Coaching Moms: Bringing Out Their Potential – Dr. John Townsend
If you have a significant number of mothers in your coaching practice, you have some folks with enormous potential to grow, achieve and transform. However, you must understand what is unique about moms, in order to help them get where they need to go. This article will give you the key skills to coaching moms
Capitalize on their momentum. With some coaching clients, you find that you have to set a fire under them. They are stuck or passive or discouraged, and there is not a lot of movement in them. Instead of going to the gym or creating that web presence, they go home and do Facebook. Not true with most moms. By definition, a mother is a life support system for some other beings called children. She can’t afford to chill out and go dark. She has mouths to feed, kids to drive to sports and homework to review, to name a few tasks. Moms are active in nature, not passive. So you don’t have to create momentum from inertia. Your task is more to use the energy and activity level she already has, to get going on her goals. Praise her ability to do all these things and let her know you want to help her focus on them more. Go over Proverbs 31 with her and let her see all the benefits of that action orientation. Moms are movers and shakers!
Help them with the two main obstacles: guilt and lack of boundaries. These two can be deal breakers, and moms need help with them. First, guilt. Moms feel good when they are nurturing and helping kids and the family grow and thrive. They are “we” people. Therefore, they have a natural twinge of guilt when you start working with them on the “me” part: my dreams, my vision, my career, my project. Moms feel that this is selfish and that they may be abandoning their kids. Many moms will get started in coaching, especially at the young child years, and give up, thinking, “I’ll do this when the kids are older.” Often, that opportunity does not materialize again.
You can help your moms with guilt by first validating that the family is first, and that her kids do need her. But unless they are very young, there are spaces during the week that they don’t need her. She can use these spaces to do something for herself and the family won’t miss a beat. And what about husbands? Dads need to show up here as well. A member of my leadership coaching program has 4 kids under 10, and she is a great mom. But she doesn’t let guilt keep her from the things she feels called to work on and achieve. Have your client talk to some friends who are seeing results from getting past guilt. My book Best Friends Forever has skills on picking and opening up to the right people.
Secondly, a lack of boundaries is a serious problem for moms, and will hamper them keeping their goals. This is sometimes because they feel they are always “on call” and don’t feel in charge of their life and energy. An executive in an 8-5 position has a certain amount of predictability. But it’s hard to accomplish a lot with skinned knees, a last minute homework project or a meltdown. Learning to set and keep good time and energy boundaries will help your moms get a structure and empowerment to do a better job carving out proactive time, instead of staying stuck in the reactive “I’m on call” position.
Redirect their dreaming toward themselves. Related to the above part, as you are dealing with guilt and a lack of boundaries, you can now help moms discover the passion and vision that God put inside them in the first place. This is a redirection, as moms are specialists in helping their kids find their own voices, passions and dreams, but their own. Find out how they do that with their kids and apply it to themselves. For example, great moms ask great questions: “You seem to be really good at math. What things can a person with your abilities do when they grow up?”
You ask her the same questions. This turnaround will help her open herself up.
You will often find that in the mid years of parenting, a mom may think that her only purpose is to be a parent. That is because she is immersed every day, all day with the needs and demands of her kids. But this is not true, and it is not a helpful stance for her to take. Mothering is, give or take, a 20 year job. She had a life before being a mom. Then she puts in her 20-ish. Then she scales down and doesn’t take nearly as much responsibility for the kids, so that they can follow God’s structure of leaving and cleaving (Genesis 2:24). Now she has several decades of not being a fulltime nurturer. Help her with this re-orientation. Mothering might be the most fulfilling thing she has ever done, but there is a lot more to her life than mothering.
You can be a catalytic part of helping your moms grow and change. Have a great time with this, they are wonderful people! God bless you.
Article published in the AACC Magazine
© 2013 John Townsend, Ph.D.
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