My name is Marla Coleman. For more than 30 years, I have been working with families – offering perspectives, sharing insights, and helping inform choices for raising successful and happy children. As part of a family business that runs children’s summer camps, I have worked with literally thousands of families, so I have seen what outcomes result from specific parenting choices.
In previous decades, I was the director along with my husband, George; but in 2005 we transitioned to the next generation. That change provided me with a lot of discretionary time, and I found myself reading blogs related to parenting. It occurred to me that while there is a great deal of both online “professional advice” as well as “empathy for parenting challenges, “it would be great to have a place where I could share what I have learned anecdotally and where we could help each other by talking about best ways to empower children to become resilient, independent, and self-disciplined. If each of us becomes a better parent, each child will be a happier grownup, and tomorrow’s leaders will be healthier.
Just about all of what I know was gleaned from others who are specialists in various aspects of parenting skills or youth development, coupled with hands-on discovery of what works and what doesn’t. Mostly, I have learned what parents want (for their children) and what children need (from their parents). I hope that by facilitating this blog as a platform for parenting, each of us can endow our children with just the right proportions of training and exploring, of goal-setting and star-gazing – of providing both roots for grounding and wings for soaring.
As a kind of “professional parent” whose adult life has revolved around creating a fun environment for learning, I will introduce the thematic catalysts by telling so-called “Bedtime Stories for Parents,” in other words using quotes from children’s literature to illustrate character virtues I deem important and to invite conversation from readers. Many of these stories will be from my own experiences and interactions with other families, and some will be derived from headlines of the day; with a bit of luck, these brief tales will evoke a message that is both prescriptive and positive and that you will find “aha” moments to support your efforts as a dedicated parent.
It seems, in fact, that all roads have converged for me to leverage what I have learned over the years by sharing the insights on this blog. As quoted in a recent New York Times article, I often feel that my role has been part coach, part advocate, part partner, and part translator – interpreting the “code” of someone else’s actions or behaviors!
As a camp professional, I am also a recent past president and current spokesperson of a national organization, The American Camp Association. Over the past 30+ years, I have been fortunate to work with child development experts, child/family therapists, psychologists, educators, and researchers who are advocates for youth and families. And while this blog is not specifically about the value of a camp experience, you are likely to see many examples of supports and opportunities that exist because of this community as well as links to sites and experts in the field.
I write a monthly column on parenting issues called “Colemans’ Corner,” which appears in a series of local weekly community newspapers. These articles deal with timely topics – everything from body image to bullying to “letting go” and motivating positive behavior.
I have co-authored a book, “Crisis Communications: Weathering the Storm,” which addresses many child-centered emergencies. I am a frequent speaker at professional workshops with a focus on parent communications and am a staff trainer.
Before entering the camp profession, I was a newspaper editor, and previous to that I was a middle school English teacher. I have been surrounded by children, parents, and words for as long as I can remember!