Parent(ing) counsellors?
October 13, 2021 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Do “parenting counsellors” exist, more by analogy with “career counsellors” than (child or adult) psychiatrists? Do they have a name? What do I look for?

I’m a parent of two children under five. I think my wife and I are ok parents, but we’re not very good at parent_ing_, (the verb.) The mechanics of preparing and serving food they’ll eat (and what to do when they refuse to), getting them to bed on time (what time?—and what to do when they refuse), how to deal with tantrums over the hundred and one important and meaningless things children have tantrums over on a day-to-day basis, and recognising which is which and how to react appropriately. And how to personally come to terms with the fact that my life for the next twenty years will not be anything like the one I used to have, and quite liked.

(I’m a native English speaker in a country where I don’t speak the local language but one benefit of the pandemic is that I assume most of these kinds of people will do consultations over Zoom or similar these days. I’d prefer to speak to someone whose training and practice was based in a Commonwealth country, or at least not the USA. Given the flavour of parenting books from there, I don’t think advice from that context is relevant to me.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
In the US I’d search for a “parenting coach” - a number of listings come up when I search “parenting coach UK,” so that seems like a path you could follow.
posted by Kriesa at 3:55 AM on October 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have heard more of classes than individual counselors, although I’m sure those exist too. I’m US-based but a reputable one I’ve heard about here is the parent encouragement program. If you look around that site maybe there will be some ideas to help you search for something similar in another country.
posted by sillysally at 5:39 AM on October 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

+1 to parent coach. I have done remote (phone only) sessions with this guy: Jude Currier It was helpful, expect to pay directly.

Be sure to nail down a schedule that was my only issue with remote only.

Another option in the (US Northeast at least) is to find a place that does birthing classes and early childhood group play activities, often they have someone on staff who offers parenting coaching counseling or “life coaching” for family situations. It might be someone who is a certified therapist who does this work on the side or outside the more strict medical setting, or it might be a person with more lived experience.

These avenues are separate from the formal health care system and are not strictly mental health care - though there is overlap.

Parenting is a full time job that requires skills, training, and resources and most of us doing the job with a shortage of all three.
posted by sol at 5:56 AM on October 13, 2021

My child is older now, but I can't recommend Allana Robinson enough. She's a Canadian parenting coach, and she's excellent at helping parents figure out how to deal with challenging behaviours that every kid has. (I know her personally, but we have worked with her professionally, and she worked wonders.)
posted by pised at 6:30 AM on October 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I’m a native English speaker in a country where they have parenting advisors everywhere. In the country I live in they are highly invested in early childhood education and supporting parents and I really wish that I had engaged more with those services before now. But I think the cultural differences have made it hard to trust and I’ve always felt afraid of being judged. But anyway, I basically came on here to say that I’ve felt like a rubbish parent and things have been so difficult that other parents make look so easy and at the end of the day it’s a mix of social isolation because of being an expat and then my kids have some additional special needs… so for me, just getting advice from professionals from my own culture has never been enough and I am making a big effort now that they are 5 and 6 to integrate. Now, that may be completely irrelevant to you but I just wanted to share!
posted by pairofshades at 6:44 AM on October 13, 2021

It is great you are being proactive! I would recommend Gary Direnfeld (Canadian), he is very common sense and his sessions are three hours long to really give you time to get into the matter. He also tends to do one or two sessions and then expects you to follow through, rather than an on-going weekly/monthly commitment.
posted by saucysault at 7:09 AM on October 13, 2021

I've heard good things about these classes.
posted by socialjusticeworrier at 9:00 AM on October 13, 2021

While you sort out these many great suggestions, Super Nanny and Nanny 911 show parent coaching in action.
posted by Elsie at 12:59 PM on October 13, 2021

When my kids were younger, my (now) ex-husband and I worked with a therapist for one of our kids, and she was immensely helpful to us in parenting. Really I think the advice and suggestions we got from her about parenting were more helpful than the work my kid did with her. It transformed my ex's relationship with our kid and changed our approach to parenting such that my kid's behavior changed completely.

In our case, we found an adoption-focused therapist who worked mostly with kids but expected to work with them on and off their entire lives. So I'd look for a family therapist who specializes in working with parents.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I’ve never tried it but my company offers “rethink benefits” subscription which lets you meet with a behavior coach to help you build parenting strategies.

Talk to your pediatrician for a referral to a family therapist, they usually work over 2-3 sessions to identify behavior strategies.

Finally my neighbor literally took a parenting course from the local parks and rec and found it helpful.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:47 PM on October 13, 2021

I don't know where you are but in Oregon a good friend of mine works with Reach Out Oregon where they have a Warm line - 1-833-732-2467 - currently transitioning to a 24/7 hotline - that provides parents with immediate advice, ideas on how to react and empathy from a person who's been where you are.

(Regardless of your location you could give them a call.)

Best of luck. ❤️
posted by bendy at 2:35 AM on October 14, 2021

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