Are you filling in your happiness?

May 16, 2019

“Hey Julie, My kiddo is graduating from high school soon, and, as much as I want to be happy, I’m also incredibly sad. I’ve been so wrapped up in my life as a parent that I feel like now that my kids are getting older, I’m losing my happiness.”

This question certainly hits home as my oldest is graduating from high school in a few days, and for some reason, I started thinking about a game, Mad Libs, I played as a child and then I played it with my kids when they were growing up. Mad Libs was one of my absolute favorite things to do. If you aren’t familiar, Mad Libs is a word template game that prompts you to substitute words in the story resulting in a humorous and very silly tale, like this:

  “One day, a __________ went to ________ and __________ a ______.”

                   name of animal...

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What to Do When: Five Ways to Support Teens + Yourself in the Era of School Shootings

May 09, 2019

Hi Julie,

Yesterday the news struck. Another school shooting. I can’t handle it. I don’t know how to help my daughter when we hear about one. She is starting high school in the fall, and I don’t know if I can handle four more years of this fear. Help!

Thanks,

Annie


Hi Anne~

There are few events that strike fear in our hearts, our homes, and our communities like the senseless act of a school shooting. With images and snippets flashed on television and streamed over social media, it is natural to feel fearful about the safety of your child and their school. Beyond limiting exposure to media, it’s critical to know exactly what to do when tragedy strikes so you can support your teen and yourself.

  1. Lean into your support system and self-care habits. To assuage your teen’s anxieties, you need to first address your own. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. The same is true...
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Do you listen to what your teen isn’t saying? (part 2 in a 3-part series)

Apr 24, 2019

[Continued from Part I. This is Part 2 in a 3-part series)

Part I: Are you Really Listening 

In part one of this series, we discussed that it is imperative for adults to do three things when speaking with teens:

(1)  Know that listening is an investment.

(2)  Be willing + open to listen

(3)  Pay attention to what they are saying AND doing.

I want to pause on that last point.

You must LISTEN to what they are doing.

Say wha? You must listen to what they aren’t saying, and you do that by paying attention to what they are doing, aka tuning into the non-verbal cues. Often an invitation to connect with your child doesn’t come with words, it comes through their actions and behavior, their body language and their facial expressions. Let’s break this down.

Actions and Behaviors: It isn’t what your teen says that always makes the impression; it’s what he does. Withdrawing, slamming doors, rolling eyes are all specific ways to send you a...

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Are you Really Listening (part 1 in a 3-part series)

Apr 11, 2019

Do you ever notice that your teen’s eyes glaze over while you’re talking to them? This is a surefire sign you are talking too much and listening too little.

Solid, healthy communication is essential in any relationship, right? When we talk and share our feelings, we feel closer to one another. However, talking is only part of the equation. The other portion - the much larger portion - is listening.

Sadly, this often gets reversed because it is easy to talk and way harder to listen.  When communicating with teens, most parents and adults talk 50% more than what’s necessary. If you’re verbose, you may even say 70% or 80% more than necessary.

Yikes! And, when you are busy doing all that talking, it, again, can be tough, really tough to listen. Anyone can talk, but not everyone listens.

*You* need to be part of the group that listens.

Without the capacity for effective listening, communication becomes irrelevant. This is often what happens with your...

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Finding the "Right" Therapist for your Teen

Mar 13, 2019

When I was 15, my mom took me to see a counselor. She thought that I needed someone to talk with since I had been, hmmm, let’s call it acting out after she and my dad divorced.

She chose a therapist who was also a teacher at my high school  I was reluctant, but I knew enough about her to feel that she didn’t see me as a pain-in-the-butt teen.

Despite my initial reluctance, I liked her. It seemed like we were a good fit – even though the selection process seemed to be based on complete convenience since she was right next to the school. (My mom says it was that she just “felt right”.)

 Since that time, I have worked with many counselors – either doing my own work (yes, counselors need to do their work) or professionally. Over the years, I have learned two critical things when it comes to choosing a therapist: choose good over convenient and always trust your gut.

 Good and convenient do not often go hand in hand. You want a therapist...

