Parenting Perspective: Parent Coaches

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The challenges of parenting can be overwhelming and confusing and can sometimes leave Mom and Dad feeling helpless.

Now there is a growing trend among parents to seek help from parent coaches.

Marlena and Hunter Karr admit raising 9-, 6- and 2-year-old boys can be both physically and emotionally challenging.

"There's a lot of aggression with the three boys," they told Action News. "We were also concerned with our different styles as far as how much was allowed."

The Karrs found their disagreement on parenting styles was confusing for the boys and taking a toll on their relationship. So they decided to enlist in the help of parent coach through The Center for Parenting Education in Abington, Pa.

"Parenting is very complicated and it's difficult and I really believe it is more difficult today than it used to be," said Marlena.

Whether parents are having trouble getting their toddler to eat or sleep in their own bed, or their 10-year-old refuses to listen, or as in the Karrs' case, dealing with differing parenting styles, parent coach Rosemary Melnick says her job is to meet with parents one to three times, listen to their concerns, and educate them on different parenting approaches.

"I don't tell parents what to do," she said. "I just try to get a sense of them, their family and try to provide them with some information and some options."

Therapist Edd Conboy of the Council of Relationships says parent coaching can be a good option, especially in a generation that doesn't seem to have the extended family or community support of previous generations.

But he also says parent coaching is not a replacement for therapy or treating a child that may have developmental issues.

"That is what a parent coach can really do," he explained, saying the coach's approach is to say, "Let's take a step back and say let's take a step back what's really happening here."

For the Karrs, parent coaching has helped open lines of communication and adopt new parenting styles they say have brought some calm to the chaos.

"Parents aren't perfect," said Marlena. "I think that's the neat thing we get to show---our kids we have to go to school too."


There are important questions to ask before you enlist in the help of a parent coach.

-What is your educational background?
-How long have you been a parent coach?
-What kind of training did you undergo to become a parent coach?
-What field were you in before you became a parent coach?
-What sort of professional networks do you have access to? (for example, can you refer families to therapists, psychiatrists etc..if there seems to be a larger family issue or developmental problem with a child?)

Edd Conboy tells Action News there is no specific set of criteria that would indicate what kind of help a family needs but parents should note, if their child seems to be consistently regressing or if a couple feels they are in a state of real distress, it is important to get a professional assessment from a licensed therapist, psychologist or medical doctor.


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