Carole Downing, one of Jai Institute’s Parenting Coaches, talks to us today about the deep transformation she has experienced since becoming a parenting coach.
Recently widowed, she was searching for a new path with her career and her relationship to her son.
In the touching video below, she talks a lot about:
- The Possibilities
- The Power of Connection (with herself and her kids)
- The Parents she works with
- The Privilege of living the Parenting Coaching lifestyle
Thanks to parenting coaching, Carole has traveled from a place of tumult to a place of truth. In her own words, she succinctly states “Everything I do now is true.”
Carole: Hello I am Carole Downing you can find me on my website at gratefulheartcoaching.com and I’m also the author of a book “Singing beyond sorrow: A Year of Grief, Gratitude and Grace.”
How did you start on this journey I’m so curious. What inspired you to become a parenting coach in the first place?
Carole: Sure, well I was in a really transitional place in my life. Actually prior to starting parent coaching my husband had died just the year earlier and I was in a lot of transition…moving into single parenting and also wanting to shift my career. I was starting a coaching program already, starting to develop a practice and I had been in nursing for about 10 years. And as I was developing my practice, I really began to see that I needed a certain focus. And I was connected with your emails and website and that really began to resonate for me as direction and something that I was really passionate about as a parent and also an educator. And so I found your website and ended up calling that really created a path for me to move forward.
I think the first thing that inspired me as a coach and someone who has been involved in health care and wellness for a long time it’s just always realizing how much a coach or a guide or a mentor brings us forward. And I know for myself as a parent, I really want to show up to my child in a way that makes sense and that creates the values and the qualities that I want to develop in him. And I could see that as a parenting coach I could guide and mentor other people to do something, to help them in a way that was also passionate for me. And I also love the idea of the flexibility and to be able to shift my career in way that will be supported the balance of my family.
How has your work/life balance changed since you became a parenting coach?
Carole: You know it’s fantastic. I can create my own hours. I am able to have a lot of balance. When my son comes home, I’m available for him. The time when he is in school is the time that I work unless I’m doing speaking engagements or workshops. But for the most part my practice is at home. I do see a few clients in person at an office but for the most part I’m on the phone and have a ton of flexibility about how I create my living, which right now, in balance with parenting, is just perfect for me and for my son.
How does your parenting nourish your work and vice versa?
Carole: Oh my gosh, you know one of the things I notice is the moment I finish with a client, I show up so much stronger in my own parenting. It just calls me forward to really be walking my talk. And also I feel like the experiences that I have with my child — and especially all those tools that I learned at the Jai Institute –bringing those forward in my relationship with my son I’ve been able to share them…they just move back and forth. So that I’m really being consistent in both what I am saying in work and also in the relationship that I’m building and growing with my son. So I always feel like I’m … I guess the word alignment… or in a relationship with more aspects of my life. Because they’re true. Everything I do is true.
How has your parenting changed since becoming a parenting coach?
Carole: I came in feeling like I was really doing well as a parent and I love the fact my parenting still transformed in a way that didn’t know that it needed to. I think two things definitely shifted. The first would be my capacity to be an emotional coach for my son, to let him have big feelings, to be able to not get triggered inside myself. When he would get angry or disappointed, I didn’t have to fix it and I didn’t have to be scared. I can just really create a container for him to feel that. And for him to know that I heard him. So kind of big emotions and my abilities to work with him has really shifted. I think on the other side of that I’m much more joyful and playful as a parent. I mean, I think I’ve always had that, but I’m also really willing to see that play as a way to defuse situations and a way to get back into connection and as a way for us to come together to create collaborative situations for whatever needs to happen. And so it’s shifted in a really beautiful ways that are hard to express, but it’s been life changing, really.
What are some of the results you have seen in your clients’ lives?
Carole: Yes I think the thing that always touches me the most with clients when they finish up is that they are aware, and my awareness of how I watched them go through the program, of how it doesn’t just their parenting. It changes the way they interact often times with their spouse, in friendships, at work…it really changes their capacity to be able to respond to their life in a more empowered, clear way…in addition to their parenting. So that’s one of the things that I’ve heard from clients, that it just doesn’t affect their parenting but it helps them show up as a person in a different way as well. And then just hearing the stories of shifts with their children and the relief. They’ll come in and tell me. “You know I never thought I’d be able to do this and this is what happened”. Or they’ll share a story about a deep moment of connection in a time that used to be really challenging…and to just see the relief for them. It’s why I do what I do.
Is the parenting coach industry full of possibilities?
Carole: Sure you know I think one of the things I love about it is that I think it’s a developing industry. I think it’s something that people are paying attention to, especially parent coaching. I know for myself, I had read tons of books and I did have an idea of how I am wanted to parent and my husband and I were really on the same page with that. But parent coaching really get’s the heart of who we want to be as parents and that’s unique to everyone. So I think the possibilities are endless for connecting one on one with people or groups or teaching more and more some of the concepts that we’re learning in parent coaching…just sharing that with a much greater audience. So I think there is so much development, you know, early childhood or babies and pregnancy, and yet I think the capacity to connect very deeply you know when your child is a toddler or when they are in their early childhood and elementary school. Like the amount of guidance I’ve needed now…it’s been really timely for me.
What is the Jai Institute for Parenting community like?
Carole: I think one of the things that most clearly…and I know that is why I ended up choosing to go with the Jai Institute…was I immediately felt like in joining the group and doing my learning that way, I was going to be in a very sacred space. It just felt like a very safe place to be. And I ended up with some fantastic connections with people that…it’s been a while now since I went through…but still I connect with one of the other coaches, every week we support each other in our coaching and in our building our businesses. It’s been incredibly connected and supportive way to continue move forward.
Was becoming a parent coach a good decision?
Carole: Yes…I think I said this to you so many times and to the other coaches… if going to the parenting program (and it luckily wasn’t the only reason) but the only I did it is to transform the relationship with my son and to have the base and the compass for parenting that I do now with him. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. And the fact that it’s also created a consumer business for me, and a niche for coaching, is double the gift that I’ve had from that.
If someone is ‘on the fence’ about being a parenting coach, what would you say to them?
Carole: I think it’s interesting when you say that…the piece that was really important to me is that when I really got on the phone and I was talking to you about the program, I felt it in every cell of my body. I knew it was what I needed to do. I didn’t know that it is what I wanted to do, but my heart was completely drawn and I think that that’s where I would point to people…that it’s a really personal decision. To go inside, to find a moment that’s completely quiet, where you can decide if this is what’s right for you…so to follow your heart.
Carole: I mean think that this speaks a little bit to where parent coaching is going…whether it’s an industry…I think for me the piece that’s been beautiful, that I love, that I’m really starting develop now, is to take the parent coaching that I’ve learned and to integrate it into the rest of my coaching practice, which has a couple of other areas of focus. I work with parents who are grieving, I work with individuals who are grieving, I also work with people are trying to bring things to life for themselves and as I integrate that, I’m just aware of how it all connects. And I’m working on a curriculum to take this parent coaching program to help parents who are grieving or who have experienced a loss. So it’s that peace now of bringing myself to the work. I feel like there’s a base enough that I can bring myself and my book in, and it all begins to be an expression of who I am and the flexibility to do that is really beautiful.
Want to have a great relationship with your child and a purpose-filled career that allows you to generate a substantial income with a flexible schedule to spend plenty of time with your kids?
(This is a re-post…originally published on May 20, 2015.)