Q. What is ‘parent coaching’?
A. I try to help parents understand how to respond to their children, adolescents and adult children. There are better and worse ways to respond to children depending on where they are developmentally. The personalities of all those involved in the parent-child relationship play a role, and I help parents navigate healthy and helpful ways of relating.
We relive our childhoods through parenting our children. It’s not uncommon that we identify with our children and we see ourselves in our children’s experiences instead of seeing them. Therapy help parents develop an understanding of the difference between identification and empathy. Identification is when you see yourself in the other, and empathy is when you see the other for who they really are and can connect with that person’s experience in an authentic way.
Q. Can you help parents who have a difference of opinion about a parenting issue?
A. I help parents who have disagree and find themselves in conflict because of those differences of opinion. Each parent draws from how they were raised. For example, some parents may choose to be permissive because their parents were strict. Sometimes when parents come in, their child isn’t doing well and parents are wondering if they’re part of the problem. Therapy helps parents co-parent in a unified fashion; it helps parents identify what they’re doing that could be contributing to their child’s behavioral problems that are concerning the parents.
Q. I made mistakes with my children when they were growing up and the relationship with my adult children is strained. Can therapy help me repair the relationship, or is it too late?
A. It is absolutely not too late. In the moment that the parents are able to be with their adult child and listen to their child’s complaints, healing can begin. They can upgrade their relationship from a parent-child relationship to an adult child-parent relationship. Parents listen more as a peer and less as an authority figure. This process serves as a bridge to shift the relationship into more of an adult relationship. It’s healthy for adult children to be able to tell parents what didn’t go right for them. It’s normal and healthy for everyone to talk about that honestly.
We know parents can’t do a great job all the time or in every area. When they can talk about this, the adult child can release their resentment, hurt and guilt from the past. It’s a tremendous gift to invite your child to do this with you. Parents can invite an open conversation with their adult children by saying, “I want to hear from you. I know I wasn’t a perfect parent.” This is a good thing for the adult child-parent relationship.