By Holly Lebowitz Rossi | Updated on June 1, 2022
"1. Involve Everyone
When the whole family is involved in planning fun activities, you'll have more opportunities to experience special moments. "Family glue" is what Pat Tanner Nelson, professor of Human Development & Family Studies at University of Delaware, calls those moments that connect your family and build deep, healthy relationships. "Spending time together as a family takes planning, but it's a good investment," Nelson says. "When children feel close to their parents, they try harder to please them and make them proud, which then makes the whole family stronger." It doesn't have to be complicated—with a little bit of effort, you can turn bonding into a lifetime of funny, sweet stories and lasting memories.
2. Plant a Family Garden
Encourage everyone to get their hands dirty by digging a patch to plant flowers or vegetables in the backyard. Tuck tender seedlings into the ground and watch them grow and blossom—like your kids are doing every day. As they witness green shoots turn into stunning plants, your whole family will gain a new respect for the natural world, all while learning patience and perseverance as you divvy up the tasks of keeping the garden weed-free, well-watered, and strong. And if someone squeals upon discovering a squirmy garden worm? That's a hilarious family moment for the scrapbook!
3. Plan a Family Vacation Together
You can set the budget and a suggest geographically convenient location but let your kids research attractions, coordinate travel times, and check the weather forecast. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic, for example, you might suggest Colonial Williamsburg, and your children's itinerary could include an archaeological dig, meeting farm animals at the Peyton Randolph Yard, viewing 19th-century toys at the Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, and kid-centric tours of the former capital and royal governor's palace. They'll feel proud, trusted, and independent as they take on a leadership role in the family, and you'll be proud to spend a wonderful day together with the children at the helm.
4. Conduct Family Interviews
Members of your family's older generations, like grandparents, great-aunts, and great-uncles, have many fascinating stories of growing up in different eras. Have your kids ask them what life was like in yesteryear and use a voice, or video recorder to capture their tales, voices, and expressions. Then turn the microphone around and encourage older family members to take turns interviewing someone, including the kids. By collecting personal anecdotes and memories, you'll have a time capsule of family history. As kids learn about their heritage, they can start thinking about their own legacies. Transcribe the interviews to create a book or digital file of photos for a slideshow to accompany the interviews.
5. Plan a Family Photoshoot
There's no better way to make and preserve family memories than by planning a family photoshoot. You can schedule a portrait session at a local studio, but to capture those real candid moments that will make you smile when looking back on them, seek out a photographer with a photo-journalistic style who knows how to handle kids during lifestyle shoots. If you're shooting in your neighborhood, pick a spot for the shoot that your family already loves, like a local park or playground.
Another option is to book a photographer while on vacation to capture your family's adventure. That's right: You can get the whole family into a good picture, no selfie stick required! To find a great photographer out of town we suggest using Flytographer's booking service— they work with photographers in more than 250 destinations who can help direct your photoshoot to get real smiles from you and your kids. Book an hour session to capture a family of 4 in two locations in your vacation town. [Use the code Parents25 for $25 off your shoot, Flytographer.com]
6. Cook (and Eat) a Family Meal
The benefits of eating dinner as family are multifold. Studies show that kids who dine frequently with their parents have improved academic performance, increased self-esteem, and a reduced risk of obesity. Regular dinnertime conversations are also linked with more open communication between kids and parents.
"The more you can get into the habit of really listening to your kids and having these conversations from early ages, the more likely it is that kids are going to talk to their parents in adolescence about issues that are troubling them," says Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist and the author of The Parents We Mean to Be. Start with a collection of recipes and then assign everyone an age-appropriate job (no knives for toddlers!). Get creative with ingredients and techniques to forge delicious memories."
"If you were warned that a perfect day at the beach would end with you soaking wet and miserable, under dark storm clouds, would you still pack your bag and go?No one expects perfection to end in gloomy weather—especially when it comes to love.
