S07|15 - Dyslexia in our Kids

Nov 13, 2023

Are you supporting someone you love with dyslexia? Or have you wondered if you or your child might have dyslexia? It’s more common than you think! Understanding and treating dyslexia in our home, without shame, is key to creating lifelong readers, writers and learners. On today’s episode we talk all about this with expert, Melia Keeton-Digby. 

Melia is an author and speech-language pathologist specializing in dyslexia. She is the founder and creator of The Nest, a sacred gathering space in Georgia, USA, where she first birthed her mother-daughter and mother-son empowerment circles, on which her books are based. She works in private practice, offering dyslexia evaluations, intervention, and advocacy. Melia is the author of The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle (Womancraft Publishing, 2014) and The Hero's Heart: A Coming of Age Circle for Boys and the Mothers Who Love Them ( Womancraft Publishing, 2016). Melia is passionate about supporting parents in raising confident and connected children.

In this week’s episode you’ll learn: 

  • What warning signs to look out for if you think your child might have dyslexia (key: intuition!)
  • How kids with dyslexia are often highly creative and intelligent, and how you can foster that, while teaching them reading and writing
  • Un-shaming dyslexia
  • What supports there are for your children in helping them learn to read and write
  • The heroine’s and hero’s journey and how you can support your family and community


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Episode Transcript

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hi, I'm Crystal The Parenting Coach. Parenting is the thing that some of us just expected to know how to do. It's not like other areas of your life where you go to school and get taught, get on the job training, or have mentors to help you, but now you can get that help here.

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Welcome to today's episode, Dyslexia in our Kids

Are you supporting someone you love with dyslexia, or have you wondered if maybe your child might have dyslexia – or you? It's more common than you think. Understanding and treating dyslexia in our home without shame is key to creating lifelong readers, writers, and learners.


Meet Melia Keeton-Digby

Crystal The Parenting Coach: On today's episode, we talk all about this with expert Melia Keeton-Digby. Melia is an author and Speech-Language pathologist specializing in dyslexia. She's the founder and creator of The Nest, a sacred gathering space in Georgia, USA, where she first birthed her Mother-Daughter and Mother-Son Empowerment circles on which her books are based. She works in private practice offering dyslexia evaluations, intervention, and advocacy. She's also an author of The Heroines Club and The Hero's Heart. She's passionate about supporting parents in raising confident and connected children.

In today's episode, we are going to talk all about what warning signs to look out for if you think your child might have dyslexia (key intuition), how kids with dyslexia are often highly creative and intelligent, and how you can foster that while teaching them reading and writing – unshaming dyslexia, what supports there are for your children in helping them learn to read and write. 

And then we'll also touch at the end of this episode about The Heroines and Hero's journey book that she wrote, and how you can support your family and community in those. It sounds so amazing. You are in for a treat on today's episode. 


Hello everybody. Welcome to today's podcast episode. I am excited to bring you somebody new. I actually do not know her very well, but I loved what she does; and it's something that I've been interested in personally for my own kids, and a lot of my clients have asked about also. So, I'm excited to bring this episode to you. 

So, I'll go ahead and introduce Melia to the podcast. Melia, will you tell our listeners a little bit about you and what you do?


Melia Keeton-Digby: Yes. Hi, Crystal. Thank you for having me. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: My name is Melia Keeton-Digby (it's hyphenated). I'm based in Georgia, in the US; and I am a Speech-Language pathologist, specializing in dyslexia. And I've got 21 years' experience working with students of all ages. 

I'm also a mother to three children. My oldest is 23 now. I also have a son on the cusp of 18, and then my youngest daughter is about to-- she just turned 14. So, I am focused-- My days are spent in my day job as a therapist working with dyslexia; but also, I have a really strong passion for mothering – mothering my children, and then kind of carrying that torch into the community in all the ways that I can. And one of the ways has been through two empowerment circles that I created for my own children and then shared with our community, and then eventually wrote the books so that other people could do the same.


What dyslexia is, and the signs and symptoms of dyslexia

Crystal The Parenting Coach: I love that. So, we're going to talk more about that at the end of the podcast episode. But I want to first dive into dyslexia because I just have so many conversations with people, and I don't know if it's just more prevalent in the homeschool world or more prevalent with neurodiverse kids, but it just seems to come up in conversation over and over and over again. 

