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Be The Bra: The Tools You Need to Lift Up & Support Your Girls.

Talk Less. Smile More. An Effective Parenting Approach with Teens (That Will Enable You to 🍺🍷🍩 Less)

This weekend is a big weekend. My 16-year old daughter and I are away together – something we haven’t done in I don’t remember how long. It’s big for her because we are looking at colleges. It’s big for me because this much uninterrupted quality time together with my teenage daughter has the potential to catapult our relationship forward or backward. Naturally, I want to do everything in my power to ensure that I move things in the right direction. So this last week, I thought long and hard about how to make that happen. I meditated and dug deep. And I landed with one simple motto. “Talk less. Smile more.” I am so grateful to Lin Manuel Miranda, who penned this lyric in “Hamilton,” one of the greatest musicals ever written.  While I go about daily life, there are many phrases from his songs that pop into my head (because Lin is a genius at taking the mundane and making it profound). But for me, “talk less. smile more” is the most powerful. They are words to live by. The lyrics that follow can also be seen as good advice to follow, but not always applicable.  Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for. (Aaron Burr) You can’t be serious. (Hamilton) You wanna get ahead? (Aaron Burr) Yes. (Hamilton) Fools who run their mouths off wind up dead. (Aaron Burr) There isn’t a day that goes by without these words echoing in my head. The truth is though, that I fail to succeed in following them more times than I care to admit). But this...

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Parent the Child You Have, Not the One You Wish You Had

This morning, as my husband and I were walking our dog, we passed two boys playing catch on their front lawn. I looked at my husband and smiled. Inside, I felt a little ache for him. As an athlete and a lover of sports, I know he secretly wished that our girls had that same desire to spend their free time at home playing anything athletic. It got me to thinking about “Jessie,” a mom of one of my GAALSters. Recently, she called me distraught, and was seeking advice.  Jessie wants her daughter to be friendly and outgoing versus shy and reserved. I asked her why. She told me that she believes her daughter’s life would be better.  Jessie couldn’t make sense of it, especially since she is so outspoken, and was a precocious little girl. Jessie continued to tell me about all of the things she has done – unsuccessfully – to get her daughter to change. “What am I doing wrong? I feel like such a failure.” Jessie said.  Then she asked me what she can do or say in order to get her daughter to change. I’m sure at some point most of us realize that our children aren’t quite the people we expected them to be.  And for many, this reality can be difficult. Shedding the preconceived notions of who you want your child to be can even feel somewhat like a grieving process. While it’s okay to mourn the loss of what you think your child should have been, it’s important to embrace who they are. And when you can get over this hurdle,...

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Shut Down the Negative Chatter to Build Self-Esteem

As a mother of two teenage daughters, and a woman who speaks with countless moms about their children, one of the biggest concerns seems to be a lack of self-esteem. When speaking in further detail about it, I come to realize that some of the children do in fact have healthy self-esteem, but aren’t confident. The words self-esteem and confidence are often used interchangeably, when in fact they are different (although related). So before talking about helping boost our child’s self-esteem, it’s necessary to explain the difference. Confidence is related to an action – how you feel about your abilities. It builds by taking action — by trying things you find hard, by going outside your comfort zone. If you work at something, bit by bit, you will become more confident in your abilities.  It’s easier to build confidence because you can be confident about one part of your life, while being uncomfortable about another. Self-esteem is basically how you feel about yourself overall – how much self-love you have. A healthy self esteem affects your confidence because when you love yourself, it makes you more confident in your actions.  Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, the question remains, what can we do to help our children love themselves? The answer isn’t so simple. We cannot give our children self-esteem (although it would be the most wonderful gift). And our words of praise don’t build self-esteem. Yes, praising our child might make them happy and/or feel good, but it teaches them to act in order to get approval and reward. It does not help them develop their own sense of self-worth. Healthy...

