A Village of Fathers

I have a life coach. As a career & life coach, it behooves me to be coached, to practice what I preach.

My coach was a set up, and as a result, a coach was chosen for me that is probably unlike a coach I would have chosen for myself. He is a Black Christian man living in North Carolina.

And yet, he is a lot like me, a White Jewish woman in New Jersey.

We both have backgrounds in marketing and public speaking. We are both parents and have experience in step-families. He inspires me and digs deep to help me figure out what I’m good at and what I can contribute to my clients’ lives. He loves coaching.

He continues to focus on my work as a mother (even though I tell him it’s not relevant), and as a working mother, and the value of that work. Because he, as a working father of a young black man, the same age as the white men I’m raising, well…he respects mothering. Of all men. And respects the important role of a good mother in a man’s life.

Today, Tru sent me a video (as he likes to do) after our session. I had shared some frustration with him about something that happened recently, how I felt unsupported as a mother.

He shared this video with me, to demonstrates different ways in which communities support parents and children:

Did you cry as much as I did?

Wow. This Black Christian man and White Jewish mother have a lot in common. We want to increase the opportunities for children of all ages to grow strong through their challenges, feel support around them, and help them use their passion and potential to create a purpose.

And to make his point as to how important mothers are, Tru sent me a video on the power of fathers. And fathering. And family and villages. During every session, he tells me that stories from he heart are the most powerful. After watching this, I can only agree.

4 Powerful Words Change Family Dynamics

For those of you who think the most powerful words  are “I love you,” try again.

It starts with “I love you”, right? After that, maybe there’s an “I do”, after which you adopt a fish or a frog or a fuzzy something or other. Then maybe you create some new people. Sure, “I love you” kicks it off.  It’s a powerful phrase, but…

There are more powerful words.

After you’ve created a family, have begun nesting, and yet — that familiar gender (or role) inequity that you promised would never happen to you happens…

There are more powerful words.

When there is one adult that goes out, and one adult that stays with the children, or better yet two adults that go out, and yet one adult that fields the lion’s share of the childcare responsibilities (the one who manages doctors appointments and birthdays…)

There are more powerful words.

The four most powerful words you can utter to your partner, after you’ve added new lives, a lack of sleep, and unprecedented responsibilities to your world, the four most family dynamic-altering words you can say as soon as you walk through the door are: “How can I help?”
Relationship Coaching - Allison Task

Think on that for a second.

It’s become a bit of a mantra in my house. I have three children under three, as well as a teenage stepdaughter, who has teenage stepdaughter needs. After I had my third child (in 18 months), it didn’t take long  before I was tired of hearing what everyone else needed (or anticipating the needs of those who couldn’t speak). What I needed was someone to help me.

And so I asked my husband and stepdaughter, if, when they walked through the door, the first question they could ask was “How can I help?

After all, our house was as together as a house with three under three can be. Which goes to say, not very together.

As soon as they started using the mantra (and following up on the request that was made), that pile of dishes in the sink, that dirty diaper that needed to be changed, that hungry child who wanted a snack —  suddenly, those TO-DOs are crossed off my list, and as if the question asker had waved a magic wand.

And who is that magician? That person solving my problems, meeting my needs, reading my mind (ok, they asked the question and I told them what needed doing, but that’s really not as important as they fact that they are now doing what needs to be done) My husband. My stepdaughter. Any adult who walks into my house and says: “How can I help?”

By asking the question, I, the caretaker of the moment, gets rid of the task I want to do least. Can you imagine? Someone walking through the door, asking what needs to be done and then doing it? On a regular basis?

elephant family dynamicsCan we collectively breathe a sigh of relief?

It’s the greatest phrase since I love you, and I say greater, because the I love you is implied. And to it is added “we’re in this together”, “this is our family”, “I got your back” and “thank you, for managing our home while I was at work/the gym/out with friends”.

Give it a try. And please let me know how it goes with your family.