I recently visited Charlotte Today to talk about taking risks in middle school. It’s not as scary as it sounds! Check out the video here:
I cannot thank you enough for your continued support of Middle School Makeover. I am amongst an unbelievable group of experts in my publisher (Bibliomotion) and am so happy to offer you a new ebook filled with expert advice from a panel of BiblioParenting experts. Whether you are dealing with fussy toddlers, moody adolescents, or lovesick teens, my colleagues and I are here to offer expert advice, firsthand experience, and a touch of humor to guide you through the joys and challenges of parenting, in this edition designed specifically for the back-to-school time. Click here to download this limited edition ebook.
I am pleased to introduce you to my fellow Bibliomotion parenting authors:
Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh, co-authors of Minimalist Parenting
Vicki Hoefle, author of Duct Tape Parenting and The Straight Talk on Parenting
Cindy Pierce, author of Sexploitation
Yalda Uhls, PhD, author of Media Moms & Digital Dads
Sara Villanueva, PhD, author of The Angst of Adolescence
I was so excited to be mentioned by Carson Daly on the TODAY Show as part of their parenting team!
You can see the video here:
My daughter is turning 12 this week. She has always been very reserved, and liked a lot of personal space and alone time. In the last 2-3 months, she has become attached to me like glue. She wants full body contact all.the.time. Every time I sit down she is instantly there – leaning her head on my shoulder, draping her legs over mine, etc. My husband has been traveling for work, so she’s allowed to sleep in my room (something she usually declines – because, ew.) She wants physical contact all night and even wanted me to hold her as she fell asleep – something she didn’t even do as a baby. She is not like this in public, though she will hold my hand (super unusual).
She is detaching normally – went to overnight camp for a week with no issues, and happily participates in activities all day (we are only together, awake, a few hours a day). It is just SO WEIRD. I know some of it is on me for allowing it (especially the sleepovers), but I am so freaked out by it I don’t want to tell her no. Part of me loves feeling needed again, but I would like some balance. Do I set a boundary? Will it pass? I think she will feel really rejected if I tell her to leave me alone. I am SO freaked out.
Dear Smothered Mother,
When I received this note I instantly knew I wanted to call on my friend and sex education expert, Dr. Melisa Holmes. Dr. Holmes is the co-founder of the popular Girlology and Guyology programs, and co-author of the related book series.
Here’s what she has to say to Smothered Mother:
“I love the way this mom expressed her concern about her daughter’s increased need for physical touch, but also recognized that there is normal separation, detaching happening during other times – which gives me the luxury of not having to add additional information because the concern about sexual abuse is real and would be on my radar if I didn’t have the bigger picture.
So, it’s pretty easy to say that this is normal behavior and especially common in the earlier phases of puberty when girls (and boys) may feel ambivalent about “growing up.” Sometimes they want to act “older” and sometimes they like being treated like a child or even a baby – being held and cuddled by parents. It’s normal developmental waffling.
At the same time she may feel this ambivalence, she’s also getting her first real surges of testosterone (which is known for sprouting that new hair, acne and body odor, but which also creates those new feelings of desire…I know, DESIRE is a tough topic when we’re talking about an 11-12 year old, but bear with me – it’s not as creepy as it sounds). In pubertal kids, tweens in particular, new feelings of desire are expressed and satisfied in mostly non-sexual ways—-like cuddling, grooming, loving pets, and affectionate touching. Seeking affectionate touch, or fulfilling what we’ve always called TOUCH HUNGER, from a parent is a safe way to satisfy that very human need. But no doubt, it will transition to peers and eventually to sweethearts in the future.
For advice to this mom and others, I would recommend 3 things:
1.) Enjoy these moments while they are still happening; you may miss that cuddle time in a few years. Know that this is normal and part of a big transition that can make her feel anxious and uncertain sometimes; the touch is comforting.
2.) Name it. Talk to her about her “touch hunger,” and let her know it’s ok to need and enjoy affectionate touch from people she trusts.
