Reframing Our Child’s Learning Differences as a Superpower
Question – What do Albert Einstein, Steven Speilberg, and Pablo Picasso all have in common?
Do you know? Do your kids know?
They all have dyslexia. And I quote from my special guest’s book – “The Gift of Being Different.” “They all achieved great things because their dyslexia was a gift that allowed them to create and think in new and creative ways. This was their superpower.”
My two very special guests today are best-selling author Monica Berg, and her daughter, Abigail, who joins us at the end. Together they have written a children’s book called “The Gift of Being Different.”
If you have a kid who struggles with learning differences, you know the struggles and challenges they can have and how stressful it can be as a parent.
And I have two kids who struggle with learning differences and I did too. The sad thing is it’s easy to feel stupid and less than others. We look around and wonder why aren’t we getting it. What’s wrong with me?
But what if we could raise our kids to see the traits they might consider flaws or imperfections are their greatest gifts? What if they knew that what makes them “different” is actually their superpower? For that matter, what if we knew it, too?
I can’t wait for you to hear this interview with Monica and her daughter Abigail where they remind us to see our differences in a different light – one where our differences can be our greatest superpower and guide us toward our unique gifts and the extraordinary potential we all have inside of us.
Scroll down to read the full episode transcribed.
What You Will Learn:
- How to change your mindset to saying “learning difference” versus “disability.”
- The benefits of referring to dyslexia (and other learning differences) as a superpower.
- How to have a conversation with your kid about their learning difference.
- Training your child to give themselves emotional feedback and thus empowering themselves.
- Dealing with family or friends that don’t understand your child’s learning difference.
- Reframing a diagnosis to empower our kids.
- Why it’s so important to build your child up and not let anything hold them back.
Where to find Monica:
Find more encouragement, wisdom, and resources:
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And here is the episode typed out!
Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone, and you have come to the right place.
Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.
I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and becoming more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.
SHERYL: Hi, Monica. Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here.
MONICA: Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to our conversation.
SHERYL: I am, too, and we’re in for a treat because your daughter Abigail is going to be joining us towards the end. And you are coming out with a book that you have co-authored together. It’s called “The Gift of Being Different.” October is dyslexia month. And you talk about that in the book and what it’s like to be different. So share with me to start what inspired you to write this book.
MONICA: So Abigail is my youngest of four children. And for a few years, we could tell she was really struggling with reading and with math, but she was also very intelligent. She could grasp concepts beyond her in terms of language and speech and just cognitive understanding.
We didn’t know that it was going on because it was such an extreme difference. And even her teachers were baffled. So by the time we got her diagnosis, I remember thinking about what was the best way to deliver this to her. So finally, we had an answer to what was going on and why she was struggling. But I didn’t want her to see it as – I really don’t like the word disability. And that is how it’s referenced.
This is why one of the reasons why we wrote this book. We call it a superpower. And she came to me that same week when I was trying to think about how I wanted to tell her. It was a very difficult week anyway, my mother-in-law was passing away, and it was very much towards the end.
She comes to me as I’m getting ready. And she’s brushing your teeth. And she says, “mommy do I need so much extra help because I’m stupid?” And, of course, everything stopped. I’m like, “there is no way one of my children or any of my children to go through life with that in their minds.”
I think we all struggle in different ways. I remember having very negative thoughts about myself growing up for different reasons. I worked really hard to learn to love myself in this life. And so I wanted to give her that gift early on.
I stopped everything, and I sat her down. I told her about dyslexia and how she’s able to see things that nobody else can see. And it’s a gift, actually. She’ll be able to solve problems that nobody else can because she can see in a way that nobody else can. She’s like, “yeah, you’re my mom, of course, you have to say that, you’re biased.”
And so I asked her, “Do you believe me?” And she said, “kind of.” I had this book because I was researching how she learned. I really wanted to understand how she saw letters and how she understood things. So I bought this book called “The Gift of Dyslexia.” And there is a page that talks about all of the attributes that people with dyslexia have. And in the margin, I had written: “Abigail to a tee.”
