How To Plan For Your Next Parenting Chapter

How To Plan For Your Next Parenting Chapter

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Modern Parenting is all about transitioning from one chapter to the next. As much as you might want to, you just can’t stop change.

There are some common chapters that all parents experience at one point or another:

  • The transition of going from parenting babies to toddlers, then toddlers to big kids, then big kids to teenagers, etc.
  • The kids are now dating chapter
  • The kids are now driving chapter
  • The empty nest chapter.

Then there are some transitions or chapters that not all families experience, but can be disruptive to the family:

  • Divorce and or re-marriage
  • Employment changes (i.e. new jobs, loss of job, going from part time to full time)
  • Moving from one home to another (maybe even to a whole new state or country!)
  • Illness or death of a loved one.

Family transitions happen whether we like them or not, and the more we can plan for these transitions to happen before they get here, the better off we will be.

I recently had a huge family transition occur – my youngest child went off to college and I became an empty nester. You can read all about that event HERE. I started planning for this new chapter of my life three years before my daughter, Belle, actually went away for college – and I’m so happy that I did.

Because of this planning, I’m feeling like this chapter of my life is just as meaningful as the previous chapter that was spent raising wonderful humans. 

I did not go through a period of re-discovering who I was (as is common for new empty nester parents). I put effort into this during my planning stage, so I was all ready to dive head-first into the friendships, interests, and career that I spent time envisioning during my planning stage.

YOU can have better family transitions too with a little planning. This post today is all about how to plan for the next big stage in your life – whether it’s a common transition such as the empty nest stage or the new driver stage; however, planning for the disruptive life transitions is just as important.

Read on to find out how to feel confident in your next stage of parenting.


Identify Where You Are Now and Where You Might Go Next

It’s super important to know exactly where you are now, and where you might go next. For example, if your oldest child is in middle school now, then you know that high school is next. That is your next big transition. 

It’s best to always have in mind one to three possible transitions coming up.

Now that you know your next possible transition, what do you want that transition to look like? How do you want to feel during that parenting chapter?


Once during a training I attended, the instructor reminded us that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

Be intentional about where you want to lead your family – and how you want to grow as a parent and as an individual  in the next stage; otherwise, might end up on a whole other path.

Let me use my recent transition into empty nesthood as an example. I have two kids who are three years apart in age. My son’s transition into college was the trigger that got me to thinking about my next stage. When I dropped him off at college, it made me think that in three years when my daughter was scheduled to go off to college, I would have a lot of time on my hands. 

Here are some of the questions I asked myself:

  • What did I need to be happy when I wasn’t consumed with parenting 24/7?
  • How did I need to bring meaning into my life?
  • Who did I want to be a part of my life, and why?
  • What interests did I want to make time for in my next chapter?


These questions allowed me to start having a vision of my next chapter.


Keep In Mind Your Passions, Values, and Beliefs

I’m a broken record about knowing your personal passions, values, and beliefs and aligning all of your parenting and personal decisions with these important guidelines.

Don’t know your personal passions, values, and beliefs? Download the workbook that I created that will help you uncover them now.

Using your passions, values, and beliefs as a guide in making your parenting and personal decisions gives you the confidence you’ll need to tackle that next stage of life.

For example, one of my passions is Modern Parenting. By asking myself the questions mentioned in the previous section and using my passions, values, and beliefs as a guide, I determined that I needed to have a career that I not only enjoyed, but allowed me to work on my Modern Parenting projects. 

Another example is that one of my values is connecting with good people. I also knew that I wanted to feel connected to family and peers that made a positive impact in my life. Unfortunately, by working on this exercise, I came to the realization that I had let many of my friendships go over the years because I simply didn’t have the time or energy left over after parenting my kids to maintain good relationships with many of my family and friends. 

Over the three years that I planned my empty nest next chapter, this is exactly how I used my passions, values, and beliefs as a guide in determining how I should prioritize my planning.


Design the Big Picture

Research tells us that the hardest part of any project is starting it!

Before you get overwhelmed and give up on your project of planning your next transition or chapter, simply give yourself permission to just design a rough outline of the important things that will need to be accomplished before the next stage gets here.

Don’t get tempted to look at the details yet. Just design the big picture.

So, using my empty nest example, I knew that career, family/friends, and Modern Parenting needed to be prioritized in the planning of my next chapter. 

As I considered my empty nest life, I roughly envisioned myself going to a job that paid me enough where I didn’t have to worry about my bills and would also allow me to financially help with my kids’ educations. This job made me feel good about myself because I was helping people as a child psychologist and making a difference in people’s lives. Most importantly, this job would either allow me to work on Modern Parenting full time, or leave me enough time to work on it outside of work. Finally, I also saw myself spending time with family and friends.

Once the overall picture felt right, I moved on to planning the details.