3.) By all means, if it seems excessive, set boundaries – because don’t you want her to learn how to set her own boundaries (especially when it comes to touching) in the future? Tell her what you like and what you don’t (i.e. I love the way you want to be cuddled when you’re sleepy, but I definitely don’t want to cuddle all night; or lying on my hair is just not ok, but you can lean on my shoulder). This will help her learn that having a discussion about likes, dislikes and boundaries when it comes to physical contact is perfectly normal and actually healthy. We can only hope she will enhance those communication skills as she grows up.”
Thank you Dr. Holmes for your always sage, always cringe-free advice on puberty. Parents who are interested in learning more about Touch Hunger or other issues about emerging sexuality and puberty should go to the Girlology website and use the search function to learn more about any topic.
The summer sun is a beautiful thing, but channel it through a magnifying glass and it will start a fire.
Every May, since my kids were little, I have given some thought as to what will be my magnifying glass in the upcoming months. What is the thing, imperceptible at first, which over days turned to weeks of summer heat and togetherness, will cause me to combust?
As an author, public speaker, and founder of a summer camp program, I have a very flexible, yet very full-time, job. I am my own boss and sometimes my own worst enemy when it comes to procrastination. Things only get more interesting when summer rolls around and Take Your Kids To Work Day takes on a new meaning from June through August. “I’m bored”, “I’m hungry”, and “”When are you going to take a break?” are not great catalysts for productivity.
And so, since my kids were little, I’ve announced at the beginning of every summer, “This is the Summer Of _______” and filled in that blank with whatever I thought would keep me sane. My themes were never glamorous, or crafty, or clever. They sound downright boring and bordering on unworthy, actually. But they were about my survival more than my kids’ entertainment. When I thought I’d lose my mind over interruptions for snacks, I dubbed it The Summer of Serving Yourself. When my kids were into riding bikes around our neighborhood, I dubbed it The Summer of Safety and Independence. Each theme came with some pre-work for me to set the stage for their success and my sanity. For The Summer of Serving Yourself I made a list of healthy meals and snacks they could prepare for themselves and on Sundays, if something required cooking ahead – grilled chicken for nachos, for example – I prepped it for them. Then, when they automatically came to me every time they were hungry, I simply pointed them to the list. For The Summer of Safety and Independence I took them out to show them routes where they could ride their bikes, streets they could not yet cross, and made sure they knew the basic rules for safety as well as how to operate a lock.
From my perspective it was a sanity saver. From my kids’ perspective, I still had to make it fun. Before I announced the theme, I asked each kid to tell me one big thing they wanted to do before the summer ended. From riding go karts, to visiting a city a couple hours away, to theme parks, to parties, the kids have requested their own rewards for achieving success in the Summer Of _____. Over the years we’ve accumulated fun memories and valuable skills.
As my kids have gotten older, the “Summer Of _____” themes have evolved from basic life skills like making your own snacks and moving around the neighborhood without my help, to “icing on the cake” themes I thought they weren’t learning elsewhere but that I personally valued. Last summer, they had to memorize poetry. No surprise, my son said “No thank you” to that one. No big deal, he just didn’t earn that summer reward, and I took that as a sign the gig was up.
I hadn’t given any thought as to what this summer’s theme would be, when one morning at breakfast my son asked, “So, what’s it the Summer Of?” “Oh,” I replied, “We don’t have to do that anymore. That was just something we did when you were little.”
The look on my kids’ faces shocked me. “But it’s a tradition!” my daughter exclaimed. Looking to his sister for support (I love it when that happens) my son pleaded, “But we want to look back someday all the summer stuff we did!”
What a difference a year makes. I was reminded that sometimes parenting is less about the day-to-day wins and more about the long game. All the while I thought I was just surviving, I was starting a tradition. Though our summers may not have been full of the classic ingredients for summer adventure, it turns out they were surprisingly, traditionally, magical nonetheless.