Getting ready for a new child often involves reading a few popular books, perhaps getting some advice from Mom and Dad or a few close friends, and can even include a dose of daydreaming about what it’s going to be like to have a little one in the house.
But as many parents end up realizing, nothing compares to hands-on experience and the challenges that arise out of a wide range of situations.
Prior to the birth of her first child, Philomath resident Sophie Grow had a background that included several types of interactions with children — from being an auntie to extensive work as a nanny and babysitter. None of that, she said, prepared her for becoming a parent.
“My first daughter was born with cancer and it rocked our world, changed our lives,” she said. “It really hurt my mental health and I felt really undersupported — my husband and I both. There was a process of learning self-awareness and self-regulation that turned out to be just like the best thing for our family.”
Grow, 34, wants to help others traverse the winding path of parenthood. In October, she launched ProSocial Parent Coaching, a series of online classes for moms with children under age 3 and with individual and group coaching sessions for parents with kids of all ages.
“When I had the opportunity to start working with families, I came from it from a place of really understanding how difficult it is and the challenges that can arise because of lack of support,” Grow said.
Learning and developing ways to benefit both parent and child can be an important part of the process.
“It’s actually hard to grow new skills as a grown-up, sometimes, because we think we’re done learning and we’re not,” Grow said. “As a parent, we learn we’re not done learning and we learn right alongside our kid — then it feels kind of high stakes. So I was really inspired to try to find ways to bring a lot more confidence, calm and competence to families because of my own experiences.”
Grow said another factor revolves around mental health and advocating for other people as they start to empower themselves.
Through ProSocial Parent Coaching, Grow offers a virtual hub for new moms and dads to access resources, education and support through 1-on-1 and group coaching, as well as working with participants on course content.
What can someone expect if they sign up?
“The most important thing for growing resilience is growing our relationships and so they can expect some tools and education around self-regulation, self-awareness,” Grow said, “and I like to add in the neurobiological aspects of using our body to try to pull up the playfulness that we want to experience with our kids or practice a calming that we can be for them.”
ProSocial Parent Coaching launched an eight-week cohort-model course Oct. 22 that will wrap up in early December. The course, which she calls “Listening Mothers,” is designed to provide training for new moms to learn how to cultivate the true self-compassionate care they need as a parent that will last well into toddler, preschool, grade school and high school periods of parenting.
Another course will start up in January.
“The nice thing about doing this cohort model is when it’s 1-on-1, you get to choose the times that’s most convenient for you and then we all choose the group coaching time to come together — there are two group coaching sessions,” she said.
Grow said she wanted to approach the sessions in that manner to allow for maximum accessibility with that extra level of convenience, instead of choosing a solid day and time when parents may be experiencing fatigue.
In addition to her business, Grow teaches for Linn-Benton Community College in the parent education department, which prior to the pandemic featured in-person classes. The online option she now offers has expanded accessibility.
“Moving to online is actually reaching a different audience because they weren’t able to come to those classes to begin with,” Grow said. “Oddly enough, thinking that I would be reaching the same group of parents that would be in my classes in person, that’s not who I’m reaching.”
Grow is also the founder of Grow Doula Services, for prenatal, birth and postpartum doula support, and Sophie Grow Coaching, offering one-on-one parent coaching backed by science and neurobiology.
Through her work, she specializes in providing training for parents with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Grow is a registered doula with Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Health, serving Medicaid-eligible birthing families in Marion, Lincoln, Linn and Benton counties.
“That’s really important to me because I can relate to people who have even less access to resources and need it the most,” she said.
She said her work is centered around bringing awareness to mental health with an emphasis on access for rural families and families experiencing high medical risk.
“Worst-case thinking is so limiting to parents,” she said. “It is hard on the body and it is really hard on relationships. I help parents imagine and create steps toward their version of best-case parenting, the parenting that fits them and their child like a glove and feels like a dream. Is it perfect? No. But it’s beautiful because it’s by that parent’s design and feels like rising to the challenge with grit and joy for what is to come.”
Grow’s first daughter, by the way, is 9 years old now and has been considered cleared of cancer since age 3.