Build Your Parenting Team

Posted February 4, 2016 by

Build Your Parenting Team

Imagine a crowd cheering you on each day as you parent your kids. They encourage you, support you, and maybe take over for a bit when you need a break.

As parents, we need all the support we can get. That’s why I talk to parents about “building their team.”

Who can be your cheerleaders? Who can help with your kids? If you’re having trouble coming up with a list, we can give you some ideas. There are probably more people than you think.

Related: Get personalized parenting help from an Empowering Parents Coach. Click here to get started.

The phrase “it takes a village” exists for a reason! Raising children through to adulthood is a huge amount of work. Work best shared by many people. Often parents feel bad asking for help. But people like to help. Truly. When you ask the right people, you will receive support.

“Find a support person who doesn’t judge you and is a good match with what you need. And, once you’ve found that support, let them help.” – Janet Lehman, co-creator of The Total Transformation

Who cares about your kids? Who has an interest in them as people, and concern for their future? Some people on your team may be:

  • Grandparents
  • Pediatricians
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Church community
  • Neighbors
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Godparents

Talk to your “team” on a regular basis. Check in with your pediatrician, build a relationship with your school, ask a relative or friend to spend an afternoon with your child.

Like all relationships, these connections take time to build. But it’s worth the effort. You will have more support and resources while you parent. And your kids will have more people to lean on and learn from.

Everyone here is on your team. Good luck this week; we’re here if you need us.


More on Building a Parenting Support Network:

The Single Parent Juggling Act: 5 Tips to Help You Manage

A Message from Janet Lehman: Does Parenting Feel Like a Thankless Job? (Then Read This.)

In Over Your Head? How to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Regain Control as a Parent



Denise Rowden is a parent of two teens: an 18-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son. She has worked in Special Education, Alternative Education and adolescent group homes. She has a BS in Psychology from the University of Southern Maine and is currently working on her Life Coach certification from the International Coach Federation.

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  1. H (Edit) Report

    It’s all very well suggesting grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, but if we don’t have any of those what then? The school isn’t supportive so I can’t build a relationship there. Doesn’t leave much else, does it?

  2. 2kidsmom.sanjose.CA (Edit) Report

    I need help, my son refuses go to school and see doctors, he is in IEP program, he was diagnosed for ADHD and learning disabilities, he has problem for sleep and has hard time wakes up in the morning for school, awake at night times, his attendance is at risk in school. And he refused to take the medicines, I really don’t know how to help him. I had talked to doctors whether I can put him on the phone to call so that he can prescripts with med. but they refused to do that. I feel hopeless and helpless, without any friends and relatives to share and talk to. Every time I think of my situations, I feel frustrate, worry and full of tears. Hope someone can guide and contact me, any advise will welcome.

    • Empowering Parents Coach Rebecca Wolfenden, 1-on-1 Coach Report

      I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your son right now, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support, both here on our site as well as with local supports such as his doctor and the school. I encourage you to work with the school to address his attendance there, as outlined in “I Hate School!” What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to School? I also hear how overwhelmed you are feeling right now, and I encourage you to take care of yourself too. Self-care is an important, yet often overlooked aspect of parenting. Your self-care plan can be anything you desire, from engaging in an enjoyable activity, to using more structured supports such as a counselor or a parent support group. For assistance locating this kind of support in your community, you can contact the 211 Helpline at 1-800-273-6222. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

    • Empowering Parents Coach Rebecca Wolfenden, 1-on-1 Coach Report

      It can be so challenging when you have concerns about the person your teen is choosing to date. This can be a tricky area to navigate for many parents, so you are not alone. As outlined in “I Don’t Like My Teen’s Girlfriend — What Should I Do?”, it tends to be more effective to focus on your son, and his choices, rather than discussing his girlfriend and her actions. This is because your son isn’t likely to view his girlfriend and their relationship from your perspective, and trying to convince him that she’s troubled is likely to lead to more conflict between the two of you. I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.

