Why Parents Hire “Parenting Coaches” — Their Kids Won’t Listen

 

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We used to call our moms or girlfriends for advice. What has happened in our world that we’d rather pay $125 to $350 per session to a stranger to ask how to get our kids to go to bed? Also, the sessions aren’t even in person—they’re over the phone or via Skype. Parenting coaches are a new trend and it’s become a billion dollar business. It seems a little odd to me to pay for help because people are always giving unsolicited advice. Confide to a friend about problems you’re having with your kids and you’ll get plenty of suggestions. Also, you can google it or shop on Amazon and gets books, blogs and articles galore. I found it funny that the number one problem that drove parents to hire parenting coaches is this — their kids won’t listen to them! No kidding! 

We used to call our moms or girlfriends for advice. What has happened in our world that we’d rather pay $125 to $350 per session to a stranger to ask how to get our kids to go to bed? Also, the sessions aren’t even in person—they’re over the phone or via Skype. Parenting coaches are a new trend and it’s become a billion dollar business. It seems a little odd to me to pay for help because people are always giving unsolicited advice. Confide to a friend about problems you’re having with your kids and you’ll get plenty of suggestions. Also, you can google it or shop on Amazon and gets books, blogs and articles galore. I found it funny that the number one problem that drove parents to hire parenting coaches is this — their kids won’t listen to them! No kidding! 

In “Parenting coaches? Frazzled families pay for advice,” by Erica Pearson for the Minnesota Star Tribune, she interviews families and parenting coaches to learn more about this new trend. 

Here’s an excerpt:

Megan and Michael Flynn used to dread bedtime. Every night, the Edina couple spent two stressful hours putting their preschooler and toddler to bed. With help, they cut that time in half.

They did it by hiring a parent coach, who listened to them describe an average night and concluded they needed structure. Instead of caving into requests for book after book, they set a routine — and stuck to it.

“Nighttime routines are such a struggle for so many people,” said Megan Flynn, “and it was just nice to have somebody give us strategies for it.”

When it comes to bedtime, homework or managing meltdowns, a growing number of families like the Flynns aren’t relying on their peers or parents: They’re turning to parenting coaches for one-on-one instruction.

The coaches — who charge from about $125 to $350 a session — meet with parents only (in person, over the phone or via Skype) to set goals and develop a plan to reach them.

Here’s another excerpt: 

Shoreview parenting coach Toni Schutta, who worked with the Flynns, is a licensed psychologist. But she would be the first to admit that she doesn’t use coaching to deal with deep-seated problems. Her role is to listen to parents, suggest tools to address a specific issue and keep them accountable for a set number of weeks. The reason most clients seek her out? Their kids don’t listen.

Moms and dads who have hired a parent coach say they felt comfortable asking a coach for help with day-to-day struggles, instead of a counselor, specialist, therapist — or even a member of their own family. Hiring a coach, they say, is more akin to using a resource than seeking a diagnosis. Plus, coaching is often easier to fit in around busy schedules, since it can be done over the phone.

The profession, virtually nonexistent 20 years ago, is one of the latest entries in the $1.08 billion personal coaching industry in the United States. It’s part of the broader American trend of hiring expert advisers to improve nearly every facet of life. You can hire a sleep coach, a financial coach, a life coach, even a coach to help you transition to eating only raw food.

I write parenting advice columns for SwimSwam.com and I hope my tips are helpful to other parents. I base them on first-hand experience, friends and family, plus I do a lot of reading and research. But, I couldn’t imagine anyone would pay me $350 per session over the phone for my suggestions, helpful or not. 

Parenting is a huge job. Probably one of the biggest and most important, and it doesn’t include a manual. Every parent and child is different and so much of it is trial and error. When you get it wrong, you try something new. When something finally works—it won’t for much longer. Parenting is changing and adapting on a daily basis. Just like our parenting changes, so do our kids, and no two kids are the same—even within the same family.

Would you hire a parenting coach and why or why not?

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Beautiful Boy: a Must See Movie for Parents

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The official movie poster for Beautiful Boy.