So she said, “What does that mean?” I said, “these are the things about you. Does this sound familiar?” And she was getting more and more excited. “Yeah, I have that. Oh, yeah, I have that too.”
And suddenly, she felt like she belonged right at that moment. I also gave her examples of notable people like Albert Einstein and Steven Spielberg. So many great people have done great things that had dyslexia.
I’m an author, and it’s my first children’s book. I’ve written two other nonfiction books and working on another one. But this was, for me, a way to introduce not just the idea of accepting the things that you try to hide about yourself or where shame lies but also teaching concepts like what potential means or empathy or compassion. And so there’s a spiritual note. It’s a one in 10 book series. It’s called “On Being.” I think that if kids can really learn to love themselves at this young age, we’re all going to be better off.
SHERYL: I just love that. That’s so beautiful. And, as you said, we all have struggled with some form of those negative voices. And that she was able to say, “I feel stupid,” which breaks your heart.
MONICA: I’ll be really honest, I was like getting out of the shower, I was in a towel, and my husband was late. And I’m just ignoring everything. I stopped everything. We sat on my bed, and we had this heart-to-heart, and the power of it really, like you said, that she trusted me enough to be able to be vulnerable. Tells me what she really felt.
Then she also told me that she didn’t really believe me when I told her it wasn’t a bad thing. And then, we were able to process it together. The funny thing is, so then once we realized her diagnosis, then we wanted to really find a school for her and teach her in a way that she would feel like she was thriving.
Honestly, the other thing that broke my heart is that she worked harder than any child her age. She was going to school where there was a dual curriculum, and then she would come home, and she’d have a tutor for two hours every single day. She’d have to do extra homework on the weekends.
She was seven or eight. This is how she’s already exhausted. That’s just not fair to her. And she’s still not making any progress. So we found this amazing school called Winward. That is for children who have dyslexia that is also exceptionally intelligent.
I feel so fortunate because 20 years ago, 30 years ago, children who had dyslexia felt stupid. They didn’t understand a way to teach them. So she goes to this first week of school, and she comes home. And she said, “Mommy, we have to go to the head of school and speak to her.” And I said, “why,” she said, “they don’t understand what dyslexia is.”
And she says that in the hallway, they have a board it says, other famous people with your disability. She’s like, “it’s not a disability, they need to understand it’s a superpower.” And I just thought, “wow, suddenly became this thing that she was so proud of.”
And in fact, the weeks after we reframed this, she went around to everybody and said, “I have a superpower. It’s called dyslexia.” For her, it wasn’t even like she had to make that up. Or she was like, “This is cute.” She fundamentally sees it that way.
SHERYL: What a gift. Now they call it learning differences. I had learning differences and felt stupid as a kid. Two of my kids have learning differences. So I remember them saying, “I feel stupid,” or getting the test back when they went through the testing and just sitting there and crying. But just feeling those feelings of what I felt like when I got a report card back. And you’re working so hard. The gift of like being able to see it as a superpower because our brains are all wired differently.
MONICA: Everybody has a learning difference. By the way, why are we this cookie-cutter? That’s how we approach life anyway, and it’s such a disservice.
SHERYL: I’m curious about her school. How have they treated her learning difference differently than the cookie-cutter way that we feel like we have to fit into this mold, a traditional school? And if we don’t, something’s wrong with us.
MONICA: I’m so impressed with the school. There’s a certain method. It’s called something Heimer. I can’t recall exactly. But it’s a very specific way to teach people who have dyslexia. And they have different techniques that they’ve discovered that help children be able to retain the information and be able to read it. They do it across the board and in every language.
So much so that Abigail comes home, and she is like, “do you know they’re doing this in China” and she comes home with all this information. So it’s not that anybody there is different. They’ve just honed in on the way to teach this kind of mind.
