Interview // Mercedes Samudio, LCSW, Author of Shame-Proof Parenting

Mercedes Samudio, LCSW is a Parent Coach and Speaker who helps parents and children communicate with each other, manage emotional trauma, navigate social media and technology together, and develop healthy parent-child relationships. She can now add Best-Selling Author to her resume thanks to the publication of her new book, Shame-Proof Parenting. 

Who is Mercedes Samudio and Why Should You Read Her New Book Shame-Proof Parenting?

Full Disclaimer: I met Mercedes virtually through an online community we are both a part of a few years ago and have been inspired by her mission ever since. As a mental health therapist that works with the under-18 crowd, I have found the resources she shares online to be a huge help in supporting the parents of my tween and teen clients. 

Over the course of her career, Mercedes has worked with adoptive families, foster families, teen parents, parents navigating the child protective services system, and children living with mental illness. In other words, she knows her stuff!

Mercedes is also personally responsible for starting the #EndParentShaming movement as well as coining the term Shame-Proof Parenting – using both to bring awareness to ending parent shame. 

I was so happy when she accepted my request to interview her about her new book, Shame-Proof Parenting. I’m sure as you read her responses you’ll be just as motivated to join her movement to #EndParentShaming.

1. What inspired you to write Shame-Proof Parenting?

Well, hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it? I started a social media campaign two years ago with the #EndParentShaming hashtag. As I began to come into this message and mission more, I began to receive story after story from parent and professionals connecting with the idea of no longer shaming parents. The more I heard these stories - both online and in my 1-on-1 sessions with parents - I began to wonder: what would it look like to actually begin the journey of ending parent shame? This is what lead me to look at how a framework for helping parents develop not just healthy parenting skills, but also how they develop a healthy parenting identity. Shame-proof parenting is more about finding your unique voice and identity as a parent, becoming aware of how your shame stories affect your connection to yourself and your family and creating a set of parenting strategies that are in alignment with your true self. 

2. Who should read Shame-Proof Parenting?

I wrote this book for parents who are looking for a framework that supports their authentic journey as a human, as well as their development of a healthy development. But, this book is also for anyone who honestly believes that we need to change the way we help humans become parents. When you read this book, I hope that it help you begin to listen to yourself as a parent - and the parents in your life - in order to help their family heal and not just listen to them to make them change. 

3. What does it mean to be a Shame-Proof Parent?

Being a shame-proof parent is all about the journey to connecting to your identity as an imperfect, human parent and your relationship with your imperfect, human child. It's not about mastering a set of skills nor is it about putting more parenting tools in your toolbelt. Many of the parents I have worked with and had the pleasure of supporting have tons of skills. The disconnect is not in the logical skills, but rather in the connection between themselves and their expectations of what they are supposed to be as a parent. I share in the book that the disconnect comes from the effects of shaming parents - and how that shame keeps parents from truly being authentic in each area of the life as well as in their parenting.

4. What is one piece of advice in the book you wished every parent knew?

Good question. Do you mind if I reframed it a bit? I would say that one truth in this book that I want all parents to embrace is that ignoring all your experience and development once you become a parent does you and your child a huge disservice. You lived a very important life before you become a parent. Those experiences - wherever they fall on the positive/negative spectrum - gave you the skills and knowledge that you'll definitely need to connect to who your child is and will be. Do not forget that you are a human first! 

5. The Lady Project caters to women in business who are entrepreneurs or looking to advance in their business or career. Any advice in the book for these types of ladies?

I think the core message of the book is to become aware of, and learn to embrace, the messiness of being a human and developing various aspects of that humanness. I have met so many mothers who have different facets of their identity that they think they have to ignore - or don't have as much value - once they become parents. I think this book will support the idea that integrating our identities and extracting the lessons our experiences taught us can lead to healthy identity formation - no matter what role you choose to take on. 

6. Can people without children benefit from reading this book? If so, how?

One huge piece of being a shame-proof parent includes finding your shame-proof village. For those of us who care about the parents in our lives, we can use this book to understand how judgment and shame affect a parent's journey. We can also learn how to be more empathetic to parents when we don't always have the whole story and possibly develop a better strategy for being a support that does not include shaming the parent into change. Like I said earlier, my hope is that we learn to listen to parents to heal them, not change them. 

I loved being able to interview and share my interview with Mercedes. If you’re interested in learning more about Mercedes, or join her #EndParentShaming movement, I encourage you to check out her website at http://shameproofparenting.com.

Mallory Grimste, LCSW is a mental health therapist in Woodbridge, CT. She loves helping tweens, teens, and young adults struggling with Anxiety (... and other Big Emotions) find what works for them.

Originally a Jersey girl, she loves the beach, sunglasses, and iced coffee. Her favorite coping skills are deep breathing, listening to music, and watching Scandal.

Want to know more about Mallory, or how she can help? Check out her website at http://www.mallorygrimste.com.