Life coaches understand that every family has its problems, whether those problems are as commonplace as not knowing how to deal with a sulky teenager, or as complex and devastating as trying to cope with a betrayal or a separation.
The truth is: living with other people is difficult, even if those people happen to be the ones we care most about in the world. Managing a good family dynamic takes time, patience and practice. Keeping all family members happy is no easy task - especially when you all have to live under the same roof.
Happy, peaceful family-life can only really be achieved with the perfect combination of compromise, order, mutual respect and understanding.
Family coaching sessions are designed to provide families with the tools and techniques to resolve conflicts, reach compromises and hopefully transform a difficult living situation into a comfortable one.
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What is family coaching?
Coaching is the method of guiding a person from where they are, to where they want to be. You've probably heard of coaching in sport, and you may have heard of coaching in business; family coaching follows the same basic concepts. Just as a business coach might be drafted in to help restructure a team, or advise a manager on communication techniques, a family coach will enter into the home to work with all members of a family to find out where the problems are and what changes can be made to reach a happy medium.
Family coaching sessions are designed to keep disputes as rational as possible. When we let our emotions get the better of us, arguments can easily turn into shouting matches. A coach will ensure any arguments that arise between family members during a family coaching session are kept as structured, fair and valid as possible - so that everybody has a chance to have their say.
Why try family coaching?
Initially you might feel uncomfortable with the idea of inviting a stranger into your home to observe how you and your family live together. It's an unnatural situation and it can feel unnerving to think that your life is being judged, or that you might be blamed for anything that went wrong.
Family coaches are not there to judge or to point fingers. They are there to put things into perspective so that everyone can see the situation as a whole and learn to accept the part they play. Once everyone accepts that things need to change, the whole family can think of ways to move on together positively.
So why would you want to try family coaching? Coaching offers a practical solution to often very personal problems. Conflict within the family home can be so much more damaging and distressing than conflict at work. When we choose to start a family, we usually do so out of love. Although those initial feelings can be stifled or forgotten over time by the trials and tribulations of life - they never truly go away, and work can be done to reclaim them.
Some reasons people seek family coaching include:
- resolving marital problems
- addressing work/life balance
- bringing up children
- dealing with problem teenagers
- dealing with life after separation or divorce.
Marriages and partnerships are unbelievably hard work, there's no denying it. No matter how bowled over you were when you first set eyes on your partner all those years ago, over time, those feelings can begin to fade. There's nothing like the humdrum of domestic life to take the spark out of a relationship. Of course, conflict is commonplace in most marriages and partnerships - after spending so much time together, it's hard not to pick up on each other's bad habits and flaws. When children are introduced into the mix - those conflicts become all the more significant. Arguments, fights, and even silent brewing can all leave their marks on emotionally susceptive children. Family coaches can be hired to help families cope and deal with a range of marital/relationship problems, including:
1. Secrets and betrayal
Betrayal is probably the most devastating of all relationship conflicts. It can be incredibly distressing to discover that your partner, the person who you chose to share your life and start a family with, has been unfaithful to you in some way. It can shake up your whole life. Suddenly, everything you thought you knew is thrown into question. You start to doubt your own ability to judge people; you start to question yourself - was it your fault? Could you have done something to stop it? Common forms of betrayal include:
- cheating or long-term affairs
- gambling in secret
- porn addiction
- secret debts.
Often, couples find it impossible to patch up the damage caused by a relationship betrayal. Once a person you trusted with your life deceives or misleads you in a big way, it can be difficult to ever feel the same about them again. Those feelings of security, respect and love you once had can quickly be replaced by mistrust, paranoia and anger - as well as grief for the 'old them' you thought you knew.
Although many couples sadly do choose to separate or divorce after a major betrayal, others try to find ways to tackle the problems for the sake of their families.
A family coach can be bought in to help families recover from a betrayal. Unlike counsellors or psychotherapists, family coaches do not try to get to the root of why a betrayal occurred. The idea of family coaching is not to place blame on one another, or to discuss what happened. The idea is to move forward by configuring a new family dynamic. A 'family dynamic' is the pattern of interactions between family members - the behavioural habits we develop with each other and the bonds we all share.