Love stories gone bad can be addicting. I have a growing to-do-list and a neglected pile of laundry to prove it. The infamous Amber Heard and Johnny Depp defamation trial has left many people around the world hypnotized by testimony warning us about the dangers of entertaining toxic love too long.
In over 27 years as a therapist and mental health educator, I have not seen anything tie human beings into more complex knots than love turned ugly.
A former client stated, "I'm a shell of what I used to be. I'm fighting to get back to normal." He talked about his divorce as if it were as fresh as farmer’s market organic milk. Surprisingly the divorce had happened over seven years ago. Yet he was still having flashbacks about the emotional abuse that took place in the relationship and problems sleeping some nights. He commented, " Sheila, I follow her on social media. She is living with this guy and looks no worse for the wear. I haven't been right since it ended."
I invited him to step into a deeper level of healing during several therapy sessions. He confronted himself and acknowledged there were a number of signs that pointed to a doomed relationship from the start. He recalled, "She had a nasty temper and could ignore me for days without flinching. I suffered when we fought. It bothered me when we did not talk. She seemed to revel in the dysfunction."
When I asked him why he ignored what was happening, his answer made sense—in a dimly lit way. He shared, "She had a sweet side and I wanted things to work out."
The desire to see a relationship work out despite clear signs that it may not leads many people to turn a blind eye to information that could be the difference between finding happiness or fleeing misery.
In nearly three decades of supporting men and women through healing journeys, brought on by the fallout of traumatic relationships, I’ve counseled individuals to be mindful of the five following behaviors that may predict a relationship will go dark:
1. Cheating early in the relationship. Cheating, particularly early on in a relationship, is an indication of poor boundary management and signals a lack of self-control. Looking the other way when your partner cheats is a form of reinforcing disrespectful behavior.
2. Taking no responsibility when the relationship derails. Relationships hit rough patches. When a partner says or does something that is hurtful to their significant other, the ability to say "I’m sorry" and assume responsibility for the injurious behavior is part of healthy communication and establishing trust. When someone lacks the ability to do this, he or she is announcing, "I can do what I want, and don’t expect me to apologize when I’m wrong." This relationship dynamic can be emotionally damaging because genuine healing is not possible absent trust and accountability.
3. Cruel fighting, that hits below the belt. Words are powerful and they can be almost as painful as physical injuries. I recall a former client sharing, “When we argue he brings up deeply painful and personal things I’ve shared about my past. He mocks me and makes jokes about my suffering.” Cruel fighters lead with the intention to use what they know to emotionally wound their partners. It’s a dangerous dynamic that can lead to long-lasting psychological scarring.
4. Abandonment in times of distress. Emotional security and grounding inside a relationship is made possible when you feel as though your partner has your back. Emotionally unavailable people often leave their partners to fend for themselves in times of distress, such as losing a job, the death of a loved, or illness. When cycles of abandonment continue unchecked, the relationship erodes and becomes toxic due to stress and high levels of resentment."
10 Ways to Deal with Mom-Shaming
Susan Newman Ph.D. | Posted October 17, 2017
"Who hasn’t had her child-rearing choices questioned—by family, friends, your spouse, or a stranger? Who in your circle is most judgmental?
As a parent, you are subject to comment on a host of parenting decisions: Whether you decide to breastfeed or not; to co-sleep or not, go back to work or stay home with your children, what you let your children eat for breakfast; how you discipline or dress them, the bedtime you set or the time you allow or don’t on “screens”…Often, the “advice” or “suggestion” is completely unsolicited and makes you feel guilty or uncertain.
On social media, even benign parenting practices are subject to criticism. Unlike the rest of us, celebrities are publicly “mom-shamed” more frequently on the Internet. Mariah Carey received a wave of criticism for posting a photo of her 4-year-old son still using a pacifier. Several stars, from Mila Kunis to Chrissy Tiegen to Maggie Gyllenhaal, have been targeted online for breastfeeding in public. Actress Olivia Wilde was berated for posting a picture kissing her young son on the lips.
