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EP Round-up: Top Blog Posts of 2014!

It’s that time again–where many of us stop and reflect on the year that was, and look forward to the year ahead. 2014 was an interesting year and our bloggers tackled multiple topics, from how to handle entitlement and lack of motivation in kids, to honestly discussing the emotions experienced by parents in tough situations.

For our Top 10, we chose the blogs that were viewed most by you, our readers. Thank you for being a part of the Empowering Parents community over the past year by reading, commenting and sharing our blogs and articles. As a result, 2014 has been our best year to date!

And now, I am excited to present our top blogs of 2014:

10. Long Distance Grandma

By Sandra Steiner, a mom, grandma and Parent-Blogger for Empowering Parents. You can follow more of her writing by going to her website, www.steiner-style.com

9. Do You Stay Mad at Your Kids and Hold a Grudge When They Misbehave? (How It Can Backfire on You

By Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor, and mom of one young son.

8. Stop Just Raising Your Kids, Start Empowering Them

By Matthew Arrington, executive director and co-founder of Forte Strong, and EP blogger. Find more information at www.fortestrong.com

7. How Scary is Too Scary?

By Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor and mom of one young son.

6. America’s Stressed Out Kids: 5 Calm Coping Skills You Can Teach Your Child

By Elisabeth Wilkins, Editor of Empowering Parents and mother of one tween son.

5. “My Kid Doesn’t Care About Anything!” How Can You Make Your Child Care?

By Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor, and mom of one young son.

4. Despite Her Unreal Proportions, Can Barbie Dolls be Good for Girls?

By Dr. Kate Roberts, EP Blogger. You can check out Dr. Kate’s website at www.drkateroberts.com, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

3. Back to School Shopping: How Do You Battle Entitlement?

By Denise Rowden, Parental Support Advisor and mother of two young adults.

2. 5 Surprising Ways You’re Showing Your Kids You Love Them (Even If They Don’t Get it Yet)

By Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor.

And our number one blog:

1. “Where Did I Go Wrong?” How to Handle Feeling Disappointment with Your Adult Child

By Jacqueline McDowell, Parental Support Advisor and mother of one adult son.

Thank you once again for being a part of our community over the past year–we couldn’t do this without you! Be sure to let us know what parenting topics you would like to see covered in 2015!

If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

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Governing 2.0: Connect to Massachusetts’ Next Governor Through Social Media

December 19, 2014 by Alyssa Haywoode

pic of baker website for blog

Image: Screenshot of the Be Great MA website

“Charlie Baker is killing it on Twitter,” a Boston.com headline declared last March, noting that the Twitter streams of the other gubernatorial candidates were “pretty boring.”

Now that he’s the governor-elect, Baker is still tweeting. His handle is @CharlieBakerMA, and he’s posting comments, photos, and videos.

Now is a great time to follow him – and to tweet him about the importance of early education and care.

And if you have specific ideas for Baker, share them on the Be Great MA website where there’s a place to share “your ideas to make Massachusetts great.”

So let Baker and Lieutenant Governor-elect Karyn Polito know what you’re thinking. They’re only a few clicks away.

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You Don't Have To Make Up for Not Being a Perfect Parent

“We often don’t feel the wonder
and beauty because we’re too busy trying to live up to the ideal in our
head….The cost of perfection is that it stresses us out to the point
where we no longer enjoy the moment we’re living in.” – Pastor Jon

Most of us aspire to give our kids a fairy-tale holiday. After all, there’s nothing quite like seeing our child’s face shining with joy.

But there’s a deeper fantasy driving most of us this time of year. Maybe a picture-perfect holiday will help make up for those times when we aren’t so perfect as parents. On some level, we’re sometimes even driven by the hope that giving our child a perfect holiday will somehow repair everything that wasn’t perfect in our own childhoods. Like most unconscious needs, this one fuels a fierce frenzy of activity and drama that’s destined to fail. 

We can heal the past, but not by frosting it over with a fantasy holiday for our kids. Yes, the holidays can be a magical time, and there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to that. Yes, it is healing to give love to our children–the more we love, the more we heal.

But it’s definitely not healing to stay up around the clock buying, decorating, cooking, stressing, gritting our teeth and forcing our family into something that may look good on Instagram, but feels awful because we’re wound way too tight.

Our fantasy of the perfect family holiday can drive us to do more, more, more.  But more of what we didn’t need to begin with can’t fill those deep longings. There’s a better way.

1. Acknowledge your own deep longings.  It’s ok, we all have them. Tell yourself that you deserve that big love, and that you’re going to get it by giving it to yourself. Not with superficial trimmings, but inside your own heart, with real self-acceptance and self-appreciation. Fill your cup with self-nurture of all kinds, and remember there’s no substitute for looking in the mirror and pouring love into your own hungry heart.  No, that’s not silly or selfish. It’s essential. If you can’t love yourself, how can you love your child?

2. Ditch the Guilt. Don’t feel guilty about that present you can’t afford for your child this year.  That’s not what your child needs to be happy. Presents can be wonderful, but they aren’t real love, they can’t buy you love, and they don’t actually help your child feel loved on a deep level.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to make up for not being a perfect parent. No one is. You’re modeling how to be a graciously imperfect human, how to apologize and repair, which is what your child needs to grow into a gracious human herself. Just resolve to keep choosing love as often as possible when you’re interacting with your child. That’s all anyone can do, and it really is enough. 