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My Mom Sisterhood + Support System – You Are Not Alone

Sometimes I have a love / hate relationship with being a woman. More specifically, being the epicenter of my family. While there are many aspects of taking care of my daughters (and all that goes along with it) and taking care of my home, there’s no denying that along with these major responsibilities comes emotional pain and stress.  When I find it most challenging, I do my best to put things in perspective and be grateful for what I have (the list is fortunately too long to include). I try to focus on how fulfilled I feel being a mother and wife. But there is simply no way (and no good reason) not to allow myself to feel the negative emotions that sometimes accompany me on this rollercoaster ride.  I feel so fortunate to have a sisterhood of women – a mom support system, filled with empathetic and nurturing like-minded women. They are my go-to’s who fill my emotional gaps.  I cast a wide net, just like we do at GAALS. When I am facilitating GAALS programs, I marvel at how open and honest the girls are in sharing their personal experiences, and expressing their most intimate thoughts and feelings. They allow themselves to be vulnerable and in the process, learn that others can relate – boosting their self-esteem. Perhaps equally as important is that the girls gain valuable strategies and insights from one another.  So what can we learn from our daughters? Connecting with peers on a deeper level can make a powerful, positive impact on our lives. The girls, their parents (teachers and therapists also), share stories...

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Being A Mom: Every Part of Raising Children is Humbling

Okay, I’m very well aware that one of the points of writing a blog is to express your own feelings and share it with your community. But every so often you come across something that someone else wrote that rings true, and there’s simply no better way to say it. Below, I’m sharing Anna Quindlen’s well-written thoughts about raising children. Join us and continue the conversation at our first mom’s group meetup at Port Salt Cave on October 16th, 2019. Space is very limited so don’t hold off on registering. On Being Mom by Anna Quindlen If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the blackbutton eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin. ALL MY BABIES are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by...

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How to Help Your Children Ace Stepping Outside Their Comfort Zone

I’m pretty certain that embarrassing ourselves is not on top of most of our “To Do” lists. And while it’s probably safe to say that we are all more comfortable sticking with things we know, I’m sure we all see the value of stepping outside our comfort zones. Even if it means pushing ourselves to do so and failing in the process, it builds strength and character.  A few weeks ago, I voluntarily (but reluctantly) agreed to step outside my comfort zone. But as I was doing it, I unexpectedly got pushed further and further outside of it. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that it happened this way. I’ll tell you the story and let you decide. Before jumping in, I need to set the scene so you can feel my distress. Playing sports brings with it a whole host of feelings of insecurity that I’ve carried since childhood. Each year, I try my best to overcome my fears. And a few years back, I registered for the group tennis lessons through Continuing Education. Unlike those people who claim to be beginners, but played growing up and just haven’t played in a while, I exemplify the definition of a beginner.  Other than in gym class and maybe camp, I’ve never picked up a racket. Since then, I’ve taken probably just over 50 lessons. You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot. She must be pretty good by now.” You would be wrong. At least a dozen people were in these group lessons; and the pros have been mediocre at best. So I haven’t learned much, nor...

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What’s Going Through Your Child’s Mind When They’re Stepping Outside Their Comfort Zone

I’m pretty certain that embarrassing ourselves is not on top of most of our “To Do” lists. And while it’s probably safe to say that we are all more comfortable sticking with things we know, I’m sure we all agree that it’s important to step outside of our comfort zone. Even if it means pushing ourselves to do so and failing in the process, it builds strength and character.  A few weeks ago, I voluntarily (but reluctantly) agreed to step outside my comfort zone. But as I was doing it, I unexpectedly got pushed further and further outside of it. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that it happened this way. I’ll tell you the story and let you decide. Before jumping in, I need to set the scene so you can feel my distress. Playing sports brings with it a whole host of feelings of insecurity that I’ve carried since childhood. Each year, I try my best to overcome my fears. And a few years back, I registered for the group tennis lessons through Continuing Education. Unlike those people who claim to be beginners, but played growing up and just haven’t played in a while, I exemplify the definition of a beginner.  Other than in gym class and maybe camp, I’ve never picked up a racket. Since then, I’ve taken probably just over 50 lessons. You might be thinking, “wow, that’s a lot. She must be pretty good by now.” You would be wrong. I was accompanied by a dozen other people in these lessons, and the pros have been mediocre at best. So I haven’t...

