On “It’s All Write With Suzette” host Suzette Martinez Standring talks to Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP, author of Soul Mothers’ Wisdom: Seven Insights for the Single Mother. She shares knowledge and advice for single mothers developed over years as clinical social worker and certified group psychotherapist working with hundreds of children, parents, adults, couples and groups. In Soul Mother’s Wisdom, Freedson gently guides often-overwhelmed single mothers to a strong personal identity, a rediscovery of resilience, strength, courage, and an affirmation of parenting purpose.
Bette J. Freedson is based in Southern Maine. Visit
Suzette Martinez Standring is the host and producer of “It’s All Write With Suzette,” a half hour TV show about the craft of writing, which features guest authors and columnists. It airs on Milton (MA) Cable Access TV. Suzette Standring is syndicated with GateHouse Media for her spirituality column, and is the award winning author of The Art of Column Writing (2008) and The Art of Opinion Writing (2014), which won First Place at the 2015 New England Book Festival. Visit www.readsuzette.com or email: [email protected]
long-suffering hi everybody welcome to it's all right with suzette a half-hour show on the craft of writing and my name is Suzette Martinez standring and it's the month of May and I don't know about you but the month of May has a very maternal aspect to me it is about renewal and love and all things motherhood and so we have a wonderful guest today betty j freed ssin she is a clinical social worker and certified group psychotherapist and she lives in South Berwick Maine barrack brick me and she is the author of soul mother's wisdom seven insights for the single mother it is a fantastic book it's got a lot of practical help it's it's inspirational it has a very spiritual and holistic feel to it and I found it to be an extremely encouraging book and so she's here with us today Betty to talk about this wonderful book can you thank you can you give us a description and what the reader can expect from reading soul mother's wisdom seven insights for the single mother thank you I hope that the reader will derive comfort inspiration and practical ideas and strategies for how to succeed at being a single parent or being a parent period or being a person who can develop the internal sense of wisdom and soul that can help in the personal journey of life you know I there were some so you talked about some studies there were some studies about how children will do better based on the behavior and reaction of their own parents especially the mother can you talk a little bit about that and how your book helps with that thank you i would like to do that you no there are people who have done studies to prove one thing or another and various ways that people have tried to say that children from single-parent families don't do very well you can find statistics to back up just about anything you want what I have found in my practice and in my life is that what's important for the children is how well the parents are doing whether they're together whether they're separated or whether it's just a single parent household without another partner the children thrive when the parents thrive and so my intention is to offer the parent and it's geared to single mothers but of course it could be for could be for any parent really is to give them the substance spiritually psychologically mentally emotionally and practically very practically they need to do this job for the sake of themselves and for the sake of the children now when I read your book I do feel that being a single mother is one of the greatest challenges and there is a lot of negativity associated with being a single mother people use words like broken homes and things like that and as I read it you gave practical insights into changing one's perspective view point how you can change your mindset from negative to something very positive so can you talk a little bit about say the typical mindset of a single mother in a negative way and how your book can transform that kind of thinking well I can talk about the mindset I had which might have been somewhat typical because it is really hard to be a single parent so the mindset can take us into places where I feel like why me why am I in this terribly difficult why am I having so many problems and it can lead to feeling victimized and feeling as if the world is against me that's one aspect you can also lead to depression anxiety to think so negatively so what I offer the reader is a way to transform that thinking a way to think about oneself as a courageous strong mature resilient woman and in the book I do that through stories of other single mothers to show their resilience and also my own story to show the reader that you know far from being a saint or Pollyanna of Oh everything's perfect and wonderful I had lots of opportunity to think negatively but to show the reader how others have transformed the thinking and how they can transform their thinking because one of the things that we know in the holistic perspectives is that is that the mind and the body the spirit are connected and when we're thinking more clearly and more healthily our bodies are more healthy and we have more energy for ourselves and our children and I do come back to the children because it is about us and it is about our children and that spiritual holistic aspect to uh to approaching getting stronger in your mind and behavior in a positive way is beautifully addressed in your book I found it to be full of stories and you know they're not just feel good stories they are individual stories that when you're reading them you actually say my gosh this sounds so hard almost impossible to overcome and then you address the perception shift about how often single mothers don't give thought to that they have already accomplished the endurance factor that perseverance factor that goes on daily they're just thinking about what they can't do or what's too hard to tackle now in your in your book there are a lot of acronyms great practical advice you know one of them was the let me sit solve Sol v can you talk about that I love that one because I did too if it's a lot it was lifted from a lot of other places because a lot of people have spoken about how to solve problems but I put it into a five step process and each letter is one step in the process so the S is to begin with stealing the mind and to allow the relaxation to come in so the mind can then open to ideas and information and that has to do with the soul wisdom the guidance from inside and then the l is about letting go of negativity think they all go together and you know it's linear yes it's not always layer exact you know you still the mind and let go and then to verify meaning for me I had to look for V so I came up with verify maybe I'll come up with another v someday but to really use the practical mind with the intuitive mind use them together and then the