Why Choose Parent Coaching as a Career?
by Gloria DeGaetano, M. Ed.
Parent coaching is a uniquely rewarding profession. Jennifer Mangan, a writer and PCI Certified Parent Coach® in the Chicago area, refers to parent coaching as a "vocation." Many of our parent coaches speak of it as a "special calling." A calling, a personal mission is "not a means of a livelihood, but life itself." (1)
In his book, The Re-Invention of Work, Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality theologian points out:
"We all need our calling for our spiritual existence; we need work that is more than a livelihood, that is life itself. As Thomas Aquinas observed, 'to live well is to work well, or display a good activity.' Living and working go together, and our work is about displaying the beautiful, displaying our being, displaying our truth, displaying life…" (2)
In parent coaching, we not only display life, we entice more aliveness. So many parents living in today's techno-isolating world, are out of touch, literally and figuratively, with their own aliveness and with the joy of parenting. As children are increasingly seen as "deficits" within a mechanistic public educational system, and treated as objects within our consumer-dominated culture, parenting becomes extremely stressful. In fact, most parental challenges come from factors, not of the parents' making or choosing.
Parent coaching can be a tremendously useful avenue for parents to re-discover and better appreciate their own creativity, authentic voice, and personal power. Both for the coach and the parent, parent coaching is a sacred profession that celebrates life and gives hope.
I believe three main reasons make parent coaching a needed and important profession in today's world.
1. Parent coaching invites transformative change.
In his marvelous book, Change the World, Robert Quinn reminds us that "deep change requires enormous effort." (3) To transcend unproductive behavioral patterns takes much focus, determination, and will for any of us. It always helps to have a companion on the journey; someone who will listen empathetically, give us objective feedback, and nudge us to rigorously apply core vales to our daily decisions. The parent coach invites sustaining transformational change through such exchanges.
The word, "radical," means "to return to the root." In a sense, parent coaching is a radical approach to self-empowerment because it works to return parents to their core ideals and dreams for themselves and for their children. In addition, the family is the root of all social and cultural transformational change. As much as our country denies resources to strengthen the parent-child bond and to support families optimally, educators and family advocates everywhere know that wise parenting lays the very foundation for society's future.
In a system all factors are not of equal importance in their ability to effect long-lasting change. Daily parenting work forms the seeds to individual and global transformation. Societal renovation and renewal begins within the family. To be a part of changing the world by supporting parents is a thrilling adventure and humbling opportunity, indeed.
2. Parent coaching provides a unique intimacy.
Parent coaching is as much about relationship building as it is about encouraging authentic choices. Lynn Faherty, a PCI trainer and PCI Certified Parent Coach®, makes this astute observation, "Without the amplification of what is said and what is not said, too much can be lost. Coaching is the key. Information just does not get through unless you have a relationship with someone. That's got to be the way humans do things best."
Too often parents feel isolated, alone, and out of control. They can't discover what they need easily through printed materials such as books or pamphlets because they are usually searching for a unique idea in a specific context. There are extenuating circumstances. There are uneasy feelings. There are important revelations. A compassionate, caring relationship with a parent coach over time, provides the open space to explore, examine, and co-discover what is working in and what is needed for each special situation.
"To have someone fully present with you is such a gift," says Jennifer Beck, PCI Certified Parent Coach® in Corvallis, Oregon. "In this world it is a rare thing to have someone interact with you with the vocabulary of hope and complete appreciation for who you are."
The unique intimacy established and developed during the coaching relationship fuels parents to reach for their Dreams, trusting and knowing that they are seen and supported during every step of that process. How rewarding is that!
3. Parent coaching is practical and cost-effective.
As a former school district administrator I have experienced first-hand that when cuts come, the first ones are usually services for parents and children.
Obviously, we must become "strategically surgical" if we are to use time and money well. Parent coaching promotes transformational change and deep intimacy with the intentional leveraging of limited resources. The PCI coaching model is based on long-term research which has defined what works best for raising children optimally. It is very comprehensive for it not only takes into account traditional "best practices" of parent involvement and parenting success, it also effectively addresses how parents, children, and the parenting role itself are being impacted by a media/screen entertainment-focused society—the reality parents of all economic levels encounter as they daily choose priorities and make decisions on behalf of their children. The PCI model espouses an appreciative approach for encouraging and affirming parents while they struggle within a "popular culture" which often undermines their values and trivializes their authority and competence. Without attention to this component of the parenting process, I believe all other efforts of empowering parents fall short. If we want to catalyze a transformational process in families, we must address what prevents transformational change in our society. At the Institute our parent coaches work together to support one another in this sacred work. It feels so nurturing and creatively alive to be part of a larger movement that supports and encourages the full creative expression of individual parent coach. What creative synergy we build for one another with wonderful opportunities we couldn't as easily encounter on our own.
These three reasons demonstrate the immense value of becoming a PCI Certified Parent Coach®. Parent coaching is truly "life work." It is a rewarding, innovative profession that compels both parent and coach to live with sacred purpose in joy, deep fulfillment, and continual expansion of growth and aliveness.
- Otto Rank, Art and Artist, p. 371 as quoted in The Re-Invention of Work by Matthew Fox, Harper and Collins, 1995, p. 120.
- Matthew Fox, The Re-Invention of Work, Harper and Collins, 1995, p. 120.
- Robert Quinn, Change the World, Jossey-Bass, 2000, p. 223.
Gloria DeGaetano, Founder and CEO of The Parent Coaching Institute, presents keynotes and workshops to parents, educators, corporations, and professional organizations. She may be contacted at (425) 449-8877. Her latest book is Parenting Well in a Media Age: Keeping Our Kids Human, Personhood Press, January, 2004.