Guest Post from Duncan Elliot, Force Four Coaching

Published November 16, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I was lucky enough to meet Duncan Elliot at this years Adoption UK Annual conference, I invited him to write a guest post and share with you one of the ways he is #takingcare of himself and in-turn his family!

Thanks for inviting me to provide a guest piece on your blog!

To introduce myself, I’m Duncan and I’m the dad from a family of nine. Yes, some people ARE that crazy!  After producing four birth children in under five years, we then went on to adopt a sibling group of three, including one who’d been described as the most violent and disturbed child of that age that the social worker had ever come across.  That has resulted in some very interesting experiences.  If you get Adoption UK’s magazine you can read about some of those in my column Life in the Aquarium.

 I love the idea of the hug jars, but it left me wondering if Daddy had his own hug jar?

One of the major issues that I’ve had to work on is getting my own needs met. When you have seven children, it can be difficult.  If the traumatised ones weren’t kicking off, one of the others needed a lift or help with their homework.  Or, in our case, ended up for six months in a hospital an hour’s drive away, just to add that extra little bit to the amount of interest in my life.  And when we’d settled the little ones down, visited the one in hospital and sorted out the other big ones, my wife then wanted to splurge out all of her fears, hurts and disappointments.  Sometimes I was left internally screaming, “When is it going to be my turn?”

I have a history which means that I find it hard to ask for my own needs to be met.  That was one of the things that  resulted in my spiraling downwards into serious depression.  Luckily I found a life coach who helped me to take control of my life again and this was one of the areas that I worked on.  We didn’t come up with a hug jar, but did work out some other strategies.  As I was typing this, my wife came in and started talking to me about someone she’d met at the shop.  I was able to interrupt her, point out that I was doing something that was important to me at the moment and request that she ask if it was convenient before she started talking to me.  A few years ago I would never have managed that and would have sat there, seething with resentment instead.  Or if I had said something (probably snapping at her) would have felt really guilty about it afterwards.

To be able to interrupt her and not feel guilty is a huge release, although I’m not sure she always appreciates it.  It’s one way of getting my own needs met and it has made a huge difference to me, which has actually been good for our whole family.  They needed a dad who was on top form, not one who was languishing in depression.

The fact that life coaching had helped to transform me was one of the reasons that I decided to become a life coach myself.  It had been really significant to me and I wanted to pass it on, particularly if I could help other adopters.  I’m someone who loves to encourage and support people and life coaching seemed to be a really positive way to do that.  Have a look at my website,, to read more!

It’s been great to read the family of five’s blog and see some of the fantastic things that they’ve come up with.  And if I have clients who come to me and say that they always seem to be the last in the queue for getting their needs met, I’ll be able to suggest a hug jar as one of the strategies that they can use!

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