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Mental Health Tips for Single Parents

By: Cornerstone

Families come in all shapes and sizes, including single-parent households headed by a widowed, divorced, or separated parent with children under 18. According to the U.S. Census, about three in ten families with children are headed by single parents. Some of the challenges that may come with single parenting are financial struggles, time management, and finding quality time for yourself or with other people.

“When you are a single parent, there can be a shortage in emotional and financial resources because you don’t have that second support person there to help, and that can take a toll on mental health,” says Sally Mondino, Early Head Start Manager at Centerstone.

Here are several ways for single parents to be mindful of their mental health:

  • Include the kids. Children of single-parent households can learn and develop many great characteristics such as responsibility, independence, and compassion. Including children in your routine may help distribute the household responsibilities and can be another great way to spend quality time together.
  • Schedule time for you. “Occasionally you can set aside time for self-care like reading a book or taking a relaxing bath after the children have gone to sleep,” says Mondino. “It’s also possible to incorporate self-care by letting your kids tag along with you for walks outside, cooking, and meal prepping.”
  • Avoid comparing. “Try to avoid the tendency to compare yourself or your family with others,” says Mondino, “The key is to remind yourself that there are all kinds of families and every family can be different.” Social media may be misleading, and it is oftentimes a curated moment—try to avoid comparing those situations because people don’t tend to post the challenging moments in their life.
  • Ask for help. Everyone needs help at some point or another. Research local resources that will benefit you and your family. Find financial assistance programs, family services, and hobbies, afterschool care programs, and others to help you along the way. Reach out to any family and friends that you are comfortable with asking for help.

At times, being a single parent may feel overwhelming and taxing to one’s mental health, but there are habits and resources to help manage along the way.


Mental Health Tips for Step-Parents

By: Cornerstone

“Family” can hold a variety of meanings, roles, and relationships for everyone. One dynamic often overlooked is being a step-parent. Step-parents (or bonus-parents) are parental figures that are not biologically related to a child but linked through a relationship or marriage with a biological parent.

Movies, television, and society show a lot of different pictures of a step-parent that can be unpleasant. It can be a challenging new role to take on! “Step-parenting is met with many new obstacles, and there isn’t a lot of guidance available,” says Casey Stover, Family Life Educator, and Family Support Specialist at Centerstone. Some of the most common struggles step-parents often face include navigating each new relationship, adapting to their new roles, building a cohesive family structure, and maintaining patience and understanding through all of the transitions.

When faced with change, it is not uncommon to meet resistance and discomfort. Step-parents may often feel lost or struggle to figure out how to approach their new role; however, growing with each relationship can be rewarding and even bring healing. Benefits of being a step-parent may include bonding with a child or children that are not biologically your own, growing as a person while navigating various transitions, and ultimately becoming a family.

Here are some tips to help you in your journey in step-parenting:

  • Patience is key. Consider that relationships with the child or children may not happen overnight; it will take time and work to build trust and establish boundaries early on. Children often have a lot of hesitations and may act out as they are adjusting to the transition—this doesn’t have to be something you take personally. It is important to try and give yourself as much patience and compassion as you would provide the children and your partner.
  • Maintain self-care. Check in on yourself and how you are feeling. Try to do the things you love and maintain the aspects of your life before becoming a step-parent that brought you the most joy. Allowing yourself the space to have hobbies or take care of yourself will create more balance.
  • Find support. Try to research what works well in other families, join virtual or in-person support groups, or talk to trusted friends or family members who might understand what you’re going through. If it becomes too overwhelming, try to seek help from a mental health professional or try out family counseling.
  • Establish roles.  It is essential to set expectations for each other. “One of the most crucial keys for success is to take time with the biological parent to figure out your role(s) at the beginning, and how you will navigate that as a team,” says Stover. Every person will struggle at some point, so be mindful and listen when someone communicates their needs.

Remember that being a step-parent is a big transition and will not always be easy. Support and many resources are available to you and your family as you try to navigate this change.


What is Trauma?

By: Cornerstone

Have you ever experienced an event that changed your life, and it still affects your well-being or day-to-day activities? It is likely that you might have experienced trauma. Trauma is an emotional response to the exposure of actual or perceived death, serious injury or sexual violence. Examples of traumatic events might include car accidents, accidental deaths, school shootings, physical or sexual assaults, natural disasters, life-threatening fires, kidnappings or exposure to war and combat.

Traumatic events may cause extreme levels of stress to an individual, and over time it has the ability to affect the way that someone might function or begin to cope with stressful situations. The important thing to remember is that no one is alone in their trauma, in fact, about six out of ten men and five out of ten women experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.

Individuals who experience trauma might exhibit various symptoms while for others it might be more challenging to identify. “Some people might not realize that they have experienced trauma at all, so one of the ways to identify your trauma is by addressing the event and how it has impacted you,” says Venee Hummel, Assistant Director of Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone. “These events might be something that directly happens to a person, something that is witnessed, something that is learned about that impacted loved ones or by experiencing repeated exposure to traumatic events due to occupation.”