The other thing that I found really beautiful is that these children see the world differently. They talk about ideas, they create things, and they look at things differently. They’re not talking about physicality, like items like “What jacket do you have,” or they’re coming home really talking about and creating different things on the playground together because that’s the environment in which they’re learning. So it’s very, very special.
SHERYL: Yeah, I was telling you that my business partner here at Moms of Tweens and Teens, her son has dyslexia and went to a school for dyslexic kids. And I read about Abigail, and I’m excited to meet her because I read she’s a real leader. And he is too and so bright, all these amazing ideas and just this passion that he has for life.
MONICA: How old is he?
SHERYL: He is actually going to be a senior in high school.
MONICA: The interesting thing is that I think this is such a lesson, and it’s a bigger idea, which is what I love about this book. Also, I think it lends itself to so many ways of us getting our heads around where we’re limited. It’s not that children or people with dyslexia were ever less than it’s that we didn’t understand how to teach a mind that just learns differently.
It’s not that it’s worse or better. It’s just different. And I think that if we can create a world where we see differences as beautiful, beautiful imprints – life would be so boring if everybody was the same and everything was the same. Yet as a society, we’re so afraid of things that are different. We’re so afraid of standing out or being ostracized. “Let’s be like everybody, and let’s fit in.” I think that’s what needs to be changed more than anything else.
SHERYL: Yeah, kids have learning differences. I know that I felt this way. You do feel different. And that’s hard as a mom or a caregiver, as a parent to watch that, where maybe they don’t feel like they fit in, or they lack the confidence because they’ve seen themselves as different or not getting it. What do you what words of wisdom do you have for our listeners that have a kid that is struggling with a learning difference? How even go about that conversation?
MONICA: There are many steps to this answer. One, the parent needs to be okay with it. First, I think very often that parents aren’t able to help their children reframe it because they have feelings around it, like, “Oh, my God, will my child be successful? Will they be bullied?”
And usually, it’s where we left off in our childhood. Regarding the issues that we had did we feel insecure? Did we belong? So much of that is then transferred to what we want our child’s experience to be. So I think that the first thing is we need to reframe ourselves.
I never do that with my children. I stop and say, “Okay, how, what tools do I want to give them so that they’ll be able to navigate for themselves as leaders when they get older?” It’s not about me reacting to what happened on this day. It’s let’s talk about this in a bigger context so that they’re going to develop the tools and confidence to understand.
First of all, this is life. You will always find people that don’t like you. And that’s okay. Sometimes you will be in an environment where you don’t fit in. And that’s also okay. The more important thing is that you get to choose your environment.
Before Abigail understood that she had a learning difference, she would come home and say, “I don’t really want to play with the other kids who were playing, or I feel left out.” And I said, “you feel left out, but do you really want to do what they’re doing?” And our answer was, “no, I don’t really like that kind of game.”
I said, “Abigail, you just haven’t found your person yet in life. And that is okay. Also, it takes a lifetime to find your people.” And by the way, if we’re lucky, we’ll have three or four amazing friends in a lifetime. That’s the truth, a ride or die. So I have these conversations with her now. So she understands that, again, yes, if she feels different.
And if she’s not really wanting to play the games that the children are playing, and she’s not really wanted, and she notices that it’s just because she is destined for something greater. And she hasn’t recognized it yet. And she hasn’t found her people yet.
I think if we’re not afraid to talk about anything, and we’re also not afraid of what we’re seeing right now, whatever you’re seeing right now, we get so reacted to it. “Oh, that child didn’t like you. Oh, you didn’t get invited to that birthday party.” We think it’s the end of the world.
Let’s pause and say, “Do you really like that person who’s having the party?” Don’t be afraid to go and unpack it and explore it so that they start to become very emotionally intelligent. I think the most important tool, not just for children, not just for mothers, but for all of us, is to be able to, when things happen to us, stop and choose your reaction to it and choose what you want to derive from it. You empower yourself to make the life that you want. So often, we’re just reacting to every single thing that happened to us, especially the things that we didn’t want.
