The Pain and Bliss of Parenthood

Although today may seem like a selfish “Elisa Day” because of what might appear to be the shameless plugging of my own books, I do want people to know more about my journey. Raising five children is no walk in the park, especially a rambunctious set like mine. I had to do my best in spite of the fact that many struggled with ADHD, learning disabilities, mental illness, among other things. I’ve been told that my children chose my husband and I because they needed to grapple with an immense amount of pain related to their past lives and other parents might not have the same capacity for patience, love and encouragement.

I believe I was supposed to go through this for many reasons. First, it’s made me more humble and compassionate. There were many points in my motherhood that I felt close to being broken. That infused me with a sense of humility. There are things much more important in the world than me and my little ego. Second, I learned to embrace my mistakes and flaws (and there were plenty) and see them as gifts. Third, I learned that the actions of others are never really meant to be personal vendettas designed to bring me down. Fourth, it taught me how important it is to let go. Because of my upbringing, I expected to give my children a fairytale childhood. It didn’t work out that way. We have had our trouble, our drama, our disappointments and our pain. But, love helped us survive.

That said, I learned that love is the secret to letting go of pain, and, according to Erik, that is what I’m here to teach. When I say “letting go of pain,” I don’t want you to envision the hero in a movie with white knuckled fingers gripping frantically to the frame of a  broken window of a skyscraper while the villain repeatedly stomps on his hand, ripping his palm against the broken glass. I’m talking about giving that pain a long and loving hug, thanking it for the lessons it provided, and sending it on it’s way. I’m still working on this and have a long way to go, but the disappointment that comes from dashed expectations has lost its sting.

Here are my three first books. They are all award-winning and translated into multiple languages. Each one comes in all possible book formats.


“Raising Children Who Think for Themselves, by Elisa Medhus, M.D., is the proud recipient of three highly prestigious awards: The 2002 Parent’s Choice Award, The NAPPA Gold Award (National Parenting Publications Association,) and the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval.”

NAPRA Book Review:

The problems that seem pervasive among youth today, from mindless consumerism and premature sex to school shootings and drug abuse, have raised an uproar on all sides, and the blame for these ills gets bounced around like a ping-pong ball!–TV, video games, lack of religion, rap music, and on and on. But Dr. Medhus, after hundreds of interviews with children from all kids of backgrounds, reaches the conclusion that the problems really all spring from a common source: personalities that react to outside forces rather than their own beliefs and morals. Laying out the difference between “externally directed” people who act according to impulses, peer pressure, and the fear of punishment, and “self-directed” people, who have been taught to think for themselves and follow their own consciences, she goes on to share parenting methods intended to encourage the introspection, empathy, and high self-esteem that gives self-directed children their ability to resist negative influences. The author discusses specific techniques for handling many kinds of situations, with rules and disciplinary measures that help kids understand why bad behavior is wrong, instead of shaming or scaring them into blind submission. Indispensible advice for parents seeking to inspire their kids to self-confidence, adventurousness, independence, competence, and the ability to make positive contributions to the world.–MZ


(This one is pretty funny. Erik stories abound!)

HEARING IS BELIEVING demonstrates that the words we say to children can have a profound positive – or negative – effect and it goes on to show readers how a few simple changes in parenting language can reward them with family harmony, turn parenting into a joy rather than a burden, and help them rear children with healthy self-esteem. This book suggests we can teach children how to think for themselves and learn to be rewarded with acceptance as a consequence of their contribution rather than needing acceptance and conforming. Dr. Medhus offers changes in language and parent/child communication that are simple to implement and continue to use. The results are immediately gratifying—many who have made these changes say they see profound effects in their children and their families within two weeks.
Once these harmful phrases and their effects are exposed for what they really are, they’re easy to eliminate from our daily dialogue. HEARING IS BELIEVING offers better and more empowering alternatives for each phrase, as well as stories that illustrate the results. Parents will be rewarded with a fulfilling and harmonious relationship with all children.


