Deborah Farmer Kris

Deborah Farmer Kris is Associate Director of the LifeCompass Institute for Character and Leadership.

Recent Posts

100-Year Ripples: What My Grandmothers Can Teach Me About Pandemic Parenting

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on May 13, 2020 12:46:53 PM


On February 1, 1919, my grandmother Eliza Ellen turned four years old. Twenty days later, influenza stole away her mother. 

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Parenting During Covid-19: Three P's to Help Our Teens and Tweens

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Mar 11, 2020 1:55:25 PM


My colleague, Katie Elrod, often reminds me that, “Practical wisdom is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as a parent. In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, how do we make wise choices? How can we be responsive instead of reactive? What do we do when we don’t know what to do? 

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"There is a Reason You are Here": How Katherine Johnson and Other Exemplary Women Help Teens Aim for Greatness

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Feb 25, 2020 12:19:26 PM


This week, the world lost a mathematical pathbreaker.  Katherine Johnson was one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures” – a brilliant mathematician who calculated the trajectory for the Apollo 11 flight.  It was her precise calculations that got Neil Armstrong to the moon and back. 

Ms. Johnson passed away on February 25 at age 101, and her extraordinary legacy as a female, African-American scientist will long outlive her.

Recently high school junior Neha Sunkara ‘21 spent weeks studying Katherine Johnson for a research paper. Neha is a student in Montrose School in Medfield, MA.

“She transformed the space race for America, but she wasn’t as well known until the movie Hidden Figures came out,” said Neha. “I want to be an astrophysicist, and sometimes I feel alone in my passion. Knowing someone else like Katherine Johnson is in the math world made such a big impact on me.” 

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Turning Down The Hose: 4 Questions that Help Children Navigate Stress

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Jan 9, 2020 1:20:08 PM

A few weeks ago, I found myself locked in a power struggle with a five-year-old. I think it involved a Lego explosion in his room. I know it involved angry voices. 

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Parenting Oasis, December 2019: Good Holiday Reads

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Dec 19, 2019 10:33:04 AM

In the bustle of the holiday season, here are a few good reads to help remind us of what matters most in raising kids and teens.

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Giving Gratitude to Those Who "Make Space" for Us

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Nov 12, 2019 9:25:02 AM

Middle school started on a rough note for me. I moved from the comfort of a neighborhood school to the city’s junior high which housed over 1000 students. I felt lost and scared most of the time. 

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Parenting Oasis, October 2019: Practical Articles from Around the Web

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Oct 17, 2019 9:40:07 AM


Parenting can be equal parts amazing, lonely, and overwhelming. Here are three recent articles that offer some helpful nuggets as we try to raise good kids in a complicated world.

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What a Bad Morning Taught Me About Building Better Habits

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Oct 2, 2019 3:12:33 PM

I was running late for work, and I wasn’t happy about it.  It was a morning of lost shoes, spilled tea, sibling name-calling, and unfinished homework. One kid boarded the bus in tears and another was melting down in the backseat because I refused to return home to grab his stuffed tiger. 

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“Does Your Face Light Up?”: Five Words That Changed My Teaching and Parenting

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on Sep 10, 2019 6:14:41 PM

Many years ago, I heard an Oprah interview with the novelist Toni Morrison, who passed away in August. Morrison described how, when her children came into the room, she thought she was showing care by fussing over their appearance, “to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up.”

But that was not what they were looking for, she said. Instead, she offered a different measure for care, “Does your face light up when your kid walks in a room?” Does your expression say, I’m so glad you are here?

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What Helps Young Women Thrive Professionally? Mentors

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on May 7, 2019 9:34:32 AM

In a recent report, the Lean In organization wrote that “mentorship is critical to the success of women across industries,” opening doors and providing vital training and support. According to one study, the majority of women in business view mentoring as “highly valuable” in advancing their careers, yet 63% report never having had a formal mentor.

Near the end of their senior year, as Montrose twelfth graders turn their sights to college and beyond, we wanted to address this opportunity and gap head-on in our first annual Senior Summit. The students traveled to the boardroom of The Bowdoin Group, an executive search firm, and engaged in mentoring conversations with women leaders who offered candid insights into the habits, experiences, and mindsets that have helped them flourish professionally.  

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