In my family, the shit hits the fan on an almost daily basis.
I won’t sugar coat my family’s struggles or gloss over the hard stuff just because I'm coaching parents. I will see my part in a conflict with my kid, I won’t exaggerate behaviors for attention, and I will acknowledge the help I’ve gotten along the way. I don’t believe anyone has all the answers, especially not me. If “good enough parenting” means making mistakes, admitting mistakes, seeking help, and learning from mistakes, I’m a good enough parent.
I just got two emails that couldn’t be more different, both from parent coaches. One claims to be the best at what she does. She brags about her kids, taking credit for their achievements, but it’s obvious she doesn’t know MY kid. I was rolling my eyes by the second line.
The other coach paints a worst-case scenario picture of a dramatic family crisis, and claims she overcame it by creating a method out of thin air (while teaching thousands of parents to do the same). She claims that all her material is proven to work with kids age 2-17. What does that even MEAN?
I’m sure both of these parents are amazing coaches. I just don’t quite believe their story. They didn’t get help? They figured it out on their own? They don’t have crappy days? They have eliminated ALL challenging behavior, without once bribing or yelling at their kids? Oy.
I’m Not That Kind of Parent, and I’m Not That Kind of Coach
I’ll never claim to be the best at parenting, or at coaching, or at anything. I don’t have it all figured out. I won’t sugar coat my family (ew, sticky) or gloss over the hard stuff. I also won’t hang my kid out as a public symbol of my parenting resilience. I tell some of our stories, because they are my stories too. But my son is the hero of his story, not me.
I’ve been in some dark places, and I didn’t overcome anything alone. I reached out for help. I’m so glad I did. One thing all parents have in common is, we make mistakes. Another is, we tend to think we have to figure it out on our own.
The very first step to feeling better as a struggling parent is to claw yourself out of isolation. It is hard to do, especially when you have already failed at many attempts to improve your parenting. How do I know that? Can you guess? Yeah, I’ve been there. This morning. I also see how I’m getting better because I’m willing to be open about my struggles and learn from my challenges.
I’ll never guilt or shame you for anything. In my family, the shit hits the fan on an almost daily basis. I remember when it was hourly. We recover faster now, and we learn from it. That doesn’t make me a superhero. My life is messy. My family is complicated. Like your family, we love each other so much that sometimes it hurts. We just keep trying to hurt each other less and live closer to our values.
What you see is what you get. I will be present for you, I’ll hold space for you to figure out what you need. I’ll hold space for your heart-centered vision for your family, and we will go from there. You’ll learn to communicate your boundaries with empathy.
In Neurodiverse Families, Growth is Not Linear
Regression happens. We forget skills we had down. We suddenly leap ahead in understanding. Expressive language can lag way behind receptive, so we never really know how much of what we are saying is getting through.
As parents, we have different learning styles too. You might read something in a book, dismiss it as impractical or impossible for your family, only to hear Dr. Becky say the same thing on Instagram in a slightly simpler way, and have a lightbulb moment. In neurodiverse families, nothing is linear. We grow at our own pace.
Independence is one of the most harmful parenting myths. We can’t do it all alone.
I won’t tell you “exactly how to end meltdowns fast.”
I don’t have a one-size-fits-all proven method for every parenting situation.
I won’t promise to eliminate challenging behavior.
I will listen and help you unpack the “why” behind whatever is happening. Together, we will make a simple plan for the next time. Then, we will come back and unpack what happened the next time and troubleshoot.
Your Family’s Situation is Different, So Parenting is Harder
Please remember that you don’t have to figure it out on our own, and you don’t have to be the best. What if good enough really is enough?
No one gets it right all the time, no matter what they tell us. If you feel shamed or manipulated by a parent coach into thinking you need them, that’s a tactic. They are doing that to feed off of your insecurity and fear of failure.
I know that you have a ton of wisdom already. You are the expert on your unique family. Just like your kid, I’ll teach you self-regulation strategies you can practice before the next meltdown. I’ll listen for your inner wisdom, respond to your unique situation, and offer strategies that have helped my neurodiverse family and other families I’ve worked with to thrive.
It won’t always be this hard. With help you can be a calmer and more present parent, no matter how intense your family is. Get support. If it isn’t a good fit the first time, keep trying. The one thing you can’t do is give up. You can’t give up on your kid, or your family... or on yourself.
If you want my support, I’m here for you. Use the button below to schedule a half hour chat. We will get to know each other, and if we decide to work together we’ll go from there.
This post was originally published on the Atypical Kids, Mindful Parents Blog.
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