Some of the symptoms that traumatic experiences might cause are recurring memories or nightmares, emotional or physical reactions, avoidance, lack of interest in hobbies or social interaction, mood swings, risky behaviors, trouble sleeping, or difficulty concentrating. If these symptoms persist for more than one month, this may be indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) present, which may impact an individual’s ability to perform daily functions.

Here are some tips to consider when helping yourself or your loved ones cope with trauma:

  • Offer support. Whether an individual or a loved one experienced the trauma, it is best to determine what kind of support would best suit them. Communicate what and how the needs might be met. Sometimes that might look like giving the individual space or offering a safe space to listen.
  • Share education. Symptoms of trauma might look different for each individual. Try to learn the symptoms and triggers that go alongside trauma and PTSD. Share your knowledge with loved ones and community members. Sharing educational insight and pulling from experiences may encourage others to be more open about their own traumatic experiences. Learn to address stigmas with others that aren’t productive to conversations surrounding trauma.
  • Seek treatment. “Sometimes it takes a while for self-awareness to catch up to us; it is not uncommon to be unaware of how trauma has started to shape our day-to-day functioning. Even if months or years have passed since the trauma(s), reach out,” says Hummel. Various methods of treatment that are commonly used for trauma or PTSD symptoms include specialized forms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Traumatic experiences are life-altering, but there are resources available to help. Remember, you are worth it.


How to Get Your Life Back Into Balance

By: Centerstone

Do you ever find yourself feeling exhausted or overwhelmed? Most people are busy with family, work, hobbies, or community responsibilities. Sometimes people allow their schedules to take control of their lives, and priorities might get disorganized. As a result, people may feel stressed, frustrated, and tired.

When your life is feeling a little imbalanced, it may feel as though you have neglected your needs, values, or priorities. Although it may be easy to feel regretful and burned out at that moment, you can still work toward achieving a sense of equilibrium.

The following practices will help bring balance back into your life:

  • Be reasonable. People have a limit on resources like time, money, and energy. It is completely understandable to want to accomplish so many things; however, it is important to consider how much time is in a day. Know that you are one Erase the idea of perfection and problem-solving for others—it’s okay to not get everything done. You are doing your best.
  • Find a support system. Find the people in your life who build you up and support you, who add value to your life and inspire you to be a better version of yourself. Try to avoid people who add or create more stress for you. Remember that stress will affect you physically, so, within reason, consider phasing out those who might be causing your stress or imbalance.
  • Take control and say no. Often people say yes to others because there might be an unreasonable pressure to immediately please people. It is essential to consider your current list of responsibilities. Take time to think about what you can complete. Try to alleviate adding extra stress by learning how to say no.
  • Make a schedule for rest. Resting doesn’t always have to equate to sleeping, but scheduling time to relax can be beneficial to your health. Intentionally do things that give you comfort, peace, health, and happiness. Make a deliberate effort to prioritize your needs.
  • Focus on today. There will always be something that we will need to do, haven’t gotten to, or something we have always wanted to do. Try to avoid obsessing about the future, and focus on what is happening today. Creating a healthy, balanced life requires you to be present in your family, friends, hobbies, and work.

Remember there is more to life than the daily stressors that create imbalance and unhappiness. Start taking steps toward a more balanced life by learning how to take control, set boundaries, and focus on today.


Why Eating Healthy Matters!

By: Michelle Kirby

You know that healthy habits, such as eating well, exercising, and avoiding harmful substances, make sense, but did you ever stop to think about why you practice them? A healthy habit is any behavior that benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health. These habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good.  Healthy habits are hard to develop and often require changing your mindset. But if you’re willing to make sacrifices to better your health, the impact can be far-reaching, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability.

Here are five benefits of a healthy lifestyle:

1. Controls weight

Eating right and exercising regularly can help you avoid excess weight gain and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, being physically active is essential to reaching your weight-loss goals. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, and increase your energy level.  Plan for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. If you can’t devote this amount of time to exercise, look for simple ways to increase activity throughout the day. For example, try walking instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or pace while you’re talking on the phone.  Eating a balanced, calorie-managed diet can also help control weight. When you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you avoid becoming overly hungry later, which could send you running to get fast food before lunch.  Additionally, skipping breakfast can raise your blood sugar, which increases fat storage. Incorporate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet per day. These foods, which are low in calories and high in nutrients, help with weight control. Limit consumption of sugary beverages, such as sodas and fruit juices, and choose lean meats like fish and turkey.

2. Improves mood
Doing right by your body pays off for your mind as well. The Mayo Clinic again notes that physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Eating a healthy diet as well as exercising can lead to a better physique. You’ll feel better about your appearance, which can boost your confidence and self-esteem. Short-term benefits of exercise include decreased stress and improved cognitive function.  It’s not just diet and exercise that lead to improved mood. Another healthy habit that leads to better mental health is making social connections. Whether it’s volunteering, joining a club, or attending a movie, communal activities help improve mood and mental functioning by keeping the mind active and serotonin levels balanced. Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with family or friends on a regular basis, if not every day. If there’s physical distance between you and loved ones, use technology to stay connected. Pick up the phone or start a video chat.

