The Parenting Notes


Discovering the Source of My Passion
denny hagel


Growing up my family always seemed to be a bit different than everyone else’s. Not in a bad way, actually in a very good way. It was different in a way that I couldn’t define in a brief explanation nor could I sufficiently describe why I felt that way; in fact it was such a subtle feeling I never even verbalized it until I became an adult.


I do clearly remember during my junior high years feeling like an outsider when most of my friends would constantly swap horror stories about their parents and how they “couldn’t stand them” or “couldn’t wait until they turned 18” and would no longer need to obey them. I was in shock when my very best friend announced one day that she thought her mother was “stupid and evil!”



I would listen to my friends compare who’s mother was worse…they all had plenty of examples to share to one-up the other… but I had nothing! I couldn’t imagine feeling so negative toward my mother. Sure there were times that my mother and I didn’t agree on certain things…but none of them left me feeling so hateful toward her.


I was always so afraid that one of my friends would turn and ask me about my mother. I didn’t want to be faced with having to decide whether to lie and make something up or risk being ridiculed for feeling my mother was for the most part a great Mom! Thankfully that day never came.


Clarity about my childhood and my family did finally come, however, it wasn’t until I had become a grandmother that the pieces came together and the mystery was solved. The year was 2006 and I was 51 years old!


I was born and raised in New England, the oldest of five children, 3 girls and 2 boys, in that order. Like all children, we spent my most of our childhood believing that everyone lived as we did…believing our “normal” was the way of life for everyone.


As I got older and began to socialize outside of my home, going to friend’s houses for play dates and sleepovers etc, I would occasionally notice how certain things were done differently in other families. I don’t recall feeling as though there was a right way or a wrong way, but I do remember feeling uncomfortable with some of the differences.


As I look back now with the understanding I have gained over the years, I would say what I noticed most that made me uncomfortable was the way my friend’s families related to each other and spoke to each other.

What I was picking up on as a child was the “atmosphere” in their homes. It lacked a sense of kindness and desire to be pleasant. I never witnessed them having real conversations. Questions were asked and responses given. It seemed very mechanical and joyless.


I was, however, always keenly aware that most of our friends, when given a choice, always wanted to play at my house rather than theirs. This made me feel good, although I was never really clear about their reasons.


When I reached my teen years this became even more evident. Like most teens, life was about socializing… period! And through conversations with my friends as we were planning to do whatever was happening next, I became aware of how other parents communicated with their children.



This was when I first understood how very fortunate I was to have the parents I had been blessed with.


I was treated much differently by my parents than most of my friends were by theirs. In fact, more than once during my high school years, friends would ask if they could talk to my parents about a conflict they were having at home. And my parents always agreed and did their best to help.


I grew-up being really proud of my parents…especially when my friend’s parents would reach out and thank my parents for helping!


My parents always maintained a mindset that allowed for mistakes, although I hesitate to use that word because our “mistakes” were always seen and treated as opportunities to learn and do better. (And Lord knows I sure created a ton of “opportunities” to learn from!)


I was raised with an understanding of the power and responsibility I had in regards to what happened in my life through my thoughts, beliefs and choices. I was guided to work through my choices and the one I decided on was the one that happened…good or bad. I was allowed to stumble and fail.


They treated me in a way that gave me a sense of value and importance. I was encouraged to develop my own thoughts, ideas and beliefs. It was clear that they wanted me to understand that it was my life and it would be and could be whatever I chose it to be. They instilled in me that only I had that power…no one else.


They also provided us with a strong belief in God. And that this higher power was where my first and most important alliance was…that through this power, I gained mine.


The value my parents placed on one’s individuality and power of choice led to my interest in human psychology. I was fascinated as to why people made the choices they did and how they dealt with life situations.


When I got married and became a parent, I instinctively began raising my daughter as I had been raised. Feeling so blessed to have been raised in such a loving and conscious way, I was always depending on my mother for her input, insights and suggestions. I valued her mothering instincts and wisdom.