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Moms, Do You Have the Back To School Blues? Let’s Beat It Together!

If you’re anything like me, your wishes turned into reality last week when the countdown to school finally hit zero and the kids got out of your hair…I mean house. Now that we just wrapped week two, the most irritating words you heard echoed all summer, “I’m bored” seem like a distant memory. Yet somehow, you might be longing to hear them again. Summer probably seems like a breeze in comparison to what you are dealing with now – lunches, getting out of the house, coordinating schedules, after-school activities, pickups, etc. There are of course some welcome aspects of our children being safely occupied for the bulk of the day and back on a daily schedule. This is especially helpful for those of us who work from home. Though each September, the start of school smacks us in the face and we seem surprised at how hard it hits. Can you relate? Moms, do you have the back to school blues? This year, I am finding the transition to be particularly stressful. Add a sprinkle of anxiety (and maybe even a dollop of depression) and it makes for a dangerous recipe. In just the first “week” of school (which was actually only 3 school days), I managed to scream at my daughters on two occasions. And when I say I “screamed,” I mean totally lost it (once before school and once after). I stomped away like a toddler, and literally sobbed uncontrollably, on and off, for three days. My abnormal volatile behavior can possibly be attributed to hormonal changes and/or my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah (now in less than a week),...

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Transform Morning Madness into Morning Mindfulness (no magic required)

Getting children up, dressed, fed and out the door for school can feel like a herculean task, regardless of their age. The experience can be just as maddening even when your children are able to do all of that themselves. For those of you with younger kids, I know you’re thinking, “No way. That would be a dream.” I have one thing to say to that, “just wait until you have a teenager.” And if you have girls, get ready to turn up the morning madness a few levels! The reality is that morning madness can negatively impact our entire day. Do you want to transform morning madness into morning mindfulness, without being a magician?  Here are some tips to simplify your morning routine by helping your child become more self-sufficient. Plan ahead:  Make a list of days your child needs to bring or wear something specific. Hang it in their room or in a central location. Get them in the habit of looking at it prior to leaving the house in the morning.  Go food shopping on Sunday and plan out the weeks meals, lunches and dinners. Want to take it one step further? Create a shopping list along with lunch and/or dinner forms. Children can fill in what they want or make it a checklist so all they have to do is mark the box! Prep the night before. Pick out clothing Pack lunch, water and/or a snack Pack the backpack Empower your child to do what they are able to do. This is not only a gift for you, it’s a gift for them. Set their...

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Celebrating Fathers & Their Valuable Role in Their Daughter’s Life

Calling all dads! Although we all know this is a day for your children to stop and appreciate YOU (for a change), Father’s Day is also an ideal time for you to take a moment and think about the important role you play in your daughter’s life. Why? Because chances are you are underestimating the impact you have on her. It’s a widely held belief that the same sex parent, aka her mother, is the biggest influence on your daughter and who she becomes. But guess what? It takes two to tango. Research actually suggests that the different parenting styles men and women typically have come into play in a uniquely powerful way in father-daughter relationships.  A positive relationship with your daughter can have a huge impact on her. From her self-esteem and her self-image, to whether or not she believes in herself.  And we all know that if a girl feels about and views herself in a positive light, it allows her to become a strong and confident woman. And who doesn’t want that for their daughter? So take a minute and think about what defines you as a father. What would your daughter say about you if she was asked? Don’t worry about whether you have the time to help her with homework or attend her after school games. While people might suggest otherwise (and you might even believe it), that is not what defines your role as a father, or what will leave a lasting impression. Showing up for and supporting your daughter is not something that is only based around the school day. There are...

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