3. Combats diseases
Healthy habits help prevent certain health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. If you take care of yourself, you can keep your cholesterol and blood pressure within a safe range. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.  Regular physical activity and proper diet can also prevent or help you manage a wide range of health problems, including:

  • metabolic syndrome
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • certain types of cancer
  • arthritis

Make sure you schedule a physical exam every year. Your doctor will check your weight, heartbeat, and blood pressure, as well as take a urine and blood sample. This appointment can reveal a lot about your health. It’s important to follow up with your doctor and listen to any recommendations to improve your health.

4. Boosts energy
We’ve all experienced a lethargic feeling after eating too much unhealthy food. When you eat a balanced diet your body receives the fuel it needs to manage your energy level. A healthy diet includes:

  • whole grains
  • lean meats
  • low-fat dairy products
  • fruit
  • vegetables

Regular physical exercise also improves muscle strength and boosts endurance, giving you more energy, says the Mayo Clinic. Exercise helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and gets your cardiovascular system working more efficiently so that you have more energy to go about your daily activities. It also helps boost energy by promoting better sleep. This helps you fall asleep faster and get deeper sleep.  Insufficient sleep can trigger a variety of problems. Aside from feeling tired and sluggish, you may also feel irritable and moody if you don’t get enough sleep. What’s more, poor sleep quality may be responsible for high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, and it can also lower your life expectancy. To improve sleep quality, stick to a schedule where you wake up and go to bed at the same time every night. Reduce your caffeine intake, limit napping, and create a comfortable sleep environment. Turn off lights and the television, and maintain a cool room temperature.

5. Improves longevity

When you practice healthy habits, you boost your chances of a longer life. The American Council on Exercise reported on an eight-year study of 13,000 people. The study showed that those who walked just 30 minutes each day significantly reduced their chances of dying prematurely, compared with those who exercised infrequently. Looking forward to more time with loved ones is reason enough to keep walking. Start with short five-minute walks and gradually increase the time until you’re up to 30 minutes.

The takeaway

Bad habits are hard to break, but once you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you won’t regret this decision. Healthy habits reduce the risk of certain diseases, improve your physical appearance and mental health, and give your energy level a much needed boost. You won’t change your mindset and behavior overnight, so be patient and take it one day at a time. And remember eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, get an accountability partner and share dishes. Some fitness clubs already have healthy pre-made meals. The decision starts in YOUR MIND!

Click link for 100 calorie snack ideas:


By Joshua Becker

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” —Abraham Lincoln

Happy people realize happiness is a choice. They are not held hostage by their circumstances and they do not seek happiness in people or possessions. They understand that when we stop chasing the world’s definition of happiness, we begin to see the decision to experience happiness has been right in front of us all along. Research in the field of positive psychology continues to reinforce this understanding.

But simply knowing that happiness is a choice is not enough. Fully experiencing it still requires a conscience decision to do so each day. How then might each of us begin to experience this joy?

Consider this list of 12 Intentional Actions to Choose Happiness Today. Embrace one new action item… practice all of them… or simply use them as inspiration to discover your own.

1. Count your blessings. Happy people choose to focus on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative. They set their minds on specific reasons to be grateful. They express it when possible and they quickly discover there is always, always, something to be grateful for.

2. Carry a smile. A smile is a wonderful beautifier. But more than that, studies indicate that making an emotion-filled face carries influence over the feelings processed by the brain. Our facial expression can influence our brain in just the same way our brains influence our face. In other words, you can actually program yourself to experience happiness by choosing to smile. Not to mention, all the pretty smiles you’ll receive in return for flashing yours is also guaranteed to increase your happiness level.

3. Speak daily affirmations into your life. Affirmations are positive thoughts accompanied with affirmative beliefs and personal statements of truth. They are recited in the first person, present tense (“I am…”). Affirmations used daily can release stress, build confidence, and improve outlook. For maximum effectiveness, affirmations should be chosen carefully, be based in truth, and address current needs.

4. Wake up on your terms. Most of us have alarm clocks programmed because of the expectations of others: a workplace, a school, or a waking child. That’s probably not going to change. But that doesn’t mean we have to lose control over our mornings in the process. Wake up just a little bit early and establish an empowering, meaningful, morning routine. Start each day on your terms. The next 23 hours will thank you for it.

5. Hold back a complaint. The next time you want to lash out in verbal complaint towards a person, a situation, or yourself, don’t. Instead, humbly keep it to yourself. You’ll likely diffuse an unhealthy, unhappy environment. But more than that, you’ll experience joy by choosing peace in a difficult situation.