SHERYL: You said so many good things in there. So I just want to pause. So, first of all, I love how you’re empowering her. I think it’s so easy for all of us, but especially when we start young, and we’re looking outside of ourselves for that approval and for others to define who we are. And you are giving her this gift of thinking, shifting that focus to “what do you want, Abigail? Do you want to go to that birthday party? Is that somebody you want to have as a friend?”
It doesn’t diminish the feelings our kids have. We can validate that and then say, “how do you want to go?” And for them to think about like,” what do I want for my own life” versus allowing other people to define it for us, and you’re teaching her that skill from such a young age that’s going to empower her.
MONICA: Sometimes she’ll say if she comes home, “so and so wasn’t kind to me,” and so I’ll ask a question, “is this how she behaves most days? Is she just like that to you? Does she seem like a happy child? Do you ever see her sad?” I think all parents can do this.
I want her to learn to train herself to give emotional feedback. I learned to do that for myself. And so then you can’t go through life being hurt by everything or taking things personally. Chances are, that person isn’t happy for their own reason. And maybe they’re taking it out on you, but you don’t have to accept it as a truth or a flaw of yours.
So it’s creating space between the things that happen to us in this life, especially the things that might be a bit traumatic or hurtful. And yes, while it’s painful, and let’s acknowledge the feelings a child may have around things, let’s also look at it for what it is or what it could be.
Teaching ideas like the benefit of the doubt, again, are concepts that I’m putting in the series because I don’t think it’s taught enough in school. I wish that I had taken this class or taken decades to really empower myself and live in that way.
SHERYL: Those are such good questions. Everybody’s going to have to like rewind the little arrows and write those down because those are so good. You’re being curious, and you’re holding it a little differently and training them to think of things a little bit different way.
You’re just asking really good questions and getting her to think outside the box. This isn’t just about me. I want to pause on how you talked about the long-term. Because I think as moms, it’s really easy to get in that spin cycle of taking what’s happening at the moment and then going into the future and doing that Fortune saying,” oh, my goodness, they’re struggling, they’re never going to have friends are never going to be confident,”
We can just then end up catastrophizing. I have older kids now. And I can encourage parents to say no, no, no. That all of those things, so many things I worried about, never even happened. My oldest is 32, and my youngest is just turned 23 and graduated from college. So I have that long-term perspective that all these things I worried about and lost so much sleep about. I think about what a waste of time that was.
MONICA: My oldest is 23. My youngest is nine. So I have a big range and 1,000%. The things that we worry about are the ones that never really happened. It’s the things that we never actually considered that really get us when they happen.
Like I didn’t anticipate that, I didn’t expect that. I wrote a book called Fear Is Not An Option.” I don’t believe in living in fear anyway. I think you need to challenge yourself to be able to learn to utilize that energy of fear and make it into something very powerful, actually. But we’re not going to go into that.
But my point is that I think when we look at our children, often there is a lot of fear about who they will become. I don’t believe in Fortune Telling only.
However, look in the future. When you ask yourself this question, my child is struggling at this moment. And if I make them worried about “Oh, my God, what do other people think? Or why did you do that? The neighbor saw you.” What is the voice you’re putting in their head instead?
The question you have to ask yourself in parenting is what feedback, what wisdom, what tools, what information do I want to give my child so that they can be this kind of person ten years from now or 20 years from now? So you want to have a vision for them that’s aligned with their innate talents?
You don’t want to be like, “I want this child to be a doctor because we’re all doctors in our family.” I’m not talking about that. I’m saying look at your child for who they are.
Of course, we all have desires for what we want our children to be. But my husband and I always look at who our child or children are, what their talents seem to be, and, more importantly, what their desires are. And we help them kind of unpack that to help them find their potential.
But we always say that there are many things in life that you can be, but there’s only one thing you must be. You must be kind. So that’s our mantra as parents for our children. So that kind of guides us and gives us a gauge of how to navigate when things come up.
