Family

Life coaches understand that every family has its problems, whether those problems are as commonplace as not knowing how to deal with difficult teenage behaviour, or as complex and devastating as trying to cope with 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.

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.

What is family coaching?

Family coaching follows the same basic concept as all other types of coaching: guiding a person from where they are, to where they want to be.

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. They can help 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.

How can family coaching help?

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. So, family coaching offers a practical solution to often very personal problems.

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

Initially, you might feel uncomfortable with the idea of inviting a stranger into your family unit to observe how you and your family interact 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.

But 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 positively together.

Common issues family coaching can help with

We’ll explore some of the common issues that family coaching can help with.

Problem behaviour

If your family life is becoming difficult to manage because of destructive behaviour, a coach can help you to manage and improve the behaviour of your teenager or younger children.

Children

Sometimes, for one reason or another, children need a little extra support or a different type of discipline to perform at their best. If your discipline strategies aren’t working or your child’s behaviour is starting to affect other areas of life such as their performance at school or your social life, it can become frustrating.

Although it’s often easier said than done, it’s important to try not to take your frustration out on your child, displaying it as anger.

Children learn from who they spend time with. They are modelling you and your partner. If you want your child to behave differently when they are angry you need to show them how to do this by doing it yourself when you get angry.

- Family coach Judy Bartkowiak provides five tips for managing anger in kids.

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.

Another option is youth coaching - designed to encourage personal development in young people while providing an outlet for their stresses and anxieties. Find out more about youth coaching today.

Youth coaching

Teenagers

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.

Unfortunately, though, parents who meet their teenagers' behaviour with anger only serve to distance themselves even more. From a teenager's perspective, a stressed, angry parent who constantly nags them could be seen as 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 can work with parents and teenagers together in order to establish mutual respect, clearer boundaries and greater understanding of each other. A family coach will help both problem teenagers and parents to see life from the others' point of view.

For more help and advice, read ‘How to talk about feelings with your child or teen’.

Difficult life events

Life isn’t easy to predict. We all experience stress in our lives at times but there are certain things that can really take their toll on family life. We’ll explore some of these difficult life events and how a coach can support your family through them.

Marital and relationship problems

Marriages and partnerships are unbelievably hard work. No matter how in love you once were with your partner, 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. And, when children are introduced into the mix, those conflicts become all the more significant. Arguments and fights can all leave their marks on emotionally susceptive children.

Affairs and betrayals

Betrayal is one of 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.

Common forms of betrayal include:

  • cheating or long-term affairs
  • gambling in secret
  • drinking
  • porn addiction
  • secret debts

Often, couples find it impossible to patch up the damage caused by a relationship betrayal and many choose to separate or divorce after a major betrayal. However, other couples will try to find ways to tackle the problems and to stay together, for the sake of their families. When this happens, a family coach can help families recover from 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 coach will develop certain interactive exercises and techniques to rebuild those trust bonds and help families recover from a big shake-up.

Separation

There are many reasons why a couple may choose to separate but, ultimately, divorce or separation is the final stage in accepting that a relationship no longer works. Some people say that separation from a long-term relationship is one of the toughest experiences to deal with.

Moving on can be particularly tough if you have to remain in contact with your ex-partner, for instance, if you have children together. You will likely still see or speak to one another, in order for the ‘parenting relationship’ to continue. A family coach can help families to transition through a divorce or separation, to limit hurt and upset. 

Bereavement and loss

Coaching is very powerful support during times of transition - and losing a loved one is one of the hardest transitions we go through. A family coach can help you understand the turmoil of these conflicting emotions, and any intermittent, out of character behaviour they may cause.

Grief can have a profound effect on the family unit. But, working with a coach can help the whole family to adjust and make sure that everyone feels supported.

Girl reading a book

Parenting issues

There are many reasons why parents seek coaching. It can be due to the difficult behaviour of a child but it can be for many other reasons.

The transition to being a parent and looking after a child is a time filled with changing roles and identities. As a person, you have to rethink your priorities. Parent coaching aims to help parents create a healthy, happy and balanced family life for themselves and their children.

From conception worries to raging pregnancy hormones, tricky labours, and those dreaded sleepless nights, it’s no wonder that so many new parents find the whole whirlwind emotionally challenging and anxiety-inducing. But, in opening up about our feelings, and seeking the right support, we can move forward positively and leave parenting anxiety in the past.

- Life coach and Master NLP practitioner Anna Williamson discusses how to overcome parenting anxiety on Happiful.

Of course, when we have families, there are certain sacrifices we have to make. 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 numerous ways to inject fun and excitement into family life, without sacrificing your happiness or the happiness of your partner and children.

Seeking support does not mean you are not fulfilling your role as a parent - it means you are doing the best you can to provide the happiest life possible for yourself and your child.

Find out more about parent coaching and find a professional near you today.

Work/life balance

Getting married or having children doesn't 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 can be a great tool for families to work on achieving this together, as it offers everyone the chance to get together in the same room and set out exactly how they feel. Family coaching sessions are designed to get everyone's opinions out in the open so a good compromise can be reached.

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. 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.

How do I know which family coach to choose?

It’s essential that the whole family connects with and has a good rapport with your coach - there is more than just your own opinion to consider here. If one of you doesn't respect or agree with them, then how are you going to make successful changes?

To find the right coach for your family, you can use our easy search tool. To search for professionals in your area, enter your full postcode. You can then use the distance filter to increase the search area, depending on how far you are able to travel.

If you click on a coach’s name you can find out more about them, along with their contact details and fees. The best way to really know if a family coach is right for you, though, is to meet with them and trust your instincts.

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