Newman Takes New Post as JF&CS Parent Coach

Newman Takes New Post as JF&CS Parent Coach

Experienced educator Cari Goldberg Newman offers resources to give parents problem solving skills.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

As a parent coach, Cari Newman helps parents better understand their children and works with them on solving day-to-day challenges.
As a parent coach, Cari Newman helps parents better understand their children and works with them on solving day-to-day challenges.

Cari Newman, a classroom teacher for 26 years, recently moved to a new center within the Clinical Department at Jewish Family & Career Services that focuses on improving mental health by strengthening and building resilience in families and children.

“The Parent Coach position in the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center has allowed me to do what had increasingly become one of my favorite parts of teaching,” she said, “helping parents better understand their children and working with them on problem-solving day-to-day challenges. In addition to my work as a teacher, I had been consulting with families ‘on the side’ for over 17 years. At JF&CS I get to do it full time! Guiding parents to think and act proactively (instead of reactively) can profoundly shift how parents and kids interact. Parents want to build a more joyful family life but aren’t sure where to start. I show them.”

Parents often seek a parent coach when they’re ready to develop a vision for their family and take action. Some parents seek a coach to get help with identifying family values and making decisions that align accordingly. Others come to Newman when they are at “the end of their rope.” Newman focuses on the present without spending time exploring how parents have ended up where they have. She helps them pinpoint immediate challenges, articulate goals, develop strategies and create an action plan for building or repairing family systems.

“Every family is different,” she says, “so the process, tools, and techniques for every family are different, too. The amazing thing about the Child and Family Center that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that I can work in tandem with JF&CS’s gifted therapists to create a multidisciplinary team. If a parent or child is seeing a therapist here, we can all partner to support the entire family system. That’s incredibly powerful.”

Newman believes that parents have always worried about their children, but that anxiety has skyrocketed recently, especially after the last 18 months of collective trauma. Both children and childhood have changed. “Whether people parent just like their own parents or try to forge a different path,” she says, “it’s often hard to know if you’re doing the right thing. Sprinkle in a partner whose approach is different, kids with unexpected or divergent needs or judgmental onlookers and you’ve got a really challenging situation.”

On a practical note, Newman’s advice for parents is to listen carefully to your children and validate what they are feeling. Validating doesn’t mean always agreeing with what they are saying, but parents give feelings a soft place to land. It’s hard to do this when you think your child is off track, but listening without attempting to teach, guide or fix the situation can go a long way in building trust.

Newman, a third-generation native Atlantan, graduated from AJA and Yeshiva High School. She studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and graduated from Emory with a bachelor’s in religion. She earned her master’s in teaching from Simmons College in Boston and taught there before moving to Italy to teach at The American School of Milan. After returning to Atlanta, she worked at the Lovett School, the Epstein School, and most recently, High Meadows School for a decade. Her husband, Jonathan, is an English teacher and speech & debate coach at Lovett. Their children graduated from High Meadows and now attend The Weber School.

When asked what her children think of her coaching, Newman said, “My kids are excited for me. They watched me struggle mightily with the decision to leave a school and people I love to try something new. I’ve been in a classroom every year since kindergarten, so I’m hopeful that watching me be a risk-taker will help encourage them to try new (and scary) things throughout their lives.”

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