SHERYL: That’s beautiful. Yeah, if we let that fear rule, then we’re missing out on all the good stuff that we can see in our kids and are helping them to see what their dreams, gifts, and talents are.
MONICA: If you are fear-based, you’re going to be fear-based, and then everybody plays it safe. And often, we end up living somebody else’s version of light.
SHERYL: Exactly. Yeah, it’s such powerful stuff. That fear in the driver’s seat causes us to have so much more wreck reactivity. Versus when you’re talking about like you were, you came alongside Abigail. And we’re able to support her and be curious and help her be curious and help her think about what she wants. So it’s a very different energy. It’s not fear-based. It’s more of a curiosity and an unfolding of who she’s and who she was created to be.
MONICA: Exactly. And the only way to do that is if you don’t make it about yourself, I never made her diagnosis about me. My only thoughts there were never worry or fear. My only thoughts were, how can I support this beautiful soul? To be able to reveal what’s inside of her that I see. But if she can’t reframe this for herself, she might play it small her whole life. Or she might think she’s stupid her whole life. And what a waste! That was my only thought, honestly. And then that’s what we did.
SHERYL: Wow, it’s such powerful stuff. So what would you say to family members who are having a hard time understanding? I was talking to Jen, who’s who works with me. And she was saying one of the things that were really difficult was when her son would write a thank you card. And they couldn’t read his writing. And they didn’t get it. Like, why can’t he write us a card where his writing is so messy? It sounds like such a little thing, but they’ve heard it. And it’s sad. But she said that it was very hard for them to get it and to understand. So what would you say to that?
MONICA: Did they not know he had a learning difference? Or did they not?
SHERYL: I don’t think they fully understood what dyslexia was. And now they’ve become educated, but they didn’t understand it. And she grew up in a family they were all doctors and lawyers. And, all of that is very important. And so here’s a kid with a learning difference, and she was dealing with the family’s reactivity towards it.
MONICA: Well, that’s interesting, I think, first of all, I don’t know if Jen had feelings about it. Did it bother her that she felt maybe misunderstood or judged, or whatever the feelings came up, that’s one thing because if it didn’t bother her, then there are many ways to handle it.
I will always say in terms of parenting, you need to get okay with whatever’s happening before you can help your child get okay with it. Become okay with it. So, for instance, because this is how, for me, there would be, I don’t believe in shame. I don’t believe in guilt. I really create a space that’s nonjudgmental because I used to judge myself so severely when I was a teenager that I learned I had to learn to find another way because it was just overwhelming.
So I was so proud of Abigail. I saw when she would write like that. And it was completely illegible, really, at first. And then you’d sounded really good. That’s why I was fascinated by it. Actually, I’m a very curious person.
And that’s why I got that book where the letters are three-dimensional. They float, they rotate, and they go upside down. That’s why they write it like that. It’s not the way we see it. These letters are changing shape. And there are all kinds of things it’s fascinating when I understood it, but I was so proud of her, actually, that I had a sweater made.
It’s this woman who, with yarn, she writes different sayings on sweaters. Abigail wrote me this beautiful love letter, and I had them stitch it in her own writing with all the spelling mistakes. And because I think that’s the beauty. I love that it’s different. I love that about her. So if anybody even would say anything to my family and me or otherwise, it’d be like, what is so hard to understand?
I would have the same conversation we had today. We are all different. We’re meant to be different. And by the way, what I think is funny is this family of doctors and lawyers, it’s genetics if somebody has dyslexia somewhere, but again, I think we have to be okay with it. And then when you’re okay with it, I think it’s really easy to explain it and whether people get it or not is really your problem at all.
SHERYL: Otherwise, that can really tank if you feel overly responsible for everybody else’s reaction. Yeah, that just adds another layer to it. So, I’m going to quote you. “What if every child knew that the traits they might consider flaws or imperfections are their greatest gifts? What if they knew what makes them different is actually their superpower? For that matter, what if every adult knew it, too?”
