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Parents Learning to Become Their Own Coaches


Although there are life coaches for every need, couples are increasingly recognizing the importance of the bonds they form with children and turning to marriage education to learn to be their own best coaches and counselors.

By Todd McFliker

It’s natural for parents to want what they believe is best for their children. For many, the interest of young children in particular has long been the top priority of parents’ decisions about work, housing and money. When moms and dads are faced with conflicts between their personal or career goals and the needs of their children, professionals often step in to bridge the gap.

Parental bonds lasting impactToday, a specialist – from day and evening nannies to drivers, tutors, camps, boarding schools and everything in between – can be found with the click of a mouse. And for parents seeking personal coaching or guidance to help them navigate available services and providers, there are coaches for every need.

Earlier this month, in a Los Angeles Times’ feature, “A life coach for every need,” Mary MacVean reported on the pros and cons of employing professionals to conduct parental activities. The services of a professional coach, ranging from $50 to over $200 an hour, can quickly add up. Yet for better or worse, there’s a boom in couples and single parents alike turning to coaches for advice and assistance with many of life’s most personal challenges.

According to a recent report in TIME Magazine, a study by Dr. Dennis Friedman in the UK “found that mothers who outsource the care of their sons to other women may be inadvertently raising adulterers … a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the doctor argues that men become womanizers because their mothers left them with nannies.”  While Dr. Friedman’s findings have been challenged by other scholars, a wealth of evidence supports the importance of the early bonds formed between children and their parents.

Children Learn What They Live

In psychiatrist Frank Pittman’s Grow Up, he discusses the relationships that kids have with their parents. “As boys without bonds to their fathers grow older and more desperate about their masculinity, they are in danger of forming gangs in which they strut their masculinity for one another, often overdo it, and sometimes turn to displays of fierce, macho bravado and even violence,” Pittman writes.

Father and son“Children learn what they’re exposed to,” explained the late Virginia Satir, a pioneer in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Choosing to surrender responsibility for the bonding and attachments formed by a youngster to someone other than the child’s folks can have a lasting impact. “Bonding is essential for both establishing and maintaining emotional literacy and secure attachment,” writes Dr. Rita DeMaria, author of Focused Genograms: Intergenerational Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families.

Couples Learn to Coach Themselves

“Marriage education helps parents learn to create strong bonds with each other and their children,” says Seth Eisenberg, President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation, an industry leader in relationship skills training. “Classes teach couples to become their own best coaches and counselors,” he adds.

That’s good news for everyone, as parents who are able to create strong, loving marriages have the best chance of raising healthy, happy, successful children.

Parents Are Children Grown Big

“Parents are children grown big,” said Satir. “They’re always doing the best they can,” she added, stressing that while it does little good for adult children to blame their parents, anyone can learn and change at any point in time.

A newlywed, Todd McFliker is an award-winning reporter and the author of All You Need is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. He earned his Masters in Communication from Lynn University.