The rise of 'parenting coaches': the Big Apple trend on its way to the UK
In New York, the expert industry is booming, especially for anything to do with children. While homework coaches, school entry consultants and personal sports trainers are now de rigueur, the newest child-rearing authority doesn’t even come face to face with “the little people. We work with adults only,” says parent coach Meosha Y. Williams.
Parent coaches exist to empower city mums and dads, giving them confidence to be tough and implement new ideas in their homes, and, in particular, to help get kids off phones and other digital devices.
Whereas school teachers and sports coaches deliver stark blows to parents about children’s attitudes or behaviours before sitting back and watching the fallout, parent coaches offer an empathetic, helping hand. Unlike psychotherapists - so popular in New York City yet professionally barred from making suggestions or offering advice - parent coaches are full of both.
“New York parents are used to controlling everything in their lives, feeling like they should have all the answers to their problems,” says Williams. “They seek us out after reaching their wit’s end, when there is no communication with children or fights erupt over participating in any activities beyond screens.”
As a teacher of children with disabilities in the New York public school system for five years before transitioning to parent coaching, Williams understands how to help parents in this particular situation. “I work with any family that needs help in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn,” she says. “The problem of technology addiction does not discriminate. It goes across all demographics.”
Williams is affiliated to a parent coaching network called PCI (Parent Coaching Institute) which offers an e-book of inspirational ideas to get kids off technology. It is the brainchild of Gloria DeGaetano, a life coach based in Seattle. “The susceptibility of the developing brain to technology and screen addiction is only now being properly understood,” says DeGaetano, a recognised expert in helping families with children in thrall to digital devices.
Family battles and inter-couple rows are another catalyst for clients to call in a parent coach. “One of the biggest challenges I face is having to coach a couple who have a lot of conflict in terms of parenting styles and ideologies,” says Williams. “A parent coach can help a couple discover what they are good at together, their personal strengths and shared interests. We bring this out so they can then implement it all into their parenting strategy.”
And the UK is not far behind. There are already several recognised parent coaching academies in the capital and tech-free summer camps have been a huge hit with British children - and parents - this summer.
But a word of warning; in the States, the PCI follows the lead of many Silicon Valley tech workers in recommending banning not only screen-time for the kids but the use of phones and any kind of technology in front of little ones, full-stop. So perhaps the first job of any parent coach will be helping modern parents kick their own digital habits too.
From The Telegraph