Now Plan The Details

Once you have the big picture nailed down, begin planning the details.

What steps do you need to take to accomplish the goals included in the big picture?

What tasks need to be completed before the start of the next chapter?

Who is involved in your next chapter? How do you need to prepare them? What conversations need to be completed?

Take as much time as you need to plan the details. However, once planning is done, then execute on your plan.

Again, let me give you a glimpse into my planning process for my empty nest stage. As stated above, I wanted to have close connections with positive family and friends in my empty nest chapter. Because I had not kept up with a lot of my family and friends over the past several years, I knew I had some work to do to get this area where I wanted it to be by the time my daughter moved to college.

Slowly and intentionally, I began to make it a priority to re-establish relationships with certain family and friends. Instead of waiting for people to ask me to lunch, I asked them. I texted people encouraging words when I knew they were feeling down or when I knew they had an important event happen. And I gave myself permission (and this was a hard one for me) to balance having a social life with also being a mom.


I can report that by making that effort to reestablish old relationships and encourage new ones over the last year or so, I now have the social life that I envisioned three years ago. I’m so happy that I put in this effort!


When To Start Planning?

You know the old saying about the oak tree, right?

When is the best time to plant an oak tree?

The best time to plant an oak tree is 20 years ago – the second best time to plant an oak tree is TODAY!

The best thing you can do for yourself is to start planning your next transition or stage today. 

Thinking of transitioning from a parent who works part time to one that works full time? Start planning now in order to ensure a smooth transition on your kids and to feel confident in yourself.

Will your oldest child begin high school in 2 years? Start thinking about which high school is best for your child. Do they need to be taking certain classes in middle school to apply for a certain track in high school? What extracurriculars will they need?

You can never begin planning too early – but if you fail to plan then you plan to fail (I know! Cliched, right? But still true!!).

You can do this – I believe in you! 🙂



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Family Transitions and Taking Breaks

Family Transitions and Taking Breaks

Recently, my Modern Family went through a major transition.

My youngest child moved away to college!

Wow! I can’t believe that I’m an empty nester now.


It’s just me, the chihuahua, and the cat roaming around the house all by ourselves now. While the quiet feels strange, I’m also excited – excited to watch my kids pursue their adult dreams and excited to begin my next chapter in life, too.


I had heard horror stories about how the empty nest transition can be a hard one on Modern Parents (especially single parents), so about three years ago,I began planning to make my empty nest chapter a positive and exciting one. I’m glad I did, too, because I definitely feel ready for this next chapter in my life. 


There’s a lot I have to share about my experience with planning for the empty nest stage, so I’m going to share all those thoughts in next week’s blog post


However, in today’s post, I want to share how my Modern Family came together to make my daughter’s college move a special one, and why it was important that I took a break from blogging over the summer in order to be fully present for this important time in my daughter’s life.

I hope that by sharing my experiences, you will 1) feel more confident in developing creative ways to make your family events special no matter what your family looks like, or what unique challenges your family might face, and 2) to give yourself guilt-free permission to take breaks from some responsibilities to focus on your family.


How My Modern Family Handled This Transition

As many of my readers know, I co-parent my son and daughter with my ex-husband and his new husband. We are a mixed orientation family – one parent is straight while the other parent is gay. You can read more about my family here. We’ve been parenting pretty successfully this way (admittedly, with several ups and downs) for the past 11 years.


Jeff (my ex-husband), Keith (Jeff’s husband), and I are not only co-parents, but friends, so this makes co-parenting fun and easy. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get together because we live about 90 miles away from each other and as the kids got older, they had their own busy lives that didn’t always include wanting to hang out with parents. But overall, we try to make sure that we are planning get togethers semi-regularly.


We also make an effort to ensure that our kids feel special and loved during important life events such as graduations, birthdays, holidays, etc. so coming together to move our daughter to college was pretty natural for us.


As is typical for most Modern Families, sometimes special occasions conflict with work responsibilities and social events, so we had to be creative with fitting in everyone’s goals during this trip. Belle was scheduled to move into her dorm at the University of California Santa Cruz on Friday, September 13th. Unfortunately, I had already committed to speaking at the Diversity in Parenting Conference that same Friday and Jeff and Keith usually attend “Out at The Mountain” at Magic Mountain each year and it fell on the 13th as well this year.


The way we chose to solve this problem was to ask Belle to contact her school to get permission to move in on Saturday the 14th (gotta learn these life skills at some point, right?) and, thankfully, they allowed her to move in a day late. On Friday, I stayed overnight at the conference in Anaheim and Belle attended the event at Magic Mountain with her Dads where they stayed the night at a hotel close to the park. Early Saturday morning, I drove to their hotel, and then we all loaded into the Dads’ SUV and we drove the 5 hours to Santa Cruz together.