A new poll finds a majority of American mothers are being judged, some on the Internet, some in person. The University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital conducted a national poll surveying 475 mothers of children aged 5 and younger. They were asked if they’ve ever had their parenting questioned.
Sixty-one percent responded that they have been criticized for their child-rearing decisions. The most common topic of criticism: Discipline. Seventy percent of criticized moms reported this. The second-most-cited denunciation concerned diet and nutrition; the third, sleep; the fourth, breast versus bottle-feeding, fifth, child safety, and sixth, childcare decisions.
Although sometimes the criticism is intended to be constructive, 62 percent of those sampled said they believe mothers receive “a lot of unhelpful advice from other people”; 56 percent said mothers “get too much blame and not enough credit for their children’s behavior.”
Family More Likely to Judge
According to the study, family members comprised the top three groups of “mom shamers.” The moms who felt criticized said their own parents (37 percent), co-parent (36 percent) and in-laws (31 percent) were the most frequent to pass judgment. “This may reflect the high volume of interactions with family members, or that mothers may interpret family criticism as an attack by those who should be more supportive,” the researchers noted.
Remarking on the stress and overwhelming choices of new parenthood, the study points out that 42 percent of the criticized mothers said the judgment “made them feel unsure about their parenting choices.” As a parent, you have the ultimate say—even if you’re conflicted about your choices.
10 Tips for Standing Up To Mom-Shaming
When it comes to standing up to those who judge you, it can be tricky to assert your parenting authority and keep conflicts at bay. Here are 10 insights and suggestions to help bolster you against those who believe they know what you should be doing and how to do it.
By Jeff Bogle and Karen Cicero | Updated on February 10, 2020
"Want to wow your big kid? From cities and swanky resorts to nature trails and national parks, these are the top family vacation destinations to hit while your children are still young.
Once your child stops needing a nap and a stroller, a world of new vacation possibilities awaits. But you have only so many school breaks before your kid flees the nest. Here, travel experts share their top iconic places you've just got to visit as a family while your children are still young, plus planning tips to ensure your kid has the best time ever.
#1 Paris Book the earliest ticket you can (usually 9 or 9:30 a.m.) to ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Show up 90 minutes ahead of time to take pics at the base when it's relatively uncrowded. (Grab breakfast at a nearby café before returning close to your assigned time.) When you're done, walk along the Seine River to the Musée d'Orsay, an art museum in a former railway station. Kids who love ballet will delight in the paintings of Degas, while Dr. Who fans might recall the Van Gogh gallery that was featured in an episode. It may be a little mobbed, but it's still worth going to the Musée du Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and so much more. "If you have time, spending a day at the Palace of Versailles, a quick train ride from Paris, is wonderful," says Catherine McCord, author of Smoothie Project, who took her 8-year-old daughter to Paris. "Walk through the mazes before you go inside."
Feel like a local: Book a walking tour with a local guide to explore off-the-beaten-path areas. Look at GetYourGuide.com for options that focus on neighborhoods (like the Latin Quarter) and themes (such as vintage shopping, chocolate tastings, or secret passages).
#2 New York City
Reserve a ticket to visit the Statue of Liberty's crown—climb 377 steps to the top via a winding staircase—because same-date spots are rarely available. In Times Square, Broadway shows beckon—Wicked, The Lion King, and Aladdin are good picks for kids who haven't reached double digits (ask for the free "My First Broadway Show" sticker sheet at the theaters), while Dear Evan Hansen, Mean Girls, Beetlejuice, and Hadestown will enthrall high-schoolers. And head over to Central Park to sail remote-controlled boats and climb on the Alice in Wonderland statue, suggests Beth Beckman, founder of LittleKidBigCity.com.
Feel like a local: Venture outside of Manhattan! Beckman, who has a 7-year-old, suggests Brooklyn's Prospect Park for its catch-and-release fishing clinics and paddleboats.