So how have you seen it to be a superpower? How do you bridge that? We’ll have Abigail come in and talk about it. But how do you bridge that gap to something that’s hard to see as a superpower? It sounds like Abigail was able to take that in pretty quickly.
MONICA: Well, here’s the thing, She had been struggling for two years. So when I said to her, “we found a school that’s going to teach you in a way that you can learn, and you won’t struggle anymore.” So that was one, and that’s true. So with any problem, there is a solution.
I fundamentally believe that, so that’s step one. Once we found that for her, that was the intellectual part. That was the learning aspect. And then what about the emotional part? So this is the other thing with children – do your research.
With children with dyslexia, and adults, they really do see things that we don’t see like they notice details, they look to see like, “Okay, what’s that? But why did that happen?” They go five steps after because they have to work harder to learn. Their brains are able to see things and solve problems in ways that we really cannot. It doesn’t come as easily to us. Also, she’s highly empathetic. She is able to feel people in a way instantly that others are not. And so I think that if we remove the fear, to find the solution.
Three, really, do your research and learn about it. So you know all the beauty in it and help that child understand it, then they’ve understood their difference. It’s not that, “oh, you’re different. And we’re not.”
How great they have a map of how they’re different. I think it’s our responsibility, every single one of us, whether you have an official diagnosis or not, to discover how we’re different. Every single person in this entire world is different in so many ways.
I remember years ago, when I had that aha moment, I thought everybody was normal, just like me to some degree, for the most part. And then I realized that no, when you know somebody for 20 years, and then you’re like, “Oh, I never knew that about them. They’re really, really quirky. Or there’s this and that.”
No judgment, but you start to see that this idea of perfect doesn’t exist. And the sooner that you’re able to see how you’re different and really grow those aspects of you, they really do become your superpower. There’s no other way to say it.
And the funny thing is now having to go to our whole family: “What’s your superpower?” What’s your superpower mindset or thought is interesting? You start to look around, understanding that, and then your experience of life is different.
SHERYL: That is so cool. What if we went around thinking about what each other superpower was rather than trying to fit into this specific mold and then judging ourselves if we don’t? And life just becomes this amazing adventure? To see how others how we’re all so different, that not one single person is the same.
MONICA: That’s the reality. Too many people are pretending otherwise, and they’re afraid to see.
SHERYL: Yeah. Would you want to call Abigail in because I want to hear? I didn’t even realize that this is going to be a series, so I’m excited to hear about that and where you’re going to go with this series.
MONICA: Yeah, the next book, though, they’re all written. The next one’s going to the illustrator next week. I just want to keep doing them. I’ve always said my children are my muse. I’m so inspired by them, and I really see my role as a parent as just to help them navigate their journey. And so I’m the passenger, and sometimes I’m the tour guide. But I really tried to see them for who they are and for the Creator to show me.
SHERYL: Hi, Abigail. It’s so nice to meet you. You are so brave and courageous to come. I just have to say,
ABIGAIL: Thank you.
SHERYL: I get nervous before I come on these and just for you to be here and have written this book and the impact that you’re having writing this book. So I want to hear from you what was writing this book like for you.
ABIGAIL: It was super fun. It was very interesting.
SHERYL: I really enjoyed reading. But how does it feel to have dyslexia?
ABIGAIL: It feels different, but in a good way because it’s like having a superpower. And I feel like I have a superpower. Yeah.
MONICA: How did you feel n the first half when you first found out about your learning difficulty?
ABIGAIL: A little confused because you don’t really understand it at first. But now I understand it. I love it.
MONICA: Do you love it?
SHERYL: And what do you love about it now?
ABIGAIL: I’m special, and I can learn differently. I’m glad that this book can help other people understand that a great thing is special. I think everybody has their own special thing. And it doesn’t have to be a learning difference. Just their own special thing.