We had a fun, but emotional weekend together experiencing moving our last kid into college. Experiencing special moments with each individual kid is always uniquely different. Although I had experience moving my son to college three year earlier, he only moved to Los Angeles which is only an hour away from me. I didn’t expect that I would feel so emotional leaving my daughter in Santa Cruz – she feels so much farther away from me than my son! 



Keith, Me, Belle, Jeff                                              Belle & I Saying Goodbye


Even though driving away from Santa Cruz was hard, my heart feels so happy and proud when I speak to my daughter on the phone each day and she is loving her on-campus job, meeting lots of new friends, and enjoying her classes. This is a great new chapter for her!


All in all, this Modern Family event was a success for us, but it was also VERY exhausting.


Which is why I chose to take a break over the summer from everything except for seeing patients in my private practice  – and this allowed me to soak in all of those last moments of being a full time mom.



Why I Decided To Take a Break From Blogging This Summer


I’ve talked about the benefit of taking a break from optional commitments in order to focus on family before. Sometimes we need to “circle the wagons” around our families in order to provide the support our family needs to overcome a certain event. 


The origin of the expression “circling the wagons” came about in the 1800’s and refers to settlers arranging their wagons in a large circle, protecting women, children, farm animals, and valuables on the inside of the circle from an enemy. 


Modern families, at times, need to “circle the wagons” against the modern enemy of overcommitment, unhealthy relationships, and/or ineffective bad habits in order to provide the support that families require to remain loving, warm, and close. 


This summer definitely called for circling the wagons around my family.


What was my purpose for doing this, and how did I make it happen?


My purpose for “circling the wagons” this summer – or taking a break from unnecessary activities or commitments – was to:


  • Provide emotional support for my daughter when she got nervous about moving to college. 
  • Communicate to my daughter that she was loved and that she mattered to me
  • Soak in all of the “little things” like laughing over the antics of our cat, hearing her complain about having nothing to wear, or even making dinner together – these things won’t happen on a daily basis for me anymore.

I knew I could have dinner or lunch with friends anytime. I could write blog posts and post on social media another day. I could turn down speaking engagements over the summer because there would be many more in the fall and winter. 


This was a unique time in my daughter’s life and I wanted to be there all I could.



In order to make this happen, I relied upon my assistant to ensure that I only scheduled patients in the afternoons and early evenings (it’s hard for me to say no to my patients!). This allowed me to have slow mornings to hang out with Belle. We also cooked together each night and watched a show or two together.



When friends would suggest lunch or dinner dates, I let them know that I was going to be out of the loop of a while to focus on family. All of my friends understood and supported my decision. 


Even after the move to Santa Cruz, I still needed a few weeks to recover from all the emotions and busyness of the past month. Taking this time to myself was great for my own mental health, and now I feel fully recharged.



Great Things To Come


So now my “next chapter” is here – and I’ve got some really BIG plans for Modern Parents. 

You’ll see some new ways to learn about Modern Parenting and I’m working on providing new opportunities to engage more voices in conversations about current Modern Parenting topics.


I can’t wait to introduce these new projects to you, so keep an eye out for announcements over the next few months. The best way to keep up on all of the changes is to sign up for my mailing list and to like me on Facebook. I would love to keep in contact with you!



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How I Became A Modern Parenting Expert

How I Became A Modern Parenting Expert

NOTE: I’m in the middle of writing my Modern Parenting book, where I share my personal experience with the events that happened to make me a Modern Parenting Expert. While writing the intro to the book, I realized that I haven’t really shared my experience on the blog in a while. Now that my kids are older, I especially like to share my story so that Modern Families of all types can find inspiration in the fact that both traditional AND non-traditional families can raise great kids while finding fulfillment and enjoyment in their parenting. 

I became a Modern Parenting Expert out of necessity when my husband of 14 years came out to me as a gay man and I found myself suddenly raising a young son and a daughter within the context of a non-traditional family. There weren’t any parenting experts out there who could advise me on how to raise great kids in a non-traditional family. Pretty much all of the current experts were very traditional-family oriented, which isn’t a bad thing in general, but that wouldn’t work for me. And it wouldn’t work for millions of other non-traditional families either. So I had to become my own Modern Parenting Expert for the good of my family.

This all happened back in the early 2000s, when having a LGBTQ parent was still considered to be controversial. This was before Caitlyn Jenner, before the hit tv show Modern Family, and before many states changed their laws to include gay marriage. Back then, being a good parent meant being married to your children’s father and raising the kids together under one household. It didn’t mean being divorced or, worse yet, having to explain to young kids why their father is different from all of their friend’s fathers.