6. Practice one life-improving discipline. There is happiness and fulfillment to be found in personal growth. To know that you have intentionally devoted time and energy to personal improvement is one of the most satisfying feelings you’ll ever experience. Embrace and practice at least one act of self-discipline each day. This could be exercise, budgeting, or guided-learning, Whatever your life needs today to continue growing. Find it. Practice it. Celebrate it.

7. Use your strengths. Each of us have natural talents, strengths, and abilities. And when we use them effectively, we feel alive and comfortable in our skin. They help us find joy in our being and happiness in our design. So embrace your strengths and choose to operate within your giftedness each day. If you need to find this outlet outside your employment, by all means, find this outlet.

8. Accomplish one important task. Because happy people choose happiness, they take control over their lives. They don’t make decisions based on a need to pursue joy. Instead, they operate out of the satisfaction they have already chosen. They realize there are demands on their time, helpful pursuits to accomplish, and important contributions to make to the world around them. Choose one important task that you can accomplish each day and find joy in your contribution.

9. Eat a healthy meal/snack. We are spiritual, emotional, and mental beings. We are also physical bodies. Our lives cannot be wholly separated into its parts. As a result, one aspect always influences the others. For example, our physical bodies will always have impact over our spiritual and emotional well-being. Therefore, caring for our physical well-being can have significant benefit for our emotional standing. One simple action to choose happiness today is to eat healthy foods. Your physical body will thank you… and so will your emotional well-being.

10. Treat others well. Everyone wants to be treated kindly. But more than that, deep down, we also want to treat others with the same respect that we would like given to us. Treat everyone you meet with kindness, patience, and grace. The Golden Rule is a powerful standard. It benefits the receiver. But also brings growing satisfaction in yourself as you seek to treat others as you would like to be treated.

11. Meditate. Find time alone in solitude. As our world increases in speed and noise, the ability to withdraw becomes even more essential. Studies confirm the importance and life-giving benefits of meditation. So take time to make time. And use meditation to search inward, connect spiritually, and improve your happiness today.

12. Search for benefit in your pain.
This life can be difficult. Nobody escapes without pain. At some point—in some way—we all encounter it. When you do, remind yourself again that the trials may be difficult, but they will pass. And search deep to find meaning in the pain. Choose to look for the benefits that can be found in your trial. At the very least, perseverance is being built. And most likely, an ability to comfort others in their pain is also being developed.

Go today. Choose joy and be happy. That will make two of us.


By: Isabella Gura

Change is a natural and constant part of life, especially in such a fast-paced world that we live in today. Not only everything around you changes, but you change as well. The problem is many of us will resist and reject it.

Change can be scary and difficult, but change is often a good thing and can be so worth it. While not all change feels good, if we can handle it and look at it in the right light, growth as well as good outcomes can come from accepting change.

The following are twelve reasons why we should seek, accept and be embracing change.


Change allows you to learn new things that you normally wouldn’t have learned with old ways. Even if the change involves failure, oftentimes a lot more can be learned from failure than success.

Learning doesn’t just stop at school. It’s a lifelong process. The more we seek out change and new experiences, the more learning opportunities are presented to us. Change can force you to look at things in a new light and challenge your current beliefs, values, and knowledge. It can allow you to learn new ideas, skills, viewpoints, and information. You can also learn and discover new things about yourself.


Accepting and embracing change allows you to adapt better to change and become more flexible. Change can be a lot harder on someone when they resist and reject it. Accepting change makes dealing with change a lot easier.

The more we deal with change, the more used to it we become, the easier it becomes to deal with it. Rigidity and resistance can cause unnecessary stress and blind us from the good that new situations, environments, and people can bring.

Opportunities & Possibilities

Change can open up many doors and opportunities that normally wouldn’t have been there without change. Change makes many things possible. It can allow you to meet new people, enjoy new experiences, develop new skills and ideas, learn new knowledge and information, and achieve great feats.

Change can help you transform and have breakthroughs. You’ll never know what can become and what can happen until you do. The possibilities with change become endless.


Improvement is impossible without change. Change is necessary for improvement, growth, and development to take place. Change doesn’t have to be drastic or sudden either; it can be slow and steady for improvement and growth to happen.

Seeking and embracing change not only makes sure you keep up with the times and stay up to date, but also allows you to get ahead as well. Change allows for progress to happen.


Greatness is more likely when you embrace change. It’s easier to remain stagnant and comfortable when you are “good,” but you miss out on the potential and opportunity of becoming great whether it be with your job, your relationships, or any skill or hobby you pursue.

Many people reject change because they claim to be happy already, but with change, they have the potential to be happier. Many of us don’t know what we’re missing out of because we are okay with where we are. Lack of change and resistance to change makes it a lot easier to settle.

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” – Jim Collins


When you are openly embracing change in life, it reduces and can eliminate the fears that can come with change. When change pushes us out of our comfort zone, courage grows. We can slowly, but surely overcome our fears by embracing the change that comes from facing our fears.