Take a goofy selfie squeezed into a red telephone booth with your kid, while explaining that once upon a time people actually stood inside those things to make calls. "My kids were also amused by the black taxis and how the seating arrangements inside were so different from everywhere else," says Sajay Garcia, a travel blogger who posts YouTube travel videos at Growing Up Garcia. "The Changing of the Guard and the historic carriages near Buckingham Palace also kept my kids entertained."
Feel like a local: Sit alongside Londoners at the open-air theater in The Regent's Park. "Buy food from a neighborhood grocer and have a picnic at the park before the show," suggests Emily Goldfischer, an American mom of two living in London. "And if you're going to The British Museum, check out the adventure playground at nearby Coram's Fields," she says.
#4 St. Louis
Ride to the top of the Gateway Arch, then check out the renovated visitors' center. It houses America's largest terrazzo floor map, showing North America's historic rivers and trails, so you can trace pioneers' journeys to the West. (Sneak in that learning!) Burn off steam on the walking and biking trails along the banks of the Mississippi River. Nearby, the new St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station features 80-plus sharks and stingrays in an exhibit that extends overhead.
Feel like a local: Head to City Museum, a playspace with more than two dozen slides constructed from repurposed materials. Even tweens who think they've outgrown playgrounds will have a blast. "My 9-year-old loved zipping down a ten-story spiral slide into a cave," says Brandon Billinger, who blogs at TheRookieDad.com.
#5 Turtle Bay Resort, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Great for kids who: Love dogs
As if it weren't already rad enough to learn how to stand-up paddleboard in Kawela Bay, where The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was filmed, Turtle Bay Resort gives kids a trained surf dog to keep them company on the board during their lesson. Afterward, they can make a TikTok with a centuries-old banyan tree in the background. Can you imagine the likes?"
By: Steven Ing MFT | June 7, 2022
"As children, we hated when our parents fought, when the ugliness of domestic conflicts boiled over into yelling, name-calling, door slamming and crying. For some of us, it got a lot worse than that. So it's perfectly understandable that, as children, we came to believe that conflict in a relationship was a problem to be avoided.
Later, in our adult lives, this experience from our earlier years translated into an active effort to avoid engaging in conflict with the ones we love.
You may have found yourself saying something like, "Can we not fight about it, please?" or "Let's never fight, okay?"
This may sound very appealing, to never fight and live in peace with the ones we love. However, the conclusions we came to as children might need a tweak or two.
The Truth About Conflict
As kids, many of us confused conflict, or fighting, with the abuse that accompanied it. We equated the notion of two people having a problem they needed to resolve with yelling, name-calling, crying, throwing objects, and, in some instances, hitting.
The fact that most everyone confuses conflict with abuse is rather obvious because we see conflict become abusive in business, politics, religion, and, of course, relationships. This leads many of us to conclude that the real problem is conflict, but it's not.
Abuse Is the Problem, Not Conflict
No matter how many times you may have witnessed or experienced conflict with abuse, the fact remains that other people have learned to engage in conflict without abuse. Instead of all that yelling, they have learned to confront one another in a way that allows them to address their issues with their loved ones, resolve them in a peaceful and respectable manner, and move on.
Now, you have to realize that, if they can do it, so can the rest of us.
Think About It
If you hate arguing, there are probably two reasons why:
This last idea refers to the fact that often, even two highly successful individuals, after forming a strategic alliance, suck at becoming an effective team. Upon encountering a problem, they are unable to resolve the problem that has each person unhappy. These two people don't technically suck as people; what sucks is their skill in resolving conflict.
Abuse Is Optional
Abuse, at the end of all the confusion, anger, and hurt, is optional. We can all learn to fight without being abusive to those we love.
Conflict resolution, or as I prefer to call it, "fair fighting," is a learned skill. We are not born knowing how to do it, but we can learn it and get better at it with practice.
If we want to have successful loving relationships and teach our children to do likewise, we have to learn how to fight fairly because conflict is an essential and inevitable part of every intimate relationship.