So, first of all, as a Speech-Language pathologist, you probably know a lot about this. I would love to know, how do you kind of know if there might be something going on with your kids versus what's developmentally appropriate for, kind of, it just like taking some time around dyslexia or dysgraphia or any of those-- any of those type of diagnosis?


Melia Keeton-Digby: Well, I guess the first thing to know about dyslexia is that it is extremely common. The data we have says that it's as much as 1 in 5 are somewhere on the spectrum of exhibiting the symptoms of dyslexia. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: So, the, the first thing I would want to say is; if a parent's intuition is telling them that there is something different about the way their child is processing language and the written word, my hunch would be that, 'Yeah, you're probably right.' 

It's extremely common. And if you're concerned, there's probably value in that concern; and so, to seek it further. 

As far as the signs and symptoms that we would look for, they vary as someone ages; you know, dyslexia is a lifelong condition. And so, as you grow, it changes – but you'll always present in certain ways, depending on the way your dyslexia manifests. 

In the youngest of children – children that are two, three, and four…we can even notice even before proper schooling or print has been taught to the students – we can already see that there's some differences in the way that they're processing language.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay.


Melia Keeton-Digby: So, dyslexia is, by definition, a language-based learning disorder. And it's neurobiological in origin, and it stems from deficits in the phonological part of language. And when we say phonological a part of language, we're talking about the sound system. So, even with very young children, before reading and literacy has been introduced, we can notice some deficits in the sound system. 

Of course, this can present as actual articulation disorders – so, problems with the way they are creating the sounds when they speak – but this doesn't always have to be the case. 

In children that don't have articulation disorders, we still see issues in certain areas of phonology…such as phonological memory. And so, what that means is the ability to hold onto the sounds that you have heard, and then sequence them correctly, and reproduce them to communicate

And so, what we'll see with these kids is they have a harder time learning new vocabulary words. They have a harder time learning names – the names of people of pets, of colors, of shapes, of kind of these abstract things. When they do produce the words, especially multi-syllabic words, the syllables can be out of order

So, for instance, instead of saying-- my daughter who's dyslexic, one of the things I remember from her young years was words like Colorado (the state), she would produce it as avocado.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: My kids always say-- My kids always say "Chicken" instead of "Kitchen", for like years – or instead of Ketchup, it would be Check-up


Melia Keeton-Digby: Yeah. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: It would just be the flipped.


Melia Keeton-Digby: Yeah, right. That's a perfect example. That's an even better example than mine; that was wonderful. And so, we'll see a lot of those, kind of behaviors in speech. 


A lot of times, people with a dyslexic profile will also have word-finding difficulties. So, I should have said right at the very beginning that these are very bright people – extremely creative, definitely average to above average intelligence. So, it's not commiserate with the rest of their abilities. 

So, you've got a child who is very bright, has a very large vocabulary, can communicate very well, understands stories, understands topics, can engage in conversation; and yet, you might find that they're having trouble finding the particular word they want to use. 

And so, there might be a lot of fillers in their speech, a lot of uhs and ums…and saying stuff and thing instead of referring to the actual vocabulary word. So, that would be another symptom you could look for before children are even school-aged.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Is it also-- With dyslexia, is it also-- So, it's speech and reading…right? And is it also writing, or is that something different?


Melia Keeton-Digby: Exactly. It is, writing is definitely impacted. I like to think about reading and writing in the same way that we think about receptive language; that would be the equivalent of reading. And then expressive language would be the equivalent of writing. And so, they do go hand-in-hand. And it is a symbiotic relationship. 

And what we do expressively is much harder. There's a harder-- There's a larger cognitive load for our kids than what they do receptively. So, we're going to see an impact on spelling (very much so), organization of writing – organization within the sentence…sometimes punctuation issues, even idea generation, all of this will be impacted.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: What about within letters, like when they're learning letters, their ability to write down the letters? Is that kind of a key to look for with kids or—


Melia Keeton-Digby: As far as you mean handwriting?


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.


Melia Keeton-Digby: Like penmanship?


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.


Melia Keeton-Digby: So, not necessarily, although research does show us that when we teach proper handwriting techniques – like, so the correct way of producing each letter – it does reinforce the letter sound relationship, it's just another modality. 

And we want to teach proper handwriting. But as far as like the students I've seen on my caseload – which at this point now, you know, I've had hundreds and hundreds – some have beautiful penmanship and some have very dysgraphic penmanship. So, they really are separate but often overlapping areas of need.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. What about the-- When my second oldest started writing, he would often write like mirrored – so, mirrored letters – but then also just mirrored like whole sentences. 

