Meet Karen DeBonis

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My story

I thought I was ready for motherhood. I had years of experience as a big sister and babysitter. I had unconditionally loving parents as role models and a devoted husband I called my “rock.” I had a degree in psychology, with numerous child development courses under my belt. Love and limits and stability at home, I had believed, would ensure my children were happy and healthy. I would be that powerful a mom.


But my resume of experience had not prepared me for Matthew.


Love does not conquer all, I quickly discovered. My overflowing heart didn’t cure Matthew’s colic or hyperactivity or his year of oppositional behavior. I also discovered that being exclusively nice (a euphemism for people-pleasing) did not make the world return the favor.

At eight, Matthew developed an eye-rolling tic. I would later describe his “ocular Ferris Wheel” as the “beginning of the end of the old Matthew.” He’d never be the same. Nor would I. Parenting a sick child pushed me to the limits of what I was capable of as a mother, but I survived. I grew stronger.

Motherhood is one of life’s greatest teachers.

I was slow to learn its lessons, but now I have a memoir to tell the whole story.

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 perseverance, motherhood, adversity, and people-pleasing--my Achilles Heel. To see them, click on “blog” in the menu bar.

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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 persevering through motherhood adversity.

Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived 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, gardens, and naps in upstate New York. You can find out more about her at

Selected publications