While my relationship with Jeff, my ex-husband, was long and spanned many years and many chapters in both of our lives, his coming out and our subsequent divorce happened pretty fast. To give you context, let me start at the beginning. Jeff and I had the quintessential boy next door/girl next door relationship. We grew up in a small town in Southern California and attended a small Christian private school starting in preschool and going all the way until 12th grade – we literally grew up tougher. As an example of how enmeshed our lives were from such as early age, to this day  when Jeff’s parents show old family videotapes, I often pop up in the background as one of many young kids running around their yard attending one of the many elementary school pool parties or birthday parties that they hosted over the years. If Jeff and I weren’t in the same class each year, we at least saw each other on the playground every day and had the same, small circle of friends.

We started to become super close when my childhood best friend left our private school for the local public school at the beginning of 8th grade. I was lost. Who did I hang out with, joke around with, and share my most intimate thoughts with now? It seemed so natural that Jeff became my new best friend, and he remained in this role all through junior high and high school. We finally started dating during our Senior year and became even closer in a new, romantic way. We remained dating our freshman year of college despite the fact that we went to different Southern California colleges, but this distance caused us to miss each there terribly and we got engaged by the end of the year. By our sophomore year, I had transferred to Jeff’s college and we married that summer.

I look back on our marriage warmly. I think Jeff does too. After college, Jeff went on to law school and I worked full time to support us. Even though we were often broke, these were fun years together. We had our first child, a son, in our 4th year of marriage and our daughter 3 years later. In case you’re wondering, our marriage seemed normal to me. Comfortable, even. I loved the security and the warmth that our marriage provided. People ask me all the time whether or not I knew deep down that Jeff was gay. No. I really didn’t. Maybe it was my small-town, protected childhood, but I didn’t even think the scenario that my husband might be secretly gay even existed. When I thought of gay people, it was of nameless people I didn’t know living in San Francisco or Palm Springs. I didn’t even know anyone who was gay at the time (or so I thought) and I believed that gay people wouldn’t even want to get married to someone of the opposite sex, so the fact that my husband could be gay never in a million years entered my mind.

It wasn’t until our 13th year of marriage that things started to change. By this time, Jeff had graduated from law school and had been working at a prominent Southern California law firm for about 7 years. After staying at home with the kids for the past 7 years, I just started graduate school to become a psychologist. Jeff was on the partner track at his law firm and he was being scrutinized for partner material pretty intensely at this point, which was very stressful. Many of Jeff’s clients were cities and other public entities, and this forced him to attend city council meetings and other similar meetings late into the night. Initially, these late night meetings occurred about once per week; now they were happening several times each week. He also started going to the gym a lot and staying there for up to 4 hours at a time. He just was suddenly never home.

Things had become strained between us. What was once such an easy and mutually supportive relationship, now had become distant, secretive, and poisoned. As you can probably imagine, I started to suspect that Jeff was having an affair – but with a woman, not a man. Maybe it was my very protective upbringing (remember I went to a teeny tiny Christian school with basically the same 30 kids my whole life) but I didn’t even think to consider the possibility that my husband might be gay.

But gay he was, and he finally admitted this to me. I was devastated, and I know it was hard on Jeff too. Even though Jeff and I have had many conversations about his coming out over the past decade, I still don’t pretend to fully know exactly what he went through on his difficult and emotional path to accepting his true self, and I want to be considerate of that. This is just an experience that I will never have to go through, so I don’t want to misrepresent what he went through.

But I will tell you that I was scared out of my mind about what this meant to me and our 2 kids. Would I be able to support myself? Would my kids find it hard to fit in with other kids, or, worse yet, would they be the objects of ridicule by their peers? Would they develop the stereotypical behavioral problems so many people blame on divorce? Will they be able to be emotionally close to their Dad? And more personally what did this mean about me that I didn’t see this coming?

I was scared out of my mind that this was the start of a whole new and scary chapter for me and the kids – and that’s where I decided to purposefully to do everything in my power to figure out a way to ensure that my kids felt normal, that we would all stay close as a family (including Jeff), and that we would create a family that supported all of our hopes and dreams for the future. I decided that I wasn’t going to rely on the world to come around and make this happen, or to hope that someone would do all this for me, but I knew I had the power to make this happen for my family if I put in the required effort and devotion.

Some people say that it was lucky that I was going through graduate school to become a psychologist at the time, and I will admit that my classes and training experiences provided me with an unexpected support system and a healthy way of looking at my new situation. I intended on specializing in child psychology when I first applied to graduate school, but now my focus became somewhat personal too. I searched out training experiences that would put me into contact with all different kinds of families in order to become an expert at understanding and helping kids and families with whatever modern challenges stood in their way.

* * *

So, Jeff and I were divorced almost exactly 9 months after we made the decision to divorce. Remember how I said everything moved fast? I didn’t even know what to tell people about our divorce at first. Initially, I just told people that Jeff and I had broken up and let them draw their own conclusions. Most people assumed it’s because Jeff had outgrown his stay-at-home, uninteresting high school sweetheart and found a younger and prettier model. I let them think this for the first couple of years because I felt like the alternative might mean that my kids would suddenly become outcasts or that Jeff might lose his high-profile job. I just couldn’t imagine that anyone would understand; I had never heard of this situation happening to anyone that I knew before.

