Odette Transforms Family Dynamics With A Scientifically Proven Parenting Course

What’s your story?
I am a parenting coach, instructor, trainer and founder of Gordon Parenting, a team of certified instructors in Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines, that deliver Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), a world-leading, scientifically proven, parenting course.

Gordon Parenting is the marriage of my two passions: parenting and training. I was a corporate trainer for an airline company for eight years, where I trained more than 3,000 professionals. I have been a mother for more than 20 years to my daughter and son. Throughout the years, I have striven to find the balance between my profession as a trainer and my role as a mother. At Gordon Parenting, the two are finally perfectly aligned.

Since 2016, I’ve conducted parenting courses, have trained and certified instructors, and developed Parent Education programs for various International Schools and organisations. I’ve also worked extensively with Hong Kong-based NGOs to make parent education accessible to less fortunate families. Gordon Parenting has also translated the training materials into Cantonese for P.E.T. to be accredited as a course in the School of Continuing Studies at Macau University of Science and Technology. 

What excites you most about your industry?
Parenting is dynamic. If you are a parent you realize the style that works with the first child does not exactly work with the next child or children. In fact, what works with a toddler will not work when the child becomes a teenager! Additional influences come from the ever changing and more complex social media, internet, modern education and globalization. The environment also changes as families become more mobile and deal with other challenges, such as home confinement due to Covid-19. 

Helping parents navigate through all these layers of influence is exciting for me. I always get a high when parents in our workshops get to their “aha” moments and begin the transformation, first within themselves and then in their relationships with the rest of the family. I am also very interested in integrating the latest science into parenting courses and strategies, as new discoveries and studies continue to emerge from behavioral science and neurology disciplines. 

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Manila but I have lived in Hong Kong for more than 25 years. With Hong Kong as my base, I have explored different parts of Asia for work and leisure. 

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is my favourite city and my second home. I feel at home here and I feel grateful because the city has nurtured me. Hong Kong is a success-driven city of endless possibility where I can grow my business. I have always felt welcome in this diverse community, and it is in this fertile ground of diverse cultures and expats that I have found Gordon Parenting to be especially relevant. I have worked with parents navigating the challenges of raising third-culture children, and nuclear expat families who are far from their traditional support system and culture. I am trying to help parents and children thrive in this rapidly modernizing society.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.” – Esther Perel

It starts off with a strong element of luck, as you have no control over the family you are born in, and the early relationship dynamics with your immediate family. But as you grow, you can become more in control of the type of relationships you make and maintain, with friends, colleagues, acquaintances and, ultimately your spouse and children. These relationships really play a big part in your happiness and quality of life. 

Who inspires you?
The parents I work with give me inspiration with their dedication to better themselves, so they can be more effective as parents, and are able to strengthen their relationships with their children.  It is very fulfilling to see the transformation. I remember one mother, who had to go through the P.E.T. book line by line, and another one, who attended the workshop three times in order to not miss anything. These two mothers were committed to seek the help they needed to parent their children. I also recall a father who struggled to master self-regulation. He attended a workshop so his temper would not get the better of him when dealing with his teenage daughter. The inspiring stories abound, and they keep me going. 

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A quote, by Dr. Thomas Gordon, the multi-award winning clinical psychologist who developed P.E.T. 

“Love is not some medicinal substance parents have in unlimited supply and can dispense daily. My experience is that if parents don’t have the skills to change unacceptable behaviors of their children, they become resentful and angry because their needs are not being met. Over time they can grow to dislike (yes, even hate) their children. A situation not unlike what happens in a marriage where one partner feels deprived and unsatisfied.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started Gordon Parenting two decades ago. For one, I would have learned the effective parenting skills earlier, which would have saved all the energy sucked up by anger and power struggles during the growing years of my kids. More importantly, I would have enjoyed the joy and sense of fulfilment that goes with helping other parents in transforming their family relationships.

How do you unwind?
In P.E.T. there exists a concept of balancing three types of time: activity time, alone time and, one-to-one time. If one does not have a balance of the three, it will cause problems during the activity time with other family members. This is why I take seriously my alone time, which I use for unwinding, clearing my mind, taking stock and planning. Meditation and Yoga keep me grounded. I am also “solar-powered” and really like to be outdoors, under the sun. 

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Amanpulo in Palawan, Philippines. They offer the perfect combination of sun, sea, privacy, water sports, healthy dishes and premium service. 

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of Buddha,” by Tara Brach, PhD. Every time I read this book, or parts of it, I learn something new about life and myself. The book has sections on guided reflections and meditations so you can internalize the messages and be empowered by them. I believe that in today’s world, inner strength is a key success factor whether you are an entrepreneur, student, employee, or CEO.

Shameless plug for your business:
Parenting is the most important job in the world. But parents are not trained for this job, unlike other professions. Kids also don’t come with a manual or book on how they should be handled. Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) is the closest thing to a parenting manual. It focuses on developing communication and conflict-resolution skills that are applicable to all parents and kids of different ages, culture, religious and social backgrounds. P.E.T. has been successfully rolled out in more than 53 countries since 1962 and Gordon Parenting is proud to bring it to Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines. 

How can people connect with you?
Odette Umali
Email: [email protected]
WhatsApp: +(852)96619938
Instagram: @odetteatgp

Gordon Parenting
Website: www.gordonparenting.com
Facebook: @gordon_parenting
Instagram: @gordon_parenting

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

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Download free copies of his books at www.callumlaing.com