e is to evaluate so we live out the wisdom we live out what we've decided to do about a problem and then we evaluate we take some action or inaction which could be action and then evaluate how did this work if it worked well we've got to hit if not we go back to the process again so that it gives a real practical direction for coming up with solutions yes one of the things that I find as a therapist people don't call up and say hi I want to tell you how good life is if people come in with the problems also come in with the resources inside for the solutions and so this helps to draw that forth for the person you know your your book it may seem you know average size but it is jam-packed with a lot of insights and practical help a lot of spiritual and emotional encouragement it's targeted for the single mother but what I found after reading it is that parenting motherhood it's a pretty lonely journey in a lot of ways whether you're married or not and many women out there oftentimes if they're their partners are working and and their their jobs take them away and they pretty much have the sole responsibility they are put in that position a single motherhood yes you know and there's a lot like i said earlier a lot of negativity surrounding have to raise children alone and they made me also think of gay parents how they have to also they also feel in some ways isolated and alone in their struggle to raise healthy children because of the perceptions yes that so many points there to address one of the things that i've talked about in the book and talked about with other people as during the writing and since the publication is the fact that the stigma has somewhat lifted around being a single parent however the difficulties and the sense of being alone is still there yeah we need supports and we need other people and we need helpful guidance which is one of the purposes in the book I know we're going to talk more about the writing but I want to want to say connecting the writing at this moment as I was writing soul mother's wisdom it was occurring to me that what I was saying many times was for all single parents and I wanted to direct it particularly to single mothers because I was one and I wrote the book I wanted but all parents have the need for support and comfort it's an incredible job it's 24 and 77 or 70 the hour that you might be lucky enough to get a babysitter or a grandparent but it's intense you know we have a couple of minutes before the break and one of the things i'd love for you to briefly explain is blem in solution after i had written the book a dear friend who's also an author said you could call it lemon-aid a ID and i thought a ide or however but the lemon solution and viewers can try it is to imagine that you're sucking on a lemon and when you imagine that most likely you can feel that little salivary effect and so that's the proof that the motte to me a little simple way of proving that what we think affects how we feel affects us physically mentally and emotionally and so if you can affect the lemon solution you can affect it in larger ways in your life that's so interesting it's true because when I imagine sucking on a lemon right away this part starts to go dry and it's very true what we imagine what we think has a bodily a fan oven a physical effect on us and it affects everyone around us if you think about it in other ways well that's fantastic and in a little bit we're going to come back to betty Friedan and she's going to talk about the process of writing soul mother's wisdom and i want to thank you for being with us for this first part of the segment and we'll be right back welcome back and we're here with betty Friedan about the author of soul mother's wisdom and now we're going to talk to her about the process of writing this terrific book so I think that every author has a moment of creation and in an earlier you had talked about it being cataclysmic when you started writing your first notes you know starting off on the journey of writing this book can you tell us about that culture it I would love to because this was such an important moment and I'm going to say it to use is it because I I know you right and you'll probably get this as a writer and an author I want to say it to people out in the audience who are writing that the book I wrote lived inside of me for a very long time and I didn't know exactly I didn't even know during the writing which we can talk about more how it would eventually emerge in two thousand my husband Ray and I went to a big conference and heard Harriet Lerner the author of the dance of anger and dance of intimacy as the keynote in in this huge arena I felt she was speaking directly to me and she said and I say to the viewers for those of you out there writing do not give up it she told us it took five years to get the dance of anger published which is now an iconic book the really famous book and I felt that that was really sort of the it was a key it turned a key for me and we walked out of the arena and I jotted my first notes for soul mother's wisdom on the program for the conference and the writing has morphed and changed a lot because it was a lot of years from those notes to the publication how long was the process of creating this book from the time you started your notes to publication 15 years 15 years now for the first five or so I did not write much and my writing was not very good of course as a former English teacher I'm being extremely critical but I my writing has changed a lot and I learned how to make things tighter and more concise but in those first years I wrote maybe a total of a month or two out of the whole year and in in spurts and then I've had a lot of help along the way wonderful people who have assisted me and coached me so that my writing improved and I learned how to write with my voice instead of just with my head I learned how to hear the writing and everyone has their own process and I'd love to hear yours because it's fascinating well I think that what resonates with me is how you start off and you might have an idea of what you think it's going to look like and as you go along in the journey of writing it takes a completely different form in your book there are lots of stories relatable stories where you can learn as if you're having a conversation with someone sharing very intimately their challenges their mindset and then you have a lot of practical advice that I'm sure that you've drawn from your long career as a group psychotherapist and your own story absolutely your own story now I guess my big question is when you're bringing that wealth of information and experiences into writing a book like this how did you come to organize the format of it because that's a lot of information a lot of information and a lot of information never made it in wow I have a very very long proposal that has other pieces that maybe in subsequent books but some of the decision about how to organize came from the help i had from a woman in New Jersey