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Rebecca Eckler on Parenting Coaches

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Rebecca Eckler had a really interesting article in Saturday's paper on the role of the parenting coach. (I didn't actually read the paper this weekend because I was up at the cottage enjoying a glorious media-free weekend, but a mom-friend drew the article to my attention, so I thought I'd draw it to your attention, too.)

I thought Eckler did a great job of explaining what parenting coaches do and why you might want one.

I did, however, want to make a couple of comments on the story.

"I sure hope [parent coaching] becomes a trend," says Terry Carson, a certified parenting coach in Toronto, who holds a master's degree in education and is the mother of four. "Most parents are trying to parent differently from the way they were parented, but find the books and advice confusing and difficult to implement. That's where we come in."

I hope this is one of those cases where something got lost in translation during the editing process (as can happen after a story gets filed and something has to get cut for space reasons). This was my gut reaction as a parent to what Carson had to say here: I felt un-empowered rather than empowered: like the message was that parents needed an outside guide to help them interpret the parenting materials and parenting advice they were grappling with -- they couldn't do it on their own.

Here's my take on this: sometimes grappling with that information overload (frustrating and time-consuming as it can be) is what allows parents to become clearer about their values, philosophies, and goals.

That's not to say that consulting a parenting coach wouldn't be valuable, as part of the research a parent might do early on in this thinking process -- prior to really tuning into their own instincts and intuition -- that "parent radar" that allows you to decide what is best for your child, based on everything you have learned about your child.

I also had a problem with this comment:

"Moms don't have the time to read and absorb all the theories out there. They end up falling back on habits. One minute they are authoritative, the next they're passive," [Carson] says.

The moms I know put a huge amount of thought into choosing an over-riding parenting philosophy and making their day-to-day parenting choices. If moms seem to be flip-flopping in their parenting philosophies, it's not because they've failed to "absorb" a particular parenting theory. (Moms are incredibly motivated to learn everything they can about raising happy, healthy kids.) If they fall short of that always-elusive ideal of "perfect parenting," it may be because they may have been up half the night nursing a baby who is going through a growth spurt or caring for a toddler with an ear infection. Parenting consistency often flies out the window after a night like that, after all.

For the most part, it's not a lack of knowledge or a difficulty in absorbing parenting information that makes parenting difficult. Parenting is difficult, period.

And flip-flopping, despite your best intentions to hold steady at the keel, is part of the reality of being a parent.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:14 AM