Posted by Kate Weldon LeBlanc

Lately I have been using lots of sailing analogies when I think or write about parenting. Though this could be because of the beautiful summer weather, I think it is more because I see so many similarities. The journeys can be amazing but challenging, include variables that you cannot control; require you to change direction; and are usually more enjoyable and manageable when you don't travel alone.

When I had my daughter four years ago, I thought a stack of parenting books would be the "map" for me. And at times, general parenting guidance found within their pages – or advice from friends and family – has proved helpful. But for many other questions or situations, sometimes the books and advice caused more harm than good and I felt like I had no rudder (sorry, couldn't resist). In fact, my husband threatened several times to burn the books in the fireplace. We soon realized that since every child and family is different, likewise there are no simple "solutions."

This principle of addressing parenting challenges through the lens of each family's unique strengths and concerns is central to the Parent Consultations provided by Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS). The following is an example.

Two years after the birth of their second child, Lauren* and John* were feeling increasingly "out of control" with the behavior of their four-year-old son James*. They described feeling that he had all the power in the family and that they were finding limited moments of joy in their engagement with him.

The couple reached out to the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support and were matched with a Parent Consultant who worked with Lauren and John in their home to come up with strategies such as increased one-on-one time with each parent, minimizing his choices, providing warnings before transitions, as well as helping their son express, in appropriate ways, his feelings about all the attention his little sister was getting. The parents reported that James responded well to these adjustments in a very short time, and that two months after the consultation the positive change in their family life was significant. They were enjoying their time with their son once again!

If you need help navigating a parenting question or challenge, our Parent Consultants are here to help.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

Kate Weldon LeBlanc has been the administrative director of CERS since August of 2009. Kate is passionate about child and family issues, particularly on building communities of support for parents. Prior to her arrival at JF&CS, she spent nearly ten years working in the departments of Child Advocacy and Government Relations at Children's Hospital Boston. She holds a BSW from Skidmore College and a MPA from UMASS Boston.