Would you want a "family architect" living with you and giving you feedback on your parenting performance? That's what one new service offers parents.

By Melissa Willets
August 25, 2017
Credit: Elena Nichizhenova/Shutterstock

Sometimes when I'm having a less-than-stellar parenting moment, I secretly think, "Thank goodness no one else is here to see this." Like when my preschooler spills milk, and I do cry over it. Or when I mimic my 9-year-old talking back to me because I'm just so over it! Or even in a more serious circumstance, like we are facing now after the loss of a pregnancy. There are times I feel so sad, that all I can do is cuddle with my kids in front of the TV all day and order from the diner.

That's why when I heard about a company that some moms and dads are paying to critique their parenting skills 24/7, I cringed. Who would really want a "professional" to tell them everything they are doing wrong, every moment? Well, the clients of Cognition Builders, it seems.

On its website, Cognition Builders describes itself as a "global organization that employs a specialized team to resolve the behavioral, intellectual, social, emotional, cognitive and academic needs of individuals and families." It also says their "aim is to help families rebuild their communication and functional systems to produce an environment that promotes successful well being and behavior."

To get this level of feedback and advice, some parents will be asked to invite the company's "family architects" to live with them in an effort to help them get through a conflict. As in, watching you as you help get your kids ready in the morning or tuck them in at night. "Each family we work with has very different needs, and therefore, each program looks very different," says Sarah Lopano, M.Ed., BCBA, COO and clinical director of Cognition Builders. "Everything we do is individualized to address the specific issues a family is struggling with. We address a wide variety of problems within a family, from the daily common occurrence to big ticket items. Our curricula is organized into all of life’s categories, including social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, academic, and familial. Whatever the skills are, we work immersive with them—providing beat-for-beat instruction in real time to achieve their goals and become more well-rounded people."

If you don't want someone moving in short-term, you have the option of the company installing nanny cams all over your house to watch every interaction among family members. "There are two manners in which we use streaming cameras: to allow a family or individual to review, analyze their behavior after the fact from a more objective perspective to make positive changes, and to step out of a room or watch remotely to provide support," Lopano says. "Often, when providing support remotely, we offer subtle feedback to parents or individuals via text to allow for naturalistic interactions." Sorry, but I'm still squirming over here!

But then, after a representative from the company observes your less-than-perfect life, comes the really fun part: they critique you! And provide feedback and action plans for how to improve whatever may be going on.

According to several testimonials on the company's website, these services have been invaluable to families facing a variety of issues, from divorce to troubled teenagers, even if they were skeptical at first. So hey, whatever works! I mean, any help is good help (for the most part).

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But wouldn't you act differently if you knew someone was watching you? And it's worth mentioning that Cognition Builders runs by the hour, and reportedly, can cost up to six figures, so this approach wouldn't be for everyone. Raises hand. In the end, I think I'll accept that I'm not a perfect parent, but I'm trying my best, and leave it at that. And if we really needed outside guidance, I'd turn to a family therapist or church community. Or Google something. Or ask a friend, or family member...

What is your take?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger/mom. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.


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