On Coaching New Fathers by Karen Lothian
Karen Lothian is a qualified and experienced Transformational Coach. For two decades, she worked extensively with fathers in senior leadership and senior management roles, helping them negotiate the competing demands of fatherhood.
How would you define your role as a Transformational Coach?
It’s about helping an individual move forward. There may be an obstacle getting in their way. They may be struggling to make decisions. Through active listening and careful questioning, the coach enables a person to formulate their own answers and a more confident outlook.
Coaching is not the same as therapy or counselling. I often repeat back what a client says. When we hear our thoughts expressed, they seem more concrete, less overwhelming.
Why is there a real need for coaching just now?
There are so many unhelpful masculine stereotypes that affect new fathers. They can face social stigma when carrying out tasks traditionally assigned to the mother. For example, picking a child up from school. Many fathers will have assimilated these cultural stereotypes; coaching is a way of unpicking them.
Workplaces are only gradually becoming more flexible. Currently, if fathers want to be at home with the baby and mum, they can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ leave. For many, this is not enough. Yet, some are afraid to ask employers for flexibility. A major 2017 survey revealed 53% of millennial fathers wanted to change jobs in order to balance work and family life.
What sort of people benefit from your expertise?
I work mainly with fathers who want to be more confident and involved in their new role. Either before or after birth. I see my work as preventative: I hope to reach clients before they struggle. Young fathers tend to be more engaged.
I also coach mothers who want to help their partners.
‘If I get the chance, I tell new fathers that evolution has primed them to parent just as it has primed women. Biology has their back.’
Dr Anna Machlin, Anthropologist
Do dads tend to approach you for coaching?
Yes. This is very important. For coaching to work, a person has to be open to it.
Do you offer online coaching?
My sessions are all currently online, which allows me to reach a wider audience. Normally I offer face-to-face coaching too.
Could you tell me about your ‘Being Dad’ coaching programme?
Being Dad is a group coaching programme for dads-to-be and new dads. Being Dad supports men who want to gain confidence in their abilities, look after their mental health and support their child’s growth and development.
It comprises 6 x 90-minute sessions in groups of 6-10. Exercises are incorporated into 5 modules and run over 3 months. Sessions take place every 2 weeks to allow ample time for reflection.
I also run individual 90-minute coaching sessions and a ‘Dads at work’ programme for organisations.
1. New York Times, 15.4.20
2 .Modern Families Index Survey