On the heels of hearing a string of bad news about friends of friends losing loved ones or reeling with a sudden cancer diagnosis, I sent a flurry of love-ya-friend texts to my band of merry girlfriends around the country ranging in age from 40 to 70-something. Moving numerous times throughout 27 years of marriage has helped me understand the value of true friendship and learn to fiercely protect and nurture these friends. My girlfriends have faithfully supported me over time, first hanging out in the same town and eventually separated by hundreds of miles. My text reads something like this:
“Hey, dear friend. Just blasting into your world to remind you how deeply I value our friendship! I’ve always appreciated and relied on your counsel and words offering direction, encouragement over the years. Thank you for being in my life.”
Read in full at AARP, The Girlfriend.
While out of town visiting friends, we went around the dinner table and shared our goals and hopes for the rest of the year. Foolishly, I took the exercise to heart. There was an awkward pause after I blurted, “I’d like to make a friend — just one friend!”
The others’ comments didn’t disclose anything, so mine really stuck out. How I wish I’d come up with something bland like, “Finally moving forward on our kitchen remodeling project. Yay for us!” Since I couldn’t retract my statement, my honest words just hung there eliciting lots of sympathetic aahs amid pats on the back. Blech. I’d been honest, and it was awkward, but even more, I realized just how much this desire for a friend was bugging me since I couldn’t stop my words from rolling out.
Read in full on AARP, The Girlfriend.
With all the confrontation and strife around us, who doesn’t wish for a more peaceful world? I’ve watched people become embroiled in polarizing issues and hope that they’re paying attention to the sphere of influence where they are in control. As one concerned parent, I’ve decided to look first into the place where I can directly stir-up peace: my own home. Here are some straightforward tips to help encourage other parents in the realm where they hold significant influence.
Resist yelling around the house, no matter the size of your home. Walk into the next room and talk face-to-face with your child.
With her characteristic transparency Lori Borgman, grandmother of eleven, syndicated columnist and author of, “I Was A Better Mother Before I Had Kids” pleads guilty to sometimes raising her voice around the home. But, she says, that though it may be momentarily expedient, in the long run, it’s “a horrible habit to develop”. So, if we mess up from time to time, don’t give in. Work intentionally—like Borgman does—to prevent this oops from morphing into a hardened habit.
“Face-to-face is always better,” Bellaire High School counselor Susan Childs told me. She continued, noting that when one person’s voice is raised, it’s reciprocated and pretty quickly, no matter the topic, the point of conversation is lost. Meredith Bodgas, mother and editor-in-chief of WorkingMother.com agrees that the message is affected by its delivery: “Get down on their level so you’re talking to them, not at them or above them. Not only will they may be more inclined to listen to what you’re saying but you’ll also be less inclined to raise your voice since you’ll be so close to their little face.”
Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.
“Summer is greeting us with her cheerful grin, but parents who couldn’t come up for the air needed to plan for her grand entrance are not doing a happy dance. It looms instead like an epic black hole, begging for definition. Camp registration deadlines came and went a long time ago, but maybe, your kids aren’t keen on camp, anyway. You don’t want summer to be a chore for you or your kids. So, what’s a good parent to do?
There are plenty of life-changing ways to occupy your children over the summer besides sending them to camp and, ample evidence that these experiences are deeply formative. In my case, an older friend needed help weeding her flower garden and asked if my 12-yr-old daughter (who wasn’t a camp-loving girl) wanted to earn some cash. In fact, she did, and though it was a hot, humid undertaking, my daughter was glad she said yes. Weeding side-by-side, the two bonded over their love of fiction and started their own book club, reading “The Wheel On the School”, “Ruby Holler” and “Number the Stars”. My daughter grew from that summer, on her knees beside my dear old friend, picking weeds and talking books.”
Read in full in Houston Family Magazine.
‘There have been times when I’ve been frustrated and, I’ll admit it, a bit hurt over my inability to connect with my teens. I’m guessing my frustrations are shared by other parents who are trying so hard but going about this relationship in all the wrong ways. I’ve worked hard to figure out when and where I was getting off-track in relating to my teens. Along the way, I confronted several pitfalls worth passing along.
Do you speak to your teens as if they are still little kids? Parenting must change if you wish to keep your relationships strong. This includes not only the content but also the tone of conversation. “You need to treat them more like adults than children. Truly listen and heed their point of view, even if you disagree vehemently,” says John Duffy, clinical psychologist and author of the “The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.” “We all want our point of view respected, and your teen is no different.”’
