Does this conversation sound familiar? Parent: "How was your day?" Child: "Fine."

Featured Clever Belle: Dee Dee Fanning

She's the founder and CEO of Letz Talk Inc., communication tools that build confidence in children.  She shares her personal story with Clever Belle, and some great tips for having meaningful conversations with your child beyond the routine question...."How was your day?"

Please tell us what made you decide to form Letz Talk, and tell us about how your CareMail products are making a difference in the lives of children and parents. 

When my children were seven, six and one, I made the decision to put my career on hold and take on the title I always dreamed of, a full time mom.  During those years I became involved in many youth organizations.  Through my volunteer experience, raising my own three children and mentoring over 100 children, my heart became heavy with the sadness and lack of confidence that most children possess. I became determined to make a difference with my life helping children love who they are. I also knew how critical communication was in building confidence and wanted to find a fun way to get kids talking. This was the birth of my company, Letz Talk, Inc. I began building Letz Talk seven years ago on a part time basis.  I was still raising my three children and working full time. Last year my ultimate dream came true. I made Letz Talk my full time job. I am dedicated to creating a movement of confident children and teens. If we teach our children how to love themselves they will find inner peace and they will not need the approval of everyone else to feel complete.  Loving oneself is allowing our authentic self to shine.  Confidence is feeling beautiful without needing someone to tell you.

Caremail products have changed the lives of hundreds of kids and parents.  I recently sold a CareMail mailbox to every child in a local elementary school. I was overwhelmed by the significant amount of positive feedback I received relating to reconnecting families and building confidence.  The principal said “The Letz Talk products have made a great impact in our entire school.  We see more emotional stability and connection within families.  When children are emotionally stable, they excel academically.”    Caremail products are used across the nation in schools, behavioral health hospital’s, by counselors, parents, grandparents, mentors, psychologists, etc.  Our children’s future is based on what they feel about themselves. If we take the time to connect with our children through communication, we are saying you are important, I am proud of you and I love you. The children who hear those words, will change the world.

Who inspires you the most and why? 

I am inspired by so many people.  My parents make the top of the list.  They loved me unconditionally and were good down home farmers who would give their last dollar to anyone in need.  They taught me to never judge a book by it’s cover.  We are all unique individuals and each one of us has our own story. I grew up on a farm in a town of 1,000 people and my life was simple.  I watched my parents treat everyone with respect and live a life of gratitude.  They are watching me from heaven as I pass on their generosity.  Outside of my parents, I am inspired by my own three children.  They are 27 (Cody), 25 (Connor) and 19 (Taylor).  Growing up in today’s world is challenging.  There are more influences in the world than Nike shoe colors.  Today’s world brings advanced technology, busy parents, the breakdown in families and the need to be accepted. However, for some reason my children did not have the yearning to fit in.  They became leaders instead of followers. They understood gratitude at a young age and are grateful even in times of struggle. They always put family first but also make time to reach out to those in need and give back. I am proud of them on so many levels and I am inspired by their love, strength, consciousness and gratitude.  They are my heros! I guess all that nagging paid off!

Can you tell us about a challenge you have had to overcome and what you learned from that experience?

The biggest challenge that I have overcome is being a recovering alcoholic. I have been sober for over 20 years and I am grateful everyday for that challenge. There are no words that can explain how it feels to have a substance control your complete existence.  It breaks you to your core and allows you to finally find your beauty from within. 

What I learned from traveling the road of an alcoholic is that communication is a beautiful thing and can set you free.  During my time at the inpatient recovery program, one requirement was to attend AA meetings.  For the first 20 AA meetings I stood up and said “Hi, my name is Dee Dee and I am glad to be here”.  I could never say I was an alcoholic, because that would mean I was one. Then one day I stood up and said “Hi, My name is Dee Dee and I am an alcoholic”.  I was FREE!  I finally gave my feelings a voice and I could begin to heal. The actual transformation I made from speaking my truth was the most awakening moment I have ever experienced in my life.  From that moment I knew that I would use my life to teach the importance of communication. My wish came full circle several years later with the birth of Letz Talk, Inc. Through Letz Talk, I have been able to change lives through my products and coaching programs.  I have coached both parents and kids/teens and watched them completely change their lives and finally begin to love themselves.

What tips can you share on how to start a difficult conversation with my reluctant teenager that won’t result in consternation for the both of us? 

Start with knowing it does not have to be a difficult conversation. If we go into any conversation in a negative space that will come through and the result will not be a positive one. Come from a place of love and gratitude.  Understand being a teenager is difficult.  They are dealing with pressure, a need to be accepted, internal beliefs and so much more.  When you are in a positive space within your heart, begin the conversation and remember that the key to any productive conversation is to listen. Don’t begin a conversation and be ready with your advice. There is no limit to what you can learn with an open mind. If you go into a conversation knowing what your response is going to be, you are truly not listening to the other person. Come with an open mind.  Also understand that you may not see eye to eye on everything.  You are not the same person.  After you listen with an open mind and want to provide guidance, come from a place of love.  The way you treat your children and talk to your children is the way they will treat and talk to theirs. 

What are a few tips you would give to parents who are interested in building confidence through communication with their children?

Tip #1 - We must always meet our children where they are.  What I mean by that is that we must tap into what they are thinking and feeling. Many times parents talk to their children about what they want to know and never find out what the child is feeling. How will we find out if they are depressed if we ask “How did you do on your math test?”  How will we find out if they don’t like who they are if we ask “Did you turn in your homework?” Asking the right questions and being there to listen is the key. If we make our kids feel worthy by listening, they begin to feel good about themselves and start to open up and share their true feelings. 

Tip #2 -Be slow to advise. Parents have a natural instinct to constantly give advice. Believe me, I did it all the time. I was the parent, I had the experience and I had the perfect advice to give. However, sometimes kids just want to be heard without advice. Through my coaching programs, the number one complaint I hear from kids is that they do not want to share their problems with their parents because all they do is give advice and never listen. When we take time to listen, our children feel like they matter and begin to open up and share.  When children feel heard, they begin to love themselves. Confidence is built, one conversation at a time.

What advice would you give to Clever Belles who are interested in developing their own business?

My advice would be GO FOR IT!  Always follow your heart. Pursue a business in the area of something you love. They say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. That statement is completely true. Business has it’s challenges but if you believe in what you do and add in hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything to set out to achieve.

 




Cindy Tank-Murphy
Cindy Tank-Murphy

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