Last night, my daughter and I went to see Beautiful Boy, a film about a family dealing with their son’s meth addiction. Based on a real-life father/son story, the script is a melding of two memoirs: Beautiful Boy by writer and columnist David Sheff, played by Steve Carell, and Tweak by the addicted son, Nic (Timothée Chalamet).

Beautiful Boy is an emotionally difficult movie for any parent to see. Although I haven’t gone through anything nearly as hellacious or dramatic, I related to the parents’ anguish. I realized how strongly I want to make everything okay for my kids when they’re experiencing pain. As hard as we want to control situations and can see what the best choices are, in the end, it’s all up to them. We can’t live their lives for them.

What I found especially poignant, was Carell’s flashbacks to his young innocent son and the many memories he had of their close relationship, interspersed with gritty scenes of finding Nic soaking wet and high in a San Francisco alley or overdosed in a hospital.

Directed by Belgian director and co-writer, Oscar nominated Felix van Groeningen, I loved the acting by Carell, Chalamet, Amy Ryan as the first wife and mom, and Maura Tierney as the current wife and mother of two younger kids. The soundtrack and cinematography were integral to the experience, which will haunt me for years. I cried when I heard Sunrise Sunset, a song from Fiddler on the Roof performed by Perry Como, which I played on the piano as a young child. The soundtrack includes artists Neil Young, John Lennon, David Bowie and Nirvana.

There are uncomfortable scenes of drug use, near deaths, and the horror experienced by Nic’s parents. It’s an important movie because drug addiction is epidemic throughout our country, regardless of money, race or gender. Overdose is the number one cause of death in our country for those under age 50.

Here’s an excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter with interviews with Carell and Chalamet:

At the U.S. premiere of Beautiful Boy at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Carell said his most challenging scene was a more tender one, in which David receives a desperate call from Nic but chooses not to help him get sober again. Whether from lack of hope or lack of strength, David tells Nic that he’s on his own.

“I think that goes against every fiber of every parent’s being,” Carell told The Hollywood Reporter of the scene that has the character crying on a couch at home. Carell said having two teenagers “absolutely” shaped the way he viewed the script, saying, “I don’t think you ever stop worrying about them until the day you die.” Through his performance, he realized having no ability to keep your kids safe and healthy has to be “the scariest thing of all.”

Chalamet likes that Beautiful Boy isn’t a tragic story, nor a glorious story. The addiction tale is told from a “total perspective,” based on the best-selling memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy and Tweak, respectively.

“That encompassed addiction in a contemporary sense, in a way that I just hadn’t ever read anything like that,” Chalamet told THR. “Movies or books that I’d been privy to prior that dealt with the subject matter felt like they lean into the tragedy of it or into the glory of it somehow.”

Here’s link to John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” written for his son Sean. 

Lyrics to Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) by John Lennon:

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster’s gone
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient
‘Cause it’s a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes, it’s a long way to go

But in the meantime
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling
Darling Sean

Songwriters: John Lennon

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

A Sadness Like No Other

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I can’t stop thinking about the mom who was talking to her daughter on the phone while she was walking to her car on campus the other night. I can’t come to grips with how awful it would be to relive that moment over and over. According to the mom, she heard her daughter yell, “No! No! No!” and that was it. She was afraid her daughter was in a car accident.

Jill McCluskey, mother of Lauren McCluskey and economics professor at Washington State University, shared this statement on Twitter:

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My daughter was friends with Lauren. They knew each other from athletics at the University of Utah, because it’s a close-knit community. This was such a tragedy for the entire campus, community and the family. My daughter said that Lauren was so nice! Once Waffles had run away and it was Lauren who found him and brought him back to her. My heart goes out to the McCluskey family. When we send our kids off to school, its with dreams and stars in our eyes for their great futures. We don’t expect anything like this.

Here’s a Go Fund Me campaign started by a fellow student at the University of Utah.  Please think about supporting Lauren’s family.

Views from my morning walks

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Beauty.