who became my editor coach friend news and hatchet woman and she would say you know too much here too much here and then I learned to do that myself and I could begin to feel where a word should go or phrase should go and I think each writer has to learn that for himself or herself and so it came together in an when I got the idea for sole mother's wisdom seven insights yeah there were other titles yes that gave me the basic structure and then I chose the sections that I thought would be the most important parenting and my own psychic development which led to the the access to my own inner wisdom is chapter 5 which is very one of my favorite parts of my life story is that development when writing a book especially when you're putting yourself in there I think one of the greatest challenges is being vulnerable and real and some of your own personal stories are heartbreaking I mean they're very immediate what advice do you have for reader I mean for wood for aspiring writers who want to write their story but still want to write from a distance they're not quite ready to share their pain what was that like are you fantastic question one of the reasons it took me so long is because I did not want to write about the pain until I had dealt with the forgiveness and I did not want it to be a story about my feeling like a victim or accusing other people or look what you did to me I wanted to be about the healing and the recovery from the pain and while I was writing I was working on that was also writing from the perspective of how would other people read this the people that I love and care about it felt very important to me to tell my story in an authentic way and not in it I'm going to stick it to somebody else kind of way and so that's part of what took time and each one has to decide that each author for herself or himself of how you hope to come across there is no guarantee about how other people will receive it right and so that's part of what I tried to do is heal myself during the process so that what came across was the wisdom and not bitterness another aspect of your book that I thought was very powerful was the telling of other people's stories now you don't use their real name no however again those stories are very moving very vulnerable did you run into any problems getting people to allow you to include their stories because even with the anonymity there's always the fear someone's gonna recognize me they're going to know it's me so do you have any advice for people when you are saying when you want to include something that raw and scary to a lot of people who are not used to being publicly revealed as it were yeah that's another really good question i would say make sure that people know you're not going to use their real names and i think for the most part i had people read the stories or i sent them and if they read them they didn't you know they didn't say no i can't guarantee they all read them before i included them but i was a SAT with each of my interviewees and there were other interviewees whose stories have not are not in the book at this point and just said how are you going to feel and what do you want me not to put in and what's okay to put in one of the people whose story is in the book just told me recently that she's not sure she wants to read it now that it might be too hard she gave me full permission yes and I was very careful but she is a little bit worried at this point that it might be hard to see it in the so you know maybe at some point it will be okay with her but the sensitivity to other people's feelings and how they might experience at once it's in there I would say just talk to people knowing your own self how you want to present the story that's very true you know I write a spirituality column and I know that one of the approaches that I use is to encourage the person that their story is going to help others I had to write about an incest victim or survivor really and a woman who was actually the product a child of rape when her mom was raped and talking about what her life is like you know and how meaningful her life has become but those are very those are stories that often aren't told and i think that there's a level of trust yes and there is also I feeling that your life means something and it can help someone else that's such an important point and I thank you for saying that because the people that I interviewed I think to a woman said oh absolutely this will help people absolutely I want you to write this book and I want to be in the book and I hope that it helps other women that was to an individual and we have a couple of minutes here and so I want to ask you the spirituality you know developing your woman's intuition through these exercises and changing your perception learning to trust your heart very big aspect of your book and it's not something that you really find a lot in these kind of books having to do with advice as it were can you talk about what drove you to make that such a major part of your book wow we could we can do a lot of time on that 1 i'm going to give you as much of a concise answer as i can again for me clearing out all of the inner chaff the rumble jumbled in the book i call it the gobble that takes me away from my inner truth so that means well someone might say well my inner truth is that i'm furious at whoever that's okay that's part of the truth so we clear through that and clear through the sad and the sour feelings to get to the the clearer place of how I want to be and how that wisdom of how I want to be is going to guide me one of my favorite stories is the Hollywood story called destination wholeness and about finding the truth about my self in the land of make believe it's one of my favorites before that that is such a great metaphor that can that definitely applies to the present for all of us I love that now daddy how can we find your book and get in touch with you because I know that you are a very popular and sought after speaker so let us know how we can get in touch ok so my website is simply Betty with Annie betty Friedan calm and one can contact me through the website the book is available on the usual places amazon and barnes and noble and also from pearl song press which i will give a little plug to pro so and press one woman publisher and she is the real thing and she is wonderful her mission is healing the world one book at a time well that's so starting with your book I want to really applaud you thank you for a wonderful book and it's a perfect gift for Mother's Day even past May it will make a beautiful present because I was so moved by this book and all the wisdom truly an encouragement and love that in radiated into the ordeal of parent which is really a joyous celebration in a lot of ways but it can have its or do you can it's wonderful I mean it's it's wonderful the joys of life or the children I want to thank you all for being here today betty Friedan will see you the next time on it's all right with Suzette thank you you