Welcome to the sixth in a series of articles entitled: Awesome Women with Awesome Jobs.

I was looking at my friends list on Facebook one day and it suddenly struck me that I know so many absolutely awesome women with rather special jobs. Jobs that are not just about pulling home a paycheck. No, these women work with passion. They have a mission.

That – to me – is interesting. I hope you will find it interesting too.

My guest today is Fie Hørby.

C: What is your job?

F: I am a family therapist and author. I also write columns, teach and give lectures.

C: Did you always know that that was what you wanted to do?

F: No, I didn’t. When I was a teenager, my mom used to say to me: “Fie, you are going to be an author”, but I didn’t actually become the type of writer she was talking about. I am currently writing a children’s book, so I guess I am on my way. No, I thought about becoming a layer or accountant –those were the things I was told would be good. So, no, I didn’t know until my mid-20’s.

C: So how did you find out?

F: I have a M.A. in Danish, and after two years I wanted to change to psychology but I couldn’t get any credit for the two years, and since I didn’t want to start over, I just chose as many psychology courses as possible. I ended up writing a discourse-psychological thesis and teach a course on it at the University of Copenhagen, because my research ended up yielding some groundbreaking  results.

C: Whoa, whoa: “yield some groundbreaking results” – what did you find out?

F: Well, in the world of academia, as long as you put a new angle to something, it is interesting, so it isn’t something people in general would know about; ha, ha.

F: So while I was writing my thesis, I started studying to become a psychotherapist. I did it mostly for the sake of my own personal development but after a few years, we were introduced to family therapy and I was struck by a bolt of lightning! I thought: “Everyone has to know this! It is filled with such release and healing and it will make the world a better place!”

C: And what exactly was the big revelation?

F: It was the acknowledging* way of being together with people, where you are able to keep you own boundaries without violating the other person or their boundaries. To be able show great interest and empathy with respect for whom they are and what they need. *) Translated from the Danish word: “Anerkendende” – Cinda

 C: What does a really cool day look like in your job?

F: Last Tuesday was a really cool day: I recorded a TV program all day, just had time to get home and write a news paper column and then I gave a talk in the evening. That was a cool day, I think. It is also cool to be home all day, writing…

C: Can you tell us some more about this TV you’re doing?

F: I am participating in a program for Danish Television DR2, who is having an all night theme called: “How do you create a winner?”

C: Really? So… How DO you create a winner?

F: Yes, when they told me the title, I immediately said: “A winner of what? And over whom?” This is their title; how to create a child who gets good grades, does well in school, lives out his or her potential and becomes a good tennis player or musician – and my angle is different.

C: But aren’t getting good grades and outliving one’s potential and becoming a tennis player or musician a good thing?

F: Sure. As long as you have a life where you concentrate on the important things, which are to know yourself and be around people who allow you to be yourself.

C: Isn’t that exactly the kind of thing that would be important to a Danish woman of your generation; totally self-absorbed: ”What is everybody feeling?” Did you read that book about the tiger moms?

F: Yes. Well, I’m not a fan of that because what happens there is that we only focus on a child’s achievements and not who they are and how they feel. We have a long and strong tradition in our school system and in the way we raise our children, to only focus on what they do and can instead of who they are.

On a soccer field, the coach should invoke confidence and focus on what they do in order to correct them and help them improve. Outside of the field the focus should be on helping this child get a sense of himself; how does he feel when it is dark and he is lying alone in his bed and everything is quiet? Can he be himself when he is with others or does he feel that he has to perform all the time in order to be good enough? In order to become like that, he has to be surrounded by people, preferably his mom and dad, who SEE him, as he is, without him needing to achieve anything or be something he is not.

C: Well, you’ve got your work cut out for you then!

F: Yes, well, this is a new approach and that is why it is so difficult for us. In my practice I have lots of clients, who have achieved amazing things and then when the lights go out and everything is dark and quiet, they don’t know who they are – at all.

C: Who are your typical clients?

F: Mainly women with issues about motherhood, being a woman and relationship issues. I also do couple’s counseling and family therapy.

C: What does a boring day look like in your work life?

F: Accounting and proof reading. Administration in general; homepage updates etc. – I am bothered by everything technical. But basically, boring days are few and far between.

C: How much do you earn?

F: Approximately 800.000 DKK annually – but I work a lot!

C: What is your mission?

