Six Thousand Goodnights

saying goodnight

I have said goodnight to my children approximately six thousand times. I lay them down in their cribs after kissing the tops of their soft heads, inhaling deeply to catch that delicious sweet baby scent. One night I smelled that scent for the very last time. I don’t remember when my youngest stopped smelling like a baby, or when that last night was. But I do still inhale … [Read more...]

Are You the Perfect Mommy or More Mommy Dearest


With the joyful carefree bike riding days of Spring finally here it’s time for me to come clean. Today I’m sharing a deep and dark McKenzie family secret. I am not perfect mommy. Ouch. Yes my two children have witnessed more than their fair share of their dear mother teetering dangerously close to Joan Crawford land. That of the wickedly evil mommy dearest. Fortunately … [Read more...]

Rejected Reproductive Health Unit Titles

Rejected Reproductive Health Unit Titles

The email from my son's middle school caught my eye. I opened it and read: "You are invited to come preview the lessons and teaching materials for Puberty: The Wonder Years." Puberty: The Wonder Years? What, is Kevin Arnold narrating the videos about the miraculous changes that happen to your body when Winnie Cooper walks by? Gawk! What a terrible title. Puberty and … [Read more...]

Don’t Bring Me Down

when happy meals stop making kids happy

Not to oversimplify the fine art of parenting, (which I typically prefer to over-complicate) But, you can divide all of your offspring in to two distinct developmental categories: - children young enough to be distracted from their woes by a HAPPY MEAL - all the rest I told a couple of my friends at lunch today that “Having 5 kids was unrealistically optimistic!” They … [Read more...]

Happy Mother’s Day from Ten to Twenty!!!

The best we can give you on mothers day

Parenting Tips and Humor from the Moms of Ten to Twenty!! Need some inspiration or tips for raising teens and tweens? We've rounded up some of the best from our very own Moms. Enjoy their wisdom and humor and we hope you have THE best Mother's Day because girls, you sure do deserve it!! Dani Walker: Lisa R. Petty:   Carrie Wible: C Lee … [Read more...]

Why I Didn’t Have “The Talk” With My Daughter

having the sex talk with your tweens

Talking About Sex With Your Kids First a disclaimer-slash-apology to my mother who will read this and instantly and loudly denounce what I am about to say as “lies, all lies!” Mom, you are a great mom, you are my BFF, and I love you. But “awkward” doesn’t begin to describe your approach to The Talk - that Big Important Conversation about bodies, puberty, and S-E-X. Honestly, … [Read more...]

15 Dates to Take With Your Older Son

15 dates to take with your older son

Although life can be so hectic, my husband and I try to take the time to date our kids.  He takes the girls out, and I take my boys out.  Of course I take my girls out for some fun, too, but a date provides our kids with the opportunity to learn how to behave on a date with the opposite sex. Being on a date means that you may not talk to your son about anything negative in any … [Read more...]

Hold On Loosely – But Don’t Let Go (Parenting Tips from Me And 38 Special)

parenting tips from 38 special

One of the biggest challenges that every parent faces, is knowing how much free rein to give one's children. How much independence is prudent at each age and stage of development? As conventional wisdom knows, every child is different. It seems as though, there are certain children who never let their parents out of their sight and no matter how much "Cling Free" you spray on … [Read more...]

When Should My Teen Get a Job?

When should your teen get their first job

Some parents put their teens right to work the moment they turn 16. Others wait until senior year to even entertain thoughts about part-time jobs. As you consider your teen's situation, personality and maturity level, keep this in mind when determining if he or she is ready to start working: What is There to Gain? Whether it's working as a student clerk at the mayor's office … [Read more...]

Cures for the Common Conflict: Family Problem-Solving Sessions

how to have an effective family meeting

Conflict between parents and kids is normal, natural, and unavoidable. It’s an inevitable accompaniment to interlocking lives and feelings. But when battle lines get drawn, when “Because I said so” locks horns with “You can’t tell me what to do,” the problem disappears amidst “parental authority” and “children’s rights,” and everyone loses. There’s nothing wrong with a … [Read more...]

