How do parents obtain relevant information about how to meet their children’s developmental needs and stay the course within a counterfeit culture that uses mass media and screen technologies to amplify misleading information? How do parents get accurate information about their children’s real developmental needs within a popular culture that amplifies trivial desires? How do moms and dads stay inspired to live from their core values and teach their children from their inner wisdom in a society that glorifies consumerism and beatifies things?
In 1998, having spent over a decade traveling the country speaking to educators and parents and writing books and manuals on this subject, I asked this question, along with several others:
• What are the most effective ways to change human behavior in positive directions?
• How do parents, feeling overwhelmed and devalued, and often hopeless, find the energy to make positive changes?
• How do stressed parents find the will and determination within the complex daily demands of their lives to counter larger, cultural messages and to teach their children to do the same?
• How can parents attend to their children’s real cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual needs if they don’t know what those needs are?
• How can parents be convinced that those real needs are indeed real and that they and their children will suffer if those needs do not get met during the course of childhood and adolescence?
• How do we help parents have more joy in parenting and stop seeing their children as problems or burdens, which happens so easily when children’s developmental needs do not get met?
• How do we help parents implement what we know from the research are the best parenting practices?
• How do we help parents slow down, spend time with their children and enjoy the “small things” that make children feel loved and appreciated when the industry-generated culture keeps shouting messages that buying for children, that new toys, and the latest gadget are the important things?
• How can parents learn to trust their internal guidance, relying more on their own inner wisdom and less on an industry-generated culture’s notion of what they should do for their children?
In pondering these and other questions and doing extensive research for over the next three years, I decided that a coaching model was a most effective way to proactively address these issues, for two important reasons.
First, we often best examine our perceptions of ourselves and others, our attitudes and behaviors, when in relationship with another person. It seems that the more intimate our relationships, the more opportunities they provide for us to grow in new ways and discover important things about our lives and priorities. Friends, spouses, relatives, a caring involved teacher-we all can name specific individuals in our lives that had a significant impact.
Coaching, over time, allows parents the opportunity of a relationship with a professionally trained coach who walks “shoulder-to-shoulder” with them, looking and reaching in the same direction together. Compassionate understanding, non-judgmental listening, and open curiosity are integral to an inquiry process that over time, can have a profound effect on parents. Coaching not only can provide context-specific practical strategies in a timely way, but also an opportunity for parents to reflect upon what is important, choose ideas and applications to try out, and explore what works best in his or her own situation.