Sunday, July 12, 2009

Helping Dads Navigate Strange Territories

Parenting in the 21st century is challenging and confusing for most parents. Families look and are different than years ago. More and more gay and lesbian couples are adopting or using surrogacy as a means of building families. Gay and straight dads are raising kids more and more and more (SAHD/SAD's - Stay at home dads), and more are the primary caregivers. We have to parent differently now.

What values do we want to pass on?

What do we want to teach our kids?

What kind of people do we want them to be?

Dads need to provide an environment for their children that is nurturing and loving with clear expectations and consequences that teach but do not shame. A Parent Coach can help with these challenges.

Here are the 10 of the most Frequently Asked Questions of a parenting coach.
By Susan P. Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach

1. Question: What are some key reasons that a dad would seek out a Parent Coach’s help?

Answer: You have a child with difficult behavior (lack of respect, anger, back-talk, interrupting, tantrums, etc), or who is acting out or not doing well in school. Also if you are going through: divorce, remarriage, blending a family, trauma or loss, teen alcohol or drug use, or if you want to improve family communication, balance or support.

2. Question: What should I look for in a Parent Coach?

Answer: An expert in the areas of child development and family dynamics. They should be non-judgemental, good at building rapport, creative (they tailor plans to your family’s needs), patient, and a good teacher and mentor.

3. Question: What if I have already read parenting books and taken my child to a therapist and I am still struggling?

Answer: That’s okay and it means that you are searching for answers. Parent coaching can help because the coach works with you to tailor a parenting plan for your family.

4. Question: I have a special needs child and/or my child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, Conduct Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. Can a parent coach help us?

Answer: Absolutely, most children/teens will respond to a behavioral plan if the plan is designed for their developmental stage and age.

5. Question: Is waiting until your child is a teenager too late to change their behavioral patterns?

Answer: It is best to start as early as possible. But, even if they are 16 or 17 years old you can still turn that behavior around fairly quickly with the right plan.

6. Question: What is the biggest challenge that dads face in today’s world?

Answer: That has to be a combination of disrespect from their children and parent guilt. They go hand in hand. “If I discipline my child for being inappropriate he won’t like me but then I feel guilty because I know that I am not setting limits and this isn’t good for him.” A dad may feel guilty because he is stretched thin and overwhelmed. This is especially difficult with divorce where the kids are going back and forth between two homes. If dad doesn’t want to be “the bad guy” he might let behaviors go that need to be addressed.

7. Question: What are some of the biggest fears that dads have?

Answer: Dads believe that if they yell and scream at their kids that they will damage their children for life. They are also told that if they spank their kids that Child Protection Services will be knocking on the door. Some dads are afraid to utilize their power and feel as if their hands are tied and they don’t know what to do.

8. Question: How does parent coaching take place?

Answer: Weekly parent telephone sessions and email, group parent telephone sessions, in-home sessions, and coaching products like books, DVDs and audio CDs.

9. Question: What if I am interested in hiring a parent coach but not sure?

Answer: Most parent coaches will provide a free consultation to see if you can work together.

10. Question: How long would I work with my parent coach and what are the costs?

Answer: Every coach has their own recommendations based on the family situation. Minimum is usually 3 months up until 12 months. Sometimes after a period of time weekly calls aren’t as necessary and the appointments can be shorter and less frequent.

Susan P. Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach, is an expert in the areas of family dynamics, parenting and child development. Susan will uncover and unleash your parenting power. Visit her site at

1 comment:

Kathy K said...

I *found* your blog and I'm loving going through your older posts (as I'm sure is obvious by the date on this response).

This is a fantastic post! Being a parent of, now, 3 adult children and one 17 year-old the times that I (okay we... my husband, too *grin*) could have used something like this I want to applaud and cry. Thank heavens, though, that we both have wonderful families from which we came to give us support.

The more time that goes by the more I'm impressed with the resources out there to help parents... and frankly it's about time that dads are given equal billing / importance in their children's lives.

Bless you all for sharing!