The Things We Tell Our Children

Last school year my daughter, Gigi, came home distraught one afternoon—she had her first misunderstanding with a good friend. It was drama filled and in her young mind, she didn’t think they would ever be friends again. She didn’t have perspective, just hurt feelings and sadness. Like most young children, all was better within a day or so. Gigi worked things out with her friend and that began our journey teaching Friendship 101.

After a recent disagreement with a neighborhood friend, I paused while giving Gigi my normal advice. “Friends go through things from time to time,” I told her. “If you care enough about the friendship, you will find a way to work it out. All you have to do is try to communicate as best you can and that goes both ways. You have to listen as well and it will all work out.” And that’s when I heard myself.

It will all work out.

It will all work out?

The harsh reality is, it doesn’t always work out.

As she gets older, the elementary understanding of being a friend will become more complex as will disagreements. There will be many factors that determine whether everything will work out and I should be mindful of giving her the hope that friendships will always mend. I may be setting her up for possible heartache down the line if I continue to paint such a rosy picture.

Friendships can end horribly and without warning. They can end under ambiguous, confusing circumstances, the worst of which is the betrayal and cruelty of being “ghosted” (a term not just reserved for how a romantic relationship might end). She may have to deal with “mean girls,” bullies, people trying to get next to her for the wrong reasons or friends that avoid conflict and won’t give her the courtesy of having a conversation.

It’s a small thing, saying “it will all work out.” But the implication is big–that it will all work out the way she wants it to work out. But there’s much more to it than that.

“It will all work out…however it’s supposed to work out,” I added in a last-minute attempt to provide more balance. “But the most important thing is that you treat people the way you want to be treated and that you do the right thing. It may be painful but the best people I know are people who have learned valuable lessons because they went through hard things, not because everything always worked out the way they wanted…..” I was rambling at this point and Gigi just looked at me like I was speaking German.

And just like that, the subject changed and we went on with our day.  This small exchange, however, made me consider other things I may be saying that could influence how my children cope later in life.

Here are a few more worth re-evaluating:

  • “If you’re not ready in the next 5 minutes, I’m going to leave you.” Threatening to leave a child behind seems like it may motivate an intended response. But that statement alone could generate anxious feelings about possible abandonment.
  • “Keep it up and you will end up at the hospital.” Telling a child they are going to end up in the hospital if a certain unsafe behavior persists, reinforces fear about having to go to the hospital. Sometimes it’s important to go to the hospital, perhaps even life-saving, but if a child grows up fearing hospitals, it may become an issue when it’s really necessary.
  • “Did you stay out of trouble (at school) today?” The inference that a child has to stay out of trouble isn’t altogether a bad thing. But trouble often provides an opportunity to learn valuable lessons such as manners, grit, how to follow rules and much more. This statement can become an issue if the main focus is put on the notion that the child is always in trouble, not learning from mistakes.
  • “Let me do this, then I will help you.” Nothing is more important than your child and your actions should reflect as much. If you’re always doing something, like a lot of moms understandably trying to multi-task far too much, children may feel as if they don’t come first. Sometimes it is okay to stop everything, literally, and just be with your child.

As parents, we don’t always have the luxury, patience or time to ensure our little ones are comprehending what we intend. However, it’s healthy to consider word choice and perhaps provide additional explanation or context.

Then again, Oprah Winfrey once said, “nobody escapes childhood uninjured” and that gem has echoed in my ear for decades. Because of and in spite of your every effort, your child will have issues.  It’s called being human and you are a parent.

How Bruno Mars Helped Me Become a Better Parent

Last night my daughter and I went to the Bruno Mars concert in Los Angeles–it was everything! That young man is truly talented and reminds me so much of Michael Jackson around the time he moonwalked during the Motown 25th televised show. Bruno performs with the same intensity and passion. Aside from having great music, a good voice with range, and backup dancers and singers that take you back to the boy-band era, Bruno Mars feels the music and makes people enjoy it in a way that’s truly special, like mid-career Michael Jackson.


Bruno Mars XXIV Karat Magic Los Angeles Concert, November 2017

It’s probably important to note that Michael Jackson was my childhood idol. From “Blame it on the Boogie” and “Everybody” to “Lovely One” and “Beat It,” I knew almost every lyric, to every song, after first discovering him through the Off the Wall album (his best album, period). The childhood nostalgia came flooding back to me last night as Michael was my first concert and here I was with my daughter, at her first concert. It was incredibly special.