F: I want to help promote the new view upon children in Danish schools, institutions and families.

C: And could you please sum up what that is?

F: The acknowledging approach is about meeting the child – and people in general – on his own premises. That does not mean that a child should always get his way; it means that he is entitled to feeling, wanting and thinking what he does. Adults are entitled to the same, by the way. The most important thing for a child is to be surrounded by adults who are authentic; who dare show who they really are. As adults, we should be faithful towards our true selves too. So in order to sum it up: The acknowledging approach is about leadership that acknowledges the child’s authenticity without violation of the child.

C: Who are your role models?

F: Amongst others, Jesper Juul. He is a Danish family therapist who travels the world with this message of the acknowledging approach. He has written a bunch of best-sellers.

C: This acknowledging approach – is that news to the rest of the world? When I have traveled in American they seem to have quite a lot of “approaches”  –  people profess to various theories or schools of thought regarding child rearing…

F: That is true. Danes are actually amongst those who take the least approaches or “methods” to heart. We seem to be a bit more skeptical when it comes to jumping on any new band-wagon. The thing about this is that it is not a method. It is an attitude. It is not about playing a role and acting a certain part; it is about being a human being with one’s children and through that, we teach them how to be human beings. If we’re acting a part, we won’t teach them how to be authentic.

C: If you had to reduce everything you ever knew about parenting into a Maggie cube, what is the most important thing one should do as a parent?

F: Show your child who you are and be receptive to who he or she is.

C: But don’t people show who they are?

F: Well, often we speak from a certain “role”; it is an automated process and unless we are very self-aware, we seem to just fall into old habits which consist of merely repeating everything our parents ever told us – like when we say: “Big boys don’t cry” or “We don’t use that kind of language in this house”; they are inherited values and habits and might not resonate with who we really are. I watched a little girl and her mother on the street today and the girl asked: “Why do we have to throw things in the garbage bin?” and the mother replied: “Well, surely, if everyone just threw their garbage on the streets it would soon look like a dumpster”– her entire tone of voice changed, and it was obvious, to me at least, that she wasn’t being her true self in that moment – she was putting a record on.

C: What generally provokes people the most about your message?

F: Well, my book is entitled “Skip the Rearing” (Danish: “Drop opdragelsen”) and people have taken that to understand that they should actually not rear their children. That is not what I meant; I mean skip the parts that are antiquated; criticizing, blaming, scolding etc. because we now know that it has negative effects on the parent-child relationship. Even if we never said a single “rearing” word to our kids, we’d rear them anyway because they do what we do, not what we say.

C: So, what should I do to get well-behaved kids?

F: Hmm. What does “well-behaved” mean?

C: Ehm… That they… ehm..??.. do what they are told?? Ehm…  and sit still.. and are happy..??

F: Yes, this would be a prime example of the old way of viewing children because it is more about what they do than how they feel. My mission is for us to create some children with a very strong sense of who they are, because when we have a strong sense of self and feel good about ourselves, it becomes much easier to go for the important things in life. Having this view upon children makes it very apparent that you, as a parent, hold a great deal of responsibility, because so much of what happens in the relationship can be traced back to the parents.

C: Ok. So the mother really IS to blame for everything?

F: Well, I don’t think that guilt is interesting. When it comes to any development between children and parents, it is a mutual process and if we, as parents, are willing to reflect on our role and relationship, we are really given a unique opportunity for growth and development. Adulthood is all about getting what we didn’t get in our childhood and no one will push your buttons, like your child will – they will point directly at the area where you need to do some work. This makes for wonderful opportunities for growth and development! We used to think that all learning just went in one direction: From parent to child, but it actually is a two-way street. So it is ok that we don’t quite know who we are as parents because our kids can teach us that.


Get Fie’s latest book “Drop opdragelsen” (in Danish) here.

You can sign up for her newsletter (in Danish) or read more about her here: http://fiehoerby.dk/

She also has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614769027&fref=ts

Related posts:

Dear Cinda: Should I Have a Child? 

Q & A: Awesome Women with Awesome Jobs: The Pastor

Q & A: Awesome Women with Awesome Jobs: The Sex Shop Owner 

Q & A: Awesome Women with Awesome Jobs: The Children’s Author

Q & A: Awesome Women with Awesome Jobs: The Social Media Manager

Q & A: Awesome Women with Awesome Jobs: The Power Princess


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