Musings of Brilliant Folks and Other Captivating Stuff

3 Ways Your Unhappy Marriage May Be Hurting Your Kids.

n-PARENTS-FIGHTING-large570We’re often warned about the detrimental effects divorce can have on children: It can make them insecure, worried, or harm their ability to have a successful marriage later on in life. But do you really believe all that? Relationship expert and marriage and relationship coach Nancy Pina is looking at things from the flip side. Here are three reasons a divorce may just be the healthiest thing for all of you. Read more.


The Phase of Raising Tough Kids

sb10065231ck-001My mother’s lifelong friend, Mrs. Ryan — and that’s what we called her — was like a second mother to my sister and me. She raised four kids of her own, three of whom were older than us. When my mother would lament some new challenge with her own children, the experienced Mrs. Ryan would respond lovingly, “It’s just a phase.”

I’m not sure if those four little words helped my mother through our comparatively benign childhood and adolescence. On paper, they’re little solace for parents who are grappling with the trials of raising challenging kids. I personally consider myself an expert in grappling after raising three sons whose adolescent choices took at least five years off my life, proverbially speaking. To protect their privacy, I won’t go into all the mishaps, heartbreaks (mine) and unrest they brought to our door. Needless to say, I’m sure there were a lot of folks in our town who wondered, understandably, just what the heck was going on in our house.

And I’m a good mom. Really. My friends, and family and kids will all tell you that. I was there for my boys in their crises — and there was opportunity aplenty for that. Anton Chekhov wrote, “Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.” Apparently, Mr. Chekhov never parented three crisis-prone teenage boys. Because the crises can and do wear you down — right along with the daily worry of what’s coming next.

But through grace and luck and what I’m going to hope was halfway decent parenting, my boys are launched and on their way to their definitions of success. And that makes me oh-so-happy but, more importantly, it’s given me a lot of perspective. How? Because when my sons were (fill in whatever poor choices, within reason, spring to mind and I’m sure they will apply), I thought I’d never feel the end of the heartache, pain and, yes, embarrassment of whatever it was. Not only did I worry about the crisis du jour and what it meant for them in the next hour or week or year, but I was consumed with what the lasting effects of their antics would be. It was a time of uncertainty and endless anxiety.

And then.

My oldest son went to college. And then my middle. And then my baby. And despite the requisite growing pains, they’re all evolving into the most amazing of young men. And all of the crazy of the past is relegated there. And sometimes we laugh about the old days. Really laugh. About things that were really, really not funny at the time. And when one son came home on his first college break and said, “I’m sorry for everything I put you through, Mom. It was a lot,” I had my first inkling that everything — to the extent that it can be for anyone — was going to be OK.

Watching your children teeter on the threshold of adulthood is a thrilling and frightening thing. It’s waiting to see whether the crops you planted — of lessons imbued, forgiveness granted and love showered — will yield a successful harvest. And whether the qualities you thought most important for them to be successful humans — tolerance, gratitude and kindness, in my case — were absorbed. Or whether their adult choices will be decent and thoughtful ones, even if they differ from yours.

A close friend of mine is helping her three children navigate some pretty serious family crises. And her children are all struggling mightily. And my friend is sad and pained and in that place — the very same place I was — where I just couldn’t see that time would pass and the kids would grow up and that life would not be frozen in this particular moment of angst.

And isn’t that one curse of parenting? That our children’s turmoil is so overwhelming to us, we just can’t envision that in a month or three or twenty, many of these struggles will be behind them. Or they will, at the very least, look and feel different in some way. I realize this isn’t true for every child or every experience. Lord knows, I know that. But it is true for the parents trying to make sense of what it means to raise a child who refuses, in whatever current capacity, to toe the line.

I now know — in the way of real knowing — that what Mrs. Ryan said is true. That raising kids is a series of phases that can’t and won’t last. It’s a truism for our kids, for us and for life. I only wish I could have believed it when I most needed it. Chekhov also wrote, “Wisdom… comes not from age, but from education and learning.” And, when it comes to parenting, I can surely attest to that.

Also read on Huffington Post




50-Year-Old Women and 25-Year-Old Guys


It was a late night at Foxwoods when my guy announced he wanted to stay up and gamble. Because I have as much chance of understanding craps as I do learning to speak fluent Mandarin, I headed up to our room for bed.

I was already in the elevator when the doors opened and about 10 young men — all in their twenties and not exactly what you’d call sober — got on. They had their overnight bags with them and between their bodies and the luggage, I was pretty much pinned against the back wall.

One of the young men was particularly loud and sloppy. The others, aware of my presence, seemed a bit embarrassed by their friend’s antics. “Where are thelay-deesWherecanwefinethuhladies?” he slurred as part of his running commentary.

Suddenly, I felt a nudge. At first I ignored it because, being in such close quarters, I was sure one of the guys had just bumped my arm. But the nudging persisted until I turned to the tall, handsome young man standing next to me.

When we made eye contact, he said, quietly, without any hint of sarcasm or malice or innuendo: “How does that make you feel?”

How does that make you feel? In other words, how did it make me feel that his friend was asking where the ladies were while I, obviously a female, stood among them? How did it feel that his friend had not counted me as a viable, desirable woman?

Luckily, the doors opened at that moment and, with an eye roll and a smirk, I pushed my way out.

But the experience stayed with me and I think I’ve figured out why.

First, how I see myself isn’t necessarily how others see me. Most of us, even as we age, still feel young. And then, seemingly suddenly, our outsides and insides no longer match, like one of those unexceptional movies in which the personality of a 13-year-old girl invades her mother’s body. So, no matter how much Botox you inject or how many Pilates classes you attend, you’re still the age you are and everyone else can see that. Even if you look good. Even if you look great. You’re still a 50-year-old woman to a 25-year-old guy.

Second, I remembered how I felt at their age about people my age. They were old. Even if they weren’t. A college professor of mine had a very beautiful, sexy wife (I only realize now) who was probably no older than 35 but, to my college-aged self, she was ancient. The same follows for the elevator guy and me. And just as my youthful opinion of the professor’s wife had no bearing on her life or self-image, nor does the drunken guy’s have any on mine. I’m old to him and that’s just fine.

Third, I’m happy to be in this phase of life. Youth may be wasted on the young but it also belongs to them in both its splendor and struggle. I look at younger women and not for a moment do I wish I could turn back. No. Thank. You. I saw a t-shirt once that read, “I’d rather be 40 than pregnant” and that basically sums it up. (I think I just felt a tidal wave of collective amens-to-that from the menopausal contingent). I’m not saying there aren’t things I wouldn’t change, but the end result of being where I am and who I am now is well worth the wrinkles, stretch marks and the bumpy ride.

Lastly, there are young men whose opinion of me I do value. They’re my three sons and I’m their Mom, Momma and Ma respectively. In the same situation, I hope they’d conduct themselves — not like the loudmouth guy — but rather like his friend, who showed surprising sensitivity to an old lay-dee like me. I’m pretty sure they would.

In fact, craps-table aside, I’m willing to bet my old, sorry butt on it.