  3. ntmom7 (Edit) Report

    How do I order just the 1 on 1 coaching? We were given the Total Transformation 9 years ago and are just trying to use it now. We are frustrated, angry, and ready to throw in the towel. We’ve tried everything, and this kid just figures out how to game the system.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      You’re not alone in your frustration. We speak to many parents who are at the end of their rope. Our 1-On-1 coaches have helped thousands of families parents utilize the tools of the Total Transformation program and we would love to work with you as well. Since you have the program already, you can sign up for the service by calling our customer service department at 800-460-2235, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (EST).Good luck to you and your family moving forward. Take care and we hope to speak with you soon.

  4. sollagumo (Edit) Report

    Hi, I have a son who just turned 14. He´s tough, though not into drugs or alcohol (yet) and still somewhat compliant. He mostly doesn’t do anything that I ask him to do or seem to care whether he has his projects done (I know he must care for his friends do do them). I feel scared for his future.

  5. banibani012 (Edit) Report

    Have a 14 year old that is high functional autism with depression paranoid and psychosis at times he has changed from a child that did not misbehave much to one that kicks walls screams at Me tells me f..k you today was he says he wants to kill me am not scared of him just wish I knew how to handle the situation

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      What a tough situation. Many parents are unsure how to
      respond to their child’s threats and verbal disrespect, so, you’re not alone.
      Because your son has underlying issues that may be negatively impacting his
      behavior, it would be best to work closely with your son’s treatment team on
      effective responses to his behavior.  The way a child with a Spectrum
      Disorder might respond to specific techniques can vary greatly. We would not
      want to make a suggestion that could cause your son to escalate further. If your
      son does not currently have a treatment team, you might find it helpful to look
      into local services that can work directly with your family. The 211 Helpline
      would be able to give you information on community resources. You can reach the
      Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by going online to We wish you the best of luck moving
      forward. Take care.

      • banibani012 (Edit) Report

        DeniseR_ParentalSupport banibani012
        Thank you, for your advise. We do have a lot of treatment plans and so on. I was so alone at that moment I posted this. 211 is great have had mobile crises as well. I know things will get better is the getting there that sometimes takes a toll. Signed up for a parent support group to take care of me as I take care of him. Again thank you

  6. Susan Balogh (Edit) Report

    Great advice! U would just add that not everyone who is religious attends a church. It’s more inclusive to write “your faith community” or “your place of worship” because that covers all the bases, from Quaker Meeting to Jewish synagogue to Buddhist Temple to Muslim Mosque.

  7. MOMof3greatkids (Edit) Report

    These supportive emails really mean a lot and I always seem to receive them at times when I am feeling the challenges of parenting are overwhelming.  Keep up the excellent work – I seem to be referring to your website for parenting support almost daily and only ONE of my kids is a teenager.  Thank you – a hundred times over.

  8. Stepmom Shawn (Edit) Report

    As a stepmom, I think having a ‘team” is essential. When I first became a stepmom, I had no one. I mean, I had friends who were supportive, and my husband tried to help. But, I had no one who was in the same boat– the stepmom boat. That’s what prompted me to write my book, “Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms.” I searched for other stepmoms and asked them to share their experiences; I then turned their experiences into stories. I share my own stories as well. The whole experience was incredibly therapeutic. I felt much less alone on my journey. In fact, from that, a few of us started a stepmom lunch club, so to speak. We met once a month for a couple of years. It was so helpful!  Having support and encouragement is an important component to being a good parent, whether step or bio. 🙂

    • Yendor777 (Edit) Report

      Stepmom Shawn I’m a stepdad and I need some help. In fact I’m not sure where to start, not that I’m not willing to learn, its just been a rough 4 years but absolutely willing to learn and make the necessary changes.