Recognize Your Patterns
To end the cycle of abuse in your relationships, you (and your partner) must first accept that conflict is an essential and inevitable part of every intimate relationship. Second, you (and your partner) must remove all abusive behaviors during conflict: yelling, door slamming, name-calling, eye-rolling, etc."
By: Jason Whiting Ph.D. | June 1, 2022
"Billionaire inventor Elon Musk is known for his stated desire to change the world. He has developed technology that aims to get humans off fossil fuels and up to the stars and is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. By many accounts, he is intelligent, driven, and uncompromising. His successes have earned him respect and money, but he has publicly struggled in his romantic pursuits.
His first marriage to author Justine Wilson was reportedly rocky, with fights about money, work, and the raising of five young sons. Justine reported that Elon acted as an “alpha male,” and criticized what he perceived as her flaws. She pushed back and aired marital grievances on her blog. “I am your wife,” she told him, “not your employee.” His response was that if she were his employee, he “would have fired her.” Their marriage ended in 2008 after eight years.
Soon after, Elon met British model and actress Talulah Riley at a London party. They had a whirlwind romance and became engaged within weeks. Their marriage appeared to be a battle of wills. Talulah described it: “I remember him saying, ‘Being with me was choosing the hard path’... It’s quite hard, quite the crazy ride.’”
The couple divorced in 2012, and Musk tweeted to her, saying: “It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day.” He soon presumably decided that he was the one she would make happy, as they remarried in 2013. Despite their apparent desire to be together, the problems continued, and the couple divorced a second time in 2016.
Next, he dated Amber Heard for a year, and after they split, he became involved with Canadian musician Grimes, with whom he had a baby boy, named “X Æ A-Xii Musk,” in May of 2020. Later they stopped living together, but remained in a “fluid” relationship, and had a daughter, “Exa Dark Sideræl Musk” via a surrogate in 2022 (his seventh child, her second). Despite Musk’s business successes, then, it appears to an outside observer that he has had a rocky ride in his intimate relationships. He is not alone in this challenge.
Signs of DeteriorationEven the brightest and most passionate marriages can get derailed. Some relationships are planted in rocky soil from the start, but others develop weeds or die from neglect. Certain problems are particularly important to root out before they do permanent damage. Here are six research-based warning signs that indicate a relationship is heading in the wrong direction and may need professional help.
1. Distance or Lack of Emotion
It is natural for the initial headiness of love to wear off. However, it is possible to revive emotional sparks that have gone dormant.
One study showed that couples who went on interesting dates, such as rock climbing or taking Italian lessons for about eight weeks, experienced greater feelings of closeness and affection than those who stuck to traditional dinner dates. Other studies have shown that meditations focused on appreciation of a partner strengthen affection. If you have lost that loving feeling, do things together, act kind, and the love may rebound.
2. Sarcasm and Disrespect
It is fun to laugh, and humor bonds couples together and keeps things fresh. However, if jokes turn sarcastic or cutting, they can damage the relationship. All forms of contempt and cruelty harm both partners, and often lead to divorce.
If one partner acts disgusted with the other's choice in clothes, or she mocks his parenting, it is time for a gut check. Both partners need to show self-control and be respectful in words and tone.
3. Lack of Trust
Couples who are getting to know each other often stretch the truth, especially when trying to impress. They might be falsely enthusiastic (“That is so cool!”) or claim to love the same things (“That movie was my favorite too!”). One study found that strangers lied several times in the first 10 minutes of talking. Chris Rock accurately observed: “When you meet somebody for the first time you are not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.”
As relationships progress, however, people need to be authentic to develop true intimacy. When partners are deceptive, even for “good” reasons like keeping the peace or flattering, it will create distance. Although some fudging may occur in relationships (“I'm fine with your mother coming over for two weeks!”), all lies damage trust, and a willingness to deceive is a red flag. When trust has been lost, it takes time and energy to regain."