I’ve been lousy about going to the pool lately. Mainly because of two reasons. First, I went to visit my daughter in Arizona for several days. Second, I got a nasty cold and I felt weak, congested and couldn’t breathe. Those are two absolutely acceptable reasons to skip Masters swimming, don’t you think?

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The Wellness Park in Palm Springs.

One thing that I haven’t missed, despite going out of town and feeling less than stellar, are my morning walks. In Arizona, I got to walk Waffles. Here, at home, the weather finally changed for the better. It feels perfect and the views are gorgeous. It’s the best I feel all day, being out in nature for an hour, soaking up the sun and radiant desert plants and mountain views.

I also treasured the days I had hanging out with Waffles, plus working on my laptop catching up on work. He’s a good companion, but not nearly as good as my daughter. We did the usual things we enjoy as a mother-daughter team. We went for a pedicure, she cooked me dinner, we shopped and we sat together and talked. All in all, the time together made me once again appreciate the small special things in life. Like having a daughter who wants me to come stay with her from time to time.

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Waffles

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Waffles and my daughter at Tempe Beach Park.

What are your favorite parts of the day? Do you find that they are spent outside or with family, too?

 

How to be present in the moment

I wrote this article at my daughter’s last PAC 12 swim meet. I was feeling nostalgic and overwhelmed with all the emotions. It’s so important to be in the moment when you’re spending time with family and friends. We need to remember to put the phone down and truly appreciate the time you have together.

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Enjoying a moment in Seattle with my son.

I discovered some profound parenting advice in an online publication called the Montgomery Advertiser in a short column called “Parenting: Teach your teen to live for today” by Tom Tozer and Bill Black, Dads2Dads.

“Slow down, the future is always ahead of you

The future isn’t a destination. It’s not like arriving at school or stopping at the gas station. Your future is composed of intangibles — hopes, dreams and possibilities. The future urges you to keep moving, dreaming, changing and growing. Simply put, the future is that part of life that once you arrive, you’re still not there. No wonder it’s hard to look at and to answer that probing question: What are you going to do with your life?

“Young man, young woman, set your goals but keep them flexible. Evaluate them. Discard those you lose interest in and make new ones. Keep your options open. Now’s the time to try new things, to make new discoveries and prepare for sudden forks in the road. Welcome those sharp curves and U-turns. These detours help you evaluate the direction you’re taking. Relax.

“While you certainly want to set your sights ahead, avoid getting so wrapped up in plotting, planning and pursuing the future that you fail to enjoy the present. The future is a great place to think about, but the present is the best place to be.”

With my kids going through transitions in their lives, from childhood to adulthood, and not knowing exactly the path to what they want to be, I will share this article with them. So much of our lives are spent planning and preparing for the future. But what is the is future? (In reality, we go from point A to point B and that B becomes point A.) We never get into the future. We have the moment we are in and should try to make the most of it.

I do spend a lot of time reflecting on the past and anticipating the future, but I also take time each day to enjoy the now. How do I do that? By enjoying a moment out in my backyard, watering my flowers. Walking around my park each morning before I “start my day.” Spending time being with my friends and family—by putting my phone down.

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I took a moment to capture the beauty outside the pool at PAC 12s.

With my mom the past few days, I sat with her and we played hand after hand of cards. We whispered together playing Bingo and Laughter Yoga. (Ha ha ha -Ho ho ho. YAY! was the chant we learned and filled the room with belly laughs.) I stopped my life to be with her and be in the moment. With our son, he stopped his busy life last week to be with us and we enjoyed our moments together—whether we were at the pool watching the meet or taking a day trip to Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle.

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A wonderful day with my kiddos.

How do you enjoy the moment and get away from the planning and preparing for the future?
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3 Things About That Empty Nest

Four years ago, I wrote about my empty next and the three things I noticed. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that my kids were away at college–but they weren’t really gone. Not permanently. Now I have two fully-employed kids living their own adult lives. My nest is empty. Well, maybe not totally. My son came home for the weekend, my daughter visited two weeks ago. It just feels empty in between.
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Towels

Let’s start with towels. First off, we own too many of them. I gathered our towels into one room and separated the wheat from the chaff. I asked my son Robert if he needed any. I recall sending him off to college four years ago with a small set of matched towels. He’s survived with those two towels all this time? Plus, a beach towel of course — since he goes to UC Santa Barbara.

