Celebrating 10 years of positive, respectful parenting strategies at ImperfectFamilies.com and looking forward to the next adventure.
Welcome to Imperfect Families! I’m Nicole Schwarz, Parent Coach, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and mom to 3 girls.
I did not start out using positive, respectful parenting strategies.
My career as a therapist started in 2004, where I worked with children and teens who struggled with anxiety, ADHD, aggression, and families who had difficulty communicating respectfully.
At that time, parenting strategies focused on finding the “perfect” consequence.
In meetings with families, we would create detailed lists of rules and expectations. There would be elaborate tokens systems and removal of privileges.
And guess what? It didn’t change the child’s behavior in the long run.
So, I started exploring other ways to help the kids in my therapy practice, and my own kids at home. I began to learn about the brain and trauma. I began to understand the importance of connection over correction. And, I began to see how shame, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness can look like aggression, avoidance, people-pleasing, and laziness.
Still, something was missing.
Everything I was doing focused on the child. There was a “fix my kid” mentality – rather than acknowledging ways that the parent’s assumptions, expectations, stress, and emotions played a role in how the family functioned.
Slowly, things began to shift.
I focused less on the child’s behavior and more on supporting the parents – recognizing that it is the parents who set the tone for the home. And, it is the parents who need to do the difficult work of managing their stress, their triggers, their big emotions before they can expect their kids to do the same.
Years later, my parenting philosophy mixes child development, brain science, imperfection, self-compassion, and positive, respectful strategies, with a parent-first focus.
Though I keep my license current, I closed my therapy practice in 2014. Now, I work exclusively as an online Parent Coach to families around the world.
My job is to help parents guide their kids with a calm confidence, using respectful strategies.
It Starts With You
I am honored to share an hour with parents during a coaching session. It is a joy to hear the stories, the challenges, and the ways they persevere through a difficult stage.
But my real passion is writing.
Before the pandemic hit, I had an opportunity to meet with a book publisher. Without knowing how stressful and overwhelming the following year would be, I accepted an offer to write a parenting book.
This book was written with noise-canceling headphones, a stash of dark chocolate, and the urgency of someone who needed to get a thought down before being interrupted by three kids doing virtual school.
I know you have a million parenting books to choose from. I know information overload is real. And there can be a sense of anxiety that comes from having too many mixed messages.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the process.
The goal of this book is to help you find a parenting strategy that works for you. We all have different backgrounds, different communities, different stressors. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for everyone.
You are unique. And your child is unique.
Instead of a “fix my kid” mentality, this book “starts with you.” It helps you recognize what you bring to the relationship and the things you can do to model, support, and guide your kids.
The hope is that as you read through the chapters, you are reminded that imperfection is part of the parenting process. That you do not need to do everything “right” in parenting to be a “good” parent, and that even when we do “all the right things,” our kids may still argue, complain, push boundaries, and disagree.
Each chapter explores a concept I believe is important for laying a strong, healthy foundation in families. The sections include: It Starts With You, Connection, Calm, Communication, and Coach.
And, over everything, I remind you to give your kids – and yourself – grace.
We’re in this together
The things I write about on this website and the strategies discussed in the book are things we use in our home every day.
My husband and I have worked hard to manage our tempers so we can stay present when our kids are having a hard time. We are not perfect (and never will be), but we’ve made huge strides.
I am better at recognizing when my kids are simply upset and when their brain is in fight or flight mode. And I work to adjust my response accordingly.
My kids are amazing – they help out around the house, they are responsible and respectful. They also struggle with anxiety, anger, impatience, and have numerous disagreements with each other on a daily basis.
I had 2 kids under 3 when I started learning about respectful parenting. My oldest is a teenager now. We are out of the toddler stage and heading into the teenage stage. We no longer have to battle about diaper changes and bathtime, but now we’re navigating screens and independence.
The concepts still apply.
No matter what age your kids are, they will always need you to be working on yourself first. They will need connection, calm brains, respectful conversation, and guidance.
I call my business “Imperfect Families” for a reason.
It is the one thing we all have in common.
Rather than fighting for perfection, my hope is that you and your kids will embrace imperfection – making mistakes, learning, growing, and moving forward in a positive direction together.