I was interviewed for an article in the Deseret News about parenting coaches, written by Jennifer Graham.
This was an interesting turn about for me, because I’m usually the one asking the questions. I wrote a piece recently about the parents hiring coaches and expressed the view that I didn’t think much about paying hundreds of dollars for hour-long Skype talks with a stranger. You can read that story here.
Here’s an excerpt from the article “Why some parents — including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — are hiring parenting coaches:”
SALT LAKE CITY — Cheryl Cardall has a degree in early childhood education and has read “a ton” of parenting books, but she still wasn’t sure what to do when one of her children morphed into a full-blown teenager with anxiety and anger issues.
Instead of calling her mom, who had raised seven children of her own, Cardall sought help from a parenting coach near her home in Sandy, Utah.
Likewise, when Rachel Anderson, who lives in Minneapolis, grew tired of fighting with her 3-year-old every morning, she consulted a Florida parenting coach via videoconferencing.
“I talked with family and friends, and they all provided some little tips and advice, but the general consensus was that this was just a stage he’s at and you’re going to have to endure and work through it. And I wasn’t OK with that answer,” Anderson said.
Cardall and Anderson are now enthusiastic proponents of parent coaching, which is one of the fastest growing segments of the $1.2 billion personal-coaching industry. Once a service offered mainly for divorcing or blended families, parent coaching is now available for any sort of parenting challenge, from getting a child to sleep to communicating with a taciturn teen.
Even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, whose baby isn’t due until spring, have reportedly hired an American parenting coach, “super nanny” Connie Simpson.
The growth of parent coaching has occurred amid a trifecta of change in family life: a desire for perfection driven by social media, a blitz of contradictory advice on the internet, and the emergence of technology as the No. 1 challenge facing parents.
“Our mothers were not raising us with the same challenges that parents raising their kids now have,” said Vicki Hoefle, a parent coach in Petaluma, California.
But skeptics see parent coaching as a dubious use of resources, and evidence that Americans are obsessing about parenting to unhealthy extremes.
“Through the years, you learn that overparenting doesn’t work,” said Elizabeth Wickham, a mother of two who writes about parenting for the website SwimSwam, but says she can’t imagine anyone paying her hundreds of dollars for her advice.
I understand why someone may choose a stranger over their parents or in-laws for advice. Our own family members can be very judgmental — or we may view them as such when they are trying to give us advice. They may give us unsolicited advice when we aren’t asking for it as well. The common thread according to the article was that parents were fearful. One of the many challenges they are facing today, which are parents never had was the powerful tech world and social media.
Here’s more from the article:
Of course, not all parenting challenges can be resolved with a coach, DeGaetano said. Issues that arise from trauma or a psychological condition may require a mental-health professional, and a good coach will refer parents elsewhere in cases like that.
“Counseling is about healing. We don’t do that; we’re not licensed counselors, and I make that clear,” she said.
Wickham, who lives in Palm Springs, California, and whose children are 22 and 25, said she’s never used a parent coach and doesn’t know anyone who has.
But she said she understands the desire for input from an impartial, nonjudgmental expert, and said maybe she could have benefited from one.
“I wish I had done less for my kids — for example, when kids forget their homework, don’t drive to school with it, let them suffer the consequences. That’s one thing I really wish I’d learned, from a coach or anybody, but I never got that advice,” she said.
One of the things I explained to Graham was that no two children are alike, and they all have different personalities and will react differently to parenting techniques. Once you find something that works, by the next week it probably won’t. Parenting is thinking on your feet, being flexible and learning when to pick your battles. Our goal should be to raise children who become independent, happy, self-sufficient and kind human beings.
What are your thoughts about hiring a parenting coach?