Inspiring parents in our community: Aly Anderson
Today we are talking to Aly Anderson, a mom, wife, and life coach in the Roaring Fork Valley. Get ready to soak in all her wisdom (and this is only the tip of the iceberg). And fun fact, she just started a “meh” life crisis guide podcast
First of all, thanks for talking today! We always start with introductions. How would you introduce yourself?
Well, I am Aly Anderson. I am goofy, adventurous, and a lover of all people. I am a mom to a son with 22q and a wife to a lawyer. We moved here from Summit county five years ago due to my son’s health issues. I didn’t grow up here but I have family here and I always came here growing up. I am also a life coach and substitute teach at my son’s school at least once a week.
One of the reasons I wanted us to talk today is because of your life coaching experience – we probably all need it – but also out of curiosity as to how life coaching affects your parenting and relationships. Particularly with your son and his health needs.
Life coaching has completely changed how I parent and my relationships. I have always been really good at reading people. I was always that person who was giving advice and helping. But now I know more about why people respond to situations the way they do and how to help support them in that. I can take the pressure off sometimes – it shouldn’t be “hard.” I used to force certain things and now I realize that sometimes that is not the right answer or solution. We are always told to “suck it up” and “push through” but that’s not how we should be living life. Now I go towards the choices and the people that are not hard and I can be honest and open with.
Did you become a life coach before or after your son was born?
Somewhat before, since I was always helping others with advice, but mostly after. With a child with 22q you have “invisible” special needs. Everything in our children can be medical. And it is hard for me to be that person. It’s also hard because everyone wants to “fix it.” And some things you can’t fix and some things don’t need to be fixed. Sometimes we knew too much about him (medically) instead of just letting him be a kid and letting him organically grow. Life coaching has helped me with that.
One of the biggest things I tell parents who I coach who have children with special needs is that when your child is diagnosed and afterwards you have to let go of expectations of them, yourself, and your partner because we all need our own time and we all process differently. When he was 3 months old he was hospitalized for a few weeks and from there I started a Facebook support group. I kept giving advice and supporting other parents through the process of diagnosis. Then in 2020 I decided to receive my certification and became an official life coach.
For those who don’t know, what is life coaching?
Coaching is individual for everyone who comes to me. I don’t have a set program. A lot of the self-help world gives you rigid guidelines but I like to flip all of that. I have had to coach myself through that. An example, which I have used with my son; when he struggles with his emotions he will just shut down. But I have taught him to close his eyes and name, describe, and feel his emotions of the difficult situation. It helps to feel and process your emotions. It is so powerful. Parents have learned to brush aside or fix emotions. But how we respond to our children’s emotions is how they learn to process them. As adults we were too often taught to ignore or push down emotions and we feel guilt in those feelings. Coaching can help break that cycle.
Another life coaching practice I have brought home with my son is asking him every night, “what did you fail at today?” In that simple question we are teaching him that failing isn’t bad – it means he’s trying and pushing himself. As adults most of us have internalized failure as bad but we need to turn that on its head.
That is hard, I know for moms particularly there is this push to be perfect and succeeding at every aspect of life and parenthood.
Yes. As women we have been forced into societal and family expectations. But every time we follow those expectations instead of saying “no” we are training ourselves to not trust ourselves. And your children follow your actions. So if we hold boundaries and follow our own passions we are teaching our children it is safe to do that for themselves.
A question I often ask people is “what did you love between seven and eleven?” That is a key age because you are comfortable in your own skin but you don’t have subconscious learned biases yet or societal pressures ingrained in your choices. If we can go back to that we can remember our joy as adults. And let your children see your passions! Then they learn that it is okay for them to have their own.
As I said earlier, kids learn from watching you. So let them see your confidence. Let them see your try and fail. Let them see you apologize and if you have emotions, name it and don’t hide them.
I completely agree with that. It’s in our openness and responses to situations that children learn. There is so much more we can get into today but I always have to ask – what particularly has parenting taught you about yourself? And what tools do you use to cope when parenting is hard?
Parenting has taught me that I am much stronger than I thought, particularly with my son’s medical issues. I have also learned that I need time alone to recharge. Even better if that time is outside.
Also planning time with your partner – that is not about your child! We have to remember we have other relationships outside of being a parent.
And finally, own your confidence! Don’t just brush off compliments and positive feedback. Accept it and move on. We all need to do that more.