Debbie Phelps Shares Some of Her Life Lessons
Debbie Phelps Shares with Us
I recently heard Debbie Phelps speak; she was sharing “her story” with other women. She shared some life lessons that she has learned through the course of her life, and many of them are in her book, “A Mother for all Seasons.” I would like to pass along a few of her gems…
Debbie the mother of Michael Phelps, who happens to be the most-decorated Olympian of all time, but that doesn’t mean we know her. During this lecture, she mentioned that she was a single mother who worked as a teacher and, ultimately, became a principal. While raising her three children, she put herself through college and earned her diploma when her middle child, Whitney, graduated from high school. They were a swimming family; all of the children were competitive swimmers who swam in different pools. Her oldest daughter, Hillary, is the one she credits for Michael being a decorated Olympian. Hillary was World Champion in the backstroke and the first to compete towards the olympics. Michael followed her lead.
Helping Michael through School
Knowing that Michael has ADHD, I asked her how she helped him stay focused and manage his time as he was going through school and growing up. She said, “Michael received his ADHD diagnosis when he was young and he was on medication up through middle school. After middle school, he transitioned off the medication. He came to me and told me he didn’t want to take it anymore because he was getting peer pressure about it.”
As an educator, she was able to put him into a routine at home and provide strategies that could also carry over to the schoolhouse. Debbie continued, “I would go to the class and talk to the teachers; I would be his strongest advocate in his school. They were like, ‘Michael won’t sit down’ and I would say put him in the back of the room. They would say, ‘I can’t put him back there’ and I would say ‘Yes, you can!” Debbie explained that Michael needed to stand up; he needed to walk around, so she tried to educate the teachers how she felt her son needed to be handled in the schoolhouse. As it turned out, it did seem to help.
Debbie added, “Some of the teachers have 30 kids in the classroom and he’s only one of 30, so you have to make sure that you were able to be a voice, but make sure he had strategies to be able to work through his self-talk, and taking his finger and pushing it into his hand, being able to go walk around the schoolhouse hallway for one time”.
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