      • Stepmom Shawn (Edit) Report

        Yendor777 Stepmom Shawn I hear you, believe me. I’ve been at this 10 years now, so things are much better and calmer. But I remember those first few years well- they were rough! The best advice I can give is to stay the course, be yourself, don’t expect too much, and learn to let go of expectations. I read in an on-line magazine for stepmoms this quote: “Re-partnerships involving children are born out of loss. Too few of us recognize this.” I think this is an important reality for us stepparents to remember. Divorce and re-marriage is hard on the kids! I know I mentioned above that I wrote a book for stepmoms that is coming out, hopefully, this year. Bur, what I didn’t mention, is that I also wrote one for stepdads. I only have the rough done, but the final will be done most likely by the year’s end. Hopefully that one will get published, as well. Stepdads deserve to have their voices heard, too. 🙂 When I was interviewing all of the stepdads for my book, I loved hearing how much they care, and realizing that it was just as tough for them as it for us, stepmoms. Hang in there and I wish you much luck on your journey!

  9. EnglishAlison (Edit) Report

    Actually, whilst I know I’m not theoretically alone, it doesn’t make all that much difference. It helps a bit, but it makes very little difference to the life that we have with my son.
    The fact that we have neighbours, family, teachers, psychiatrists, drug and alcohol workers, friends etc etc does not change the fact that my 14 year old son has ADHD, Dyspraxia and probably ODD.

    The existence of all those people  does not change the fact that he lies to us, steals from us, shows complete and utter disregard to anything we say or do, is aggressive, is unpleasant, goes out of his way to be nasty and unkind, smokes e cigs, cigarettes and cannabis, drinks alcohol, has been expelled from school, etc etc.

    Of course all the people in our lives try to help, but the bottom line is that our son does not want to change. He likes using drugs, our upset and pain is, to him a shame, but not anything that he considers a problem to him. He sees absolutely no benefit unchanging his ways/doing things differently..

    He throws every bit of help right back in the face of those offering it.

    Thus, whilst I know there are other people in the same boat, I know there are professionals and others trying really hard to make a difference, sadly it doesn’t change any aspect of the life that we, as a family endure with our son.

    He does exactly what he wants to do. Consequences make no difference because he ignores them. I feel that our lives are completely controlled by him. He rules our household. 
    If you’d told me that 14 years ago, i would have said “What sort of parents are they? How pathetic that they let a child rule them. They get all they deserve. They must be useless parents. How ridiculous etc etc”
    The reality is that however much we dress it up, our son has a mental impairment of some description. Sadly, it manifests in addictive, anti social ways.

    I know I should be loving the child I have and not the child I want, I know there are people I could talk to and I know that just because my son behaves like this, it doesn’t mean I am a bad person or bad parent. I also know that I am responsible for my own feelings and that I am letting him make me feel bad, useless, sad blah blah blah. I know that it is within me to feel positive, within me to let go of the negative feelings etc
    However, that aside, i am completely sick of it all.
    Today i am on my soap box and I am moaning and I am saying I hate living like this and i hate what’s happening to our family. I am having a rant. It won’t make any difference, it won’t particularly make me feel better, it won’t change a thing.
    Today I am saying it’s not fair, it’s not what I signed up to.
    Today i don’t want to hear that I should embrace his differences, that he’ll always be my son and that he has some wonderful qualities (name them!!??)

    Anyway, I’ve said my piece and I’ll climb down back off my soapbox. I know the “team” are there – but today it makes no flipping difference.

