Tate Modern

Coaching Skills for Family Life

What does this picture say to you? Technicolor joy, fragmented and discordant, something else? 

Families – their joys and challenges are as unique as the people in them. 

The role of parent is undoubtedly my most challenging one.  I’m an only child, brought up in a single-parent family and now I have a partner, step-daughter and three young children. Sometimes I feel strong, capable, joyful, occasionally like I’m getting it right. Other times confused, angry, exhausted, and ill equipped.  Like many I have turned to the internet or parenting books seeking answers, and instead enhanced my guilt about what I’m doing wrong. 

In 2017 I attended a taster session of the programme Coaching Skills for Family Life designed by @Kim Morgan of @Barefoot Coaches. Kim was re-launching the programme, its first incarnation over 10 years ago was when the world of work wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge that home and work life is inextricably linked. I was instantly sold. Pragmatic, impactful and fun – it hit all my learning needs. I was blown away by the effective simplicity of the content.  Fast forward to 2019 – I believe in it so wholeheartedly that I now train coaches in Coaching Skills for Family Life on behalf of @Barefoot Coaching and deliver it in forward thinking organisations who acknowledge that life/work/family is all intertwined. 

The programme is generous in content, pragmatic in nature, personally impactful, fun to deliver and be a participant on. What it’s not is super-nanny, advice giving or a way of making you feel guilt or blame. At its core is group-coaching and as with all the best coaching, this programme allows individuals to find their own answers to their own challenges. There is space to think, sharing of wisdom, support and challenge, practical ways forward, commitment and accountability. 

Having experienced the programme in small groups for three consecutive days, one -off days in groups of 30, and auditorium style to larger groups for lunchtime sessions, these are some of the things I have noticed:

  • People really listen to one another
  • With the sharing of vulnerability (no one has this entirely sorted) – there is a dissolving of hierarchy
  • People learn to pause before they respond
  • Self-awareness is raised 
  • Assumptions are questioned
  • Connection and communication is increased

All of these are beneficial for family life. For individuals in organisations this programme is a positive and meaningful development programme. For organisations it demonstrates that you value your staff and you get the halo effect of improved communication, connection and coaching skills transferred back into the workplace. 

This programme is what I needed at my workplace when I was a new stepparent, when I was struggling with the challenges of returning to work after my second baby, at the times when I felt that I was just surviving and, with a bit of support, could have been thriving, it would have been invaluable. I’m so grateful to have these tools now and delighted to share them.