And it wasn't until I actually put it in front of a mirror that I realized that that's what it was because it looked so strange in his little writing, but it would be like a full sentence coming out of like a speech bubble on some cartoon that he'd drawn that was like, where the whole thing was just mirrored – every letter, every word, like the whole sentence. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: Right. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: I was like, 'How do you even do that?' Like, 'I don't even know if I could do that if I tried doing that.'


Melia Keeton-Digby: Right. Right? The level of creativity and true genius in these children is remarkable. What that tells me when we see a student doing something like that, is that the letters do not hold--  

At that point – for your son and for the children I see at the beginning of their intervention – the letters that they're writing, don't hold any sound meaning for them. So, they really are just copying marks because dyslexia is not a visual issue at all. So, it's not that our kids are seeing things mirrored or scrambled or moving on the page; these are all myths, it's a sound issue.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, I was wondering about that because they always explain dyslexia as like a, you look at the page and things don't look like they would with someone without dyslexia.


Melia Keeton-Digby: Right. Yeah. That is a very common myth. And so, we want to avoid any intervention that's focused on just visual correction because, as I said, it's based in the phonological component of language. And any visual issues that are happening are not the cause of their problems, but a secondary finding because of the orthographic representation, the actual letters not holding meaning yet for them.


What causes dyslexia? (reading and writing Vs. speech)

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, that is so interesting. So, why is it difficult to read then? Is it that meaning thing that's happening, or what happens there?


Melia Keeton-Digby: So, there's a lot of reasons, but one of the primary reason is that when we think about our language, our evolution has primed us to be able to learn to speak and understand oral language. But written language is not, you know, in our evolutionary wheelhouse in the same way; it's a much newer skill. 

And so, what reading and writing does, that speech doesn't do, is it requires us to be able to separate the individual sounds in a word. So, for instance, when we teach a child to say the word "Cat", children with dyslexia will hear that as one sound unit and be able to produce it as cat. This is a very simplified example. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Right. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: Whereas what we have to do in intervention is to explicitly teach that the word "Cat" is for individual sounds that are then blended together, and practicing that at higher and higher levels. So, that's like the fundamental piece that we see as the issue early-on. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: And then later as they master that and they know their sound symbol relationships, and now we're looking at a child who is literate but is still a dyslexic reader. I like to think about it--  

So, as I mentioned earlier, it's neurobiological in origin. And what that means is we can put two readers in a functional MRI machine and ask them to read; and someone without dyslexia, we're going to see that there are different centers of the brain that light up while they're reading – someone with dyslexia, it's primarily one center of the brain…and that's the frontal lobe.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay.


Melia Keeton-Digby: So, the analogy I like to think of is the difference between an automatic car and a manual car. So, someone with dyslexia is having to drive that manual stick shift as they're reading; and this is part of the lifelong nature of dyslexia. 

They're having to go through each one of those gears to decode the words on the page versus it just being automatic like it is for people who don't have dyslexia. So, it's kind of like always breaking apart those sounds and putting them back together in a very conscious effortful act versus not.


How to support kids struggling with dyslexia

Crystal The Parenting Coach: That is so interesting. I often will ask my kids kind of like, about like, "How do you read this word, and what happens?" And their answers are always so surprising; and, kind of, how they're deciphering, and what it's meaning in their brain in a totally different way. 

I homeschool them, so it was fairly easy to see, I think, pretty early-on that there was something different there in just the way that they were deciphering it and how they would kind of get to the word combinations and whatever. And with writing and with, you know, all of the little things that we're dealing with.


I'd love to transition into like, how do we help support them – especially as parents in the home. So, maybe you have a Speech-Language pathologist in your area; where we live, it is very difficult to get them. Like, I don't know if that's the case just all-over North America. But for sure, here, there's a huge need for more SLPs everywhere. 

And so, even if you know that your child has dyslexia and you want to get them that support, it could take months to years to actually access it. So, I'd love to hear like, what can people do at home? And then also if they're looking for more support, where can they go for that?


Melia Keeton-Digby: Okay. Yep. Yep. Well, I think there's two pieces I would want to address with it at home. One is the essential remediation – or helping our children become readers, writers, and spellers. But the other piece that I think is just as important is the social-emotional piece. 

So, I'd say the first and primary thing for parents to do is to understand and educate themselves on the nature of dyslexia to kind of bust any of those myths, and understand what is really happening for their child. And essentially that children want to read, they want to-- they want to do what they can do well. 