A family coach will develop certain interactive exercises and techniques to rebuild those trust bonds and help families recover from a big shake-up.
Over time, the passion and spark initially enjoyed by couples in love can begin to fizzle out. When couples move in together to start families, they quickly fall into domestic routines - housework, school-run, work, cooking, housework, school-run and so on - and begin to neglect their own relationship needs.
Boredom is now one of the most frequently cited reasons for marriage break-down. One or both partners can start to wonder if there is more to life than the daily domestic routine. Of course, when we have families, there are certain sacrifices we have to make. We can't just jet off to a different European city every weekend, we can't go out partying until dawn every night, we can't take a year off to travel the world. We have to work, we have to pay the bills, and we have to be around for our children until they are old enough to be responsible for themselves.
However, it is incredibly restricting to think that life stops when we find partners and have children. There are a million ways to inject fun and excitement into family life, without sacrificing your happiness, or the happiness of your partner and children.
If you think you and your family's life could do with a slight shake-up, you could hire a family coach to kick-start some positive changes in your daily routine. Family coaching is especially effective when family opinion is divided.
For example: while one parent might suggest splashing out on a big family holiday this summer to reignite that sense of fun, the other might prefer to save the money so they can pay off the mortgage faster. A family coach will help all family members understand where the others are coming from so a balance can be found between addressing practicalities and enjoying life.
The teenage years can often be difficult for all the family to deal with. A combination of raging hormones, school stresses, peer problems and the natural fight for independence can quickly turn the home into a battleground.
For some parents, controlling wily teenagers can be next to impossible. They are no longer cuddly little babies; they are real people, with real whims and real opinions. If a teenager really wants to do something - they will.
A family coach can be bought in to work with parents and teenagers together in order to establish:
- mutual respect
- clearer boundaries
- greater understanding.
A family coach will help both problem teenagers and parents to see life from the others' point of view. It is often misunderstanding that causes so many family disputes. For example: a teenager might be spending all his time playing video games in his room without helping around the house, but is he really just lazy, grumpy and selfish? Or are there underlying reasons for his behaviour? Perhaps he is being bullied at school, perhaps he feels insecure about his appearance, or perhaps his girlfriend has dumped him. Parents who meet their teenagers' behaviour with anger only serve to distance themselves even more.
Equally, from a teenager's perspective, a stressed, angry parent who constantly nags them to do housework is clearly just trying to deprive them of happiness. A teenager may not understand that their parent's anger is only a form of anxiety. Often, we display destructive emotions to hide our real ones because we don't know how to deal with them.
A family coach will help everyone get to grips with their emotions and learn how these emotions might be affecting everyone else. Once communication lines have been improved, misunderstandings can be cleared up and family members can learn to be more honest with one another.
Is your partner spending too much time at work? Do you feel like you're being neglected, or burdened with all of the domestic duties while your partner stays late at the office night after night?
Persuading a career-driven spouse to spend more time at home can be hard work. Even if you do manage to drag them out for an afternoon in the park, you can probably tell their mind is on other things when they're checking their work inbox every three seconds.
Getting married and having children does not necessarily mean you have to put your career goals on hold - you simply have to think more carefully about your work/life balance.
Family coaching is a great tool for families who spend a lot of time apart (parents flying abroad for business etc.) as it offers everyone the chance to get together in the same room and set out exactly how they feel. Do the children wish mum would stick around on weekends to take them on day-trips, instead of going to the office? Does one partner want to suggest the other works less hours? Family coaching sessions are designed to get everyone's opinions out in the open so a good compromise can be reached.
How long will family coaching take?
Family coaching sessions are designed to be fun, relaxing and convenient for all family members. Coaches are usually very flexible when it comes to times, so if you want to squeeze in an hour of coaching after work but before the gym, this can usually be arranged. Every family coach will have different working practices, so you are advised to get in touch directly to establish details.
You can usually have as few or as many family coaching sessions as you like.
How much will family coaching cost?
As with all forms of life coaching, family coaching fees vary considerably. You can expect to pay between £30 and £70 for a face-to-face hour-long session but you are advised to contact coaches directly for specific quotes.
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