But the funny part is that as I slowly felt more comfortable opening up to people (mostly people that I was close to) over the next couple of years, I began to hear stories of this same scenario happening to people I knew – or people that they knew – and I didn’t feel so alone. Over time, I became emboldened and I began to see that I set the tone of how people treated me: if I acted confident and secure about my little non-traditional family, then others treated me in kind, but if I adopted the persona of a victim, then that’s how I was treated. Again, it was a good lesson that I set the tone for my family, so I began to have an attitude that people could take us or leave us, but we would be fine either way.

Over time, I became more confident about letting people know about my Modern Family. I always let the parents of my kids’ friends know that while Jeff and I were divorced, we were still really good friends and he was at our house a lot. Oh, and that he now identified as gay. I wanted to be fair to others and let them decide whether or not to allow their kids to be friends with my kids or to let their kids come over to my house. I wanted to be respectful of the points of view of other families, but not one family ever had a problem with it.

I think the reason was because even though we were a non-traditional family, we functioned a lot like a traditional family. It was obvious that all four of us were close to each other. Jeff and I were friends (I’ve always felt that Jeff was my biggest supporter while I was in graduate school), and the kids knew that Jeff and I would attend all their school events together without any kind of weird awkwardness.

People began to look at my family as an example of good parenting. Even though we were a divorced, mixed-orientation family (a term for when one parent is gay and the other parent is straight), we had smart kids who did well in school, they were well adjusted and fun to be around, and our family did fun and interesting things together because we enjoyed each other’s company. The parents from my kid’s school began asking my advice a lot. How did I get my kids to be such good readers? What were my guidelines about video games, television viewing, social media use? How was I able to balance work and family? I kind of became this small town guru for practical parenting advice – no matter what the family looked like because the advice was pretty much the same for every family type.

In 2014 I even began this blog that initially was meant to help other mixed-orientation and non-traditional families, but as my kids got older and did not want their personal lives on the internet, it became less about my own family and more about general Modern Parenting advice. I started to see that all kinds of families needed guidance on topics that the current parenting experts just did not touch on. Topics such video games, social media, self-esteem, academic pressure, and mental health problems among others needed to be addressed not only by someone with a mental health background, but by someone with lived experience with tackling Modern Parenting topics.

Flash forward to today and my kids are practically grown up. My son is 2) years old now and is finishing up his studies at USC in the pre-law program where he hopes to become a lawyer just like his dad. He is a great young adult who still loves nerd things like Star Wars (he and I always attend Star Wars Celebration as a mother/son trip every year) and is involved in many activities on campus with his friends. As I write this manuscript, my daughter is a few weeks away from turning 18 and about to graduate from high school. Her Dad has been taking her on weekend trips all over California and Oregon to look at colleges. She’ll be making a decision on where she’ll go to college very soon. She is a sweet, kind, and smart young lady who volunteered at our local medical center in the summers and started her own feminist club at school. Jeff has been married to his husband, Keith, now for about a year and while this changed the dynamic of our little Modern Family a bit, we all still remain close as a family.

All in all, my little Modern Family made it. And this means the world to me. If my family can weather the storm of modern parent challenges, then I know yours can too.



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The Top Modern Parenting Trends of 2019

The Top Modern Parenting Trends of 2019

As a child psychologist and a Modern Parenting Expert, I’ve worked with parents a lot over the years, and I’ve noticed a slight shift in the priorities of the Modern Parents that I work with.

And you know what? I absolutely LOVE what I am hearing!!

I always say that this is the best time to be a parent because we have access to so much wisdom from science and parenting experts to really do the best job possible as parents. We can use the conclusions gleaned from scientific studies to inform all aspects of our parenting – from the way we discipline our kids to how we schedule their afternoon and weekend “free time”. Anecdotal stories from real-life parents who are willing to let us view their parenting strategies also allow us to weigh the pros and cons of all sorts of parenting strategies – from Amy Chua (The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom) to Danielle Meitiv (the “free-range” mom) to all of the celebrity moms out there posting their parenting techniques on Twitter or Instagram.

I believe that the shift I’m seeing lately in the priorities of parents is a natural response to some of the information that has come to our attention over the past several years. For example, below are some of the concerns that my clients have wanted to discuss with me over this year that I find exciting:

  • While research has shown that rewarding kids with participation trophies instead of for outstanding effort has helped their self-esteem, it’s also helped to create a generation of selfish monsters too – how can we encourage confidence without turning kids into narcissists?
  • While most parents I talk to aren’t willing to allow their kids to roam around their town unsupervised, they do realize that there is some value to unstructured free-time for their child – how can we encourage independence while still ensuring safety?
  • Even though statistics show that both mothers and fathers spend more time, money, and effort on their kids, the rates of childhood anxiety and depression are rising anyway – how can we create close family bonds without smothering our kids?