When my daughter was in second grade she was diagnosed with ADD and so my dependence on my mother’s input  increased as I had no knowledge (Although neither did the educational community at that time) of learning disabilities.


That same year, as life would have it, my dear mother learned shortly before her 50th birthday that she had inoperable brain tumors and was given a year to live.


I assumed the role of primary care-giver for my mother for the last year of her life. As we lived in the mountains of Vermont and were approaching the long winter season, it was decided that it was best that she move in with me and my family…



During her last months of her life, between the many doctor visits and attempted treatments, my mother and I shared the most amazing, loving and beautiful experience that I will treasure for all of eternity.


My mother had been trained as a professional seamstress, however her passion and joy was in being a mother and grandmother. I remember asking her one day how she felt about dying so young…She said, “I have been blessed with five amazing children and have lived to see them all grow up and begin wonderful happy lives…if I have one regret, it is that I will not be here to see Cally (my daughter) do the same.”


The impact of my mother’s words launched my thoughts into the future and to all of the times that were ahead of me as a mother when I wouldn’t have her to talk to…I wouldn’t have the benefit of her experience, wisdom and instincts.


I shared this with my mother and she came up with a plan. She suggested we talk about those things NOW! And so we did. For the next almost year, every chance we got we played the “what if” game.


I would start with, “What if Cally wants/does/chooses/feels/etc…. (Fill in the blank)?” And then my mother would share her insights. Of course this would lead to hours and hours of conversation about my mother’s philosophy on family, parenting, children and childhood. Most of which I took extremely detailed notes on…


A lot of what my mother shared I already knew from being raised by her and my Dad, but she seemed to enjoy these talks so much that I let her share and expand to her heart’s content. After all, it was a much better subject to focus on than the situation at hand.


My mother did pass away not quite at the one year mark. My life changed forever.


Time seemed to stand still. Knowing what my mother expected of me after her passing (she was very clear on this as well during our time together) I eventually pulled myself together as they say to move forward. 


I will never forget the day she told me, “Denny, when the time comes, you need to honor your feelings, not ignore them, do as I have taught you to do, take care of yourself”.


She continued, “As my daughter you will need to grieve, but as Cally’s mother you will need to be strong. I am confident you will find the right balance.”


I raised my daughter using much of what my mother had left me as her legacy, “The Parenting Notes” as she called them.


I fell short sometimes but when I did I would go back to the notes and do as my mother had taught me, look for the opportunity to learn and do better.


In 2006, when the movie The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes hit the airwaves and received world-wide attention, I was blessed with an “Aha” moment that brought a tremendous amount of clarity to my life, my childhood and my parent’s wisdom.


The pieces to the mysterious puzzle that loomed in the back of my mind all of those years now made sense. I finally had an understanding of what my parents set out to teach us. It now had a name…it was called “The Universal Law of Attraction”.


To my amazement everything I learned as a child was discussed, explained and referred to in this newly released “secret” as a principle of the law of attraction. And at the core was the one word that had escaped me as a child in my attempts to define what set our family apart…the word was “mindset”. 


What we thought, knowing we could choose our thoughts, understanding the value of discarding all negative thoughts and beliefs, believing in ourselves, and being convinced we could do and be anything we wanted are all components of what has today been defined as our “mindset”. I never heard that term from my parents, but we lived by its definition.


I haven’t any idea how or where my parents gained the insight to raise me and my siblings as they did. My mother was a seamstress by trade and my father a carpenter…but somehow they instinctively believed in the values, power and validity of this concept long before we had a name for it. Somehow it was “in” them and became the basis of what they wanted us to know about ourselves and about life.


And now over 25 years since my mother passed on, my daughter is grown and I am now raising my two grandchildren, Kaitlyn and Zach…still referring to “The Parenting Notes”! My passion and my joy is the same as my mother’s, to nurture children… not just my own, but all children.  And the best way I know to do that is to pass on all she blessed me with.


