• Mallory G Foster

Wait...Family Life Coaching? What's that?

During the tumultuous times we are facing, our family lives likely look different in many ways than they did before schools closed, we switched to working remotely, and we faced the sadness and confusion that comes with a pandemic. As we continuously re-imagine our village, build our toolboxes for a different-than-expected summer, and cope with the changes we face as an adult while striving to be present for the kiddos in our lives, I'm excited you're reading this to learn a bit more about coaching. In this blog post, I'll share what coaching is and is not, why I chose this field, an overview of what a coaching session might look like, why I'd LOVE it if you chose to schedule coaching sessions with me, and more!

What coaching is and is not: The field of coaching is rooted in positive psychology (this site references grit, an often less than equitable concept (I like this article here and the emphasis on self-determination, autonomy, connectedness, etc as factors that boost motivation). Professional coaches know that clients have and can develop the skills they need for fulfillment. Coaching sessions are driven by questioning, brainstorming, and collaboration to create, realize, and meet goals. Coaching is not therapy - coaches focus more on goals and forward motion. While there are business coaches, wellness coaches, etc, coaches are generally not financial advisors, certified personal accountants, or registered nutritionists. Coaches are not teachers (this is where I struggle the most :) - as a coach, it is my task to be patient and to guide self-inquiry and self-determination - sometimes I like to simply tell or show people how to do things :), yet with client permission, we may ask if we can share a skill or strategy we think a client would benefit from (say, mindful breathing or navigating a college website). As coaches, we strive to refer clients to the services they need if they are beyond our unique skill sets and certifications (for example, I may mix yoga into my coaching practice because I am certified, some coaches are also therapists and can hep you switch to a therapeutic session if needed). Family life coaching blends family sciences and coaching to strengthen family relationships, improve family health, reduce parental stress, assist in transitions of care for elderly family members, and more. Specifically, I focus on topics related to parenting skills, family relationships, military family life, and boosting learning, play, and mindfulness (learn a bout a few specific family life focuses here).

Why I chose family life coaching: I am excited to be just an exam away from becoming a Board Certified Coach (Coaching is unregulated, anyone can say they are a coach, so it is a good idea to know the background of your coach. Mine is in education, learning sciences, new teacher coaching, family education, and now, coaching. I have practical hours of coaching under my belt and a wonderful network of professional coaches to turn to when I need to fine-tune my coaching). As a Tinkergarten leader and family yoga instructor, I found myself having a lot of conversations about family issues. As a teacher, I am great at guiding students toward discovery, but in adult, peer conversations I started to feel like I wasn't serving families as well as I wanted to - often turning to advice giving or sharing what worked for me. The coursework I completed to work towards my certification helped me practice slowing down and letting the client lead (while also holding them accountable to their own values and goals). Just like I stepped out of the classroom and in to helping teachers to broaden my impact, I think that if I can coach families and help them build strong, resilient families, we'll have more kiddos ready to learn and more adults who can truly be present and joyful in their families' lives. Family life coaching is beneficial - coaches provide services that boost mental health, strengthen family relationships, reduce stress, improve communication, increase motivation, and more (find out more here and here). One day, I mightttt go the family therapy route, but it's MUCH more of a time and economic commitment, and I appreciate the flexibility coaching offers me (and I like focusing on strengths and forward movement).

What a coaching session looks like: Coaching conversations follow a similar rhythm from week to week, easing the client into the session, exploring current goals and dilemmas, and setting action steps before the client leaves. This pattern guarantees that the client drives the conversation. At the start of the session, coaches often leave space for the client to clear the air - to shake off any overwhelming moments form their day so we can set that aside and get to work. Then, we might recap the last session, share what's worked and hasn't worked since the last session, and determine a focus for the current session. In early sessions, we may use assessments (like wellness wheels and VIA Character Strengths) to hone in on areas for growth and exploration that will become the focus of our coaching sessions. I also love to as families to reflect on their daily musts as a family and as individuals - this was a game changer for me in terms of reducing mommy guilt. We might also start to dig into what motivates a client to act - I love using Gretchen Rubin's The Four Tendencies quiz. We can do this through visioning, brainstorming, identifying what is getting in the way of our success, sharing skills, and more. Depending on your goals, we may share thoughts on a book chapter, create a daily schedule, plan a creative task to do as a family, etc. I love helping families find ways to create playing, meaningful moments together in simple, low stress ways - so you'll likely get a dose of that in sessions too. Because I am a registered yoga teacher and have seen and read about the benefits of mindfulness in families, yoga is also something we can incorporate. It is important to remember that while a coach's role is in part to cheer you on, it is also our job to call you out - to help you catch your own traps and habits so you can be aware of the choices you make and their alignment with your goals. What is so cool about coaching is that it is a co-creative relationship - the goal is that the client and coach both learn - this keeps us on equal footing - really empowering the client to make moves - so we can really tailor sessions towards unique needs (one of my hopes is to coach whole families together :). At the end of a session, we set a game plan for the space between sessions and share follow up preferences.

So... what do you offer and why should I sign up for sessions with you? I'm highly qualified and highly motivated to help your family watch wonder bloom. Other than hanging out with HG, there is nothing more satisfying to me than when a parent asks me a really poignant or important question ("So, wait, what do you really do outside?" "What do I do, my kid won't stop screaming?"), texts me a photo of their kiddos doing a new cool thing the parent and I planned, or lets me know a strategy they wanted to try worked well. The coaching packages I offer have a WIDE price range to make my services as accessible as possible. We meet virtually at a time you choose. I like to look at coaching as "me time" that can help me recharge and refresh so I'm ready to go. I hope you'll join me for your me time and feel empowered to watch wonder bloom in your family!

Follow me on Instagram at @watchwonderbloom for snippets of coaching via questions in posts and to stay up to date on coaching package discounts! How have you seen wonder bloom in your family recently?

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