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Having Patience Is Hard. You Can Do Hard Things.

Families struggling to effectively meet each member’s needs and wants come to coaching looking for immediate relief. They are suffering at home and dreading interactions that are negative and exasperating. The pain is real and the desire to be free of pain is strong. As a coach and parent, I understand the search for a “quick fix”, parenting “tips and tricks” and a “one size fits all” philosophy of child rearing can be tempting. The reality of growth and healing is that it takes time, effort, and courage. Whatever families are experiencing finds its roots many generations ago and won’t be untangled in a day.

Each member of the family has a role to play and identifying your piece of the puzzle takes time and patience. The steps include developing awareness, accepting what you become aware of about yourself and then developing alternative ways of being that you can adopt in a meaningful and mindful way. For example, when I was a young adult, I communicated with my partner who was also the father of my child with anger and hostility when we were in conflict. He was able to hold a metaphorical mirror up to me by identifying what I was doing and offering a choice of changing my approach or him leaving the house until I was calm again.

I was shocked that he would not engage me in my aggressive communication and felt embarrassed and angry when he reflected back what he was witnessing. After my initial emotional reaction and several instances of him walking out the door when my hostility peaked, I accepted this tendency of mine and identified that it came from my family of origin in which yelling and fighting were the norm during my adolescence. I developed an awareness, accepted my tendency, and then worked hard in my relationship as well as through subsequent relationships, including that with my kid, to change my behavior to get the results I was looking for. I learned how to resolve conflict in ways that were relationship-strengthening instead of relationship-damaging. Over the years, I became less hostile and more curious about the causes of conflict. This process was not easy and takes time, but it was worth the work because of the results: the ability to express emotions in a constructive way, to know when to take a breather, and to prioritize relationships over being “right”.

Awareness, acceptance, and change form a cycle that we can repeat with each pattern of behavior that is not working for us as we strive towards more conscious parenting. This takes time and patience even with a coach giving support and guidance as well as modeling patience. Getting help through coaching means that time and energy are used more efficiently because as a coach, I am familiar with common pitfalls in the cycle and can lend a hand when they occur. Parents still need to do the work, both internal and relational, to make the coaching process successful. It helps to remember that the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.

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