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Can We Talk? 225 Easy Conversation Ideas to Get You + Your Teen Talking

Feb 06, 2019

"Hi Julie, I have an interesting question for you. You see, my 12-year-old has no problems talking to me but I can't seem to talk with her. I hate to admit this but I just don't know what to talk about that doesn't feel so big, so serious. Any ideas?"

 

I love this question so much! And, you betcha! I have 225 ideas for you!

Sometimes we all get stuck in a communication rut, especially with teens. Their world can seem very different - even secretive - from our own "grown-up" world. Or, we are happy to talk but everything feels like it is way to serious, and we look for a lighter topic. 

Since your daughter is already willing to talk with you, carve out moments when *you* are able to engage. The more you are able to talk, the more you will not only develop greater confidence and self-esteem in your daughter; you will also earn her trust. The more she can come to you with the little stuff, the more she will know that you will listen to the big things. 

 Here...

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Three Ways to Spark Your Teens Interest... and Yours, Too!

Jan 15, 2019

Today’s question is definitely one that hits close to home.

The question comes from Tracey, a mom of two: a 20-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. And she said:

“I feel like all my son does is sit around and do nothing after-school and on the weekends. I keep telling him that he needs to find an activity or a cause. If he doesn’t, I’m going to choose one for him. Is that okay, or should I just wait until he chooses his own interests?”

I’ve had many parents ask me this, and it’s a great question.

The short answer is yes and yes. Yes, you need to give him some space. And, yes, after you give him some space, you can give him some ideas.

Here’s why…

For both parents and kids, there’s so much pressure. As parents, we want to create this perfect childhood experience for our little ones. And as kids, they want to please, especially us. It doesn’t matter if you’re 80, 45, or 14 — that pressure’s...

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Three Communication Mistakes Parents Make With Teens (and how you can fix em!)

Jan 10, 2019

Around age ten, (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) communication begins to change.  Without notice, kids may stop hanging onto every word — or sometimes, any word at all. After working with children and adolescents for almost three decades, one thing I have learned with absolute certainty is this: You really need to earn the right to be heard. Yeah, you read that correctly — you have to earn that right.

I know what you’re probably saying, “But I’m the parent, Jules. I mean, come on!” Or maybe you’re the educator and you’re thinking, “But I’m their teacher. Surely that means they need to listen to me.”

I get it. I really do. When you work and live with teens, those moments definitely pop up.

Here’s the truth we as parents, educators and adults need to accept: Assuming that your role in a teen’s life makes you worthy to be heard is a mistake.

A...

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Bring your Family’s Story to Life with this Year-End Activity

Dec 19, 2018

It’s so hard to believe that this year is almost complete. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was wondering what the next twelve months would bring. Today, I’m a little in awe by all that it did bring. Some of it amazingly good, some epically eh and definitely a bit of “I wanna stay in bed with the covers over my head..”  As I journaled about it all, I remembered a mentor who has once said, “Jules, the story of your life is being written every single minute” and “The days may feel long, my friend, but the years are oh-so-short.”

As a mom of three teenagers, I am ever so aware that time goes by too fast. From the time kids are born, it is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of naps, the tedium of tantrums, and drain of schedules. I’m the first to raise my hand and admit that I spent quite a bit of time in their early years wondering if fast-forwarding all the clocks in the house would get them to bed sooner. As they...

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Managing and even Reducing Holiday Stress with Teens

Dec 06, 2018

Hey Julie~

The holidays are both our family’s most favorite and most stressful time of the year. This year I’m extra worried because I feel like I can’t tell what my 15 year old son  is feeling. Is he excited? Is he down? Is he happy? Help! How can I support my son this holiday season so he doesn’t get too stressed?

 L.B., mom of 3, ages 9, 10 and 15

***

 The holiday season is full of trees lit with beautiful lights, bells are ringing, school recitals, parties, and sweet treats are being passed around. Sounds idyllic, yes? For many teens, though, the holidays can be a challenging time of year. The bounce-back that allows teens to manage stress at other times of the year may not serve them now. Academic pressure including finishing projects and studying for finals, completing community service hour quotas, attending team events and competitions coupled with parties and gatherings, gift buying dilemmas and confusion, FOMO (fear of missing out)...

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