And yes, those fears can include the fear of change itself. Fear is an illusion in our minds that only stop us from seeking and achieving greater things in life.

Resilience & Grit

Acceptance of change makes us more resilient. Resilience makes us stronger and more capable of dealing with life’s difficulties. You learn that when there’s a change in your life however big it may be, that it’s not the end of the world and you’ll get through it, probably even better than before. We’re more equipped and efficacious with what life throws at us because of the changes we’ve dealt with before.

Without change, you can never know what your strengths are and what you are truly capable of. What we learn about ourselves can be surprising to many of us.

Appreciate Failure & Enjoy Success

Embracing change allows you to be okay with change, whether it be negative or positive. Some of us can avoid change even if it’s positive change and it involves success. Success anxiety is a very real thing.

Many of us can feel more relaxed with less responsibility and less success because we are comfortable with how things are now. Success can be scary and uncomfortable. When we learn to accept change, we can enjoy the success and good things that come with change and stop self-sabotaging.

Allows You to be Proactive

When you accept, embrace, and seek change, it puts the ball in your court and puts the direction of your life in your own hands. It allows you to be proactive and not reactive. You are no longer a victim controlled by outside forces. You make the choices when you embrace change. Only you are responsible for yourself and your life.

Implementing changes makes you more likely to reach your goals, develop your character, and live the life you want to live. When you accept change, you stop wasting time and energy complaining about changes that happen around you and instead take the initiative to make your own changes or accept the change and leave it at that.

Life Becomes More Interesting

If we take a look at movies and books, most of them have something in common. The main character or the protagonist often goes through change and transformation throughout the story. Without this, there would probably be no book or movie, and we would see the character as bland and boring and perhaps even unlikeable. The change(s) the character goes through often makes them interesting and more likable.

The changes that we go through and that we implement into our lives makes us more unique and interesting. The more experiences we’ve had, the more things we learn, and the more things we go through and get through makes our lives richer and more interesting. Those things even make us seem more interesting to others. Change can not only make life interesting; it can make life exciting. Change is exciting!

Even when it comes to negative changes in our life, the same applies. Whenever I’m unhappy about something in my life, or I keep messing up and failing, I like to think to myself that the greatest failures make for the best success stories. Change makes you a more developed and well-rounded person.

Change Can Improve Your Relationships

Experiencing change can also make you more open-minded and empathetic which can also improve your relationships with people. When you have more experiences and face difficult and adverse change, you are able to relate to people better and put yourself in their shoes because of the experiences you’ve had.

Change gives you more awareness and different perspectives of other people’s different experiences and viewpoints that you had never had before. It’s harder to relate to people who haven’t had very many experiences or haven’t faced any of life’s challenges. Those people are also going to find it hard to relate to those who have.

You’re More Likely to Follow Through with Your Goals

Even if we have goals and want to reach them, we may still be resistant to change, whether we’re aware of it or not. When we embrace change, we’re more likely to value our ideas and potential possibilities, and then follow through with them. When we value our ideas and goals, we’re more likely to believe in ourselves and our abilities.

When we accept change, we’re more likely to reach our goals.

“The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.” – Louis L’Amour

Final Reflection

The sooner you can start accepting, embracing, and seeking change, the sooner you can start enjoying life’s natural process. There are so many opportunities out there waiting for you to discover. You can’t alter the fact that change exists, but you can adjust your view and approach to live a happier and more fulfilled life.

Stagnancy is death. Change is what makes you alive. We’re either moving up or moving down. By accepting, embracing, and seeking change, we make the conscious choice to keep moving forward and continue growing and improving.


By: Raising Teens Today

Motivating an unmotivated teenager can be a challenge. Add on the fact that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic where our teen’s familiar routines have been turned upside down and anxiety is at an all-time high and it can be nearly impossible.

Chances are, though, your unmotivated teen is probably a tad more motivated than you realize.

Think about it. They’re probably motivated to hang out with friends, motivated to binge-watch their favorite Netflix shows, motivated to master another level of their favorite video game or motivated to sleep in until noon. Some teens are even motivated to avoid responsibility at all costs.

Their motivation may not be channeled in a productive manner, but they are motivated which means that underneath what you may deem as sheer “lack of motivation” in your teen lies a layer of ambition that just needs to be sparked.

Whether it’s getting better grades in school, tackling tasks like keeping their room clean and helping with chores around the house or applying themselves more when you know they’re perfectly capable, we all want to see our kids put their best foot forward.

Here are 7 things you can start doing today to motivate your teen.


As parents, we need to dig deep into our kid’s heart to find out what drives them, what inspires them, and what will motivate them enough to put both their mind and their heart into a task, challenge or project as opposed to simply “going through the motions.”

We also need to dive into the barrier(s) that might be preventing them from feeling motivated. We can’t do that when we’re doing all the talking, harping on them about a poor grade, yelling at them to get out of bed or nagging them about how lazy they are.

