About Susan

 Susan Stiffelman is a marriage and family therapist, a credentialed teacher, and a licensed psychotherapist. For over 30 years, Susan has worked with families to create greater harmony and deeper connection between parents and children. 

Just as a Captain is able to navigate rough and stormy seas, Susan believes that children need to know they can depend on their parents to guide them through the ups and downs of their lives with calm, presence, and connection.  (Complete bio available in media kit.)

Being the calm, confident Captain of the ship

 Susan illustrates three ways that we can engage with our children: as either the calm, confident Captain of the ship, the negotiating, argumentative Lawyer, or the intimidating, controlling Dictator


The right hand represent the parent and the left hand, the child.

Susan is regularly featured in print and broadcast media, including NBC’s Today Show, The Boston Globe, Parents magazine, Gaiam TV and the Los Angeles Times. For the past two years, Susan has hosted four-day Parenting With Presence summits featuring guests like Dr. Jane Goodall, Arianna Huffington, Congressman Tim Ryan, and Alanis Morissette.

Susan is the author of the bestselling book, Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and the new book, Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids (An Eckhart Tolle Edition.)


Susan has delivered her parenting guidance throughout the world, from Paris to New York, Tel Aviv to Senegal. She has a worldwide network of parents that rely on her advice and support via her popular newsletter and Facebook posts, Skype sessions, and online courses. Susan is based in Los Angeles where she maintains a small, private therapy practice.

Parenting goes better when parents are lovingly in charge as the calm, confident “Captain of the ship

In this image, the parent hand is above the left, with the parent in charge as the Captain of the ship.

When the hands are side by side, no one is in charge. This is where power struggles, negotiations, arguments and pushing/ pushing back take place. Susan calls this “The Two Lawyers.”

And when hand representing the child is on top, the child is essentially running the household. The parent feels desperate and powerless, resorting to bribes and threats to try to regain a sense of control.