Emilie Leeks is a certified Hand in Hand parenting instructor. She lives in Wokingham, Berkshire, in the UK, with her husband and 3 young children. Emilie worked for more than 10 years as a paediatric speech and language therapist, before the work of parenting her own family started to lead her interest and passion towards supporting parents more broadly than her role as a speech and language therapist allowed. Emilie found the significant lack of support for parents in our society a huge challenge - and rose to meet it! She founded the Journeys in Parenting community in 2013, to support other parents in this isolating and challenging role, and is honoured to know and work with so many other parents who are willing to share their joys and challenges.
"When I became a parent, I battled through for the first few years, feeling isolated and alone. I didn't know that it really shouldn't be this way! So I tentatively reached out to other parents by establishing a virtual community (Journeys in Parenting) for myself and other parents who were trying to find their way. It started with just a few at first, but has slowly grown, and continues to grow and evolve now. And I am constantly grateful for this wonderful community of support!"
In her efforts to become a less reactive and more responsive parent, and to support other parents within the community, Emilie continually read and researched various parenting approaches. When she happened upon Hand in Hand Parenting, it really struck a chord with her - after taking some of their classes, and reading (a lot!) about it, she decided to apply to train as a Hand in Hand instructor, both to develop her own parenting, and to further support her local and virtual community.
"I first came to Hand in Hand Parenting when I did the Starter Class in 2014 - it completely revolutionised how we parent in our family! It was incredibly inspiring and I wanted to take the ideas further, so I undertook the training as a Hand in Hand Parenting instructor in 2015/16. I love using the Hand in Hand approach with my own family, and it is fantastic to be able to share the approach with other families."
Emilie loves working with all families, and has a particular interest in working with families who are dealing with extra challenges from their children, such as language difficulties, autism spectrum conditions and sensory processing difficulties.
"Having children completely changed my perspective on what it was like to parent in our culture, which really doesn't support families well at all. When we started to look into the work of Hand in Hand Parenting, and found not only practical and workable tools to support our own family, but also a real emphasis on support for parents, we felt such a sense of relief. Seeing the tools in action within our family has been a revelation - there is more laughter and cooperation, and a huge reduction in the sorts of reactions in ourselves which we didn't want to be experiencing as parents! The Hand in Hand Parenting approach has also been invaluable for us in developing as a family which includes a child with unique challenges - not only have we had to learn to change the way we do things to incorporate the differences posed by an autism spectrum condition, we have also had to acknowledge and deal with the impact that it has had on the other children, and on myself and my husband."
Emilie offers various courses and workshops, including: support groups, study groups and training for parents, and training sessions for education settings. Here's what parents and education professionals are saying about working with her:
"Learning about the parenting by connection approach has changed my family life for the better. Thank you Emilie for guiding us through the tools and supporting us all the way. You have joined in and shared your stories and struggles with us all and not just been the 'expert' which has made the group so much more accessible. I look forward to continuing my parenting journey with connection as the priority. Thank you!"
"Emilie has been fantastic. She is very knowledgeable and non-judgemental."
"Thank you Emilie for causing us to stop, think, and re-connect with the most important people in our lives and help us all see life for what it really can be. I am impressed by Emilie's ability to get to the root emotion we're struggling with and enable us to acknowledge it and realise how it shapes our reactions. Thank you for meticulously planning the sessions, providing clear examples and viewpoints from your expertise and knowledge of the tools. The group makes me feel respected as a parent for the work I do every day and for how hard I try to improve our relationships. I am certainly more playful generally as a result of the tools and better able to cope when things go off track. The group, for me, is an essential part of my week and I would definitely like to continue."
"Emilie is amazingly supportive, thoughtful and compassionate."
"This group is like breathing and eating to me. Emilie has made all of this happen. Her support and willingness to invest in the group and online and always being present for us all. Emilie goes above and beyond which is an amazing commitment. I’m not sure I can ever repay! Words cannot describe how much this has all changed my life."