Maybe your son is feeling anxious about his grades and his ability to get into college. Maybe your daughter got into a huge fight with her best friend a couple of months ago and it’s impacting her ability to focus and stay motivated. Take the time to listen. Ask questions. Find out what’s on your child’s mind – what scares them, what worries them, what their passions are, and what makes them feel empowered. The more you tap into what your child is feeling, the more you can begin to understand why they’re unmotivated and what they need in their life to spark drive and ambition.

Believe in Your Child

You know what your child is capable of achieving. In fact, you probably know your child better than they know themselves. And, their inability to recognize their worth and their lack of desire to step up to the plate and be the best version of themselves is at the very root of your frustration.

But, what you may not realize is that our kids’ motivation is directly linked to their confidence. If your child feels bad about themselves, feels deep down inside that they don’t have what it takes to get good grades or views others as more capable, they will lack motivation. Their negative self-talk is slowly eroding their self-esteem, enthusiasm and motivation.

That’s why we need to be our kid’s biggest cheerleaders. We need to believe in them and help them recognize their abilities – no matter how small. We need to find ways to boost their self-esteem – by encouraging them to try new activities and step out of their comfort zone – so they possess the faith in themselves to know they can be better and push through when life throws them a curveball.

Encourage Them to Break Big Goals Down into Smaller Ones

Teenagers have a lot on their plate. We may not view it that way – after all, what do they have to be stressed out about? But, for a large percentage of teenagers, life isn’t easy.

In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, our teen’s stress rivals ours and 34% of teenagers predict their stress will increase in the next year.

What that means is that sometimes, our teens are so stressed out that it’s hard for them to deal with what they view as overwhelming goals like getting into college, making the football team, getting into the sorority of their choice or even getting their driver’s license.

Don’t let your teen fumble. Motivate your teen by helping them chisel those big goals down into smaller, more manageable goals with actionable steps that are easier to attain. Break the goals down into short-term and long-term and write them down. (A Harvard study concluded that people who write their goals down are 54 percent more inclined to achieve them than those who don’t.) The more goals they can “check off their list” as accomplished, the more confidence they’ll have and the more motivation they’ll have to move forward.

Help Them Create a Clear Roadmap

One of the reasons teenagers lack motivation is because they lack the cognitive problem-solving skills to break down tasks and create a clear roadmap to achieve a goal. It’s not that they don’t want to try harder or succeed, it’s that they oftentimes become overwhelmed and they simply don’t know how to get from point “A” to point “B,” so they just check out.

Instead of putting your teen on autopilot and expecting them to figure it out or making generic statements like, “You need to start trying harder in school,” or “If you were more organized maybe you’d stop forgetting when assignments are due,” lay it out for them so they can see what steps they need to take to try harder in school or get more organized.

Maybe what your disorganized child needs is a great student planner, a homework schedule, a study area that’s comfortable and cool, or a couple of great organizational apps to help him get and stay organized. That’s not to say that you should do it all for them, but they may need you to show them the way initially. And, once they begin to see the fruits of their labor, their confidence will soar, which will oftentimes motivate them to pick up the reins and do it themselves.

Transfer the Responsibility

When my daughter was a sophomore in high school, her main goal was to make the most of high school and have fun with her friends. That’s not to say that she didn’t try academically. But as her mom, I knew she could do better.

After months of talking with her and urging (sometimes begging) her to do better, I decided it was time to hit a few colleges, speak with admissions officers and let her hear from them what they were looking for in a student. From that moment on, a fire was lit under my daughter to do better, to try harder, and to fight to get into a handful of colleges she had her eye on.

Sometimes, our best plan of attack is to transfer the responsibility of motivating our teens onto someone who is unbiased and tells it like it is. No sugar-coating, no yelling, no threatening – someone (other than us) who hands them the truth and says, “Here you go… what you do with this information is completely up to you.”

Tap Into Key Motivators

What motivates one child may not motivate another. Some kids are motivated by straight-up cold, hard cash. Others are motivated by the feeling of being the best (or at least better than a few others). And, some are motivated because they relish in the recognition or praise given by family, friends, teachers, etc.

Find what motivates your teen and dangle the carrot. If money is the key motivator, jumpstart their motivation by offering to buy your son a new video game he’s been dying to buy or offering your daughter a quick trip to the mall to buy a new, inexpensive top. (As long as the rewards aren’t handed to them and your child feels as though they earned it, it’s not “officially” bribery.) The idea is to help your teen feel empowered when they set out to reach a goal and received a reward for their effort.

The “high” of reaching a goal on your own is slightly addicting and empowering. The more your child feels that high, the more likely they’ll be to want it.

Focus on the Journey Not the Destination

Motivating your teen to be their best or to try their hardest won’t happen overnight. Rather than focusing on the destination, view the process as a journey. With every new challenge, goal, win, or accomplishment, your child is learning – about life, about themselves, and what they’re capable of. They’re also growing and gaining more confidence. Motivate your teen by also taking setbacks in stride. Know that they’re inevitable and take stock in knowing that helping your child become a responsible, hard-working, motivated adult is a process. After all, parenting our kids isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.


