have formed these relationships. Lucky to be a parent and woman who has a renewed sense of belief and optimism in herself. Thank you all for this opportunity. And I know you all will say that I did this that you’re proud of me but I know that I really could not have done it without the careful and patient guidance of the PCI students.

Please know that I’ll be thinking of you frequently and wishing you all well,

Kristen McCauliff, Ph.D.
Muncie, Indiana

Parent Success Stories