Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter by Melissa Francis

Welcome to Author Melissa Francis

Melissa Francis, author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter, grew up in southern California. As a broadcast journalist, she has anchored CNBC’s Power Lunch, The Call, and On The Money, and served as a regular contributor to the Today show and Weekend Today. Currently she hosts two daily business shows on the Fox Business Network, including Money with Melissa Francis. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.

Guest Post
Choose to be Happy
By Melissa Francis,
Author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter
As a journalist, I have built a career around asking other people questions. But answering them? That is another story altogether. When the topic turned to my life growing up, I was the master of skirting the issue. Even with my closest friends.
“Are your parents coming for Christmas?” someone would ask.
“Not this year,” I’d reply.
“Do you have brothers or sisters?” they’d wonder.
“It’s just me,” I would say.
I hadn’t lied, but I hadn’t told the truth either.
The fact that I grew up on dozens of Hollywood sets — the fictional daughter of Michael Landon, Martin Sheen, Ted Danson, Glenn Close and others, hawking baby shampoo, McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and Campbell’s soup — made the topic of my past even more attractive. And I didn’t mind talking about that part. But then diverting the conversation when it inevitably turned to my real family proved almost impossible. I didn’t want to share the fact that my flesh and blood family had exploded and disintegrated in spectacular fashion. That behind the scenes, my magical childhood was fueled by the Hollywood version of a Tiger Mom, a Stage Mother, whose wildly ambitious and often cruel ways ultimately destroyed my sister. Rather than explain, I preferred to just avoid the whole topic. 
After years of skirting the issue it was my four year old who was the one person I could no longer hide my past from.
“Where’s your Mommy?” he asked. This was not the first time he’d gone down this road. After all, his other grandmother, my husband’s mother, is a vibrant character in our family portrait, constantly abounding with energy and creative ideas for how to spend the day. Next to her, the hole where my mother should be is even more gaping. I knew I had to come up with an answer that I could stand behind, not a diversionary technical-truth.
So I dared to put my history on paper, in Diary of Stage Mother’s Daughter. And finally, in putting words to my story and sharing my life with the world, I have relieved the pain, largely because of the support showered on me by complete strangers. Turns out, I was far from alone in having a troubled past. Judging from the letter, emails and even Tweets I have received, I now realize that nearly every family has a dramatic, heart wrenching story, that every person has suffered through their own trials. We could all write a book! 
What counts is what we do now — how we move forward.
Rather than carrying past pain around and allowing it to paralyze us, I suggest that raw, aching memory can be harnessed as a richness of experience to draw upon. For me, I know how not to raise my sons. I took control of my history, stopped the cycle in its deadly tracks, and chose to take a different path into the future. I demanded a different relationship with my mother, and when she refused, I moved on to a new life. It was both a terrifying and a liberating choice. But it changed my life.
I’d love for anyone who reads the book to feel that they can learn from a challenged past and move forward positively towards a joyful future. You can choose to be happy — your very best person. It’s never too late.
© 2013 Melissa Francis, author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter

Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter

A dazzling honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis — both a startling personal story and a cautionary tale for both parents in competitive times.

When Melissa Francis was eight years old, she won the role of lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, the little girl who was adopted with her brother (played by young Jason Bateman) by the Ingalls family on the world’s most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. Despite her age, she was already a veteran actress, living a charmed life, moving from one Hollywood set to the next. But behind the scenes, her success was fueled by the pride, pressure, and sometimes grinding cruelty of her stage mother.

While Melissa thrived under pressure, her older sister — who had tried her hand at acting and shrank from the limelight — was often ignored by their mother in a shadow of neglect and disappointment. Tiffany could do nothing to please her mother, but it wasn’t until after Melissa had graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics, found love, and married that Tiffany’s personal problems culminated in a life-and-death crisis. When Melissa realized the role of her mother continued to play in her sister’s downward spiral, she resolved to end the manic, abusive cycle once and for all.

Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980’s, and also a disquieting tale of a family under the care of a highly neurotic, dangerously competitive “tiger mother.” But perhaps most importantly, now that Melissa has two sons of her own, it’s a meditation on motherhood. She asks the questions so many of us ask ourselves: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?


“Melissa Francis shares important lessons hard-won at her meddling mother’s side and offers an important cautionary tale for any family with big dreams for its children.”
— Laurel Saville, author of Unraveling Anne: A Memoir of a Mother’s Reckless Life and Tragic Death

“I am always in search of the book I can’t put down. Well, thanks to Melissa Francis, I FOUND it. I may have missed a few nights sleep, but I am so much better for it. Her book is captivating, revealing and ultimately healing. Who knew the kid from Little House on the Prairie had such a fascinating real-life story? I am in awe.”
— Hoda Kotb, author of Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee, and co-host of the Today show

“Melissa Francis’ story is riveting. The book is the perfect antidote for the ‘Tiger Mom’ syndrome that seems to be gaining traction in today’s society . . . If you want to be inspired to reach beyond what you were taught as a child, get this book now.”
— Melissa Gilbert, author of the bestselling Prairie Tale: A Memoir

“Really powerful reading . . . Melissa has eloquently told the difficult and disturbing story of how a mother’s absolute, unrelenting narcissism led her to sacrifice the well-being of both of her children. Melissa has triumphed heroically over her circumstances.”
— Alison Arngrim, author of Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

“Chilling memoir by a Fox Business Network anchor and child star chronicles the misery of growing up with a cruel, controlling and abusive stage mother. Francis’ narrative grabs readers immediately. One of those intimate, heartbreaking, doubled-edged stories that is hard to read, impossible to put down.”
— Kirkus Review

“Compelling . . . A thoughtful trek across a troubled family landscape resulting in a bittersweet yet hopeful final act.”
— Publisher’s Weekly

Giveaway Details
2 winners will each receive a copy of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter
Open to US only
Ends 2/10/13

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