So, I talk to a lot of parents who, by the time they've come to me, there have been years of trauma at home around literacy development. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.


Melia Keeton-Digby: A lot of tears, a lot of children under tables crying, a lot of parents having guilt and then getting angry and then trying-- I think the first thing to recognize is that children are always doing the best they can; and that if you believe that your child has dyslexia--  

One way you could know that is if you have a family history of it; it's extremely genetic. So, if you have that in your lineage, you're going to want to understand that that's what's happening. And then also let them know as soon as you can, whether or not that is an official diagnosis. 

Ideally, you know, information is power. So, ideally, we would have official diagnosis – but even if it's something you suspect, I think we're empowered as parents to go ahead and say, "Everyone learns differently, and you're brilliant in all these ways. And I think that you might be like Uncle Joe and maybe you have dyslexia, and let's watch this documentary on Netflix about dyslexia…and I want you to know that all these brilliant people are dyslexic, and you are too. And we're going to get you reading, writing, and spelling – you're going to be successful, and it might just take a lot longer and you're going to have to work harder. And I'm going to remember to be patient and to build you up on this journey."

So, I think that would be the first piece of advice.

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm going to pause you for a second, because that is exactly our story. So, my husband definitely was pushed and pushed and pushed. And I think his kind of underlying belief about himself was that he just like – I don't know if it was that he was dumb, but definitely like – "I'm not a reader""I don't like reading, like reading is not for me", because there was just so much pressure put on. 

I mean, this was like years ago and there wasn't as much support; and I don't think anybody ever found out throughout his childhood, that dyslexia was the issue. So, he grew up to be an adult who hated reading. And that was a travesty for me because reading was literally my favorite pastime ever in my entire life; like, I would stay up…my parents would turn the light off and I'd be like, reading for hours.

And I was just like, "What do you mean you don't like reading? How is that possible?" 

And so, it took a lot of years of, kind of, understanding things and when it was our kids who struggling with things that I was like, 'Wait a second, this could be dyslexia.' 

And then we were like, 'Oh my goodness, this makes so much sense for you.' And like, everything kind of fell into place. 

And I just believe so much that it is how we respond to them about that. So, if we're allowing their…it's okay for every brain to be different, and it's okay for things to happen developmentally and for it to take some time--  

And we just relax that expectation on ourselves to be teaching our kids in that timeline and on our kids to learn in that timeline, that it can be so beautiful…because my children that do struggle with dyslexia, actually read all-day now. Like now that they're teenagers, they spend hours every day reading. 

And so, it is just shifting that energy because we can really add some damaging difficulty to what they're going through if we're just, you know, really pushing and pushing and pushing.


How unshaming dyslexia helps kids

Melia Keeton-Digby: Yeah. I hear that all the time; it's very healing for our generation when we find out our children have it and then it reframes our struggles and the problems that led to--

There's been research around the amount of shame associated with undiagnosed dyslexia; and it's profound, Crystal. It's my passion and mission to get the word out about dyslexia because the level of shame and secrecy these smart children feel--  

And it might not be the case in a homeschooled family – but thinking about children in any sort of schooling situation with peers where they know inside that they're smart, and yet they can't do the thing that everyone around them seems to just be clicking with. And the thing that our society says makes you a "smart person" is you're; reading and spelling…'Oh, you're a bookworm, you're smart.' 

And so, it's devastating. And these children develop coping mechanisms – ways to get out of reading, behavior issues, stomach ailments.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.


Melia Keeton-Digby: And then also ways to kind of cope with pretending to read, essentially; learning whole words visually, things like that…things that actually can't sustain them through life and through reaching all their goals. It is deeply devastating; and that's why I feel like it's important not only for us to tell our kids, "Hey, you have the gift of time, everyone's brain is different." 

But also, to explicitly say, "You're very intelligent and you're learning a different way than your siblings or than your classmates, but you're going to end up in the same place. And I know this is hard and we're helping you in these ways, but don't for a second doubt your intelligence."


Crystal The Parenting Coach: That almost makes me tear up. I'm like, I just love that so much. And I feel like I intuitively saw that as a parent, and so I was able to do that for my kids.

And I remember talking to someone one time about reading and teaching their kids to read, and that it was a struggle…and I just said, "I just allowed it to take as long as it needed to take." 

And so, my one son didn't really read very fluently at all until he was about 11. And I told them that, and they were like, "What, 11?" 

