john mcelhenney is the whole parent, coaching, life coach, relationship coach, best life coach austin texas

How the Whole Parent Got His Groove Back After Divorce

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“If YOU are HAPPY, your kids are going to thrive.”

We recently had the opportunity to talk to John, a personal coach, writer, and founder of the website WholeParent.Org. During the interview, John discussed his journey to becoming a guide for those dealing with divorce and single parenthood. He also shared his vision for the future and some personal coaching resources he finds helpful.

ME: Can you tell me a little bit about you and what you do?

JOHN: I am a blogger with a number of books out that all have to do with being a single parent. That’s the focus of my coaching as well. A lot of it is relationship-based, too. I’ve had the blog for nine years. Once it got syndicated on the Huffington post things really took off. The Whole Parent gets around 15,000 views a week.

I’m also in the process of building an online community to support single parents who are looking to discuss parenting, dating, and relationships on a confidential and secure platform.

ME: How did you get started?

JOHN: My first blog, The Off Parent, I started when my wife asked for a divorce in 2010. It was a cathartic event. My writing became a way for me to express my sadness, anger, hopelessness, and divorce recovery plans.

Whereas with The Whole Parent my intention was 100% positive, kid-first, and mom-friendly. It was a positive voice and actually transformed the way I dealt with my ex-wife from then on. As I started writing, it started changing my life. I began to realize my responses are 100% up to me. The events and moments I can put them in the positive column, the more I’m calling positivity into my life, the life of my kids, and even the life of my ex-wife. The new writing of changed my life, changed my overall mindset. In divorce, not everything is friendly, cooperative, or kind. By trying to write about it on The Whole Parent, I was actively seeking the lesson, the positive spin, the hopeful way forward, even if my ex-wife is being mean.

ME: What are some of your goals with coaching?

JOHN: I give a free 30-minute coaching call to anybody that wants it. I view these “hello calls” as gifts. Even in a short session, I can often impart some of my pro-kid co-parenting lessons and wisdom. I love the introductory calls. It takes a lot for people to reach out to a coach. Often, they are in a lot of pain. When we are confused and overwhelmed it is very hard to make good decisions. The first thing I do is offer hope. I reassure them of several things:

  • Your overwhelm is natural, common, and part of the process.
  • Hopelessness and depression do not have to spoil your relationships with your children.
  • Taking care of you (mom or dad) is my primary job as your coach.

Having a coach is a lot like having a personal trainer. If you want to run a marathon you are going to need to start a running practice. I am here to help you put in a healthy parenting routine for yourself. Then I work with clients to stay on track with their goals, keep their eyes on the bigger goal (of loving and supporting their kids, or finding a new healthier relationship).

In that first call, we can usually agree on one main point.

“If YOU are HAPPY, your kids are going to thrive.”

Kids want to see their parents strong and healthy. Our kids are watching our actions. In this stressful and sad time, everyone needs a point of strength and hope. You (mom or dad) can become that point of hope. I am here to help you strengthen your joy, balance, energy, and hopefulness.

ME: What are some people or websites you follow to keep up with your industry?

JOHN: I’m a big fan of Brené Brown and her books. And of course, the big ones: The Five Love Languages, The Four Agreements, and all the great work by Harvel Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want, and John Gottman The Seven Principles to Make Marriage Work.

I write a lot about braving, from Brené Brown. I think this is an essential skill. I teach couples or individuals to practice being strong for each other, but not trying to FIX each other. How to be vulnerable together, and stand strong.

I also work with people about handling difficult conversations using the “emotional container.” This is an invaluable skill I use in coaching people in relationships. It’s vitally important and powerful when a couple can stay present and hopeful even in the middle of a heated argument.

I work with men and women as individuals, but I also work with couples in learning how to fight fare, love with more intention, and grow together towards a loving and kind partnership.

I want authenticity and human connection in all of my interactions with people. Let’s start there and see where it takes us.

ME: Thank you for sharing! I think what you do is really great and necessary for a lot of people.

JOHN: Yeah, I get so jazzed knowing that this is my calling. I get so much joy in my free 30-minute calls. I am honored when someone invites me to hear their story. My intro goes like this:

“I am sorry you’re going through a tough time. Divorce and breakups suck. I am here to give you hope and help you put your plan together for a better life.”

That’s all I do. I bring hope to the picture.

ME: Thank you, John. Very inspiring stuff. How can people reach you if they are interested in your books or your coaching services?

JOHN: Thank you for having me. My blog is the hub for most of my work. You can learn about my coaching, books, and current writing on The Whole Parent. There is a form to sign up for the free coaching session on the site.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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Image: is candy hearts ideas created by AI, not sure this captures the spirit of the idea.

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You can find all of my books on AMAZON.

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