3. Give your child something better than fantasy. Instead of the focus on material things that can never be enough, slow down and focus with your children on connection and meaning. Kids spell LOVE with the letters TIME. Pouring your adoring presence into your child as you share a holiday tradition will do more to fill his cup than a mountain of presents. The tradition can be as complicated as making a gingerbread house or as simple as looking at the candles or the twinkly lights together.

4. Do some healing.  It is possible to heal our own childhoods. We start by acknowledging our wounds and understanding that whatever happened was information about them, not about us.  We grieve the perfect childhood we didn’t get, and we love ourselves back to health. The key is to notice the feelings, acknowledge them, and resist acting on them. It takes courage and tears and hard work, and it takes time. Why not take another step toward health right now by embracing that little one inside you with compassion?

5. Let life be more than enough, just as it is. Give yourself permission to let go of perfect. Perfect just gets in the way of love. Real parents get reality holidays, complete with cranky kids, messy kitchens, and moments that move you to tears. 

You don’t need to create a perfect holiday.  Because you’re already more than enough, just as you are.

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In Quotes: Shakira

December 19, 2014 by Alyssa Haywoode

“People everywhere are realizing that a lifetime of success starts in early learning experiences. I’m Shakira, and I’m proud to support quality early childhood development. When we invest in them, we invest in us.”

Shakira, Invest in US video, part of the Invest in US campaign, December 10, 2014

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Four Tips for Living with Your Boomerang Kid

Just like when a mother bird releases her babies from the nest, parents think that once their son or daughter leaves for college, their child has entered a new era. We pull away from their dorm, misty-eyed yet excited for their transition into adulthood.  Then, four years later, we find ourselves moving boxes back into the house, feeling like we’ve somehow failed as parents.

If this has happened to you, don’t worry; a child returning home doesn’t necessarily constitute bad parenting!  What’s more, the practice of adult children—often referred to as “boomerang kids”— moving home after attending college or pursuing jobs is quite prevalent, with a record 21.6 million boomerang kids in the U.S. alone.

Unique situations exist, but there are several reasons for this trend.  General declines in employment and marriage, as well as a rise in college enrollment for young people who’ve been out in the working world for a while, all contribute to this phenomenon. And on top of that, it will take years to fully recover from the economic downturn which has left college grads facing scarce job prospects and a difficult housing market while needing to repay student loans

When an Adult Child Returns Home

For the adult child, while having a place to live is, of course, a good thing, moving home also has potential repercussions; it can impede momentum, self-esteem, and confidence.  It can also lead to falling back into negative or co-dependent behaviors. Parents can be negatively affected as well: emotionally, mentally, and financially.  And siblings can be impacted by any negativity in the home.

But living with a boomerang kid doesn’t have to be a negative experience.  Rather, it can be a constructive learning opportunity for your adult child—and for you.  It’s an opportunity for you to be an example of the skills she needs to emulate in order for her to achieve independence.  And it’s a chance for everyone in the household to develop new patterns of relating to one another.

Here are four tips that will help you manage the transition from being an empty-nester to having your adult child living at home again.

  • Make sure your child knows that this is temporary. Discuss together the reasons your child would like to return home.  Is it just until they land a full-time job?  Find a roommate?  Save for a down payment?  If there isn’t a specific reason attached to your child’s living at home, it will be easy for the original objective to be forgotten about. Come up with a realistic, attainable timeline for him to meet his objective, and stick to it.
  • Set healthy boundaries. Before your child moves back home, discuss with them what’s acceptable and what isn’t—then put those boundaries in writing.  Think about any unacceptable past behavior, such as not doing chores or playing video games for hours, so you can hedge against those risks prior to your child’s arrival. Setting boundaries early on helps prevent the reemergence of negative, co-dependent behaviors down the road.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: You can download a free living agreement template by clicking here!)

  • Enforce those boundaries. Parents must be prepared to enforce the boundaries they’ve established. If you know that, for whatever reason, you can’t enforce the necessary boundaries, then you should seriously reconsider allowing your child to move back home.
  • Avoid enabling behavior. Everything a parent does is a form of communication with his or her child. That’s why parents have to be mindful of what you’re saying with your actions. For example, if you constantly find yourself cleaning up after your son or washing his dirty clothes, you are effectively telling him that you don’t believe he can take care of himself—and that you will continue to satisfy his daily needs. He’s a responsible adult, so he should be treated like one.

Never forget that your child is an adult with the autonomy to make choices and accept the consequences. His or her choices are a big part of what led to the return home.  Yes, growing up is hard.  It’s natural for your child to struggle a bit. Remember, though, that part of supporting your child—and helping them launch into adulthood successfully—is knowing when to step back and encourage independence.

Matthew Arrington is the executive director and co-founder of Forte Strong, the world’s first failure-to-launch program for men who struggle to leave their parents’ home or find it difficult to become independent. Forte Strong uses a proprietary coaching model to help students find purpose and direction, guide parents and families in empowering their sons, and ultimately create a healthier family dynamic. Matthew currently resides in sunny St. George, Utah.

If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

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