Meet A Parenting Expert: Angie Collins

Name: Angie Collins

Website: www.ParentCoachAngie.com

Location: Falls Church, Virginia (as of August 2020)

Tell us about what you do. I have always had an interest in working with children. I graduated from Chaminade University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education, and went on to get my Master’s in Education/Child Development from Tufts University. I also have a graduate-level certification in Parent Coaching from the Parent Coaching Institute via Seattle University.

How long have you been working with parents and children? I have been working with parents and children for over two decades. After teaching elementary school for several years in Hawaii, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served in West Africa as a Preschool Teacher Trainer for two years. Shortly after earning my M.A. in Education, I started a family of my own and am now a busy mom of three teenage girls. Because of my own personal experience, about three years ago I started coaching parents who are also raising girls. 

Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? Initially I was drawn to working with children as a teacher over twenty years ago. Eventually I realized that I could have an even greater impact on a larger scale on children’s learning and development by educating and empowering other community members who work directly with children. So, my work went from teaching to training teachers. After having daughters of my own and chatting with parents from around the world–from Virginia to Vietnam–I realized there was an even greater need to talk with those who potentially have the greatest impact of all on children’s well being: parents. 

I have lived in six countries in the last two decades and I have met parents of every socio-economic background; some parents held a PhD and other parents’ circumstances meant they only achieved a middle school education. I have talked to single mothers of three daughters, happily married moms with one child, at-home parents by choice, and mothers with demanding careers in which they excelled. None of these these parents’ circumstances seemed to inherently guarantee nor hinder a mother’s confidence in their own parenting ability. Nor did these circumstances dictate a parent’s level of happiness. But, they all wanted the same in the end–to parent well and to help their children thrive. With an intense desire to help such families, I was drawn to the parent coaching world. 

What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? Parents today are completely invested in becoming better parents. They spend years trying to perfect their craft. If someone had such a level of commitment and dedication in learning how to fix a car or bake a cake, they’d be experts equipped to handle any issue that might arise. Squeaky brakes? They’d know exactly what parts to purchase and what tools would be most effective in making the repair. Cake didn’t rise? Well, an expert baker would simply rarely experience such a mistake.  

A big misconception is that parents, with a few tips and tricks, can reach a similar level of expertise and be the perfect parent who, with one right move, can eliminate all future problems. 

But, people are living, changing, growing beings and there are no quick fixes. What works today may not work next week. Similarly, what works for the neighbor’s child may not work for another child. “How-To” YouTube videos may have led to self-taught bakers, but there are no such instructional videos on how to raise a child. 

So, I’d say one big misconception about parenting is that the answer to all parenting challenges is one Google search away and if a parent could just type the right combination of words into the search bar or find the right “how to” video, then all of a parent’s problems would be erased. 

My goal as a Parent Coach is to help parents rediscover their confidence and, with guidance help them to realize they have the power to be the best parent for their child. Rather than doling out tips and tricks, teaching parents about true connection and communication is the key to happier parenting and more connected families. 

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? The underlying fabric of society has changed. Many people move away from the city where they were raised and away from extended family who they could have relied on for support. In addition, while many parents are occupied with careers and activities, they find that little time or energy remains outside of their busy schedules. Meanwhile, men and women alike struggle internally as parents, with few people in their lives who they turn to regularly for both physical and emotional help, leaving them stressed and overworked. 

While there is true value for those who have been able to find their “tribe,”creating those connections and securing true support can be one of the hardest parts of parenting. We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child, but finding that village is a challenge as people in the modern village have become harder to reach. Focusing too intently on trying to assemble a “tribe” can become overwhelming itself when already faced with sleepless nights or stressful days. 

What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? Don’t wait until you’re struggling to reach out to people. If you are able to find your tribe, love them hard. Lean on them for support and offer the same in return. Humans are wired to connect with others. Your chosen tribe can be a great source of energy that serves to lift you up on an especially challenging day and be there to celebrate with you when things are flowing well.

Be creative when assembling your tribe. Members of your tribe need not be parents themselves, nor do they need to share equal life challenges as you. The key is connection. 

If I could offer one piece of advice for parents, however, it would be to not fret if you are unable to assemble a distinct tribe easily.  

Particularly during your child’s early years, when trying to balance everyday life with raising your son or daughter, it can become too overwhelming to identify potential members of your tribe. So reach out to a professional for support. Parent Coaches can often meet you at a local coffee shop or chat with you online if your busy schedule prevents you from being able to step out for too long. There may also be parent social circles available in your local community. 

When you feel supported and connected with others, you may feel less stressed and able to parent more calmly, which can result in a stronger connection and therefore a better behaved child. But, that support can look different from person to person, whether it comes from friends, family, colleagues, or a professional.  

What are your favorite resources to share with parents? If you’ve searched for information on parenting, you already know that bookstores are not short on great resources. There are books on every parenting challenge imaginable – from guidance on ADHD and raising children with anxiety, to sleep problems and stress in teens. As a professional who works mostly with mothers who are raising daughters, I am a fan of the work of Lisa Damour, PhD. I appreciate her work in particular because she sheds light on the value of stress and anxiety and details clearly how to help girls thrive. 

I also urge parents to step outside of the box when searching for resources – it is often the case that our children are not the ones who need “fixing” – it is us – as parents. Look for books that inspire you and could help you gain confidence as well. I love Brene Brown, who can be an inspiring resource in accepting and becoming your best self, which will help you to become the best parent you can be as well. 

Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? At this year’s Revolutionizing Parenthood conference, I will be speaking about raising girls in my workshop, “Empowered Girls: What Parents Can Do to Confidently Raise a Resilient Daughter.” 

Participants of my workshop will walk away with the steps they can put into action immediately to help their daughters cope with the academic stress of school, social pressures from peers, constant flow of social media, and general feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Parents will discover effective ways to support their daughters while also letting them grow.