Read in full on The Washington Post.
In the Rainey Street District of Austin, Texas, a stranger approached my dog, hand extended. “Puppy!” she shrieked weirdly, a piercing decibel, especially for the hour of day. My first thought is that she closed the bars and is drunk, but, she’s not. She and her friend are in fashionable workout gear, probably all ginned up on coffee and ready for some speed-walking.
Otherwise, relative calm prevails early mornings in my neighborhood when I slip out the door to take Ezzy for her walk.
My neighborhood is a trendy downtown bar district, home to live music, food trucks, drinking holes and raucous partying. But early mornings, it’s even better, with neighbor brushing against neighbor and work crews quietly coming and going, cleaning up what was left behind from the previous night’s revelries. I stop to put a beer glass on an outdoor table that someone has left on the sidewalk outside of Bangers and exchange hellos with the manager.
“How’s the girl?” Brian says. My daughter worked for him the summer before college. He wrote a warm reference letter on her behalf for a volunteer program she’s now involved with at university. When my husband and I stop in for drinks, Brian sometimes says they’re on the house and we trade stories about vacation and raising teenagers.
In the early 2000s I read Jane Jacobs’ magnum opus, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, on the workings of a great city. This 585-page hardback enjoys a prominent place on my shelf, standing proud though dozens of fuchsia post-it-notes marking the best of the best sections from my first read protrude like a child’s unruly tufts of hair. Jacobs was a long-time resident of Greenwich Village and she starts her book at the beginning, with the humble sidewalk, the fundamental building block of a city.
Read in full on StrongTowns.org
“Our leathered, weather-beaten landlord left fresh figs, tomatoes and lemons when he stopped by. He couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t speak Italian so we talked with our hands and figured things out. When we were walking to the beach one afternoon, we saw him zipping down the street—shirtless—in shorts and flip-flops on his Vespa. This was his life. He looked over the Mediterranean every day, from whatever point of town he happened to be in, his full head of hair flying in the wind. This old Italian man, with his figs, tomatoes and lemons and view was a rich man in many ways.”
Read in full on Paste Magazine.
“He’s 16 now, but he still remembers that day. When my kid hurts, I hurt myself, too. My absence at the end of the school day didn’t match my words at the beginning when I said I’d be waiting for him when school let out and summer began. This experience crystalized for me that punctuality is essentially making good on a promise. I was accountable to my 7-year-old, and it crushed him when another mom instead of his own showed up. My actions had inadvertently communicated that he was less important than my work, when in fact, my noblest work is wrapped up in being his mother.”
Read in full on The Week.
Published by The Washington Post, On Parenting. If you want your children to have good relationships with each other, make sure you’re modeling the same with your own siblings. Kids are learning from our actions!
‘My teenage son and I left the house to walk the dog just as my phone started buzzing. “It’s Aunt Bren — I’ll call her back later,” I said, letting it go to voicemail. My son wondered how long it had been since I last spoke with my younger sister, and encouraged me to return her call that afternoon.
“Have you always been close?” he asked. I opened up and told him about our stormy relationship as kids. His fun-loving, attractive aunt was the one who got blamed for everything that went wrong. Guilty or not, she bore the brunt, and was probably punished numerous times for things I’d slyly pinned on her.’
Read in full here.
Sometimes when great plans fall apart, something just as beautiful emerges.
It’s an honor to publish again with Grown & Flown on the topic of teens and spring break~
“Our senior daughter asked to fly out-of-state for a spring break trip to visit her best friend in Indianapolis where we used to live. “With college coming, I need to say my good-byes,” she said. She planned on attending college overseas and the significance of leaving friendships behind was real. We appreciated her intentional care for the good people in her life and this particular friendship was rare. After giving it some thought, we gave our permission for her to take this trip.
Yet, I smarted with this abrupt departure from family tradition. As a tight-knit family, we’d never vacationed separately and I tingled with a bittersweet mixture of emotions. It was her last spring break before college and she wanted to do something without us. Much as I understood her desire to see her dear friend, it was enlightening that she was willing to forego a family vacation and the host of memories and inside-jokes that would invariably be added to family lore. This was a signal among others that she was readying herself to leave. At her age, I knew her desire was a healthy one, this eagerness to chart her own course.”
Read in full here. Thank you for your comments!