Danzig is the former Nationwide CEO of The
Hearst Newspaper Group, and a Motivational Speaker
inspired you to write Teach Your Children Well?
is a tough question. In part, I was inspired
by the child within me, but more so by my work
as a child psychiatrist and mother of three.
On a deeper level however, it has been my collective
life experience that has inspired me. All of
us will inevitably be challenged by discrepancies
of the heart and mind as life presents us with
moral dilemmas. How we live our lives and cope
with our difficulties is a reflection of who
we are, the way we think, and the choices we
make. Ultimately, these choices are based on
our sense of self and self-worth and our values.
One of our greatest attributes is our ability
to be reflective and ask questions of each other
and ourselves. It is through this process of
inquiry, that we find our path and make the
right choice. These attributes are not something
that we are born with but must be nurtured and
learned. Teach Your Children Well models the
dialog and interactions between parents and
their children so parents can help facilitate
the critical thinking and self-reflection necessary
for their children to make moral choices. I
believe that it is through the way we conduct
our lives that we can make a difference in the
world we share.
do Madison’s stuffed animals represent
in your series?
Courage, Wisdom and Hope are all necessary and
critical aspects of every individual. They are
present in Madison and in all of us and need
to be accessed everyday to lead fulfilling lives.
long have you been a writer?
I have been a writer for as long as I can remember.
Ever since I was a child, I turned to writing
as an outlet to express myself. Writing can
be very rewarding and healing. Writing and rewriting
is simultaneously enjoyable and difficult -
something I work at by putting forth much effort
and countless hours. I continued to write even
in high school. As a senior I won first prize
in a National Essay Contest and won a cruise
trip for two around the world (I traveled with
my mom the summer before I started college and
had a blast!). I continued to write throughout
my college and medical school years but stopped
during my internship and residency years as
I was all consumed by my long hours of training
and starting a family.
Did you ever think you would write
It has always been a dream of mine. The more
I talk to people, especially women who are mothers
or teachers or librarians, I find that there
are lots of people who want to write children’s
books. I always encourage them, too. There can
never be enough children’s books. Writing
children’s books is not easy. But if I
can do it, so can they. I believe in the laws
has your publishing experience been like?
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to
work with the Child & Family Press, an imprint
of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA).
I particularly like that a portion of the proceeds
from the books go back to benefit CWLA’s
program on behalf of children and families.
I think it is important to give back to our
community. Everyone I’ve encountered at
CWLA has been very pleasant, professional, talented
and dedicated. Most of all, I adore my brilliant
editor, Tegan Culler. I’ve been able to
work as part of the team and be really “hands
on” and involved with the creative process.
The “Teach Your Children Well” series
and the Child & Family Press are a perfect
it take you a long time to find a publisher?
wrote all nine books in the Teach Your Children
Well series in 1999 and 2000. I didn’t
know the first thing about writing children’s
books but I felt compelled to write the stories.
I’ve always had a clear mission and vision
for the books. I understand why the series is
important to me on many levels but I have to
say that I also feel that there’s a force
outside of me that is pulling the series forward.
I don’t readily admit this because I don’t
know what kind of reaction I might get. But,
it’s my truth.
I drafted the series, I then began to learn
the art of writing and revisions and the process
of getting my series published. As an aside,
people always ask me how to get a children’s
book published and I always tell them to start
by writing the first few words.
I joined the Society of Children’s Book
Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and met the
most fabulous people who served as mentors.
I am constantly grateful to have met genuine
people throughout my life who have been generous
with their spirit of giving. It always seems
that people enter your life just when you need
it, if you are open to it. One talented author,
Joan Elste took me under her wings and taught
me a lot. I also read every children’s
book I could (the time I spent reading kid’s
books with my own children was precious and
priceless). I read about the publishing process,
researched as much as I could and went to a
few writing conferences. Many told me that it’s
impossible to get a children’s book published
in this day and age. I finally wrote a query
letter to The Child & Family Press and the
rest is history. I got my contract on the first
try. What can I say? This is the second time
in my life when the universe was perfectly aligned.
was the first time?
I met my husband, Joel when we were students
together in medical school in August of 1987.
We have since had a mystical and magical, committed
it like for you to be a mom?
find parenting to be both challenging and enormously
rewarding. There are times when I am confident
and times when I am searching for answers. But
I will always continue to ask questions and
seek answers. Being a parent is a learning experience
and definitely humbling.
you think it’s any easier for you to be
a parent because you’re a child psychiatrist?
I’m asked this question all the time.
I understand developmental issues as I am a
highly trained professional with an expertise
and maybe this helps a little. However, as every
parent knows, parenting is not easy and it’s
complicated. I do the best I can. I have always
said I was the perfect parent until I had kids
and people laugh.
do you juggle being a working mother and all
that you do? You seem to have so much energy,
enthusiasm and optimism about everything!
you. But, you should see how harried it can
get in the morning as my husband and I try to
get three kids out the door for school as we
rush to work…. Or how competing activities
like travel soccer, guitar lessons, and homework
can cause stress. The bottom line is that I
love all my roles as a wife, mother, psychiatrist,
educator and author and I feel passionate about
each of them. The key is to have your priorities
straight, have support, and to maintain balance.
Learn to say no. I have also learned over the
years not to strive for perfection but to be
true to who I am. I define success on my own
terms and listen to the singing of my own heart.
do you do for fun in your leisure time?
find pleasure in the simple things in life.
I try to live in the moment. I walk almost every
day. I love to go hiking in the mountains whenever
I can. I love escaping into a good movie, especially
a romantic comedy or listening to music. I enjoy
reading novels. I belong to a book club where
a bunch of us women get together once a month
on a Friday night and it is so special. Some
of my favorite novelists are Anna Quindlen,
Sue Miller, Ann Tyler and Wally Lamb. Most of
all, I love spending time with my family and
close friends. There’s nothing more meaningful
to me than the intimate connections I have with
are your future writing projects?
hope to finish the parenting book I started.
I may never finish it, but I’ve learned
through the years, that it’s about the
journey and not the destination. In my life,
I’ve learned to accept and appreciate
the unfolding of events.