Naturally today, we are paying for it. My daughter was up and out last night much later than I’d anticipated and both of us are slower than normal. But it was worth it and a tremendous reminder to me to bend the rules occasionally and just enjoy my kids. And not just through big firsts like last night, but each day. Chucking the responsibility of managing the family schedule and making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it, is necessary from time to time. I’m so happy I overlooked my daughter’s bedtime and initial concerns that the content would be inappropriate (an aside, there was a lot of cursing but if you’ve heard the album, you know as much and my kids have indeed heard the album. Judge me if you want but they now know which words they can use, and which they can’t). I’m glad that I let her have this fun experience. It’s one she (and I) will cherish for the rest of our lives.

This One Thing Could Save Your Child’s Life

There’s nothing like a good party in the car with the kids. Cue the music, roll the windows down, and sing and dance the traffic away. It’s fun and easy to make shuttling around a memorable party in the car but it can quickly go wrong. Odds are, something’s wrong with how your child’s car seat is installed or being used. Maybe you don’t have him correctly harnessed in it, you let him keep his jacket on underneath the belt, or perhaps you let him put on his own seat belt, straps twisted and all, because, well, you know, he’s a big boy now.


It happens every day. I recently watched a car jam session I’d taped from the passenger side of our car while my husband drove us around. The kids were singing their hearts out and then I noticed, the seat belt straps on my son’s Graco harness booster seat were way too low to be effective in a car accident. There he was, singing at the top of his lungs and the harness that connects the straps were down, below his chest, closer to his waist! This is how it happens. This is how children end up severely hurt in car accidents. I’d looked at him several times during that car dance party and didn’t notice the straps until watching him on the video, days later. How did I miss this? How can I tune back in, be in the moment of checking and re-checking these belts, when so many times I’m just on autopilot? Should I leave myself a sticky note in the car to remind myself to check his car seat?

3 Lessons Mom Learned on the Vacation of a Lifetime

I’m in heaven. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m on the vacation of a lifetime, on a megayacht sailing around the French Riviera—Naples, Nice, Puerto Cervo, Capri, Portofino, Antibes, Saint Tropez, and Cannes. My days consist of sleeping in, frolicking in the sun, exploring the wonders of this clear, luring water, flirting with a certain handsome 36-year-old, sightseeing charming ruins, eating amazing food most of which is prepared by a personal chef, binge watching movies or getting caught up on some series, hiking through scenic trails along various ports, and anything else my heart desires. Did I mention that yesterday I took a 4-hour nap and that I’m vacationing without my kids? This is the type of trip that, as the young folk say, gives you life.

I know what you’re thinking–I’m on a vacation of a lifetime, it should give me life! The Siren is a 230-foot-long yacht with six guest cabins and a crew of 18. I’d have to be crazy not to feel super relaxed and like the weight of the mommy world isn’t so heavy. On the Siren, I have discovered some amazing things but they aren’t specific to this fabulous boat or trip, even though the first-class, picturesque voyage doesn’t hurt. I am just blessed to learn these few golden gems here, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and they are important lessons every mom should consider.

Lesson #1: It’s okay.

This trip took me away, and I mean mentally away, from my life at home. Because of the 9-hour time change and without the constant interruption of little, well-meaning people who like to say, “mom, mom, mom,” I have completely disconnected from the mommy load. We all know it’s important to disconnect and recharge from time to time, without kids and without the guilt of not being with kids. That guilt part, however, is difficult.

3 Simple Ways to Nurture An Early Sibling Bond

I‘m the youngest of three, the baby in the family. My older siblings are fraternal twins and that meant I grew up desperately wanting to be a twin myself so that I’d have a playmate and someone with whom I could communicate telepathically (because you know, that’s what you get to do when you’re a twin, so my young mind thought). When that didn’t seem to work, I fought hard to simply be taken seriously as a viable playmate for my brother and sister, only they weren’t having it for the most part. Instead, they wanted very little to do with me. Undeterred, I pestered on and made them include me when possible. If that didn’t work, I ran to my mom who would make them include me and that didn’t always go over so well. I was confident that one day, they would cave to my cuteness, my wit and charm. My ability to belt out Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall word for word, my amazing high score on Intellivision’s Pitfall, or my fast footwork would win them over, eventually (I was the runner in the family and could whip them in any front yard race at any time). I was convinced that one day, they would sincerely like me. I was right.

(Home Video Caption: Gigi sings to her baby brother Avery while he’s in my belly)