And I was like, "In the homeschool world, it is easier because a lot of people allow their children to kind of get there developmentally…and so, you don't necessarily feel as behind." 

But my youngest daughter went to school, "school", for the last couple of years – in kindergarten and Grade 1 and Grade 2-- yeah, Kindergarten Grade 1 – and it was definitely really like pushed, like, that's kind of what you do right away

And I did see there like, 'Oh, that would've been really tricky for my boys if they had been in that same situation.' She didn't struggle with reading in the same way, but to feel like you're continuously behind all the time and getting pulled out to get extra support in reading all of the time. And just like what those kids would be thinking about themselves. 

And I mean, the whole work that I do in parenting is unshaming parenting. So, I love that you're talking about unshaming it in this sphere within reading and writing too.


Melia Keeton-Digby: Right. Right. And so, really just-- It's as simple and as scary as saying what it is, and educating yourselves about it and letting your child know it's a thing; it has a name, and it's okay. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: That just, it frees everyone. 


How to improve the cognitive and academic growth of dyslexic children

Melia Keeton-Digby: And then as far as what can parents do to help essentially just the cognitive and academic growth of their dyslexic children, I'd say the first thing is during the years that your child is becoming a reader-- And we'll talk a little bit in a second about what that intervention ideally looks like. 

But during that time, whether or not you're the one doing it or a school system is doing it-- So, in your example, Crystal, your son is taking 11 years; he is likely reading text that is way below his cognitive level because he's learning to read. 

Whereas children who don't have dyslexia and they can learn to read almost automatically…they're able then to enjoy literature and books and be exposed to language and story structure in a way that children who are struggling to learn to read, don't. read. 

And there's this idea, it's called the Matthew Effect; and it's based on the parable in the Bible where the rich get richer and the poor essentially get poorer. And so, the divide between language learning in these children can just grow exponentially every year if we're not focused on allowing them to continue growing as language learners. 

So, what I would recommend – taking the example of your son…when you have that 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12-year-old who still learning to read – you're also really getting them access to wonderful high-quality audio books. And they're able to read the books that their peers are reading, or the books that they would want to be reading if they had the ability…so that they can continue growing that vocabulary while the rest of them catches up. There's no magic--


Resources that can help kids struggling with dyslexia

Crystal The Parenting Coach: We actually-- Audiobooks have always been part of our journey too because instead of listening to the radio, we always listen to audiobooks. So, we'd be listening to like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo

But my…or the core of our homeschooling day is reading aloud. So, ever since they were little, we would read aloud. So, I didn't even know that – but I was doing it, which is good. And I have to say that child that year that it took until he was 11…in the beginning, would just really struggle through like a Dr. Seuss book. Like just… it would be like blood, sweat, and tears at the beginning. 

And by the end of that year, something within that shifted and he actually read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and understood it. And I was like, so it just-- completely like what you're saying…like very creative, very highly intelligent. Definitely his brain was ready for it. It was just those little-- yeah, everything you're talking about. That was so tricky for him.

Melia Keeton-Digby: Yeah. Yeah. And then as far as the intervention, I'll just briefly touch on this--  


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm.


Melia Keeton-Digby: -because there's so many resources out there. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: But what we're looking for to teach – and it benefits all children, but especially those with dyslexia – is really explicit instruction in the written language. 

So, the first thing that comes to people's minds is phonics, which that's definitely a foundational piece…but then there's also other areas such as morphology, which is the individual units of meaning in words. So, teaching things like prefixes and suffixes, and what those do and how they impact a word. 

So, explicitly teaching essentially every rule, there's this idea – especially in English – that, 'Oh, it's, it's all random.' There's a lot, you know, that…'Oh, this just doesn't follow the rules, you just have to learn it.' But really there is quite a lot of structure that we can explicitly teach our children about syllable types. 

And there's programs out there that you could purchase and use if you were homeschooling – or if your child is in a public or private school setting – what you're going to be needing and asking and advocating for is an approach that follows what's now coined the Science of Reading

And it's essentially a multi-modality instruction that is explicit, systematic – so it's going to build, it's not going to be random rules. And it's definitely not going to be encouraging any sort of guessing based on context clues or pictures, which that's a shift. There was, you know, decades where that was really encouraged. 

But what we know is that's not going to sustain these children when they are in high school or in law school or in medical school – or all their dreams that they're ready for, there comes a point when you can't intuit what the next word is…you might be able to up until about fourth or fifth grade. But we have to teach them how to actually decode what's on the page. So, what I offer is called Orton-Gillingham.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay.


