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Blogs and Articles

Although the idea of having different rules in your household for your children who are different ages might seem self-evident, the actual implementation of those rules can be troublesome. Any parent who has tried, for example, to institute an earlier bedtime for their 6 year old when they have an 8 year old who stays up later will have heard the popular refrain "It's not fair!" more than once. In fact, the uprising that can occur when younger ones rebel often causes parents to crumble, allowing their younger children to have more flexible, lax or lenient rules...

"We took our cat to the vet for a check-up. Everything was fine, but when we brought him home and opened the travel box that he was in, he was dead. What do I tell my daughter? It was her cat."

"I know it may sound ridiculous, but my son won a fish at a street fair, and three days later it died. He absolutely fell apart. About a fish! I don't know what to say to him."

"My husband died last night. How do I tell our son?"

When a child experiences the death of a person or of a beloved

"I nag and I nag and I nag. He just doesn't listen. For example, I tell him to turn off the TV, it's time to do his homework. No response. So I say it again. He still doesn't respond. Sometimes I repeat myself a half a dozen times. Finally, I stand in front of the TV and scream at him and he looks up and says `huh?' And you know what really gets me? Then he's annoyed because I interrupted his program and yelled at him."

Sound familiar? There are few things more annoying to parents than when a child doesn't listen. We begin by asking nicely. It's...

In today's society, and at younger and younger ages, people are increasingly horrified by the rude attitude and foul language used by young people of all ages. From the five year old who defiantly puts her hands on her hips, lifts one eyebrow and declares to her mother "You're stupid, and I don't have to do what you say" to the four letter words that erupt from the mouths of teenagers, lack of respect for one's elders appears to be increasingly prevalent. How then do we engage (or even demand) the respect of our children? And how do we encourage them to show...

I'm always astonished when I hear a parent proclaim, "I don't believe in giving my child an allowance." Sometimes this is accompanied by, "I'd rather just hand him cash when he asks" and /or "I don't want to spoil him." Either way, I'm puzzled by this attitude. Our job as parents is to raise our children to be functioning adults some day and adults need to know how to handle money. Children of all ages are experiential learners: they don't learn well if they're lectured about something – instead, they need to experience things themselves. This includes making mistakes and learning...
7:30 a.m. this morning: buzz, buzz, buzz. I hit the button on the alarm and it stopped. Well, I thought, I feel pretty good! That extra hour of sleep really makes a difference! Quick back story: my son, Dan, has been sick with the flu for 5 days. Last night he woke us up three times for various reasons, one of which was that he still has a 99.7 fever and couldn’t go to school today. That is when I reset my alarm from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. I swung my feet over the edge of the bed and stretched, looking back at my husband as I did so. Still asleep. My eyes rested momentarily on the alarm...
Last night at around 9:30 p.m. my nineteen year old son, who is a new and enthusiastic runner, decided to go out to Central Park for a run. My fingers knitted together and my brow was close behind. “Running? Now? It’s 9:30.” I said. My son looked at me with a gently benevolent and only slightly patronizing expression, “Mom, I’m six feet tall, it’ll be fine.” So he left. And I got ready for bed. And fell asleep the way mothers do – with one ear open waiting for him to come home. Which he did, of course. But it got me thinking about motherhood and the demon of worry that we seem to...

I received an excellent question to my article “My Child is Non-Binary and I’m Confused.”  Someone wrote in and asked, “I have friends and work colleagues who are transgender. [Sometimes I slip up and misgender them.] Interesting that I am slipping more with my friends. It upsets me when I do it. I immediately apologize and try to validate what I imagine is pain, anger and frustration. I would … like to identify steps I [can] take to not misgender again. I have not asked my friend if he has suggestions as I don’t know if that would be more upsetting.” 

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While staying with my grown daughter during part of our vacation, I noticed that she seemed to have a clear financial plan with regard to spending money on items that she needs as well as on things that she wants, so I asked her how she creates a balance between the two. Interestingly, while I thought there was a clear differentiation between “needs” vs. “wants,” she asked for clarification. I explained that “needs” are things like toilet paper, food, gas money, etc. “Wants” are things like a new pair of shoes if you already have perfectly serviceable ones. She nodded and replied, “I make...
Ok, in my defense I was asleep. Or at least I had been just moments before when I was awakened by my 17 year old son who said (in a neutral tone of voice), “Hey Mom. I got accepted into the Film department at UT.” To backtrack a bit before confessing my parenting sin, you should know that my son has three top choices on his college list. The order in which he preferred one over the other seemed to be semi-fluid for a while, but University of Texas at Austin had risen to the top with two contingencies: 1) He would be admitted to his major – Film -- and 2) He would get into Plan II which is...