Written for parents, teachers, counselors, and everyone else involved with raising children, this book emphasizes the need for kids to learn how to make smart decisions in the face of today’s permissive culture and strong peer pressure. Many parents go to great lengths to protect their children from dangerous influences, boredom, want, and even the consequences of the kids’ own choices, but Elisa Medhus, winning author of the 2002 Parent’s Choice Award and National Parenting Publication Award believes this doesn’t allow kids to develop the skills they need to be successful adults. She tells readers how to give their children opportunities to overcome adversity while still in a loving family environment, so they can develop internal wisdom, creative problem-solving skills, and basic common sense. Raising Everyday Heroes offers easy-to-implement techniques for raising responsible, self-reliant children.

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Elisa Medhus

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  • Dianna Kelly

    You go girl! You may feel its all about you (mothers tend to do that when we’re not doing for someone else) but your experiences have, do & will help many others. Thank You!

  • Jeanette DiPasquale

    Timing as always is perfect Elisa!
    I have 3 kids 19,17 and 7.
    Today, I will be taking my 17 year old Dominic, back to the doctor as he has been having some health issues. I am hoping for a quick and positive healing and would appreciate if you could please ask Erik to send light to him while we are at the doctors. Dominic has read some of your blog post and really has enjoyed it.
    My husband and I have always been there for all 3 of our kids, supported, loved and allowed them each to come into to their own. You, Elisa, have been through so much and have overcome so much. I agree our kids made a pack with us long before earth time and as much as I know deep down that this is the truth there is also a slight concern,worry and fear that can real havoc on the mind. Peace to your and your family.

  • Jackie Taylor

    Elisa, I wasn’t aware of these above 3 books. I look forward to reading them.
    Thanks for posting!

  • MikeHulse

    Absolutely fabulous post sometimes it’s nice to hear about the other Medhus’s from time to time especially the lovely Elisa.

  • April C.

    while reading the part you mentioned that your children chose you and husband as parents there was this image coming to my mind…and omg…I know it might sound cruel at first, cause I imagined all those people speaking bad about you at your back, like questioning and judging if you were such an expert and loving mother how come your son committed suicide? but after all the learning and perspective we all have now, greatly to Erik’s contribution, all I can think is Exacly!! this is why it has to be someone like you and you are so aware of that now, so you really should be proud which doesn’t mean it is easier to deal with, but I wish all those people could have the same perspective someday, it would be easier for people to understand so many things. One of my children is always telling me she won’t stay too long on this plane that she is trying in order to avoid me all the suffering, but that it is really hard for her, not because of her suffering in this life, but because she is so aware of the spiritual side and how wrong things are in this plane and how beautiful and free is on the other side…I am trying to be prepared…only thinking about it makes me feel real sad, but sometimes it makes me think if i I wasn’t the one who could totally understand and support her who else might it be?…the mutual understanding and complicity we have is so awesome I feel so blessed and I am sure you feel that way too =)

  • Eva Masini

    Your narrative is so clearly and perfectly worded. I so appreciate the common sense and the wisdom you garnered over raising your children and passing on this wisdom. Also the fact that you were unencumbered by any religious indoctrination which allowed you to raise your children as free thinkers. I think of my own parents who gave me the same gift which I am grateful for.

  • Tawn

    My copy of “My Son and the Afterlife” is on its way to me. I might be interested in “Hearing is Believing,” too, but will have to wait on that one for a bit.

    P.S. This is how I’m feeling today:


    • Tawn

      I’m thinking I might get “Raising Children Who Think for Themselves” also, when I can. It might help, especially Joe. He’s having a really hard time, and doesn’t know what to think. I keep telling him he’s “smart,” and doesn’t have to think like anyone else (he never did anyway, and why would I, or anyone else, want him to be anyone other than who he is?).

      • Sue

        Tawn, you can purchase a used copy from Amazon (sorry, Elisa) for $4. Buy it today, and start helping both you and Joe. Take care.

  • I’ve thought these very things many times too. But Erik didn’t kill himself because of my parenting. In fact I helped teach him the compassion he would need doing what he’s doing now and I also learned many things in mothering challenging children. My mistakes and successes were vital to writing books that matter. 🙂 No pain no gain.

  • You are quite the lady, lady!

  • Jacqueline Orszulak

    It is know wonder God gave you this job when you see the books you wrote. Wow. You have been juggling huge accomplishments all your life. I would say it’s like successfully juggling the Ginsu knives. Great job.

  • Tawn

    Well said, April.

  • TallGirlAmy

    I have to say, I was so blown away by her book “Raising Children Who Think For Themselves,” that I bought up several copies on Amazon, read her other books and began making some of them required reading for some of my parent clients in psychotherapy.
    Brilliant stuff, Elisa! And happy Mother’s Day!!!!

