Role models. They are everywhere. A few years back, controversy was stirred when a professional athlete once stated that he was not a role model. Unfortunately, this is not true for you. As a foster parent, you will be a role model for countless people, as many eyes will be upon you. Not only will you be a role model for your foster children, but for the public, as a whole. After all, not many in our society know what foster parenting or foster care is really about. If you are like me, your own friends and family members don’t even really know what you do. Gosh! I have written several books on foster care, have a radio show and a weekly video series, and have spoken to countless organizations. Yet, my own family doesn’t really appreciate what my wife and I do on a daily basis as foster parents. Continue reading →
Gratefulness and thankfulness are both positive feelings and important factors when it comes to raising happy, responsible and authentic kids. When we think positively we attract more positive, which leads to attracting more abundance. And who doesn’t want a little of that?
Getting in the space of feeling grateful can help develop the habit of naturally seeing the silver lining, despite what you are going through. Surprisingly, it didn’t dawn on me until recently to start talking to my kids about the practice of gratitude. Continue reading →
Yesterday, when my daughters and I came home after school, I put on the live stream of Hillary Clinton testifying before the Benghazi hearings.
I’m not sure if they were 6, 7 or 8 hours into grilling Hillary Clinton yet, but at that particular moment, a Republican congressman was shouting at her. My girls watched, first with horror and then laughing – who is that man? (Actually, my 11 year old daughter asked “Who is that crazy man?”) As he continued to give his own theory on Hillary Clinton’s actions around Benghazi, my 8th grader, who has done mock trials in Elementary and Middle School, asked if that is how a hearing is supposed to go – are you supposed to make up someone else’s story? Or, are you supposed to ask questions, listen, and gather information, facts?
But it was Hillary’s demeanor – calm, collected, in control – that made the most dramatic impression on my daughters and me.
She listened. She reviewed her notes. She didn’t attack.
She smiled as a panel in front of her berated her with nonsensical questions. She acted like a seasoned world leader.
Here are a few life lessons that my girls and I talked about after the debate:Continue reading →
Like most good parenting books, the advice turns out to be just as useful when dealing with adults as it is when dealing with children. (I think about Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s brilliant How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talkmore often in the context of adult than of child interactions.)
Last night, my 13-year old daughter asked me what was the latest in Syria. In our family, we regularly talk about world events — whether it is the circus of the US pre-election cycle (during the first Republican debate, they gasped when Donald Trump reference Rosie O’donnell as a “fat pig, slob, dog”), the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the numerous incidents related to it, the situation in the Middle East, or the latest research on the importance of sleep (truly, I talk to my kids often about this as I want them to understand how important it is!)
I was telling the girls (Leela, my younger daughter is 11) about the refugee crisis in Europe, and how the image of the 3-year old little Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned while the boat his family was escaping on capsized, moved hearts in a way that shifted inaction, not just of governments, but of everyday people as well. The girls asked what image… So I pulled it up, warning them it was difficult to see. Tara hesitated a moment before looking, anticipating that perhaps indeed this was something she didn’t want to see. But, I watched as she looked with determination.Continue reading →
At breakfast this morning, my family was reflecting on our summer. “The highlight of summer so far,” my elder daughter, Tara (13 years old), said, “was attending the World Games for the Special Olympics.”
My family is incredibly blessed, and our summer has included concerts, Broadway shows, world travel, lots of good food, relaxation, Disneyland and many other highlights. As my younger daughter, Leela (11 years old), nodded enthusiastically, I was moved by what an extraordinary statement they were making.
We attended the Opening Ceremony of the World Games for Special Olympics last weekend. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities that provides year-round training and competition for 4.4 Million athletes in 170 countries.
A few weeks ago while in Washington D.C. with my father, I attended a private dinner with Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics. Tim was passionate and articulate about the event, as well as dispelling some of the assumptions even we had about people with intellectual disabilities. Tim is truly a humble champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and the Shriver family must be applauded for taking an event that his mother, Eunice Shriver, started over 40 years ago and making it into a global social movement that it is today. As written about in this NY Times piece, Special Olympics and The Burden of Happiness, there is a long way still to go. The World Games truly felt like a Utopian world, and the stark reality for many of these people is very different and one is reminded of the need to champion human rights for all. Continue reading →
Loss has also reminded me to have gratitude and be present with those we love if we have the opportunity to do so. In my 40’s, many people I love have transitioned, and I have seen family and friends lose their parents, spouses, even children, to disease or senseless tragedy. My intent to spend time with loved ones is a priority for me.Continue reading →
Despite the fact that today we pride ourselves on being a culture of multi-taskers, I myself am anything but. For me, multitasking is the art of messing up several things at once. But we all know – and perhaps secretly despise – the woman who can seemingly do it all. And seamlessly, at that! Yes, she’s the one who gets up at 5 a.m., sprints to the gym, then showers, answers all her e-mails, fixes her family a breakfast of steel cut oatmeal with flaxseeds and warm organic maple syrup and is ready to go to the office as soon as she drives her two equally perfect children to school. Her male counterpart is just as Type A and accomplished. Not only does he hold down a high-powered day job, but he is a nationally ranked squash player and on weekends writes poetry when not competing in an Ironman Triathlon. In a pinch, he can re-shingle his roof.
One morning, many moons ago, I decided that I, too, could do it all. On that particular day, I also made my family oatmeal for breakfast and carefully chose my husband’s suit and tie. And as soon as I rushed my older sons off to the bus and took my little girl to nursery school, I hopped in the car and gave him door-to-door service to his office.
An hour later, all missions accomplished, I returned to my office and started to write my column with still plenty of time left to meet my deadline. I sat back in the chair and let out a large self-satisfied sigh, thinking to myself, Who said you can’t do it all? Just then the phone rang.Continue reading →
Sunday, June 21st we celebrate the men who have filled the role of “father” in our lives. The transition into motherhood and fatherhood can be so different. Women experience a physical change that clearly reflects entering this new phase of life. It’s very hard to miss that something new is happening. For men, however, there is no growing belly, second heart beat or fluttering of a baby’s kicks to signal a new page outside of watching their partner. This means becoming a dad can be just as much about deciding to step into the role as it is contributing DNA. It means readily accepting the care and responsibility for a new life and that is a big job! Continue reading →
If you want to give your kids an edge in life, teach them to perform under pressure. Doing so will be more helpful than giving them an SAT tutor, tennis lessons, or sending them to Europe to broaden their cultural awareness.
The fact is, most kids crumble under pressure —they perform below their capabilities when they want to do their best.I learned this truth while researching my latest NY Times Best Seller, Performing Under Pressure.
Whether it’s taking the SATs, auditioning for a school play, trying out for the tennis team, or having to play their guitar at a family gathering, pressure is apt to worsen your kid’s performance.Memory, attention, judgment, decision making, psychomotor skills are all downgraded when they are in a pressure moment—a situation in which they have something at stake and the outcome is dependent on their performance.Continue reading →