Prom Night : Does It Live Up To The Hype?


I am definitely not a person who is into cliques.  As a result, I’ve never been much of a joiner of clubs, groups, or anything that labels.  I even resisted junior proms and senior balls as a teen.  I don’t think at 16 I was thinking that I was being ‘true to my authentic self'; I just knew that something didn’t feel right, and prom wasn’t the place for me to be. As a middle … [Read more...]

I Made the Right Choice. Right?

Letting Another Parent Question Your Choices

“Hon, can you take your brother to the play tonight?” I asked my middle son. I really didn’t want to go. I had work to finish up so it wouldn’t pollute my weekend. “Wait, what? What play is it?” “The elementary school play. They’re doing Treasure Island. Same as the book you’re reading.” “Oh, yeah. Let me see if So-and-so is going.” “Yeah, call him.” “I can’t. He … [Read more...]

The Real Self-Esteem Booster: Competence

boosting your childs self esteem by increasing their competence.

Boosting Your Childs Self-Esteem One perk of aging is that occasionally I can get away with asserting something to be true based on longitudinal history and experience. After 30 years of working with children and teenagers, raising five of them, and observing human behavior, both in and out of the therapeutic and school environments, I am confident that competence, or a … [Read more...]

Vacation Planning in Divorceville: How to Keep Track of Your Kid(s) During the Holidays

divorce is bad enough but wait until you have to start juggling kid's vacation days into the plan

“You’ve been so organized lately!” I complimented my then ten year old. A big, giant question mark hovered over his head. “You remembered whose house you’re staying at this weekend! Remember last year? You never knew where you were supposed to go or what you were supposed to bring with you. Remember?  Even though I kept that calendar up on the fridge?” He finally … [Read more...]

Parenting Athletes: How And Why I Do It

Parents are there through thick and thin when it comes to our youth athletes

     Parenting athletes requires particular obligations-some sport specific, some general to having athletic kids living in the house.  Until they move out, we are responsible for keeping track of practices, purchasing equipment and locating lost parts of uniforms.      We calendar games, attend training clinics and volunteer to work in snack shacks or host end of the season … [Read more...]

Did We Love Too Much or Not Enough?


Exhaustion, deep utter exhaustion, hit me like bricks tumbling off a truck. I am ready for bed. My teeth brushed, my face washed, I ignore the book on the nightstand and click off the light. “Good night, honey.” “Good night, my love.” Within seconds sleep took my body. The dream settled upon me like darkness at the day’s end. Without warning I was transported to a place I … [Read more...]

Educate and Learn Through Free Time

finding life lessons in free time

Turning Free Time into a Chance to Learn I still remember that day before Christmas, when I was a little girl, sitting down and writing my christmas letter, in which all I wished for was the largest lunchbox that Santa could find, filled with little plastic animals, specifically farm animals… horses, cows, pigs, sheep, anything except chickens (I’ve never liked feathered … [Read more...]

Your Teen Driver Won’t Drive Better Until You Do


How Can You Help Your Teen Driver Succeed? Our oldest daughter turned 16 last month and if all goes well, she'll get her license next month. Am I nervous? Sure. Can she do it? Absolutely. I know it's hard to watch your baby get behind the wheel of your car but parents, you have to shake it off and get this right. So, what can you do to help your teen driver? I have a few … [Read more...]

5 Tips For Choosing Battles Well


Choose your battles well.. This would be the single piece of advice I'd give to parents of teens and tweens. As a counselor, teacher, and parent, it's brought sanity to otherwise overwhelming circumstances. I wished I learned it earlier. Instead, I learned it the hard way. I'll be honest - I was over-bearing and reactionary when my older children were young. I was so … [Read more...]

Open-Ended Questions versus Cross Examination Which is the Best Approach?

asking cross examination questions instead of open ended one

Experts recommend asking open-ended questions to stimulate conversation with your kids. The idea is to give your children the space to think, be themselves, and answer of their own accord. Here is a real-life example of a conversation using the open-ended method: How was school today, son? Good. What happened? Nothing. When it comes to recalcitrant teens, experts allow, … [Read more...]