  • cyndi wilkins

    Elisa, I have just one child with a sensory disorder coupled with severe bouts of anxiety….I absolutely cannot imagine having to deal with five of them with varying degrees of difficulties….Your children certainly knew what they were doing when they chose you and Rune.
    Fortunately, I too have a wonderful partner that shares equally with the struggles we have endured with our daughter…but I still find myself exhausted by the end of the day. I don’t know how you keep up the pace that you do….I guess I will have to purchase another one of your books to search for your secrets:-)

    • Oh, bless you’re heart. Do you deal with behavior problems in her mostly?

      • cyndi wilkins

        Oh, it would be too easy for me to answer yes to that question…but I am sure she is often times just reacting to me. Menopause and puberty is a nasty mix of ingredients…Not to mention the fact that I think my brain is melting in my head! LOL

  • steveatl

    You are amazing, Elisa. You kids are so lucky to have you as their mom.

    • It’s really the other way around!

      • Tawn

        I agree with steveatl, though you are lucky to have your kids, they are lucky to have you as a mom, too. You’re awesome, Elisa, don’t ever forget that.

  • Phylliss

    This makes me think of a poem that I love by Dorothy Law Nolte, entitled ‘Children Learn What They Live’. I bet that there was a waiting list in Heaven to have you guys as parents. Great post.

  • Tiggg

    I think your kids are so amazingly lucky to have you both as parents. My mum died when I was three and my father was absent, I was fortunate to have wonderful grandparents who raised me. That said, I would have given anything to have a mum like you, you are very special Elisa, and I’m sure your children know that. I know Erik does. Happy Mothers Day <3

  • luvscats

    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings , thoughts and struggles .i struggle everyday with the loss of Geri , I still sleep with her sweater and cry myself to sleep . You and Eric and Jamie have helped me through the grief . Thank you for your kindness and love toward me as I go through this raw horrible time . If I could hug you all ( even Eric lol , yes im a old lady ) I would . I’m still dealing with the pain and many other emotions . Love Bethany

  • T Diaz

    Elisa, I had no idea that you’d written these other books – THANK YOU for sharing!!!

  • I’d really love to see you read “Hearing is Believing.” It’s the one where you’ll see results in a couple of weeks and very easy to implement. Let me know how it works!

  • OMG, you just made my day!!!!

    • TallGirlAmy

      It’s just spot-on in what I do with parents of children with behavioral problems. It’s like putting the responsibility of parenting BACK on them, as it should be. There needs to be a dialogue between parents and children, which has seemed to have eluded this upcoming generation. The children have never been modeled good problem-solving skills, so how can they learn to solve problems themselves without it??
      Such good stuff, Elisa!

  • Tawn

    Thank you, Sue. I was going to wait so Elisa wouldn’t lose anything from the sale. I’ll be back to work on June 1st, so it won’t be too long. I can order a new copy on my amazon card.

  • Tawn

    Ordered. Thanks, Sue.

  • JB

    Just downloaded “Hearing is Believing”, thanks! Can’t wait to dig into it.

  • Rainbownz

    Hi Elisa thank you so much 4 the insightful books..i am in the process of attaining 5hese books and am goin 2 use them in our womens network community groups and our book club..i thank god/creator of all that is 4 such peeps like yourself whos path journey heart love and compassion inspire and awaken the masses up 2 different ways of thinkn especially with parenthood and all the other subjects related 2 our human experience etc love you..thank u erik.

  • Sarah Nicole Campbell

    I know that my children & I chose each other. I’m learning so much just being their mommy. I hope that when there older, they’ll feel as blessed as i do to have them in my life & as my family.

  • Guest

    I feel the entire reason I’m human is to have becone a mother to my babies. I love them so much that some times it hurts. Being newly divorced & having joint custody which cuts my time with them in half is the biggest struggle I have ever dealt with. U have severe separation anxiety. I also, kinda shut down & go into auto pilot when I’m not with them. I’m not as motivated or feel as connected when I’m not with them. I have found a little joy in some things that I did now when I don’t have them. Finally started dating & have found some one i really feel connected to & enjoy having as part of my life. I don’t want to rely on another person though to make me happy.

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