Name: Juliet Marciano, MD
Location: Wyndmoor, PA and the globe
Tell us about what you do. I am a PCI Certified Parent Coach® , a retired pediatrician, and a mother of four young adults. I support parents of children with special needs, high needs, extra needs, and different needs, working with them to have a calmer, more conscious, more connected, and more confident parenting experience. I help parents reclaim the joy of parenting, no matter what challenges they face or struggles they encounter.
I have a Medical Degree (MD) from Drexel University College of Medicine- Medical College of Pennsylvania, I have received my Parent Coach Certification® through the Parent Coaching Institute, and I have completed the Mindful Schools Mindful Educator Essentials (K-12 Curriculum) Program.
How long have you been working with parents and children? I began my career as a pediatrician 30 years ago. I practiced pediatrics for over a decade before I retired to spend more time with my children, and I dedicated myself to finding information to help my own family with some challenges my children were facing. Over the years, I continued to share parenting information and offer support to parents regarding non-medical matters. As my children grew older and our family continued to thrive with the knowledge and skills I had acquired over the years, I decided to complete a Parent Coach Certification® program and I continue to help families as a Certified Parent Coach®.
Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love children, love being with them, and love taking care of them. When I was four years old, my mother placed my newborn baby sister in my arms, and I was hooked! I babysat during my childhood and teens, and because I loved children and science and had a thirst for knowledge, a career in pediatrics seemed a perfect choice! As a pediatrician, I enjoyed spending time with my patients and felt great satisfaction in providing care during times of both wellness and illness. I was honored to be a trusted resource for parents, and I enjoyed helping them navigate the challenges and celebrate the joys of parenting.
Yet, when my own children had challenges, I couldn’t find the help I needed! So much of the information I was given wasn’t appropriate to my situation or was in conflict with my values. I spent years trying to find the information I needed, and using that knowledge I was able to experience a tremendous change in my own life and my family life. Parenting my own four children has been the greatest joy of my life, and I wanted to help other parents reclaim the joy of parenting–no matter what challenges they faced with their children. I know that many children and families are suffering, and I want to help them in any way that I can. I’m thrilled that now, as a Certified Parent Coach®, I can work with parents as they incorporate new ideas and make changes in their lives that will transform their families for generations to come!
What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? I think parents often think about the physical demands of raising children and don’t put as much thought into the enormous emotional needs of children. Children are counting on us as their parents to help them navigate their world. They want us to teach them and guide them, as well as learn from them. Many parents have learned to ignore their own emotional needs and they can be somewhat overwhelmed and inexperienced when their children have needs that must be addressed. Our children offer us the opportunity to examine our own feelings from our childhood that may never have been explored or resolved, and this can be an added challenge for parents if they don’t understand this. Also, parents often begin parenting with an idea of what kind of parent they will be and expect their children to just go along with their plan. Instead, parents must become the parent their child needs them to be and learn to accept, respect, and embrace their children for who they are, which is often very different from what the parents had imagined!
What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? There are many challenges facing families today, including the prevalence of screen use and social media, the high stress culture in which some children are raised, the prevalence of mental health challenges in children and parents, and the unrecognized presence of unresolved trauma and conditioning in parents that affects their parenting.
I think an often unrecognized, yet significant, challenge facing parents today is the criticism and shaming of parents and children. The internet and social media make this more obvious and widespread, but this has been going on long before the presence of social media. Labeling parents with derogatory terms, like “helicopter parents,” “lawnmower parents,” “snowplow parents,” and “bulldozer parents,” and describing an entire generation of children as “spoiled”, “lazy”, or “entitled brats” is harmful to families and society. Whether delivered by a sarcastic internet blogger, a judgmental commenter on social media, or a vocal stranger out in public, parents and children suffer when their experiences and reality are summed up and reduced to such labels.
The parents I work with often have children with “invisible challenges.” They can have a physical, mental, emotional, or learning difference and the parent-child relationship in these families may look “different” to the outside world and may not be fully understood. As a result, they are often the recipients of harsh judgement, criticism, and hurtful parenting “advice.” For many parents who need assistance with their parenting challenges, the fear of criticism and judgement prevents them from seeking help. A similar fear can prevent children from sharing their feelings and seeking help when going through a difficult time. One of the most important needs of any individual is “connection.” It’s not possible to “connect” with someone in an authentic way when we fear sarcasm, judgement, and criticism when we share who we really are and what we are experiencing!
What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? When a child has challenging behavior, parents often feel powerless and out of “control”, both of the situation and of their reaction to it. I think one of the most powerful things any parent can do for themselves and their family is to find a way to be calm and stay calm, and I tell parents that having the ability to stay calm and be a calming presence is a gift they can give to themselves and their family. I also encourage parents to maintain a sense of curiosity about their children, about their behavior, their feelings, and their experiences. In my own life, practicing mindfulness and meditation has helped me to be and stay calm and have more of a “non-reactive” curiosity and acceptance of life and “the present moment.” I recommend to all the parents I work with that they explore mindfulness in some way.
When parents are able to stay calm, they are able to view their child’s behavior as what it is- communication of an unmet need, an unlearned skill, or an unsolved problem. When we view behavior in this way, our response to challenging behavior will be curiosity to figure out what is being communicated and how we can calmly work with the child to address these issues.
When parents are not able to stay calm, they often react in anger, frustration, exhaustion, or from a place of trauma. They are not available in the moment to help their struggling child, and in fact can add to the intensity and emotion of the situation. If a parent can stay calm, they are able to be a loving, supportive resource for their child in challenging times. This helps parents create and maintain a connection with their children no matter what challenges they are facing as a family.
What are your favorite resources to share with parents? In my coaching work with parents, I’m able to share what I have learned from the many experts and thought-leaders I’ve encountered over the years. Some of the people who have made a significant impact in my life as a parent and a professional are Dr. Shefali Tsabary (especially the concept of “Conscious Parenting”), Dr. Daniel Siegel (interpersonal neurobiology and neuroplasticity), Dr. Ross Greene (Collaborative and Proactive Solutions), Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, (mindfulness and meditation), and Dr. Jack Kornfield (mindfulness and meditation). Any of their books, websites, or podcasts will provide valuable information to parents.
Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? At the conference, I will be giving a talk called “Family Matters- Parenting in A Family with Special Needs or Extra Needs.” In the talk, I will discuss how to effectively address parenting differences and sibling issues when a child in the family has special needs or extra needs such as any physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or learning difference.