Wishing these two daughters of mine a magical birthday celebration in NYC!   What a blessing it is when your kids are best friends! One of the best books I ever read to foster sibling relationships was Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and  Elaine Mazlish. Their parenting tip about not taking sides and letting your kids peacefully resolve their own conflicts was pure gold!

I’d love to hear your parenting tips! How do you foster positive relationships between your kids?

Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, decisions! Our young adult kids face so many BIG decisions. Career. Marriage. Home. What do you do when they come to you for advice?

When our son, Jared, graduated from college, and began the big job search, he had 3 different job opportunities to choose from. When he phoned to let his dad and I weigh in on his decision though, we didn’t tell him what to do. After all, he was 22 years old. He’s the one who’s going to have to live with the decision. Plus, I don’t want him to end up on Dr. Phil someday, saying how I messed up his life. 😉

It’s hard not to influence him though, especially when one of the job opportunities would bring him closer to home. Selfishly, I’d love to steer him towards that job. Of course, he knows my heart already, so I just admit to the obvious, “You know I’d love it if you were closer to home, but this is about the best opportunity for you.” Since it’s a choice between lots of great options, we tried to empower him with the tools to make a wise choice on his own.

His dad suggested the old pro vs. con list and then added, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” My contribution was, “They all sound like great opportunities! Which one is the best stepping stone to where you want to be eventually?” Asking the right question is a powerful parenting tool! This stage of parenting is less about telling your child what to do, and more about coaching.

Frankly, it was a tough transition for me. When the decisions are big, it’s tempting to jump in there and take over, but when your child is no longer a child anymore; it’s time to stop calling the shots and hand over the reins. Of course, you can always stay stuck in the advice giving stage, but just don’t be surprised when your kids don’t call as often as they used to or when they become so dependent on you that they’re still living at home when they’re in their 30’s. 😉


Safe People

Do you know someone (maybe it’s your own child) who is lousy at picking the right person to date or marry?  I don’t know what it is, but it’s like their picker is broken. Inevitably they are drawn to the reckless, troubled or the deceitfully charming. It’s almost like they need a selection committee to screen possible candidates…which actually isn’t a bad idea.

If your teen or young adult son or daughter is perpetually drawn to the wrong type of person, have them check out the book, Safe People, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It will help them identify healthy people and steer clear of the ones who aren’t.

For a list of unsafe and safe character traits, check out the handy dandy reference at the end of this post.  For certain individuals, it might be a good idea to make several copies and post it on the fridge, car dashboard, bathroom mirror, and refer to it every time they think to themselves, “That guy (or girl) seems nice.”;)


1. Think they have it all together instead of admitting their weaknesses.

2. Are defensive instead of open to feedback.

3. Are self-righteous instead of humble.

4. Only apologize instead of changing their behavior.

5. Avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them.

6. Demand trust, instead of earning it.

7. Belive they are perfect instead of admitting their faults.

8. Blame others instead of taking responsibility.

9. Will lie instead of being honest.

10. Are stagnant instead of growing.

11. Avoid closeness instead of connecting.

12. Are only concerned about “I” instead of “we” (not relationship centered)

13. Resist freedom instead of encouraging it.

14. Condemn us instead of forgiving us.

15. Stay in parent/child roles instead of relating as equals.

16. Are unstable over time instead of being consistent.

17. Are a negative influence on us, rather than a positive one.

18. Gossip instead of keeping our confidences.


1. Value love – connection – have the ability to trust.

2. Value responsibility (take responsibility for themselves and value that in others) Neither overly dependent on others nor codependent – feeling responsible for others

3. Value honesty – ability to be known – transparent – who they really are.

4. Working on their own issues

5. Respond to truth

6. Have a good track record (may fail, but learn from failure and move on, are in progress of making a good track record even if this is a new beginning for them)

7. Can be observed and tested – see them in interactions with other people (test them with a small part of yourself, share a part of your heart and see what happens)

8. Bear good fruit in your life by being with them (encourage you to grow individually and in your connection with other people)

Is This The One?


Is your young adult son or daughter in a serious dating relationship and considering marriage?  If they want to make sure their love will last a lifetime, have them check out Dr. Steve Arterburn’s book, Is This The One?   Actually, this book should be mandatory reading for any couple trying to figure out whether or not to take the plunge.

To increase the odds that a couple’s story ends in happily ever after and not divorce court, Steve Arterburn outlines a dating plan to equip every couple to choose wisely the first time around.  The dating plan consists of three sets of 10 dates.  The first 10 dates are designed to reveal a couple’s compatibility.  The second set of dates is premarital counseling dates with a licensed counselor to prepare for married life.  The final set of dates occurs during the first year of marriage as a continuation of pre-marital counseling, in order to provide a smooth transition and a healthy foundation for a lifetime of wedded bliss!

Pre-marital counseling…now there’s a practical and preventative wedding gift!  In fact, I think it’s such a great idea, that I’m building a counseling expense into my children’s wedding fund.  Forget the flowers and party favors!  I’m investing in something lasting!

Unconditional Love

Love isn’t always easy, especially when the person on the receiving end is a rebellious teenager or wayward young adult. Unconditional love isn’t fun, but it’s the true test of a parent’s love.  That doesn’t mean you don’t draw boundaries with your child, but it does mean sticking with them.  Your kids need to know that you love them not if… but, no matter what!

