After coaching parents for ten years and working in the field of parenting for close to twenty-five years, I’ve decided to move my focus from parenting to relationships. I’m particularly interested in married people (or people living common-law) who have children. More and more I’ve come to realize that parenting is far more than just knowing how to discipline. Of course that’s part of it but it’s not everything. Parenting is also what’s going on in our lives because the way we live our lives, is what we teach our kids. When they grow up they will copy what they lived. It’s not the things we told them that will have the biggest impact, it’s what they witnessed. We are their role models for everything.
I’ve worked with several parents privately who initially came to me with parenting challenge but in the end. more than half of our time together was spent addressing what was going on in their personal life. Often it was their marriage that was in trouble. If things are not going well between the parents, the whole family feels it. Often anger and frustration is taken out on the kids or parents are fighting a lot in front of them. No one intends to fight in front of the kids, it just happens and often things escalate.
Our kids want and deserve to live in a home that feels safe, comfortable, loving and secure. When parents are fighting all the time it feels far from safe and loving. It makes kids feel insecure and it threatens their foundation. It can be very frightening and confusing. Why is everyone so angry? They don’t understand but what they do know is that it doesn’t feel very good.
Parenting starts with us. We can read all the books and have all the latest gadgets that promise to make our lives easier but if our most important relationships are in trouble, none of that matters. The relationship parents have with each other is a huge contributing factor to the climate of the household. How we relate to each other is what we teach our kids. How we resolve our differences is what we teach our kids. How loving and respectful we are to each other is what we teach our kids.
I have been married for nearly twenty-eight years which feels like a big accomplishment in a society where there is a fifty percent divorce rate. We don’t have a perfect marriage and it hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our share of challenges but we’ve weathered them. Through some outside help and a lot of reflection, dialogue, reading, self-evaluation and trying new ways of doing things, we got through the worst of it. We both had to make some big changes. I will say with certainty, that it’s all been worth it.
I’m looking forward to working with parents who are experiencing some challenges in their marriage or relationship and want to consider coaching rather than therapy to help them work through some of their issues. Parenting starts with us. It’s our responsibility to create the home environment our kids deserve.