Ten Tips For A Successful Mentorship

By: Caroline Ceniza-Levine

January is National Mentorship Month, so if you participate in an official mentor program or you just have people in your life who you regularly go to for advice, make sure to send out a special thanks! Mentor relationships are very helpful to your professional development, which is why many companies and outside organizations invest heavily in offering these programs.  The best mentor relationship works for both you and your mentor. Here are 10 tips for a successful mentorship:

Clarify both of your expectations

Even if a company or organization put you together with your mentor, do not assume that you are both on the same page as to why you were matched. Let your mentor know what you are hoping to get out of the mentorship. For example, if you’re looking for help balancing work and life commitments, let them know that is your specific goal. Your mentor might assume you want advice on moving up in the organization or being a better manager. At the same time, ask your mentor what they want out of the program. Many mentors just want to give back since they benefited from a mentor themselves, but they may also have something you can help them with, and it’s a great way for you to let them know you want a two-way relationship.

Confirm the logistics

You may prefer live meetings, but this may be too difficult with your mentor’s schedule.  Ask specifically how your mentor likes to meet – e.g., live, by phone or by video. If it’s very different than what you prefer, see how you can compromise – e.g., by mixing up the meetings. Confirm how frequently you will have scheduled meetings. Confirm if it’s okay to email or call in-between scheduled meetings. Don’t assume that your mentor likes to meet any specific way or frequency – always ask.

Help your mentor help you

Once you do settle on a goal for the mentorship and a cadence of meetings, you still need to specify what you need. Are you looking for encouragement or do you need something more hands-on? Are you looking for ideas and advice? Or maybe you have a specific idea already, and what you really want is to role play or refine how to execute on the idea. Your exact needs will likely differ from meeting-to-meeting or over the arc of your mentorship. The more explicit you can be, the easier it will be for your mentor to help you. They may be the type who is a natural cheerleader and not realize you want a devil’s advocate. Or they may be the type to jump into brainstorming mode and list out ideas, when you already have an idea and want help elsewhere. Help your mentor help you.

Take the initiative in scheduling

When you first meet, you might set a regular meeting day – e.g., last Tuesday of each month at lunch. More likely, you will schedule as you go. You might schedule the next meeting at the former meeting but this might still be too far in advance (or not enough time). Confirm with the mentor how far in advance they prefer to schedule. Put reminders in your calendar to reach out and schedule according to what you both agreed. If your mentor reaches out to you, be responsive.

Respect your mentor’s time

Responding in a timely fashion to your mentor’s outreach is one way of respecting their time. Coming to scheduled meetings on time, and sticking to the agenda and time agreed upon are also ways to respect their time. Showing effort or results in-between meetings is another way of letting your mentor know that time with you is time well spent. You don’t have to agree with or act upon everything your mentor says, but there should be some related movement in-between meetings so that the mentor knows your work together is having an impact.

Don’t ask for too much too soon

The best mentor relationships do have an impact. Please, don’t expect or ask for too much too soon. In the early days of your mentorship, focus on getting to know each other and on asking for answers to questions the mentor will know right then, with little preparation or extra work. You can then build up to more complex or time-intensive requests, such as feedback on your resume. Keep in mind that mentors warm up at their own pace. If you know the person already, they may be willing to jump right in and look at your resume or business plan at the first meeting. But if you don’t know the person at all and you were matched together by an outside program, then you want to ease into things.

Have fun

Part of building trust is getting to know each other. Make it part of each mentor meeting to focus, not just on business, but getting to know each other personally. Knowing more about your mentor will help you better communicate and may even give you more or different ideas on how you can collaborate. Letting your mentor know more about you will enable them to help you more effectively.

Keep your mentor informed

Your career is dynamic and changing, and you don’t see your mentor that often. You need to keep them informed, especially if your situation changes in a way that impacts the mentorship. For example, let’s say you were matched together a few months ago and you have been working on work/life issues, but then a spot opens up in your group that you didn’t realize you wanted but now you definitely do. Let your mentor know, even before the next meeting. This shifts what your focus is, and even if your mentor still wants to talk work/life balance, at least they’ll know you have other things on your mind.

Have a plan for when things go wrong

What if you want to shift the focus of the mentorship but your mentor does not? What if you have taken the initiative to set up meetings, show up prepared, but it’s your mentor who isn’t responsive? What if there is a change in situation and your mentor no longer fits your needs? Or what if you just have a personality clash? If you’re part of a structured program, find out who in the program can help you navigate any difficulties. See if there is already a process for making changes, or if you have to choose between leaving the program or staying in the current situation. Get outside assistance and prepare a heart-to-heart with your mentor. If the relationship isn’t working for you, it probably isn’t working for them. Clearing the air might fix it or, at least, give you both the opportunity to move on.

