Name: Tia Fagan
Location: Madison, Wisconsin Area
Tell us about what you do. I am certified in the Conscious Parenting Method, which I obtained through Dr. Shefali’s Conscious Coaching Institute. I am also a Certified Parent Coach with the Jai Institute for Parenting. And on top of all of that, I am a mother of twin daughters, who are now in college. Despite all of my training, they truly provided me with the best education for parenting and continue to do so even though they are no longer living at home!
How long have you been working with parents and children? I have been working with parents and children since 2016.
Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? When I became a parent, I did not have an understanding of what I was in for with raising my twin daughters. I encountered challenges that I wasn’t prepared for–I thought I should be a different kind of parent than I was and was doubting myself as a mom. I devoured parenting books, looking and searching for the solution to my “latest problem” and how to be a “perfect parent.” However, while I did find tools to try to implement over the years, nothing felt quite right and they didn’t work for me in the long run. I would find advice that would work for a while and then it wouldn’t work anymore, it was frustrating and defeating, and created a vicious, ongoing cycle of trying to be the “perfect mother.” Deep down I knew that these parenting methods didn’t align with who I wanted to be as a parent. Over time I knew I wasn’t getting to the root of the issues in my parenting, there was more that I was missing, but I wasn’t sure what that was.
During those years, I also started diving into my own personal growth and development since I was feeling disconnected from myself and was needing more in my life. This work included various courses, women’s circles, an equine emotional and spiritual growth program, and reading a lot of self-help books. As I progressed with my own personal work, it became clear that I wanted to support others on their own path towards authenticity, but I wasn’t quite sure about how to do that.
Then I read “The Conscious Parent,” by Dr. Shefali when my kids were in middle school. It was the missing puzzle piece for me – not only in my parenting, but in uncovering another layer of my authentic self. Dr. Shefali’s words resonated with me deeply, personally, and as a mother. I took every course Dr. Shefali offered, from her first online course to all that have followed. During her live Teen Course, it became clear to me that supporting parents and families, through conscious parenting, was my life’s purpose. I first became certified with Jai Parenting and then also became trained through Dr. Shefali’s Conscious Coaching Institute as part of her 1st Cohort of Certified Coaches. It is an honor to be a coach trained specifically in Dr. Shefali’s Conscious Parenting Coaching Method. I am fortunate to not only guide parents through coaching and workshops, but to also bear witness to the changes that occur in parents and families as a result of conscious parenting. This work feeds my heart and soul. I truly believe that conscious parenting is the future of parenting and I am grateful to be a part of this parenting shift, bringing more authenticity to families through their parents and ultimately their children and future generations.
What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? I had this misconception personally, which is that parenting should be focused on the behavior of the child and creating their compliance. This misconception means that to be a good parent means that you have a child that doesn’t step out of line, break a rule, or show disrespect. Since this misconception means that the sign of being a good parent is having a well-behaved child, we then focus on the behavior, not what the child is communicating or needing and in turn we lose our connection with our child.
As I mentioned, I had this misconception for years and parented based on my children’s behaviors and I have found that this is also true for most of the parents that I work with. This misconception then means that if their child does not “behave,” it is a reflection of how “good or bad” of a parent they are. Often times if “bad” behavior shows up, the parent will often feel shame and embarrassment. I teach parents to focus less on the behavior and more on what the behavior is trying to communicate to the parent.
A few questions a parent can ask themselves are:
- What is the need behind the behavior?
- What is my child trying to tell me through their behavior?
- How can I connect with my child in this moment?
I encourage parents to shift the focus from the behavior to thinking about what is underneath that behavior. Also, rather than focusing on the child’s outward behaviors, I encourage parents to take the time to look within themselves as well. Why am I bothered by my child’s behavior in this moment? Why am I having trouble connecting with them right now? It is about connection first and foremost. The behavior is only a symptom of something else going on. Therefore, instead of focusing on the behavior, I encourage parents to look below the surface and explore which needs of the child are not being met. This also includes the needs of the parent too. When we focus on those needs, dynamics shift and behaviors change from an intrinsic place, rather than an external place of compliance. In shifting this misconception, parents also learn not to take things so personally and to look at themselves and their children in a different light, from a different perspective.
Connection first – connection to self and connection with your child.
What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? I feel the hardest part of parenting today is that many people are navigating this path alone, even if they are not alone physically, but emotionally it can feel lonely. I have noticed that many of the parents I work with there is the inherent concern of being judged by others. We worry that no one else’s child does what our child does. We often see the “perfect” life that we think others have or the life that society expects us to have, via media and other areas in society. Therefore, when we are concerned about the judgment, we think we may receive, we may be less likely to ask for help since we may be feeling ashamed about a challenge we are facing. But in reality, the strongest thing we can do is ask for support, whether that is from a family member, friend, or parent coach. We do not have to navigate parenting alone; we all need each other and a community.
What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? When your child is acting out, remember that it is not personal. Of course this is easier said than done! How do you do not take things personally as a parent? If you can take a moment and go into observation mode, you will notice that there is something is going on in your child’s world that is causing them discomfort. Become curious and wonder what could be going on with them? Are they tired? Hungry? Maybe they had a fight with a friend? Perhaps something happened online that upset them? What about school pressures?
Also, if you find yourself being upset with their behavior or taking it personally ask yourself, why am I feeling so strongly about my child’s behavior? Why am I upset with them? Start there. When we stop taking things our child does personally, it becomes easier to focus on our child. We can then connect with our child, coming from our heart, not our ego. Once we begin to look below the surface, things come to light, connection happens, and situations and behaviors can shift.
What are your favorite resources to share with parents? Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s books: “The Conscious Parent,” “Out of Control,” and “The Awakened Family.” I also recommend any of Dan Siegel’s books.
Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? Power Struggles. We all experience power struggles with our children, whether it is trying to convince your toddler to brush their teeth or getting your teenager to take out the trash. I will be talking about why power struggles occur, how to neutralize them, and how to minimize them from happening in the future. I’m looking forward to helping parents on this topic!