Questions such as these have helped me see that there are several trends that Modern Parents want addressed in 2019. I’ve begun considering these trends in my writing projects for 2019, as well as in my therapeutic treatment plans in my private practice.

So let me explain the trends as I see them.


The Trends

Trend #1: Modern Parents want a close relationship with their kids without raising kids who are dependent on them forever.

Generational researcher Jean Twenge knows our kids well. She’s dubbed kids born between the mid 1995  and the mid 2007 as the iGen generation. These kids are notable because they were born and raised in the age of the internet, smart phones, interactive video games, and social media. In order to really get to know this generation of kids, she surveyed the iGen kids and compared their answers to surveys of teens of prior generations.

What she found is that iGen kids are putting off adulthood for as long as possible. For example, iGen kids are putting off what can be considered dangerous adult activities such as smoking, drug use, and sex outside of marriage much later than prior generations of teens.

That’s good, right? But Twenge also found that iGen kids are putting off important benchmarks that help them prepare to be adults when it’s time. The age at which they are performing tasks such as having their first date, getting their first job, and moving out of their parent’s home is becoming later and later.

Statistics also show that iGen kids spend far less face-to-face time with their PEERS and significantly more time at home with their PARENTS. This has served to help Modern Families create a very close bond between family members – but it also comes at a cost.

On the surface, delaying adulthood doesn’t seem like that bad of an issue to Modern Parents. Many parents that I work with get a lot of satisfaction out of having a close relationship with their kids, so delaying adulthood kind of works for them too.

But we can’t let our desire to have a close relationship with our kids interfere with their ability to participate in important milestones that are meant to prepare them for a successful adulthood. I’ve found that many kids who were allowed to put off these important preparatory activities either 1) never developed the confidence to perform them in early adulthood and remained powerless at home with their parents, or 2) became comfortable with never becoming adults and continued to allow their parents to parent them well into late adulthood.

We have to find a balance between developing a close relationship with our kids, but also be prepared to help them out of our (very comfortable!) nest at the right time. I’ll be focusing on helping Modern Parents find this balance in both my writing and my private practice in 2019.


For a previous article with tips on how to encourage your child’s independence, click here to read this earlier blog post.


Trend #2: Modern Parents want to find the right balance between coddling their kids and neglecting them

In Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s book entitled The Coddling of The American Mind, the concept of creating kids who crave safety (from both physical and emotional threats) is explored. These authors postulate that the reason the iGeners prefer to ignore ideas opposite from what they believe (rather than listen to these ideas and then form their own argument as to why they are not correct) is because well-meaning parents inadvertently taught their kids 3 powerful untruths: 1) the Untruth of Fragility (that kids are fragile and need to be protected at all costs), 2) the Untruth of Emotional Reasoning (that a child’s feelings can always be trusted to be a truthful reflection of a situation), and 3) the Untruth of Us Versus Them (life is a battle between good people and bad people).

By trying to help our kids avoid unnecessary harm, they’re are not learning to be resilient; instead they’re internalizing the message that they should fear things that are hard or different and that someone other than them should solve their problems for them. Even though we had good intentions, many Modern Parents taught their kids that they are easily harmed (both physically and emotionally), they should always trust their feelings over their intellect and hard facts, and that people who have different ideas are “bad”.

Many parents that I’ve worked with lately want to find that balance between caring too much and too little. They now understand that allowing their kids to take some risks and experience setbacks, mistakes, or heartache is actually developmentally appropriate and good for them in the long-run.

The issue becomes this: how do parents know when to let go and when to step in and help their child? Remember, Modern Parents want to have close relationships with their kids (which is a good thing), so learning to let go at appropriate times is a learned skill for many of us.

To learn more about how to help your child learn to take smart risks, check out this previous blog post and this one too.


Trend #3: Modern Parents want their kids to be internally motivated for tasks that will contribute to making them interesting and worthwhile adults

Almost all of my young clients in my private practice struggle with motivation.

It seems that one of my treatment goals for my tween and teen clients always includes increasing their motivation for worthwhile activities. Parents are telling me that they are tired of their kids spending all their free time on video games, social media, and Youtube.

I’ve found that kids are attracted to these activities because they lack a sense of purpose, and part of how I work with parents is to teach them how to identify their child’s natural talents and abilities and use these natural interests to build a sense of purpose 

For example, a previous client of mine had a natural interest in cooking. This child (who was 14 at the time) was obsessed with playing video games all afternoon and evening. Once this client’s parents identified that the client had a history of asking his parents to cook (and constantly getting turned down!), they realized that this was a natural interest of his. This client’s mother was a working mom and she had always resisted allowing her son to help her cook because she thought it made dinner prep time more of a hassle and more of a mess than if she just cooked by herself.

