Personal Trainers for Parents: BeLove Parenting

Strategies for developing strong, resilient young people

Many of us have thought about the benefits of personal training. If you’ve participated in some type of personal training, you realize how the people who really understand our strengths and deficiencies can develop strategies that can help us grow and succeed.

So, you may wonder whether that approach can apply to parenting. Turns out, it does! Parent Coaching is a 21st century strategy that offers one-on-one training to guide parents in handling immediate and long-term behaviors in their children.

“There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s hard to know what to apply and when,” said Penny Tullis Meeker, director of BeLove Parenting, a local parent coaching practice. She created the practice a year ago after more than 30 years of experience training professionals, and working with kids and families in a variety of youth development situations.

Meeker explained that it’s difficult to make significant connections today, even though kids have access to so much more information and people than ever before. And the long-term effects of the pandemic reach so much deeper into our kids’ lives than we had imagined. Through all of this, she said, “parents and their kids are working at different levels of knowledge. Parents are struggling to find joy in parenting.”

BeLove’s Penny Tullis Meeker leads a Mindfulness for Kids session

Seeking coaching

Coaching takes a different approach than counseling, according to Meeker. “Counseling deals primarily with traumas and mental health issues, while coaching is more goal-oriented,” she said. Parents often have many questions that may be answered by a new approach to parenting:

  • They’d like to sift the “good” information they read about from advice that may be bad for their family.
  • They have a specific crisis they don’t know how to handle.
  • They’re not sure how to set boundaries with their children.
  • They don’t want to repeat bad parenting they received as children.
  • Their children’s individual challenges (abilities, difficulties, etc.) may warrant different strategies.
  • Each parent has a different way of parenting.

Establishing the goals and setting aside the time

“We’re very child-oriented in our counseling, but understand that parents also need time and support,” Meeker said. Her first session with parents is to identify issues and set goals. Her ongoing counseling (typically six sessions) is designed to help parents to create calm, consistent and intentional strategies for their kids’ behaviors.

“Intentional strategies deal with the final outcome you desire from an activity,” she explained. If you are creating a morning routine (for less screen time, being together or having everything ready for school) you also want to set the tone you’d like them to take to school (that home runs smoothly and is a place of love and companionship).

“Parenting skills can be taught,” she said, but the individual strategies are the goals parents work to achieve every day. “Parents will say ‘Oh, I need this, but I’m so busy.’ They will do things for their children – at great effort – often with a lack of understanding that they should take care of themselves,” she said.

Making connections

Meeker is writing her first book, also titled BeLove Parenting, that will be focused on her three pillars of parenting: connection, mindfulness and resilience. She currently leads monthly Mindfulness for Kids (age 3-10) and Parenting sessions, in connection with Integration Yoga with Jenn and Harmony in Life Center. Learn more about these sessions on the BeLove Parenting Facebook page.