MONICA: Do they always think it’s special for them?
ABIGAIL: It can just be anything that’s different. And they might not notice it for like five years.
SHERYL: Yeah. I love that. So when you think about your superpowers now, your mom said that you would also ask people. You’re curious to know people and what their superpowers are. She said you’ll get excited and say, “What do you think your superpower is?” I just love thinking of it that way. When you think about your superpowers now, can you think of one or two that you see as superpowers now?
ABIGAIL: If people have differences, they have a special superpower. And I like immediately-
MONICA: I think what you’re saying, tell me if I’m wrong, is that you can recognize other people who are different. Do you notice it right away? And if they’re especially not comfortable with it, then you go out of your way to be friendly and to say hello and try to make them feel better.
SHERYL: Yeah, we all need that. We need more friends like that, especially at your age, that has that empathy, want to truly know you, and can also understand if they’re struggling.
MONICA: It’s an interesting point, actually, because somebody came to me recently knowing that we’ve written this book, and she said that she has three kids, and I think all of them have learning differences. And she hasn’t told them. And does she think that that’s the right thing?
I said,” Well, why? Why haven’t you told them if they’re struggling, and they’re having a hard time, and you’re not framing it for them, and they don’t know what it is, that’s going to wear them down? Eventually, their self-esteem will be very low because they don’t understand what the struggle is and why they need support. And by you not telling them, it’s almost like they should be embarrassed by it.”
I really think that if a child is right, like when Abigail asked the question, “do I need all of this help because I’m stupid?” She recognized that there was something different. She wasn’t feeling good about herself. And I was going to tell her anyway. But I don’t think keeping something about your child. It’s about themselves that they’re going to have to come to terms with at some point that is really fair to them.
So Abigail has seen that too recently, now that we’ve written the book and we started talking about it. She has a best friend actually in London, and she just didn’t understand what dyslexia was. This was just a week ago, apparently. And then she thought it was a bad thing. And one of her brothers had it anyway.
So he gifted her the book, and then her mother turned around says, “you have dyslexia also.” And this child was like, “Why didn’t you tell me?” She was very angry at her mother for a minute. And then they were able to reframe what it is because of this book, but I think that’s what you’re sharing with them.
SHERYL: Yeah. You have a lot of wisdom, and we can learn so much from you. I’m thinking about when your mom told you, and then you fully understood it and saw it as a superpower. Were you like, “Oh, that makes sense. Did you feel like you made sense?”
ABIGAIL: Well, I think I understand a lot more than I did a year ago. But they kind of made a little more sense.
SHERYL: Yeah. So when you wrote the book, and you’re going to write more, and the illustrations, by the way, are beautiful. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful book.
MONICA: Thank you. We’re really proud of it. She did it. She’s an amazing illustrator.
SHERYL: Abigail, if I understand correctly, were you telling your mom what to say? How did that happen between the two of you where you are writing? It was in a back-and-forth.
MONICA: We talk a lot. This is little Gemini, chatty, chatty. We have a lot of conversations, and we talk about feelings. And we’re very much connected every day. Especially the big things, I mean, this book really was written in an hour because it was really based around that conversation we had when she asked me the question, and then the pieces just came together.
And then the editing parts. Like, do you think we should do it this way? Or maybe we should do that? Or how about this? And so the stories are there.
The next book also, it’s based on something that did happen. And then we add fun parts to it. So I think that’s what makes these feel very authentic and real. They’re real stories. And then the fun part is kind of filling in the blanks.
SHERYL: What are you hoping that the reader will take away from the book, the mom, and the kids that are reading it? Because both will be reading it.
MONICA: Yes, so many things. I think the message is the same, for parents to see themselves, to be able to see their child to not be afraid of what they see. And really, whatever it is, there’s always a way to understand it, there’s a way to reframe it, there’s a way to empower yourselves, that every single thing that comes up in our lives, especially the unexpected things, can be reached in and embraced to know that it’s the best parts of ourselves, our flaws are actually our greatest assets.
