Founder: Ishtar

Astute mom, extraordinary problem solver, motivated researcher and compassionate woman

Ishtar Gabriel, Child and Family Therapist

Ishtar Gabriel, B.A., M.Sc., OACCPP
Child and Family Therapist,
Registered Psychotherapist

 

Parenting is not an assumed role, it’s learned

I thought I knew it all. I’d be the perfect mom, the ideal wife. I’d have an amazing career.

Before having children of my own, I hadn’t felt the frustration of sleepless nights, agonizing over why my daughter didn’t nap. I hadn’t experienced the pressure to ensure my child hit the “appropriate” milestones. I could sympathize with new moms, but couldn’t empathize until I became a mother.

Then, Sophia was born.

From the moment I placed my newborn daughter on my chest, her skin touching mine, I knew things would be different. We imprinted on each other. I promised to be the best mom I could be.

As a child and family therapist, I thought raising kids would be easy. I was wrong. I didn’t realize how hard a journey motherhood can be. Especially when you feel alone, confused, tired or afraid.

Nobody prepares you for motherhood. To drive a car, you need a license. To open a restaurant, you need multiple permits. But for the most important job of all—being a mom—you’re left to your own devices.

Parenting is not an assumed role, it’s learned. Many of us don’t have good role models. This generation of women is under enormous pressure to excel in all areas: career, home life, being the perfect partner—the pressure can be overwhelming.

Two years into the trenches of motherhood. My tidy, orderly world was turned upside down. Some friends complained their kids smeared paint on the walls. In my house, it was poop! Frantically chasing Sophia around the house for her nap, I was jealous of moms whose toddlers seemed to nap on demand. It seems funny now, but I felt exasperated! Ashamed that I hadn’t achieved my ideal of the perfect mom.

I threw my hands in the air. I needed help.

I researched and explored with my dear friend, Tara, a kindergarten teacher. I learned to let go of perfection, to not bind myself to preconceived expectations. I learned to understand how my daughter’s spirited temperament governed her behaviour, and adapted my parenting style accordingly. I reached out, shared, and broke my isolation. I started to feel empowered.

Tara and I founded KIDU, crafting professionally made reward charts and tools to help parents. This led to success in potty training and sleep training.

Just as I was finding balance with my daughter, and pregnant with my son, I faced the reality my marriage was over. The man I fell in love with was a gambling addict. This addiction robbed me of the person I loved. I struggled again with parenting my daughter, and later, my son. I was clouded by feelings of betrayal, anger, self-pity.

I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to without making changes.

These challenges forced me to evolve—to work through my own shame, obsessions and addictions. As I evolved, so did my services. I shared my story, and as potty talks turned into more serious talks with moms, I realized the enormous void staring at our generation of mothers—limited professional and family support, contending with mental illness, perfectionism, shame and competition.

Since 2002, I have counselled terminally ill patients and their families, I have worked with children diagnosed with PDD and ADHD and I have facilitated community programs that help children with anger issues and anxiety cope with their feelings.

I mentor mothers in a non-judgmental, confidential way, allowing them to normalize their feelings, receive validation, support, and accurate information about anything from developmental milestones, baby blues and mommy guilt, to transition back to work, marital strain and decreased sex drive.

I believe with all my heart parents need to be honoured and supported to raise the next generation. Our children’s future rests in our ability and willingness to confront our own fears and misconceptions and grow deep in our roots.

Through a combination of lived experience, knowing and doing, and my professional training and education, I became the Mommy Mentor and the Toddler Trainer.

I would be honoured to travel on this journey of motherhood, with you.

Ishtar


More about Ishtar

Ishtar uses an analytical, multi-faceted therapeutic approach and utilizes family systems theory, cognitive behaviour therapy and spirituality. Her specialties include trauma, addiction, mental illness and codependency.

Sessions are done over the phone or at her home office which is located in Hamilton.

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, Honours Psychology, University of Waterloo
  • Masters of Science, Family Dynamics and Child Development, University of Guelph.
  • Member of OACCPP (Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists)
  • Diamond winner, Reader’s Choice Award 2015 (Hamilton Individual and Marital Therapists)