Reciprocate and give back

If things do work and you have a smashingly successful mentorship, don’t forget to pay it back. This includes asking your mentor how you can help them – do not assume that you have nothing to offer just because you’re more junior. This also includes being a mentor to others. I have worked with several mentorship programs (as mentor, mentee, and behind-the-scenes organizing), and most programs can always use more mentors.


By: Jennifer Hinders

Is contentment possible?

You can find plenty of fish in the sea. So how do you know if you’ve found the one that’s meant just for you? One sign that you’ve found your soulmate is by the contentment you feel in your relationship.

If you’ve played the dating field any, you know that there are good relationships and troubled ones, and sometimes no matter what you do, it just doesn’t feel right.

However, finding your person, the one who completes you and makes you feel whole, is not something that everyone encounters.

According to a study published by the Washington Post, around 55 percent of the population hasn’t found true love. These folks give up on the hunt, and they consider themselves forever single. One indication that you’ve struck gold is by the contentment you feel inside when you’re with this individual.

Ten Signs of Contentment in a Relationship

Perhaps you question if the person you are with is the one meant for you. Things are going well, even fantastic, and you’re afraid to take the next step. Here are ten signs of contentment in a relationship that you should observe.

If you find that you have these feelings and do these things, then you, my friend, have found a rare treasure in your partner.

You Put Their Needs Above Yours

When you love someone on a deep level, you automatically put their needs above yours.

For instance, there’s one piece of their favorite vanilla cake left from dinner. So, rather than eating this sweet treat, you decide to save it for them.

Sure, the cake isn’t a need, but you’re putting their wants and needs above your desires. You don’t get the dream home in suburbia because it makes their commute a bit too long, and you spend an extra bit at the grocery store so they can have the foods they need for their specific diet.

You have their best interests at heart, and you want to do right by them, even if it means it’s a sacrifice for you.

Arguments Are Few and Far Between

While a little bit of arguing and having disagreements can be healthy, those tiffs are few and far between your partner. You two go together like a sock and shoe, and even if there are things that you disagree on, you find a way to work through it without theatrics. You are so in sync that you think alike, and it leaves little room for spats.

Your Safe Place Is in Their Arms

There are places in this life where everyone feels safe, and these are the spaces you hold dear. You feel secure from the world around you when you’re in their arms.

No matter how bad your day has been or how unkind life was to you, you find security and renewal when you feel their arms wrapped around you. Isn’t this what love is all about feeling safe and secure from someone who cares so much about you?

You Cannot Wait To Get Home to Them

Even Shakespeare noted that parting was sweet sorrow when you’re away from the one you love. However, all day long, you daydream about being home and spending time together. You count down the hours and minutes until you see them again.

You plan out dinner in your mind and find something great for you to watch on TV. You know that the day will feel complete, and you’re at peace once you’re back together. Your home and the place you have built together are the best spot in the world for you.

You Relish Every Moment Spent Together

You look forward to those times when you get to make the world go away and focus on your relationship. You make date night a priority, and you always look for new adventures and things for you to do. Since you have a lot of similar interests, you can’t wait to explore the world with your favorite person.

You Smile and Laugh a Lot

They say that a merry heart is like good medicine, and you know that it is true, as you smile and laugh a lot. You can always find something that makes you happy and allows you to chuckle. You have found the person that can make a simple trip to the grocery store seem like a fun adventure. You can’t imagine what you did before they came into your life, but now you have a permanent smile on your face.

Communication Is Good

There are no secrets between the two of you, and you have learned the fine art of communication. You will text each other throughout the day to let one another know how you are doing. Your lunch and breaks are always spent conversing, and you can’t wait to get home and share the details of your day and job with them.

When good or bad things occur in your life, you run to the first. They’re the individual you want to tell all your secrets too, and they’re the person that will come to your defense when the whole world is against you. Most importantly, you dream with one another about what the future will be like.

You Trust Your Partner A Hundred Percent

What contentment means for you is that you can trust your partner one hundred percent. You know that if they tell you something, it is the truth. You have no doubts about what they say or do, as you’ve reached a level of complete security with one another.

You Enjoy Intimacy With One Another

Intimate matters will wax and wane throughout your relationship. However, you keep things fresh both inside and outside the bedroom. When you go out to eat, you find yourself sitting on the same side of the booth together, as you don’t want to be too far apart.  Being with them gives you peace in your soul that you can’t explain, but they make you happier and feel better about yourself.

You Use Terms of Endearment

Using these little words is a way to bond, play with one another, and show you care. While they shouldn’t be overdone, calling your partner honey, sweetie, baby, or some other cute name is perfectly acceptable. Just don’t forget to use their real name occasionally.

True love makes you a better person, and it helps tear down the walls and unpack baggage you carry from previous relationships. When you find contentment and peace in your life, it radiates from the inside out. The signs that you are at ease do not require any grand announcements, as anyone who comes in contact with you knows that you’ve found a gem whose love saved you.


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