Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Becoming a mother – a huge life transition

I have been really surprised (and now I think back on it…why surprised?) how many of the women I coach have confidence issues that that stem back to an identity crisis when they first became a mother.

They might come to me for coaching for a whole host of reasons - although usually around decisions in their working life: promotion; considering a career move or career change; setting up a new business; redundancy – and many times a combination these. In looking back at their career and life to date, and the decisions they have taken before which have led them to this point, more commonly than not they will have strong feelings about their change in identity when they become a mother. And while there are lots of strong positive feelings – there are deeply held and often hidden negative ones too.

It is, undoubtedly, a huge life transition. Perhaps one we have lost the rituals to truly mark in the way society views the transition today. A baby shower just doesn’t cut it! You do get such mixed message about your value. On the one hand, women with children are treated (generally – I know there are exceptions!) as if they are special (see the front page article in The Guardian’s family section last Saturday) -  which of course they are - and yet with no monetary value place on the work that mother’s do (although which country is it in Scandinavia that includes the value of breastfeeding in their GDP?) it is also hugely undervalued. Many of the women who talk to me say that they felt like they lost who they were at that time.

I have talked to women about whether some coaching around that time would have been helpful in this transtion (coaching being the practice of supporting an individual through a facilitative process to find answers within themselves based on their values, preferences and unique perspective). The answers are a resounding yes, but the timing varies. For some women considering this during pregnancy would have helped; for others it would have been at 2 or 6 months, or at a time when they were considering options around a return to paid employment outside the home. What about for those of you who are mothers? Would it have helped you? And at what point?

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