I voted for Hillary.  Please don’t let that make you stop reading if you made a different choice from me.  I’m not writing to tell anyone that their choice was wrong.  I am writing to help parents whose children woke up after the election and were afraid.  I’m writing to help give them the words to calm their children and move forward.

On Election night, as the results became clear, my beautiful 28 year old daughter called me, sobbing.  I cried along with her for a while and then I pulled myself together and became a parent. I told her the following.

Half of this...

“Dan?” I asked my son, “I’m curious about how you budget your money. I mean, how do you save for things you don’t have to buy on a daily basis?” “Budgets just make sense to me,” he said, “they seem intuitive.” An interesting answer because, while budgets also felt intuitive to me growing up, I don’t think that’s the norm. In fact I think for many people the impulse purchase feels more “intuitive.” If you think about it, that’s why product placement in stores is so very important. Most people are more likely to pick up a candy bar at the cash register than to walk up and down the...
Andrea, the mother of three year old Max, was stressed when she called me. “He’s driving me crazy,” she said, “he insists that I drop everything to look something up about the Tigris River and when I tell him that he has to wait he has the most explosive temper tantrum you’ve ever seen. Then, when I put him in a time out, just to calm him down, he writes me a note of apology, so that was sweet, but I just can’t take the irrational behavior!” Another mother, Joan, called to tell me that her daughter, Suzanna, was in danger of being kicked out of preschool for being argumentative. The most...

I recently got an email from someone who wanted a “female voice” to read at an event.  The subject of the email was “Ladies.” I found myself tremendously bothered by the email, but not initially sure why.  After reflecting on it for a day or two, I came to some realizations.

First, it rankles me to be called a lady.  Even though I am a cisgender female, I don’t identify as a “lady.” When someone calls me that I immediately disconnect. It conjures up specific images of parasols, cinched waists and luncheons with others who look like...

If I had to choose just one financial lesson for teens to learn before they head into young adulthood it would be the lesson of how money works in real life. In my last post, I said that I don’t believe you should pay your teen for doing chores or getting good grades. In fact, I don’t believe your teen should have to “earn” his allowance in any way. How, then, do we reconcile that with the fact that in “real life” money is earned, not just handed to you? I believe this question arises from a misconception about the definition of allowance. As I stated last time, I define allowance as...
I just finished reading the most marvelous coloring book! I know, I know, reading? A coloring book? How does that happen? It happens when the words are as charming, brave, bold, humorous and touching as the pictures. It happens when the coloring book makes you not only want to go out and buy yourself a shiny new box of colored pencils to color again, but also when you want to quote the words you read to all your friends. The coloring book, “Sometimes The Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon” re-imagines the gender biased world in which we live and celebrates the true complexities and...
I recently asked my son how he thought things might be different this Fall, using his AmEx PASS card rather than being given his allowance in cash on a weekly basis. Deadpan, he quipped, “It’s obvious. Cash is virtually untraceable so all of my illicit dealings will now have to be under the table or I'll have to go to the cash machine and pay a fee. I’m just going to have to be more thoughtful about what I do illicitly.” So much for a straight answer! It did, however, get me thinking. One of the advantages of giving your child his allowance on a card rather than in cash is that you can...
It’s summer. My time is a little less restricted than it usually is because a lot of my clients are away on vacation with their children. I’m spending my free office hours throwing away papers that have accumulated during the past nine or ten months. Earlier in the year, making a decision about throwing these papers away seemed too Herculean a task. Now, they’re just papers and I wonder why I was keeping them and why it was so hard to think about throwing them away earlier. I do this every year though. It’s so predictable that now I laugh at the way I repeat these annual actions....

I’m going to admit, for better or worse, that when my children (ages 23 and 28 - both of whom are married or partnered) have a problem, it causes me anxiety.  Their problem may be with work, or insurance, or with their spouse or partner.  It may be with their feelings of sadness or anger or anxiety.  It may be with finances or their car.  It doesn’t matter, because the moment I hear of it I want to fix it.  In fact, I often take on the feelings as if they are my own.  I begin internally brainstorming about how to solve the problem.  I often want, desperately, to...

This past weekend represented a “first” for my husband and me in the parenting department: we went away and left our son home by himself for two nights. We did not come to this decision easily, mind you. While he’s a “rising senior” in High School and a really reliable kid, he’s only 16. We questioned ourselves: what if there was an emergency? Would he know how to handle it? What if he got ill: who could he call? How would he eat? Would he turn the flame off the burner on the stove if he cooked for himself? How would we know where he was? What if we text him and we don’t hear back?...