Melia Keeton-Digby: It's essentially the Science of Reading. So, you're looking for any program that follows the Science of Reading and Orton-Gillingham; and there's many out there, Wilson Reading Systems is a really popular one. 

And my favorite, there's Barton Reading System – but you're going to want to kind of pick one and stick with it, because they all have their own scopes and sequences; and it's systematic, it builds. And so, yeah. Yeah, that would be--


Melia Keeton-Digby's projects and books on dyslexia

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, this has been so helpful. I feel like I needed this episode for myself. I'm like taking all these notes, like, 'Okay, look into this one…here's this--' 

I love all of this. So, thank you for sharing all of this information for us, through to us. I would love, also just for the last minute or two, for you just to share us a little bit about what we were talking about before we recorded in the circles that you have for Mothers & Daughters and Mothers & Sons. Can you just tell us a little bit about that so that if people are interested, they can go learn more?


Melia Keeton-Digby: Yeah, I'd be happy to. And I could talk about dyslexia all day, and these books all day. In a way, it seems as if they're completely separate. But for me, they're very interrelated, and I'll explain how. 

So, I guess the thing to know about me is that when I see a need in-- And I'm assuming most of your listeners as well, just if they're motivated to listen to a Parenting Coach podcast, they're like me in the sense where when they see a need within their children…they want to problem-solve and approach that need in a way that's like conscious and proactive.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm.


Melia Keeton-Digby: And so, that's essentially what I did with dyslexia; it reared its head in my own family and led me down this path. But also, I have another passion, which is essentially supporting my three children; I have two sons and a daughter. And supporting them in holding on to the values and morals that I feel are, you know, most helpful for a healthy empowered, beautiful life. 

And in terms of how that manifested for me, I realized early-on when my daughter was born, that-- I felt at times I was having to work against our culture to help her hold onto the parts of herself that were strong and powerful and confident and intrinsically motivated. 

And I also noticed that the role models that she and her peers were going to be gravitating towards weren't emulating the things I wanted her to value most in herself. 

And just thinking broadly, we know that there is like a real dearth of women's history and women's representation for the things that we want for our daughters in our world and in our culture. 

And so, I was motivated to create a program for her, and then it became for our community; and then it became for our state and country, and the books were written to be able to be shared with everyone all over the world. 

And it's essentially a Women's History curriculum that each month focuses on another real-life heroine from history. And I treat them almost as archetypes that we can look at and distill down, what is the specific quality that we can learn from them? And it's a year-long program. 

And then at the end, the idea is that our daughters have women that they can call upon within themselves when they face similar challenges in their lives. So, for instance, every heroine is associated with a mantra that we study that month. 

And so, for instance, Amelia Earhart teaches us about following our dreams. And we spend that month talking about what that means, what that looks like; and then there's the…you meet as a group and there are activities, discussion questions – everything to guide you through a real nurturing experience around that topic. 

And the idea then is later in life, when our daughters are feeling challenged, they can reflect back on the lessons they learned and those heroines that they met during those critical years of their lives. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: I love that. 


Melia Keeton-Digby: And so, that is called The Heroines Club. And it's a really sweet-- It's a mother-daughter empowerment circle. 

And then for my sons, I created something called The Hero's Heart; and it's a coming-of-age journey for our sons and the mothers who love them, that's the title of the book. 

And because of the birth order of my children, The Hero's Heart is geared toward boys that are on the cusp of adolescences…whereas The Heroines Club, you could begin as early as six years old. 

But The Hero's Heart is essentially a year-long rite of passage toward young manhood and focused on emotional intelligence, community building, getting to know oneself – and essentially, recognizing…what are the virtues and values of a true hero? And, how can you live those out in your life and in community with others?


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Love that. Love that. Thank you so much for sharing all of that. And I love that you do these, kind of, two seemingly disconnected, but actually are sort of connected things and just so beautiful, both of them. Thank you for being on the podcast. 

We'll have links for you to connect with her everywhere underneath the show notes if you want to learn more about her, if you want to get those access to those books. So, thank you again for being here today, Melia.


Melia Keeton-Digby: My pleasure. Thanks, Crystal.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to help spread this work to the world, share this episode on social media and tag me – send it to a friend, or leave a quick rating and review below so more people can find me. If you'd like more guidance on your own parenting journey, reach out.

Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child
Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child

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