One of the most beautiful campuses ever. UCSB

One of the most beautiful campuses ever. UCSB

Eighteen towels and two dozen or so hand towels and washcloths sit on his bed, awaiting his return Thanksgiving weekend. These 18 towels didn’t make the cut to remain members of our family — unless they commit to being shredded into rags.

images-3The next thing I noticed about my towels is that I’m no longer washing them every time I turn around. I raised two overly hygienically-conscious kids and since they were swimmers, I believe they went through four or five towels daily — each — which never got a second use. I no longer have to hear the thump, thump, thump of my washing machine doing a jig with the over-packed, heavy towel load.

images-5Groceries

Have I mentioned that I raised two swimmers? We joined the Piranha Swim Team around 1999. I honestly believe that having my kids involved in swimming was the single best thing we ever did as parents. Sure, the kids worked hard. Yes, it was a time commitment. But, I will repeat, it was the single best thing we ever did. You can find a lot of my articles about the benefits here and here and here. Read what my friend has to say about swimming here.

Robert and Kat a few years ago on photo day for the Piranha Swim Team.

Robert and Kat a few years ago on photo day for the Piranha Swim Team.

So, what does this fact have to do with groceries? Well, it means I bought a lot of them. All the time. Robert drank a half gallon of milk a day and a box of Cinnamon Life every two days. Kat could eat whatever she wanted and she liked my sole, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, and brown medley rice. At least I think she did because I was always cooking and buying more groceries.

Life-Cinnamon-Detail.sflbToday, my refrigerator is bare and I rarely cook. There’s no reason to buy more than three items at a time at the grocery store. When I enter the store, I don’t need a cart. I use the little hand-held basket.

images-4Dishes

 I cannot seem to get a load of dishes to wash for the life of me. My sink is empty. My dishwasher sits bare and lonely.

I guess that’s what they make Thanksgiving weekend for. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and having a full house once again.

This is a photo of Kat. She didn't want to be a ballerina. She wanted to swim!

Why Kat joined the swim team. “I don’t want to be a ballerina!”

What differences do you see in your home if you’re an empty nester?

Now that the summer is over….

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My daughter and Waffles at home this weekend.

My world is a little less crazy in September than it was in August. Of course, it’s only September 2nd. But, I haven’t left our desert in more than a week. The last two weeks of August, I trekked from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara to Phoenix—and my daughter and husband threw in a trip to Salt Lake City in between.

I was supposed to help my daughter set up her new home in Arizona this Labor Day weekend, but after my husband’s shoulder surgery Tuesday, I postponed my trip. A friend lectured me about leaving my husband alone after surgery. She said that my daughter should drive home to help us out—not me drive to see her. “After all, the new house isn’t going anywhere, she can get by with slowly unpacking, and you can help her at a later date,” she said. My husband did need attention, just a little, and my daughter happily agreed to come home for the weekend.

It’s only a short drive from the Phoenix area to Palm Springs. Four hours to be exact on one freeway—“the 10.” In So Cal, we say “the” in front of every highway. They don’t do that in NorCal or Washington, where I grew up.

My son lived four hours away in Santa Barbara, which is in the opposite direction of Arizona. In the words of a native Southern Californian to drive from Palm Springs to UCSB, “you take the 10 to the 210 to the 118 to the 23 to the 101.” I feel so much more comfortable with the drive to Arizona on “the 10.” Period. Except for the big trucks, which I don’t like, it’s a one-shot deal. I hope to get there soon to help her set up her new home.

I’m also anxious to get a fresh start to the fall. I’m relieved we made it through so many hurdles. Vacation, the move, the surgery, etc. are all behind us in the rearview mirror. It’s time to look ahead.

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Olive the cat seems to have survived another few days with Waffles.

What do you think about the end of summer and the start of fall?