However, mom now saw the value in letting her son help with the cooking and we created a plan together on how to begin including part of the client’s afternoon time with cooking responsibilities. Of course, this meant that mom and dad needed to spend a lot of time with the client up front on teaching his things like how to prep food, cook safely, and clean up appropriately, but eventually the child took on more of the cooking responsibilities and his parents less.

Over time, this client really blossomed! Pretty soon he willingly spent only a small fraction of his free time on video games. As his competence with cooking grew, he naturally gravitated to spending much of his free time on researching recipes, creating his own recipes, and experimenting with cooking.

By the time the client had his last session with me, his parents reported that the client was preparing most of the family meals which allowed his parents to relax and spend quality time with their kids at night. In addition, the client’s self-confidence grew tremendously and much of his anxiety decreased dramatically.

If kids don’t begin to explore a sense of purpose based upon their natural talents and interests, they tend to gravitate to activities that simply take up their time without actually being helping them grow as human beings.

Modern parents are beginning to understand that motivation for worthwhile activities doesn’t just happen overnight – this is a life skill that needs to be cultivated during childhood 

To find out how to begin identifying your child’s natural talents and interests, check out this previous blog post and this one too.


Trend #4: Parents more than ever find enjoyment and satisfaction in raising their kids within a family environment that is unique to their individual passions, values, and beliefs.

I’m finding that today’s Modern Parents are seeking to create family environments that align with their unique passions, values, and beliefs – even if this means doing things differently from the way their parents did things or even the way their friends are parenting.

This is definitely parenting with intention. Instead of REACTING to parenting situations, these parents have a clear sense of how to parent that is based upon preconceived guidelines based upon values that are important to the parents. This makes sense, right? Parents feel more in control and happier with their parenting decisions when they take they time to think through how they will react to a parenting situation before the situation actually takes place.

Here’s another example from one of my old clients. I helped this particular mom and dad identify their personal passions, values, and beliefs. Once they were clear on the priorities of their family, they created family rules and guidelines that were based on this plan.

Every family will identify different priorities – and that’s ok – but this family very much valued participating in local plays and musicals ad spending time with friends. This meant that decisions regarding family time took into account rehearsals, practices, and social gatherings. Family rules included guidelines for certain grades in school that had to be met in order to participate in upcoming performances.

These guidelines worked for this family because they were based upon their unique passions, values, and beliefs. When these parents were confronted with a difficult parenting situation, instead of reacting mindlessly to the situation, they based their decision on their preconceived passions, values, and beliefs that they had identified.

They reported that they felt happier and more confident after going through this exercise.

To find out how to identify your family’s passions, values, and beliefs, check out this article with a free PDF downloadable worksheet. 

Or click here to download the worksheet now.


Take Home Message

The message here is that Modern Parents are great at using information to inform their parenting, but they want to use this information to help them build a strong relationship with their kids and to raise kids who are internally motivated and moral.

Modern Parents are also experiencing more satisfaction from being a parent – especially when their parenting decisions align with their personal passions, values, and beliefs. Being a parent doesn’t mean that you need to give up your personal identity, and many Modern Parents are figuring out how to create families that are an accurate reflection of their uniqueness.

2019 is going to be a great year or learning and improvement for Modern Parents. Keep coming back to Parenting The Modern Family for more blog posts, videos, and parenting resources that will reflect these, and other, Modern Parenting trends so that you have the best information possible to create the family of your dreams!



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How Smart Modern Parents Make The Holidays Special For Their Families

How Smart Modern Parents Make The Holidays Special For Their Families

It doesn’t matter what your Modern Family looks like – traditional, divorced, same sex parents, single parent, or something totally different – the holidays are a great opportunity to put a pause on any challenges or unpleasantness of everyday life and, instead, focus on appreciating your wonderful family.

By their very nature, holidays create a consistent and predictable yearly tradition to bring families together. Daffnee Cohen writes in The Huffington Post that, “While both good and bad distractions present themselves every day, tradition [such as the holidays] does an excellent job of keeping us focused on the things that are truly important.”

So what matters to Modern Parents the most? Their families, of course! And this article is going to explain how Modern Parents use the magic of the holidays to practice the 3 important elements of Modern Parenting – autonomy, mastery, and relatedness – in order to build a close and special bond with their kids.


Autonomy: Inviting Your Child Into The Magic of Tradition

Every family needs holiday traditions. When I work with families in my private practice during the holidays, I stress the importance of creating special traditions that are unique to the individual family.

Even families that celebrate the holidays in multiple homes (such as in divorced families) can create – and consistently maintain – holiday rituals. For example, I worked with a divorced Dad several years ago who adamantly told me that it was impossible to have holiday traditions in his home because the children’s mother kept all of the old holiday decorations. I explained to him that holiday traditions aren’t just about decorations but also about repeatable rituals, good feelings, predictable recipes, and consistent family stories and memories.