Sticking with Your Teen is an encouraging book if you’re a parent, who’s ready to throw in the towel.  What you do in those dark days of parenting will determine the kind of relationship you have with them in the future!  If you’re not sure what to do, read a helpful book on the subject, get advise from other successful parents or pay the big bucks for professional advise from a counselor or life coach!  Investing in your teen or young adult’s future…and the future of your relationship is always money well spent!

I’d love to hear your parenting tips! How do you show unconditional love to your teen or young adult kids?

How To Get A Date Worth Keeping

Is your young adult son or daughter frustrated with their dating life? If so, have them check out Dr. Henry Cloud’s dating tips in the book, How To Get A Date Worth Keeping!  It even comes with a money back guarantee, so what have they got to lose?  In the meantime, here are a few dating tips to get them started!

First, look at your weekly routine.  Does it include opportunities to meet new people?  If not, change your schedule.

Second, evaluate your dating wish list.  Is your wish list reasonable?  Is it too long?  Does it include qualities that are essential or just superficial?

Third, start to network.  Let your friends and family know you’re looking.  Be open to going on a blind date or a double date with someone who comes with good references.

Of course, if your son or daughter has a knack for choosing unsafe people or they’re painfully shy, depressed or have low self-esteem, it’s best if they work through these issues with counseling, before entering the dating scene.  Dating can be fun, but it also involves the risk of heartbreak.  If you don’t believe me, just watch an episode of “The Bachelor”. 😉

Family Board Games for Big People

Every Christmas, I buy a new board game for the whole family to enjoy!  I don’t know why I do this, because we’re horribly competitive.  I guess I just like togetherness, even if it is cut throat!

We’ve developed quite the collection over the years, but here are our top 12 favorites!  If you’re like our family, though, don’t play with new friends.  It’s a startling personal revelation that’s best saved for family and close friends, who’ve already seen your dark side!

Happy Family Game Night!  And may the odds be ever in your favor! 😉

  1. Drawful
  2. Fibbage
  3. Apples to Apples
  4. Catch Phrase
  5. Taboo
  6. Settlers of Catan
  7. Codenames
  8. Irk!
  9. Guillotine
  10. Bang!
  11. Family Business

I’m always looking for fun board games! I’d love to hear your suggestions! What’s your favorite family board game??

Parenting Support

Parenting is the most rewarding and the most heartbreaking job on the planet.  I’ve had moments of pure joy in parenting, where I just want to bottle up the moment, so I can relive it again and again.  I’ve also had moments as a parent where my heart is so broken that it physically hurts, where I wish I could remove my heart and place it on a shelf, just to escape the pain and grief for awhile.

In those moments of disappointment and despair, I want to hide from the world as I work my way through a box of Kleenex.  What I really need, though, is a good friend, preferably someone who doesn’t have picture perfect kids.  Of course, there’s no shame in seeking outside help, too.  A life coach, counselor or support group can be a great source of encouragement and hope, plus it’s a much healthier alternative than spending the day watching reruns of Gilmore Girls while polishing off a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and it’s fewer calories, too. 😉


Good Grief

Well, I don’t have any words of wisdom for this post, just honesty. This is the first Easter and summer that none of my kids will be coming home for vacation. One is graduated from college, one is nearly graduated, and one is hankering for an on campus job for the summer, so she can hang with her homies in So Cal. Can I just say this stinks?

Just when I think I’ve arrived and I’m handling the whole empty nest thing. Wham! It’s like another stage of grief all over again. All I want to know is, does it ever end?

I guess I need to get a life. Either that or my husband and I need to plan to take a cruise over Spring Break, like in the movie, Christmas with the Kranks. Hopefully, I won’t whack my head on a tanning bed, OR awkwardly bump into my pastor just outside the tanning salon in a bikini…(me in the bikini, of course, not my pastor) OR get a phone call from my daughter to announce that she’s getting married to Enrique, because she doesn’t even know an Enrique and if she did, he might take her away to Spain and then I’d have to deal with a whole other stage of loss and grief, and then I’d REALLY need a cruise.

It’s a slippery slope, I tell you. Did I ever mention that I have a dark side? I guess the secret’s out. I hope that doesn’t scare off all my fans. Thank goodness, there are only two of you out there, and you love me anyway…neurosis and all. Actually, I’ve been told that’s part of my charm and it’s definitely Karen in real life…totally uncensored. Lucky you. 😉

P.S. Truth is stranger than fiction! My daughter, Laura, actually did meet Lucas, a Brazilian citizen, while she was traveling in London. They are celebrating their first wedding anniversary today. Thank goodness, he just got his green card, so she doesn’t have to move to the UK. I thought this was the perfect day to feature this old blog post.

Happy Anniversary, Laura and Lucas! So glad we get to keep you!


Lost in Translation

Having trouble connecting with your child? Maybe you’re not speaking their love language. Why not take Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages assessment to find out how you and your child give and receive love?

The 5 Love Languages are…

  • Acts of Service
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gift Giving
  • Physical Touch

My love language is acts of service, so I make my family work for it. 😉

Which love language is yours? Which love language is your child’s?