Bob Danzig is the former Nationwide CEO of The Hearst Newspaper Group, and a Motivational Speaker and Author.

What inspired you to write Teach Your Children Well?

This 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.

What do Madison’s stuffed animals represent in your series?

Honesty, 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.

How 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 children’s books?

Absolutely. 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 of abundance.

What has your publishing experience been like?

Wonderful! 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 fit!

Did it take you a long time to find a publisher?

I 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.

After 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.

Anyway, 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.

When was the first time?

When 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 relationship.

What’s it like for you to be a mom?

I 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.

Do you think it’s any easier for you to be a parent because you’re a child psychiatrist?

Oh, 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.

How do you juggle being a working mother and all that you do? You seem to have so much energy, enthusiasm and optimism about everything!

Thank 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.

What do you do for fun in your leisure time?

I 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 others.

What are your future writing projects?

I 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.



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