Because I’ve worked with kids over a number of years, I know that they can handle (and enjoy) holiday traditions at different locations. Most of us have experience with participating in holiday traditions at different locations, whether at different parent’s homes, different grandparent’s homes, or even at our in-law’s homes We were able to adapt and enjoy these traditions, and so will our kids. I encouraged this newly divorced Dad to create new rituals, menus, stories – and yes, decorations – with his kids at his new house.

One great way of encouraging your child’s autonomy during the holidays is to include them in the creation of new traditions, or even in allowing them a voice in expanding on current traditions,

I’ve written many articles about the importance of autonomy – or the art of teaching your child to make good decisions – and why smart Modern Parents find everyday opportunities to allow their kids to practice making decisions. Holiday traditions provide a great way to include your child in the decision-making that happens during this time.

For example, let younger kids pick out the cookie recipes for the annual cookie exchange or the wrapping paper style for grandparent gifts. Some tweens can be asked to brainstorm the seating arrangements around one (or multiple) tables during the holiday meal. For older kids, challenge them to come up with gift ideas for extended family members that is based on a specific budget.

Remember, your child’s ideas don’t have to be perfect. This is a opportunity to teach life skills. Just focus on the process – not a perfect outcome.


Mastery: Highlighting Your Child’s Natural Talents

What better way to build your child’s confidence and self-esteem than by allowing their natural talents and strengths to shine through during the holidays.

Every child has individual natural strengths and talents, and the idea of a Mastery Mindset is that practicing these strengths and talents is a lifelong process. It’s not about being the best, or doing something until you reach a certain level and then you move one, it’s about participating in an activity that is enjoyable and challenging and slowly getting better at the activity over time.

The rewards for participating in the activity come from within – the reward is feeling proud of the achievement. Allowing your child to incorporate their natural talent into the holiday tradition encourages their Mastery skills.

For example, I had a client whose daughter loved to sing. When she was only 9, her parents allowed her to join the Church choir. That year, this shy little girl, sang in the very last row (her mother said she shrank back behind the taller kids out of nervousness – you could barely see her) during the Christmas choir concert. When I checked in with the family years later (when the child was about 16), her mother reported that her daughter slowly become better and better at singing, and her confidence in herself and grown over the years to the point that she had a solo in the current year’s Christmas choir concert.

What natural talent or ability does your child have that could be highlighted during this holiday? It could be something as big as my client’s singing ability, but it could also be something as small as being good at wrapping gifts. Whatever strength (or strengths – you don’t have to focus on only one!) you choose to highlight, remember that the goal is to allow your child to participate and gain that inner pride of doing something that they are good at and that they like.


Relatedness: Learning That Everyone Has An Important Role To Play In This World

I think it’s pretty obvious that the holidays provide a great excuse to spend time as a family and emphasizing relatedness skills during this time will go a long way increasing your child’s sense of empathy and decreasing their sense of entitlement.

Remember that the concept of relatedness involves helping your child understand that they have an important and valuable role to play within the family, their peer group, and within the larger world around them. When kids feel that they are uniquely important within these 3 groups, they tend to make smart decisions for themselves and act in ways that are less entitled and more empathetic.

In order to emphasize relatedness skills within the family, show your child that they are a valuable and loved family member this holiday season not through gift-giving, but by making sure they have an important role in family rituals and traditions. Do watch Christmas movies on the weekends? Make sure your child’s choice is included in the lineup.Does your child like to put the star on top of the Christmas tree? Make sure they know that Christmas doesn’t start until they’ve fastened the star to the tree.

Memories like these serve to build – and maintain – a strong parent-child bond.

In order to help your child understand their important role with their peer and the larger society, encourage them to use their natural gifts and talents to make other people happy during the holidays, For example, if your child likes to bake, encourage them to have their friends over for a cookie-baking day. If they are taking piano lessons, encourage them to play for the grandparents when they ce over for a visit.

The point here is to allow your child the experience of making other people happy and experiencing the feeling of internal pride that this brings. Our Modern Kids are all too often experiencing high levels of entitlement, and emphasizing relatedness skills is the antidote to this modern issue.


Take Home Message

The thing to remember here is to ensure that you’re not letting the holidays mindlessly slip by. The holiday season provides a great opportunity to make wonderful memories, and – if you’re smart – you can also emphasize some pretty important life skills.

We want our kids to be experts at some important life skills such as making good decisions, learning how to make friends with good people, learning to be empathetic to others so that they are experts with these skills by the time the are young adults and out of our protective nest.

Teaching these important life skills is a long process, and using the yearly rituals and traditions that come along with the holidays provides a great opportunity to not only bond with your child, but to continue to prepare them for their great future.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously