Empowering Parents of Adolescents in Today’s World

Enda Gilbert is an educator with over 25 years of experience working with adolescents in High School. She’s from the beautiful island of Seychelles, and has been calling Australia her adopted land for 21 years.

For the last 10 years, Enda has been working as a Deputy Principal of an Intensive English centre, where teaching English as an Additional Language or Dialect(EALD) is the core curriculum for newly arrived students from refugee or migrant backgrounds.

As part of her portfolio, Enda is also responsible for students’ and families’ well-being. Her role is to bridge the gap between the school and outside agencies working with the students and their families and provide students support as they go through acculturation. With her work, Enda has built extensive experience working with families from diverse cultural backgrounds, where she has turned so many moments of tension into joy and bonding.

Being a certified Parental Burnout Practitioner and life coach, Enda launched her business, Enda Gilbert Coaching and Consultancy last year with a vision to support and empower parents of adolescents to break free from Parental Burnout and thrive in their relationship with their children.

How do you think parenting has changed in the past decades, now that parents have to grapple with challenges such as social media?

No doubt that the parenting landscape has changed significantly, and parents are now faced with more challenges, not just from their children but from society also. Due to work demands, parents spend less time at home with their children. This can significantly impact the child-parent relationship as it makes bonding difficult. Then there is the pressure of “intensive parenting”. This group of parents wants to spend every waking hour with their children, giving them the trendiest clothes, toys, books, and cooking healthy meals every day, over-investing in their role and forgetting about their needs as a couple and individuals. Social media contributes to the rise in comparison and perfectionism among parents.

The impact of digital technology is another big one. Many parents feel that smartphone is a great distraction and interfere with their attempt to spend quality time with their children. Cyberbullying, online predators, and smartphone addiction are a few of parents’ perils. 

So, parents, today face unique issues they would never have had to think about in the good old days.

What is ‘Conscious Parenting’ and why do you think it’s so important for parents to embrace its concept?

Conscious Parenting(CP) is a parenting style where the focus is on awareness, connectedness and mindfulness. The key concept of CP is Connection before correction, as this removes the hierarchal struggle and allows both the parent and child to communicate on an equal level. 

While conscious parenting works for some, the approach is not suitable for everyone or every situation. Hence, I do not promote it in my coaching program when working with parents experiencing parental burnout. This is because conscious parenting relies on self-regulation and self-control. The change must come from the parent and requires digging up old feelings buried for a reason. Unfortunately, some parents are not ready to dig up the past, which can be traumatic. So, in my coaching practice, I empower the parents by providing them with tools and strategies to embody these three factors in their parenting style: know your child and their temperament, know your environment (space and people in your network) and know your strength and limitation. These factors are embedded in my Coaching framework,” Beyond Parental Burnout  FrameworkTM.

Having said that, if parents want to embrace the concept of CP and want to achieve great results and be successful, they need to work with a conscious parenting expert.

Why do you think it’s crucial for parents to form a mutually respectful relationship with their children?

Having mutual respect means both parents and child can express their feelings and listen to each other. This is the catalyst for forming a solid, trusted and healthy relationship.

What’re 3 best tips that you can give to parents navigating children moving from tweens to teens?

Based on my over 25 years experience of working with teens and tweens in various capacities and interacting with hundreds of parents, I would say the top 3 tips will have to be:

Firmness and kindness are not opposites; they go hand in hand. Your firmness will most likely be easily accepted by your teen when it is accompanied by kindness.

Do what you said you would do. Don’t let things slide. If you don’t follow through on your commitment, your message to your teen or tween is “I don’t care about you” or “I don’t have time for you.”

Adolescence is the stage where your child will experience pain, disappointment, and confusion; for some, this will be their first. Instead of rushing to their rescue, allow them to know life as it is. That is, honour their feelings and give them the space and time to sit with the pain and disappointment. This will create a resilient child.

What are some of the most gratifying and fun moments that you’ve experienced as a Mum?

There are so many.. that’s a hard one. But, all in all, I am loving this journey of being a working parent and entrepreneur mum to a handsome, cheeky and kind 14-year-old boy.

Of course, nothing can beat this one, holding my son for the first time. Our daily car chats in the morning, witnessing him take on the challenge of high school(that was a massive one for all of us), but he came out more resilient and independent at the end of year 7 and the endless fun adventures and laughter when we go on holidays.

Follow Enda on her journey or for more direct access to Enda, join her private Facebook group “The Burnout-Proof Lounge.”

Enda is also currently offering coaching/mentoring services to one parent client for 2 months. Please contact Enda via her social channels or email to find out more.

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