Whatever Happened To ... the family coach?

Sheil Dixon and her husband, Ernest, hired family coach Lisa Carey in 2008.
Sheil Dixon and her husband, Ernest, hired family coach Lisa Carey in 2008. (Copyright Rebecca Drobis 2008)
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By Karen Houppert
Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two years ago, Sheila Dixon and her husband, Ernest, hired a family coach in Springfield to help them improve their parenting, organize their household and streamline their lives. After all, the Dixons had a lot on their plate. Ernest was working full time as a pharmacist at CVS and, along with a partner, opening a brand-new drugstore, where he began working a second shift each day. Sheila was trying to expand her own home-based business providing information and networking opportunities to women. Their three boys -- Damon, 11; Dorion, 9; and Darron, 3 -- had their parents running among schools and activities at such a rapid clip that "quality time" was caught on the fly.

And all the while, Sheila worried about her boys. Why was it taking so long to get Darron potty-trained? Were the older boys making their beds and cleaning their rooms the way they should at that age? Were they learning to be responsible, or were they developing character flaws by shirking chores? Would the children succeed at school, college, career -- and how could she best prepare them for the rapidly evolving, modern world of work?

Sheila found herself anxiously wondering, Am I the best mom I can be?

Family coach Lisa Carey still keeps loose tabs on the Dixons via e-mail and Facebook but has shifted her focus now to coaching war veterans, especially in finding jobs.

Meanwhile, Ernest Dixon's Centreville Medical Arts Pharmacy is thriving, and he was able to quit his CVS job. Sheila's business has expanded from one to three chapters, and she credits Carey's coaching, which helped her organize her household, freeing up her daytime hours to focus on her business.

Best of all, Sheila says, Damon and Dorion make their beds every day and do their own laundry, one of coach Carey's contractual riders.

"It's not perfect," says Sheila, who sees tidy rooms as a symbol of order and responsibility, "but it's done."

The boys bicker a lot less, but Damon still chafes at Dorion's sloppiness. Sheila laughs and says: "We are going to let Damon have the guest room, so they don't have to share anymore."

And Darron, adorable at 3, retains the adjective at 5. His kindergarten teacher tells Sheila that he is a helpful little leader, "that guy that everybody loves." And oh, yeah, she says, a bit sheepish about her old worries, "he's got potty training down pat now."

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY: The Kid Tamer (Washington Post, Dec. 21, 2008)


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