Meet Tia Fagan, Conscious Parenting Expert

Meet A Parenting Expert: Tia Fagan

Meet Tia Fagan, Conscious Parenting Expert

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!

Chores make for stronger, more successful kids

The Wild World of Parenting

This week’s roundup has something to make you happy, something that might make you cry, and something that will make you feel less alone in your frustration of being the default parent for your kids.

Hard Work At Home Pays Off

Chores make for stronger, more successful kids

Want to raise more successful kids? Give them chores to do at home. This article from Inc. Magazine breaks down the science behind how chores can help not only improve your child’s work ethic, but also make them feel more loved.

Screen Time Scaries

This video, which was produced by Nature Valley Canada, highlights the scary reality of how screen time has changed the way that kids are experiencing life. If you needed an extra push to encourage your kids to put down the iPad and go outside to “rediscover the joy of nature,” this will do the trick.

The Struggle of Being the Default Parent

"Mom! Mom! Mom! When all the kids want is's a struggle.

One mom recounts her struggle with being the default parent for her kids (Hilary’s note: I relate to this SO MUCH) and how difficult it is to be in that role. She provides a few tips for how to change the situation, but admits that the struggle remains. How many of you can relate?

Meet Parenting Expert Amanda Votto

Meet A Parenting Expert: Amanda Votto

Meet Parenting Expert Amanda Votto

Name: Amanda Votto
Location: Wallingford, Connecticut

Tell us about what you do. I am a Certified Physician Assistant with a specialty in cardiology. It’s no coincidence that I chose to work with the heart in a medical capacity, since healing the heart is my passion. As a mindful parenting coach, I’ve also received certifications to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). My goal is to help individuals uncover, heal, and transform their lives by becoming more present and grounded.

How long have you been working with parents and children? I have been working with parents and children for the past 5 years.

Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? I have two children of my own, ages 10 and 12, who have been my greatest teachers. Through the teachings of Dr. Shefali and other mindful parenting resources, I have used parenting as a portal for my own personal growth. I believe that parenting offers us a front row seat to our own inner healing and allows us to feel true connection and unconditional love for ourselves and our children when we do the inner work. I feel so passionate about helping others also grow through the parenting role and creating homes that are built on connection, compassion and authenticity. Children need to be seen, understood, loved and celebrated for who they are. When a parent feels whole, their children are free to be their “true selves.”

What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? I think the biggest misconception is that there is a hierarchy when it comes to parenting. So many parents think “they are in charge” and the child is subordinate to them. In this type of belief system, parenting becomes about control. I believe that parenting is a partnership of equals. It is our job as parents to not only guide our children, but to also recognize their sovereignty and celebrate who they are. Both the parent and child can help each other grow if we allow the relationship to be experienced as such an opportunity.

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? I think one of the hardest parts of parenting today is the prevalence of technology. Video games, YouTube, and social media can be so addictive. It can be hard finding a balance between healthy technology use vs. too much screen time. In my personal and coaching experience, I see this as a struggle for many, which definitely can become a point of contention with both parents and children.

What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? Connection is key. When we feel connected to ourselves, we naturally feel connected to our children. When we seek to understand instead of judge or control, we can create the most beautiful, authentic and compassionate relationship with our children.

What are your favorite resources to share with parents? My favorite resource to share with parents is anything written by Dr. Shefali. Her three books are so insightful. I have personally taken almost all of her classes and can’t recommend those enough as well!

Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? I will be speaking about mindful self-compassion for parents and how when we befriend ourselves, we are able to truly connect and have a compassionate relationship with our children. Through teachings, guided meditation practices, and some group discussion, we will explore mindful self-compassion.

Revolutionizing Parenthood Conference

Adventures In Parenting

There’s no denying that parenting is challenging whether you’re a stay at home parent or working mom, whether your children are toddlers or teenagers. Here are a few articles from around the web this week that might help you see the light at the end of the parenting tunnel.

Working Parents Are Making It Work

Revolutionizing Parenthood Conference

A new survey from Pew Research Center found that moms and dads who work feel that they’ve made the right choice despite the hardships that come with being a working parent. Many working parents, “including about eight-in-ten full-time working mothers – say their current employment situation is what’s best for them at this point in their life.” Do you feel the same?

Safer Screen Time?

A study published this year in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics claims that Sesame Street is doing more than simply entertaining our children. The researchers who wrote the article found that the long-running educational program “helps improve school performance for children exposed to it before age 7 — particularly if they’re male — and even has long-term positive outcomes for its viewers, in both the education system and the workforce.”

College Can Improve Your Relationship With Your Children

An article published in The Atlantic examined the ways in which the parent-child dynamic can change for the better when your children go off to school. A survey of over 14,000 college students found that the majority of children report to have an improved relationship with their parents after leaving the nest. Tisha Duncan, an education professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, told The Atlantic that this “could be indicative of a shift in how young adults view the role of the parent as one of confidant and adviser rather than authoritarian.”

Watch Dr. Shefali Talk About Conscious Parenting on TODAY

Watch Dr. Shefali talk about conscious parenting on TODAY

Last week, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, the keynote speaker for our upcoming conference, sat down to talk to Hoda Kotb and Andy Cohen on the TODAY show about how parents can be more present with their kids. As busy working parents to infants, both Hoda and Andy relate to the struggle that many parents face everyday. In Andy’s own words: “it’s exhausting and overwhelming, and you might be missing some of life’s best moments.”

As a clinical psychologist,  parenting expert, and author of The Awakened Family: How To Raise Empowered, Resilient and Conscious Children, Dr. Shefali provided Hoda and Andy with some tips on how to ground yourself and feel centered in each moment with your children. We’ve included the video for the full interview below, but some of the highlights include:

What Is Conscious Parenting?

“Conscious parenting really speaks to the fact that the real children that we have to raise are the ones within us. And to become conscious of all of our own emotional baggage and keep it out of the room. The more we heal ourselves, the more we’ll be present.”

What Is A Big Misconception Parents Have?

“The traditional parenting paradigm is all about control…what I try to teach and espouse is that they just come through you…they’re not yours. They are their own sovereign beings.”

How Can We Give Children More Space To Succeed?

“I think that parents forget that our children need to be allowed to unfold into their own. We’re too busy trying to micromanage and put them into tiny boxes of time.”

Watch the interview below, and get a great tip on how to make the dreaded bedtime more enjoyable:

How to Be More Present With Your Kids

Here are some of the stories we’ve been reading about parenting this week. Some are helpful, some are heartbreaking, and some are just plain hilarious.

How To Actually Enjoy Spending Time With Your Kids

This article from The Guardian took a look at two new studies about parenthood and happiness. And it’s not good. One study found most parents report being happier once their children leave home, and the other found that working moms with two kids are 40 percent more stressed out than other people. Luckily, they found some experts to provide advice on how to feel happier about your life with children and learn to be more present at home, through every stage of parenthood.

Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids

An article from PureWow Family takes a look at advice from Positive Parenting author Rebecca Eanes on how to approach your child’s feelings in a way that will foster emotional intelligence. The message is simple: Accept feelings. Limit actions.

Advice From Teachers On Raising Happy Kids

With the new school year back in full swing, Philadelphia Magazine reached out to 100 Philly-area teachers with the goal of learning “the candid truth about our children — the stuff educators don’t (or can’t) share with us otherwise.” The results are “at times heartbreaking and bleak, at other times hilarious and inspiring.” 

We’ve All Been There…

A hilarious (and relatable) moment between a father and daughter was caught on a security camera. Daughter tells Dad that she loves him…but not as much as mommy. I might be biased, but I can’t stop laughing at this one!