They are a superpower. And when you start to look at yourself like that, many things happen. You start to feel good in your skin; you feel comfortable, and you start to be more brave and open and courageous. Start to feel happier. And you can make other people happy, too.
SHERYL: Yeah. And reframe it like you’re doing Abigail for other kids that are on a similar journey to be able to see their superpowers too. I’m learning a lot from both of you. I was thinking about when one of my kids – I was afraid to have her tested. And she’s brilliant, creative, and she’s an artist, and oh, my goodness, she has talent, and she has lots of empathy and just so many gifts, but I was afraid that it would make her not feel good about herself.
Even though I knew differently, you are reframing that finding it out is a gift in and of itself when you can reframe it to see how you’re different, and that’s not a negative. That’s a beautiful thing. And it’s a superpower and shift for our listeners to think of it that way.
MONICA: Well, your daughter was probably feeling different anyway. And that’s you not addressing it, and you’re not giving a voice to her concerns or her feelings. And then, basically, what the child learns at that moment is, “I should ignore what I feel because everybody else is right.”
When we talked earlier about the glass ball and fast forward into the future, those are the kinds of things you want to think about. If I continue to address this in this way, what will she feel, or how will she be ten years from now? So I think it’s important we’re having this conversation because I just don’t think many of us, and not just when it comes to parenting, avoid the places that scare us.
SHERYL: Yeah. So Abigail, what do you want kids to take away from it that they are going to read it?
ABIGAIL: Even if they don’t have dyslexia, I want them to understand that if they see somebody who looks different or acts differently, they should be like, “Oh, I should go to that person and say hello.”
SHERYL: So good. I would think it’s going to speak to so many kids because we can all end up feeling different and feel like we have to hide those things that are different, rather than seeing them as beauty and something beautiful about us. I love how you said the part about if a kid, you see them as different reframing that to go over and want to get to know them.
Yeah, thank you, Abigail, you have a huge heart, and you have such wisdom. I cannot wait for this book to get out. I can promote it and let everybody know about it. Parents too, and caregivers to be able to navigate this because it’s going to be very, it’s very needed for us as parents to reframe things and even see ourselves as different, as being a beautiful thing.
So, tell our listeners it’s coming out next month. And so we’re going to have this podcast air before your book comes out so everybody can get it. You can also preorder it, so tell everybody where to find it.
MONICA: Yes, you can preorder it on Amazon. It’s coming out on October 16. It’s a really great book. It’s a great gift. And again, it doesn’t matter if it’s dyslexia because we are all different. And it’s a very empowering book for everyone.
SHERYL: Do you have any final words of encouragement that you have to share? Monica?
MONICA: I think that when it comes to parenting, we should be messy in it, that we’re not meant to be perfect. It’s impossible to be a perfect parent. We want to be heard, and we want to be seen. We want to be loved. And all of that should be offered with kindness. And everything else, you know, we’ll figure out only if you have the desire to figure it out. And you’re not afraid to see whatever it is.
SHERYL: And life is messy. And parenting is messy, right? And we can be messy. We can be emotionally messy. We have lots of feelings. And the more we can just even lean into that and embrace that. I think we fight so much against that rather than seeing it as a beautiful thing that we’re just in a relationship with each other. I love embracing the mess. You also have a podcast, and where can they find you?
MONICA: Yes, my husband and I have a podcast called Spiritually Hungry, and it’s wherever you get your podcasts. It’s super fun to talk about everything under the sun. I have a blog called https://rethinklife.today/, and I have two other books for adults. One is called “Fear Is Not An Option,” and the other is called “Rethink Love.” And you can follow me @monicaberg74.
SHERYL: Those are both such great titles of books, and to check them out. We talked a lot about fear. I can’t wait to see where this leads both of you. And thank you, Abigail made it very special for you to come on. You’re very brave and courageous and wise. Thank you so much for being here.