Marie Dieumercie: Teaching Youth About Importance of Sacred Boundaries and Keeping Secrets
One of the most important things we can teach our kids is to set boundaries, not keep secrets, and tell the truth. Even more so, it is important to believe what our children tell us. This was the experience and inspiration that made Haitian-born, Marie Dieumercie, create two children’s books addressing the sensitive topic of body value and inappropriate advantages. Marie witnessed at a young age someone being taken advantage of by an adult and it left a lasting effect. In this, she quickly discovered it does not have to happen “to you” to have emotionally scarred you. It’s easy for parents to get caught up in teaching our kids about math and reading that we forget all these other values which are just as important. We should remember conversations around having good personal boundaries will help them in every area of life.
I was able to catch up with this busy (and very shy) author to discuss her books and what she hopes every parent and child learns from them. I was very inspired by her willingness to break free from her own trauma to prevent other children (and parents) from experiencing what she had.
Dr. G.: I am really excited to be speaking to you today. I love what you are doing, and before we get started, I would love for you to share a bit about yourself and what influences lead to who you have become today.
Marie: My grandparents immigrated from Haiti to the US when I was three years old. When I arrived in the US, I could only speak my native language (creole). It took me many years to learn to speak English. Due to this, I was bullied in school. It was very difficult for me to make friends because no one could understand me. I was also not relatable to any of my classmates. I dressed differently from how they did, and my hair was also very different from most of my classmates. I started to have issues with insecurities and doubted myself in many areas. I overcame most of those insecurities in my high school years due to enrolling in counseling. My parents also encouraged me and taught me the value of accepting myself. I believe that all of those things shaped my character and helped me become who I am today.
I am currently a coordinator for a group home with special needs. I work with children who are autistic, have dementia, and have some behavioral issues. I am responsible for helping them adapt to the world around them. I do this by helping them gain social skills, confidence in themselves and the world around them and allowing them to take back the power taken from them due to challenges in their childhoods.
Dr. G.: What are the names of your books and tell me about each of them?
Marie: I wrote two books called Dolas castle and Alex the warrior. Dolas castle was written to educate little girls about healthy boundaries. I wanted them to understand that their body belongs to them, and they are allowed to speak up in uncomfortable situations (inappropriate touching). Writing this book was personal because I was once that little girl who was voiceless and afraid to speak up for myself. I was silenced and rejected by many adults around me.
Alex, the warrior, talks about secrets and the harm they can cause. This book teaches boys that secrets should always be told to an adult. I wrote this book to educate little boys about the importance of standing up for themselves when faced with hard decisions. I also stressed to them that there are no such things as a good secret. Secrets are used to hurt others. My goal is that boys will read this book and have the courage to speak up and not feel ashamed.
Dr. G.: What do you hope readers take away from your stories? How were you writing about something so tricky without actually using the words that say what it is? What did it mean to you to get such a delicate topic written in a way that it would not come off so direct and offensive? Why is this important to you?
Marie: I hope that readers will gain knowledge about the importance of setting healthy boundaries in their everyday lives. I want readers to know that their voice is their power and that they should not allow anyone to take that away from them. This is important to me because I struggled with this in my childhood. I faced many rejections as a child and was taught to keep secrets and sweep certain issues under the rug.
Before I started writing my books, I had a journal that I wrote in. This journal was a personal journey that spoke about things that I went through in my childhood. I took pieces of that writing to start my book. When I started, I knew that I wanted to write books for children, so I researched certain appropriate topics and words that would not offend my audience. This means a lot to me because this was a topic that was not discussed in my home.
Dr. G.: Did you seek therapy as a part of your healing? Why or why not? Are you still in therapy, or do you feel that you healed even more after writing the book?
Marie: I had gotten therapy years before I started writing my book. While writing, I began to see that I was not freed from my trauma, so I went back into therapy and got more help. I am currently still in therapy. I went back to therapy because I wanted to make sure that I continued to better myself because healing is a growing process.
Dr. G.: Why is it important we teach children “good touch/bad touch” when they become aware of their bodies? What does it mean for their psychological development?
Marie: The knowledge of good touch /bad touch helps children understand the importance of their innocence being taken advantage of. This allows them the opportunity to set boundaries and talk about uncomfortable events that they should be aware of. This also protects them from lifelong suffering that may traumatize their adulthood and affect them from having the stable mind to live a healthy life. Studies have shown that children who are educated about good touch/bad touch are more likely to report it.
Dr. G.: What is next for you, and how can ppl connect with you
Marie: My goal is to continue writing children’s books based on my experiences from my childhood. I want to help children gain freedom from the trauma I learned to overcome. People can connect with me on Instagram and Facebook @beliberated