    • British Mel (Edit) Report

      Alison, I truly hope it did make you feel a tiny bit better by writing it all down?
      It sounds horrendous. Truly awful.  You need a break from him.
      You sound at breaking point. Sometimes just getting away gives you a little perspective and they cease being the focus of your every thought and sentence. And your sister/brother/ in laws WILL cope because he will behave better for a weekend because he can.
      Try laughing at his outrageousness sometimes. That confuses them. But I think it’s the cannabis. Mine are different children when they smoke cannabis. Unpleasant, paranoid, secretive, nasty, unkind and frankly horrible. I now think don’t worry about the smoking and the e cigarettes. They are legal and your son will grow up and know for himself they are stupid. They make him look big now. When he”s 19 he won”t need to look big.
      I video’ d mine whilst he was under the affects of cannabis and was being particularly nasty. Just on my phone; surreptitiously . Then I let him listen when he was calmer and sweeter and although he didn’t say much he realised he was different when using; a fact he had denied previously.
      I do not have any answers for you ( sorry) but they DO grow up. They don’t stay stroppy teenagers forever and all that early spade work you put in with their manners, education, cubs, after school activities….. You’ll see it wasn’t wasted. Honestly. I have fostered some awful children. I have hidden from them in my bedroom. I’ve not understood why they were so nasty when I have them everything. I served notice more than once. You are not in this alone. Many parents feel the same but feel disloyal admitting it and feel powerless. I just want to say that ALL of them are OK now. One works for British Gas ( he always told me he would get a job) , one is in a steady relationship

      • EnglishAlison (Edit) Report

        @British Mel Hi, yes, you’re right, it does sort of help to know that potentially there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, when you are in the thick of it, all I can imagine is that he’ll end up in prison or dead. 
        I do need a break from him. I would honestly love him to be at boarding school (not really a realistic option) and that’s not because I think it would benefit him educationally, meet his needs etc, it’s because I’d rather he didn’t live here with us. That’s a dreadful thing to feel and say about one’s own child, but that’s how it is.
        I really have gone over and above – I’ve done absolutely everything to try to help and support him. He says things will change, but they don’t. 

        I would so so love to be proven wrong with my son, and have him turn everything round, fulfil his potential, and grow up to be a decent human being. Unfortunately, at the moment, it’s not looking terribly likely.

        i do get away occasionally – and it’s great. You are right. A bit of time away is helpful.
        Nothing changes, but at least it means I don’t have every minute of the day taken up by him and his issues.
        Thank you.

  10. Guardian Lyn (Edit) Report

    I cannot get a clear answer on how long a 504 hearing should take from the time it is requested until the actual hearing. I live in California.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Guardian Lyn
      Unfortunately, this isn’t a question we are able to answer.
      It may be helpful to contact your state Department of Education for information
      on the 504 process. We appreciate you writing in. Take care.

  11. tinaisalittleconcerned (Edit) Report

    My son is almost 14, he hates everything… matter what it is.  What do i do?  everyone says he is polite to them but i need to know how to make him easier to talk to without him hating what i talk about or he dont care,.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      I hear you. It can be disconcerting when it seems as if your
      child isn’t interested in talking to you or spending time with you. It may help
      to know that the behavior you describe is normal for a teenager. Janet Lehman
      gives some great tips for handling this situation in her article I hope you find the
      information in the article useful for your situation. Be sure to check back if
      you have any further questions. Take care.

    • marrie (Edit) Report


      We have the same concern. My son is 16. I am a single parent. we used to have a very caring relationship when he was a bit younger but this adolescent stage is really driving me crazy.. Nothing I say to him will make him speak in a calm manner. often he is impolite too and annoyed. He seems not interested in every word that I say. You know that “I don’t care attitude”.  I am planning to see a counselor but I am afraid he might refuse to submit himself to it.

    • Amber C (Edit) Report

      tinaisalittleconcerned without knowing all the specifics…I can just give you some feedback based on my experiences. My 15 year-old says this at times and I see it as a call for help. She’s looking for love and affection. She’s feeling insecure and doesn’t know how to work through those feelings or even put a name on them, so she goes to an easy word “hate”. I think my daughter becomes frustrated and the easy way to express herself is to withdraw, move at a slow pace when asked something, and say that she “hates” something. Not sure what you have tried, but sometimes just giving them a hug and a kiss will help them feel comforted. This is not a long-term solution by any means, but a way to just let them know that what they are loved and maybe later they can (maybe with your help) figure out what they are really feeling. Hope this helps.

  12. joannehalvorson Report

    Is this a new site? I don’t see any comments.  I would love to have a support group to help me be a better parent



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