Stress-free parenting

Opens external link in new windowTammy Furey is a parenting educator and a family coach. She works with parents who – like most – experience stress and anxiety but want a peaceful and loving relationship with their children. After obtaining her degrees in Development Studies and Environmental Management in the UK, Tammy travelled across the world to work with underprivileged children and volunteered in Nepal, Kenya and Guatemala. She is very passionate about her work with children and families as well as her involvement with several children’s charities. Tammy holds a Postgraduate Certificate in coaching from Barefoot Coaching and Chester University and currently resides in St Gallen with her husband and six-year-old daughter.

Tammy, what are the benefits of coaching for parents? And what is a typical coaching session like?

Parents learn to transform their stress and have a real heartfelt connection with their children through understanding the role of thought in our family life. I help parents to clear their minds so that they can reconnect to their own wisdom and know what to do naturally. This creates a calm family environment and a loving and nurturing home. I coach primarily over Skype and a usual session consists of a very gentle, but powerful conversation. I simply love watching clients transform into clearer, calmer parents who love every aspect of their lives!

You are a Three Principles practitioner. Could you please explain what these Principles are?

The Three Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness, as discovered by Sydney Banks, state that our thinking is brought to life through our consciousness, which creates our experiences of the world. Within parenting, this means that parents innocently use their thinking and moods to interpret and respond to their family life. Isn’t it curious how, on one day, a child’s behavior may seem cute; and the next day it may seem to be naughty and irritating? When we understand how we experience the world, our emotions and thinking will have less of a grip on us and our minds will become clearer. This enables us to access our common sense, which helps us navigate the parenting world and become our own experts.

As a Three Principles coach for parents, I don´t give out prescriptive solutions. I help my clients to formulate their own unique solutions relevant to their distinctive family dynamics. Ultimately, they will discover in themselves something they can´t find in any parenting book.

What are the most common problems and issues parents come to you about, here in Switzerland?

Many expat families struggle with their relocation to Switzerland. They find it´s hard to lose their extended network of family and friends; many feel lonely and disoriented. The lack of support can result in increased stress and anxiety. Parents can become frustrated and unsure of themselves. Their children may have problems finding new friends and adapting to the new culture and language. In fact, this applies to the parents as well.

Many expat mothers in particular find that the combination of the local school hours, language and differences in required qualifications are a barrier to finding work in Switzerland. Unexpectedly becoming a hausfrau challenges their sense of identity and self-worth. They have little time for themselves and feel burnt out. Often the whole family has to adapt to changing identities and roles, and this can be very uncomfortable.

How could parents help their children adapt to change in general? In particular, how can expat parents help their children adjust to a new country when it’s new and foreign for them as well?

For a child, the parents will always be home; therefore focusing on a loving connection between a parent and a child is vital to help the child integrate. Children need to know that when they return home after school, they are in a safe and loving environment. Some clients have found that their children display challenging behaviours as they process their emotions regarding the relocation, which might appear very disturbing to parents. The best support that can be given is to deeply listen and allow those emotions to be expressed. Labelling behaviours, or indeed the child, as negative or positive doesn´t help; the child is often simply communicating how he or she feels. Parents need to know that the behavior will usually pass as the child adapts; just hang in there!

A resilient family can be happy anywhere. When we help our children understand that they are good, safe and loved no matter what, it allows them to carry happiness inside of them in any school or country.

One of the workshops you teach is called “authentic stress-free parenting” and it is about the journey from automatic parenting to authentic parenting. Is there a secret formula involved?

When parents are under stress, tired, or in a low mood they rely on a habitual language and behaviour. We all have scripts in our heads: things we say over and over again that just seem to pop out of our mouths. They may be scripts we have created or scripts that we have inherited from our own parents. Children also have their own scripts and automatic responses. This can result in a parent and a child suddenly finding themselves in a fight, at the end of the day, without either really knowing how they got there. So authentic parenting is when a parent has a clear mind and can see every situation with fresh eyes and respond in that moment.

How can parents create an environment where the parent and a child can communicate efficiently?

The secret to communication with children, or anybody for that matter, is to stop what you are doing, put your smartphone down, and give your full attention both physically and mentally. It is called deep listening: listening with nothing on your mind, no judgments or analysis, no questions or answers. Often children do not want us to solve a problem or teach them a new lesson. They want to express themselves and be heard fully. This creates trust, safety, connection and love.

How do you let go of your mistakes as a parent?

Knowing you will make mistakes. And it is OK. Parents are human and they should forgive themselves, apologize, and move on.

Thinking about past mistakes and beating ourselves up will create stressed and anxious parents who doubt their every move. Parents are human, vulnerable and fallible human beings. I don´t believe children want to be raised by robots.

“Why me?” “Why is my child like this?” Those thoughts are familiar to many parents. How can we learn to accept our children’s problems and imperfections?

The best way to parent is to parent the child you have, not the child you want to have or think you have and to love the reality of that child because that's all there is. And that is perfect, only our thinking insists that it is not!

What are you most proud of in your parenting of your daughter? Do you walk your talk?

I do. But I am also fallible and that is how I learn.

Two years before I had my daughter, a tragedy struck my family and it took me several years to recover. As a result, I experienced a lot of anxiety that really came home to roost when my daughter was 18 months old. I realized I needed to seek help. I had access to cognitive behavioural therapy, which, for the first time, made me aware that my thinking, as opposed to the circumstances, was making my life so hard. I started researching and learning more on the subject. In 2010 I took a really amazing coaching course in England and also came across the writings of Sydney Banks, the founder of the Three Principles that I talked about earlier. For me, that was a missing link on how our thoughts shape our lives, and how I could live a more peaceful life as a parent and finally shake the anxiety and stress.

My coaching is based on my own experience of transforming from a very anxious mother to a more flexible, spontaneous, heart-connected parent. But this is a continuing journey and my daughter is my greatest teacher.

Tell us a few words about your upcoming projects.

I have a very busy year planned! After 10 years working with children and young people, I am looking forward to bringing that aspect of myself back into my work through a new workshop called “Caught in a Thought Bubble” where we’ll explore together how to be happy and secure, no matter where we are.

In spring, I am running “Parenting from the Heart”: a series of four sessions exploring the work of Jack Pransky, international parenting author, culminating in an exclusive workshop with Jack at the end of March.

My one-to-one work with parents will expand outside of eastern Switzerland as I travel, give talks and connect with more parents, international schools and associations. All parents deserve to enjoy a stress-free, loving family life!

November/December 2013

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November/December 2013

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