This became the fuel for my choice of a career as a child advocate and parenting coach. My goal is to one day transcribe “The Parenting Notes” and create a resource book for all parents. It would not only be a tribute to my Mother, but I believe the best parenting guide on the market!





Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parenting coaching, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 50 articles on parenting, several of which have attracted international attention, and is a contributor to the parenting section of "The Infinite Field Magazine".

Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her to live according to the principles of the law of attraction long before it became a household term. Subsequently she has purposefully studied and practiced the law of attraction for the last fifteen years. Her formal education was in early childhood education, psychology, and substance abuse.
She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, and created the discussion group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum" on Face Book. She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working with parenting and the law of attraction. Denny Hagel is the author of "Mini-Me Syndrome", “Parenting Using the Law of Attraction” and “Becoming an Awakened Parent".

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Stone August 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I can't wait for "The Parenting Notes" ~ what an awesome idea to sit a talk about all those things while you had the chance!   Thanks for sharing this… it goes with the biblical structure of the older women teaching the younger women.


Olga Hermans August 1, 2012 at 11:25 am

I remember the first time I read this from Denny, it really touched my heart because we have this in common. I also lost my mom at the same age; my life has never been the same any more. Thanks Denny!


Carolyn Hughes August 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

What a wonderful idea of 'Parenting notes'! Denny I do hope you get them written up because I think they would be a valuable resource to so many people. And imagine what your mum would say?!


Matthew Reed August 1, 2012 at 10:03 am

What a great tribute to your mom and the parenting legacy she has built in you Denny


Susan McKenzie August 1, 2012 at 10:11 am

Thank you, Matthew…. Denny has a remarkable family! And she finished writing her book, too, which is available at!


Victoria Gazeley March 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Denny, your parents sound like incredible people – and what a beautiful gift they passed along to you. What an inspiration for what is possible with intention. Thank you!


Victoria Gazeley March 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm

And Susan – thank you for posting this!


Beau Henderson March 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Captivating story! Look at all that wisdom you gained by having compassionate and supportive parents. You can pass all those skills to a new generation. Be the change you wish to see in the world.


Susan McKenzie March 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I love your words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Beau… we can all take that to heart!


Rachelle March 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Denny, what a blessing to have the opportunity to talk over the “what if” scenarios with your precious mother.


Susan McKenzie March 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

It had to have been bitter sweet, but so much good will come from this. Perhaps “The Parenting Notes” would not have been written if Denny and her mom had not had that special time together, knowing that it would be short. It makes me want to write down the important things for my own children before it may be too late!


Claudia Looi March 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

The parenting notes and the ‘what if’ games that you played with your mother are precious. I think even if our mothers are still living, we should model what you did. Susan has the tool for us all to do so. Denny, look forward to that transcribed parenting notes.


Susan McKenzie March 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I look forward to “The Parenting Notes” too!


Denny Hagel March 24, 2011 at 2:12 am

Susan, I am honored to be a part of your series. Thank you.


Susan McKenzie March 24, 2011 at 4:48 am

It is I who am honored, but thank you, Denny. 95 people came to read your article today from StumbleUpon… just today alone… people are hungry for “The Parenting Notes”!!!!


Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm

We know that Rhonda Byrnes didn’t write or discover The Secret. And the proof is the fact that the body of knowledge existed … after all, Denny’s parents lived by it.

It is said that it would be helpful if children were born with instructions, considering all the unprepared parents out there. Well, I think we’ve found the solution! We need to encourage Denny to transcribe her Parenting Notes and publish her book!


Susan McKenzie March 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Absolutely! Well said, Sharon! Throughout Denny’s story I was compelled to RUSH and get “The Parenting Notes”! The good news is that Denny is putting the final touches on it as we speak and readers can communicate directly with Denny at 🙂


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