Meet Karen DeBonis

I’m so glad you stopped by. C’mon in and get comfortable because I have a story to tell you–-a story about a deferential mom, her mysteriously ill child, and the far-from-benign character flaw that nearly destroyed them.

My story

The story begins when I was a little girl and I learned to be agreeable because that was the only option for little girls back then. Raised in one of the nicest families in the world, I never learned how not to be nice, even when I grew to adulthood, even when my son’s puzzling deterioration called for me to shed my cloak of agreeableness.

That was 1994, when my older son Matthew, eight, started to become, well, not Matthew. It took three years to figure out what was going on, during which time myriad misleading diagnoses, clueless doctors, and baffling behavior changes in my son nearly caused me to self-destruct.

During that time, when my child had needed me to be a fierce mama-bear, my compulsive people-pleasing stymied my ability to demand answers.

I couldn’t stand up for my son because I’d never learned to stand up for myself.

It’s a hard truth to admit, but I tell my story so others like me may learn from my journey. And yes, there are others. I recognize them in their false agreeableness as they have probably recognized me, or at least the old me.

I’ll never be the bad-ass, kick-butt woman like those you may know, but I’m learning to stand my ground. Parenting a sick child pushed me to the limits of what I was capable of as a mother, but I survived. I grew stronger.

Someday in the not too distant future, my story will be a book you can savor from cover to cover, but for now, you can read my essays and posts about life lessons, self-acceptance, personal growth, and people-pleasing. To see them, click on “blog” in the menu bar.

Better yet, subscribe by entering your email so you don’t miss a thing. (You’ll receive a confirmation email, so please check your junk mail folder if you don’t see it.)

As a bonus, you’ll receive my free 10 Steps to Fight Your People-Pleasing tip sheet. If you need a nudge to find the strong, confident YOU within, it might be just the thing to get you started.

Feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear how you and I “clicked.”

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!

Karen and Matthew
Karen DeBonis

Karen's Bio

Karen DeBonis has a thirty-year career in health promotion, involving public speaking, media appearances, group facilitation, teaching, and program development. Twenty years ago, after her eleven-year-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she added writing to her resume. Those early pages are now a transformational memoir about a woman’s deeply ingrained need to please that inhibits her from probing her son’s mysterious deterioration, with life-threatening consequences for them both.

Too Nice: My Life of Not Speaking Up and the Son Who Paid the Price, is currently available for representation.

As Karen’s writing emerged, so did her mission “to facilitate dialogue among and about people-pleasers, because sharing our story is the first step in becoming emboldened.” To that end, she developed projects to help others reclaim their voices and offers these to subscribers and the public at no charge. Wipe Your Feet Before You Walk All Over Me, her upbeat webinar, gives participants customizable steps to build assertiveness skills. Pleased to Meet You focus groups provide a safe space for small groups to discuss eye-opening questions. And, as part of a larger project, Karen dialogues with mothers and daughters about why women do or don’t speak up. 

Karen expands her reach through her blog, website, social media presence, and published essays. Her N.Y. Times Tiny Love Story, My Son the Homeowner, appeared in the Times’ 2020 anthology. In addition, she writes a quarterly essay for Writers in the Storm, an award-winning blog, and has been featured on podcasts and interviews.

A happy empty-nester with her husband of thirty-nine years, Karen lives, writes, and asserts herself in upstate New York. You can find out more about her at

Selected publications

Podcasts, Interviews, Guest Blogs, and the kitchen sink: