EDGE Learning and Wellness Advocates for the Importance of Parent Coaching and Support
When a new student arrives at 63 E Lake St. for their first day at EDGE Learning & Wellness – a Chicago-based transitional living community for young adults – meticulous planning goes into ensuring their arrival is easy and that they feel welcomed into the EDGE community. While most would expect this level of planning and care to go into welcoming a student to the community, the EDGE team also dedicates a substantial amount of time into preparing parent(s)/caregiver(s) for their young adult’s first day.
In fact, parent coaching at EDGE starts from the moment a student is accepted into the program. Brian McKenna, LCSW, CAADC, who has over 30 years of experience in behavioral health and is one of EDGE’s founders, serves as the program’s Parent Services Coordinator. Through the parent coaching program, McKenna maintains regular bi-weekly appointments with parent(s)/caregiver(s) throughout their young adult’s stay at EDGE.
Parent coaching is individualized and tailored to the specific goals of each parent/caregiver, but McKenna emphasized that it was important all parent coaching – regardless of a parent/caregiver’s end goal – begins with the understanding that “Parent coaching isn’t about trying to ‘fix’ a kid. I’m not trying to teach them [parents/caregivers] some magic or miracle parenting tip, but instead teach about being with their kid, understanding their kid, and parenting from a compassionate standpoint. Being ‘fixed’ feels horrible, but being understood? It feels wonderful.”
McKenna has applied his strength-based parent coaching approach since EDGE’s inception in 2011, pointing out parents’/caregivers’ strengths and encouraging them to build upon those strengths, while also providing suggestions for behaviors they may need to shift or alter for a healthy relationship with their young adult.
One concept McKenna particularly enjoys educating parent(s)/caregivers(s) on is ‘pink flags.’ “Pink flags are those subtle signs that may tell you something is brewing and to be more preventative. They’re not always obvious.” McKenna explained that as parent(s)/caregiver(s) learn to identify pink flags, they’ll hopefully be able to stop these flags from turning red or having to go into full crisis mode.
When a student’s time at EDGE is complete, McKenna feels confident parent(s)/caregiver(s) have the tools needed to help them reach the goals they set when their young adult started at the program.
“We’re never just looking at the time frame of when a student is with us at EDGE, but long-term.” McKenna often has parent(s)/caregiver(s) consider questions like, “What does this relationship look like a year from now? Three years from now?” Focusing on long-term goals allows parent(s)/caregiver(s) and their young adults to more easily navigate any short-term challenges they face.
EDGE Program Director Brittany Tolar, LCSW, provided additional insight into the impact of parent coaching. “Collaborating with families is a crucial part of EDGE’s model, as it allows us to coach around long-standing relationship dynamics and communication patterns. It’s great to watch parents progress over time and integrate the coaching by expressing their needs, wants, and boundaries in new and productive ways.” Tolar also has frequent contact with parent(s)/caregivers(s) via monthly family calls where students and their families collaborate under Tolar’s guidance to work on their group goals.
EDGE strives to not only help each student grow independently, but to also help their parent(s)/caregiver(s) grow along with them. Providing adaptive and thorough parent coaching allows EDGE to better meet that goal and help family relationships flourish.
About EDGE Learning and Wellness Community
EDGE Learning and Wellness Community is an accredited transitional living program located in Chicago, IL. EDGE offers therapeutically supported residential and non-residential options for post-treatment young adults. The participants, ages 18 -24, are striving to excel academically while creating a life of balance, joy, and wellness.