Local child and family expert Di Ana Pisarri dies at 47

Di Ana Pisarri, who built a robust career around helping children and families navigate the stress and challenges in their lives and before that had a performance career in musical theater, died on June 18 in Battery Park City. Tragically for all who knew her as vivacious and spirited, the manner of death was suicide, as confirmed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner. She was 47.

Di Ana and I met in the fall of 2019 when she launched her most recent project, The Parent Shift — a digital resource (ahead of its time) to help parents manage the burdens of too much structure, too much internet and all the pressures that come with them — and I featured her as a “Local Expert.” She started it, she said, after witnessing patterns of frustration and stress developing in kids over the 15 years she worked as The Kids Coach. And she sought to answer the question “why,” discovering that there were great benefits to directive parenting — encouraging a child to persevere when faced with frustration, rather than solve their problems for them.

As a parent of three, I often hear her words in my head when I try to control my kids’ lives too much (kudos to you if you can resist that temptation): “Parents have to trust that their kid will get there, even if it takes time and they don’t get it right the first time — or even after several times,” she said. “We can’t change our kids, but we can change our response to them. If your emotional response is bigger than your child’s, then you can’t help them.”

And she implanted in my mind a catch phrase that my mom-friends and I often repeat: “Don’t sort the gummy bears.” It was a one-liner she developed based on a true story of a father who plucked out the yellow gummy bears for his son, who ate only the red, green and white. The child, she noted, should solve his own gummy bear problems.

Di Ana was also a fixture in Battery Park City as a devoted dog owner whose pups, Gazpacho and Chevre, were well known around town. But her greatest legacy in my mind were the words she repeated as a mantra to parents, to provide clarity to the ultimate goal in the grand project that is child rearing. Above all, she would say, we want to raise resilient, kind and respectful kids. May we think of her as we strive to find those qualities in ourselves and in our lives.

The family has posted an obituary online here.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.



  1. Beautiful and powerful tribute. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend.

  2. So very sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for this tribute to Di Ana.

  3. She was a kind and beautiful person. May she Rest In Peace.

  4. I didn’t know Di Ana as my daughter is grown but how utterly tragic. The poor woman was clearly suffering deeply. RIP.

  5. May the work she did on Earth speak for her and may her loved ones receive peace, comfort, provision, and direction.

    May God bless you.