Why Try Parent Coaching?

by Gloria DeGaetano

Recently a 35 year-old working mom told me, "I'll take process over problem-solving any day!" Meg had found out that parent coaching actually solves problems by not working on them. It's paradoxical, but true. By paying more attention to the actual process of discovery of what works and by holding the vision of our goal or preferred future, we not only solve identified problems, we attract more good into our lives than we ever thought possible. During the course of the coaching relationship, the changes that occur come from deep within—accompanied by many pleasant surprises!

PCI parent coaching, unlike problem-solving, is truly a transformational process. In their book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation, (Jossey-Bass, 2001), Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow point out, "When we solve a problem quickly the one thing we can usually be certain of is that we ourselves are the same people coming out of the problem as we were going into it." (p. 43) Coaching, however changes us in fundamental ways. The shared relationship between the parent and coach produce regularly-occurring miracles. Actually these "miracles" are the natural outcome of coach and client working together in a type of sacred zone, synergistically moving forward, together delighted and often surprised, about how problems get "solved."

The parent coaches at The PCI™ know the immense value of this seemingly mysterious, yet deeply practical process. That's why we typically don't do only one or even a few coaching sessions. As coaches we are not there to give advice as much as we are to catalyze creativity in the parents we work with. This is so much more fun. And truly power-full. Why settle for anything small when we clearly know how huge the results are when parents give time for the coaching process to work its miracles?

In its essence, PCI parent coaching is about asking beautiful questions. Poet, e. e. cummings, has written: "Always a more beautiful answer that asks a more beautiful question." A parent coach can present us with questions that most of us wouldn't think to ask of ourselves. Their beauty lies in how elegantly they get to the heart of the matter and how care-fully and thought-fully they are constructed to affirm parents' inner strengths and direct their creative energy to what is working.

Former PCI parent student, Louise Barbee, from Walnut Creek, California observes:

"Questioning is a very important part of any type of coaching. Through the use of a question the client enters into the coaching dance. With the PCI model we begin to realize just how critical the question is, as it determines where the conversation ends. As the parent coach we direct the client with our questions. It is at once an awesome responsibility and wonderful adventure. We hold the belief that in any living system there is something that is working. Through our skilled questioning we can enable the parent to realize this also. When we ask a parent an appreciative question we touch something deep within. We ask a heartfelt question and receive a soulful response."

Typically there will be at least twelve coaching sessions. Most of our clients opt for six months of coaching (24 sessions) and then a monthly or twice-monthly session after that. Since humans don't change overnight, parent coaching is about giving parents the luxury of time to regroup and to reflect—time to actually change from within as well the time needed to address a particular dilemma. For instance, a mother might hire a parent coach to help her find ways to stop her child's temper tantrums. Techniques discussed need to be discovered, then implemented, adjusted, and finally adopted according to the mother's and child's style and temperament. In the meantime, while the parent and coach are working on temper tantrums, most parents I coach find that they are coming up with their own ideas, streamlining parenting techniques and learning a whole lot about themselves in our conversations together. It's such a revitalizing, alive process, so energizing and expanding, it's hard to give up. And most parents don't.

After the initial six months of weekly coaching and then, another three months of monthly sessions, often parents will return to weekly and bi-weekly sessions in chunks of 12 or 24. After all, children are continually going through stages and parents are always on "ready mode." That doesn't mean you marry your parent coach! But really when you form a relationship with a parent coach, it's a deep one based on mutual trust and respect. For most clients it just makes plain common sense to work with one person on a continual basis who knows the details of your family life, cherishes your stories, and works hard to nurture your dreams.

Positive change takes time. There's no getting around it. If we want to give our children our best selves each and every day, parent coaching helps keep us on track. It invites the ultimate adventure of self-discovery. It promises lots of solutions, along the way. And when we give it time, it delivers on that promise—big time!

To learn more about PCI parent coaching or to interview a PCI Certified Parent Coach®, please contact the Parent Coaching Institute at 425-449-8877 or toll free at (888) 599-4447.