Freelance writer and editor

I write essays and reported stories on parenting teens and navigating mid-life.

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My American kids got a new perspective on modesty when we moved to the Netherlands. They adapted to open-air urinals and unisex locker rooms.

• Open-air urinals and unisex changing rooms were shocking when we arrived in Europe. • The Dutch favor practicality and have a different sense of modesty than Americans. • My kids didn't flinch, but it took some time for me to get used to a more open, practical society. When we stepped off the train on our first day in the Netherlands, my family saw a lot of unfamiliar sights, but the one that really jumped out was an open-air urinal. It was a grey plastic contraption divided into four stalls

Teaching My Son to Drive Helped Me Learn an Important Lesson

My son was one of those toddlers who didn’t just crawl, he climbed. Furniture, bookshelves, and of course, the stairs. Yes, we had a baby gate, but that didn’t stop him. He’d hoist his tiny body right over it. In fact, he seemed to view all of our babyproofing efforts as just another challenge, one he conquered again and again. Before his first birthday, I was forced to make the tough decision to teach my son how to safely climb up and down stairs. Ultimately, I decided it was better to teach

My family invented routines to help with pandemic stress — like writing down what we wanted to do when we were 'free' again. To my surprise, it worked.

• When my son was in the NICU, I remember wanting to have "normal days". • When the pandemic started, and we were faced with so much uncertainty, that feeling came back. • Now, our family has new traditions and routines that have helped us have some sense of normality. When my son was in the newborn intensive-care unit fighting for his life, I remember craving a "normal day." The same happened when my sister was in the ICU with brain tumors. During the most stressful periods of my life, it re

I'm an American mom who lived in the Netherlands for 3 years. These were the biggest differences in parenting.

• Only the American parents stayed to watch their kids during swimming lessons. • At age 4, my son was expected to ride his bike everywhere, as Dutch kids usually do. • Returning to the US has been a culture shock for my kids, who are used to a more direct way of life. I'm an American who lived in Holland for three years with my husband and two young sons. Parenting abroad, we experienced jarring differences in everyday life, from transportation to education to healthcare. When we moved to th

One Day Your Son Will Be Taller Than You—And You Won't Be Ready

I read a lot of parenting blogs. And books and magazines. Plus, I follow a ton of writer-moms on social media who have teen and preteen children, just like me. So I’m feeling a little betrayed by all of you. Why didn’t anyone warn me? Yesterday, my goofy, curly-headed baby boy slid over to me while I was doing dishes. And my little buddy looked me straight in the eye. OK, now friends, I stand a full 5 foot, 8 inches. My youngest child is barely 12. And he stood there, gazing at me, nose to nos

My Son's First Job Doesn't Involve Me. And I Couldn't Be Happier - Your Teen Mag

On the second day of kindergarten, just a week after his fifth birthday, he wouldn’t even let me walk him to the playground. I questioned if he was sure about where to line up. He replied, “Yes. And if I get confused, I’ll look for kids in my class. And if I can’t find them, I’ll ask a teacher.” Five years later, when he set off for a two-week sleep-away camp, he positively flourished. And by seventh grade, he insisted on cycling the two miles to school (by himself, of course). So, I shouldn’

I Never Wanted My Mother-in-Law's Curio Cabinet

I hate stereotypical mother-in-law jokes and memes because my husband’s mom was one of my favorite people in this world. Always the life of the party, she quickly embraced me as part of her family, warmly sharing her traditions, recipes, and games. Normally, she was an excellent gift giver—for example, she noticed I traveled with toiletries in random baggies, so for my birthday she got me a quality, hang-up travel kit that’s lasted more than a decade, and she even filled it with fun-sized versi

3 Things I'm Not Going to Nag My Son About Anymore (Even Though I Still Care)—Your Teen Mag

Stress is high and tempers are short. We’ve all been stuck inside together for months, and sometimes the world feels like a big old pressure cooker. On top of all that, my son just started high school. In order to help us survive, and even continue to enjoy each other’s company, I’ve decided to stop caring — and nagging — about three things when dealing with my teen. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I still care. A lot. It hasn’t been all easy breezy, like it sounds. I bite my tongue a lot. And my n

5 sneaky ways I get my kids to read more

Have a reluctant reader at home? These tactics will get kids to read without them even noticing it. Sort of like sneaking veggies into pasta sauce. When my kids were little, I read to them every night. And even when they weren’t so little. But they’re older now and not as interested in my storytelling, no matter how many different animated voices I’m willing to use. Our schools and library have reading “competitions” to win various prizes. Those sometimes worked when they were in primary scho

How a snack cake gave me a glimpse of the future

I didn’t expect parenting a teenager to be this hard. Lately, my son and I clash at every corner. About schoolwork. His attitude. Friends. Screen time. On and on. It seems as though everything I say is met with an eye roll or a mumbled “whatever.” I try to bite my tongue, pick my battles, and keep the nagging to a minimum. But my fuse is admittedly shorter than normal right now, due to some unrelated anxiety, illness, and lack of sleep. On a recent drive home, after picking up my teen and his

I Had To Leave My Family For 19 Days. I Was Shocked By What Happened While I Was Gone.

I missed my child with such primal intensity I couldn’t focus on anything else. The gourmet meals, whimsical shows, even the free cocktails were lost on me. Ironically, I still couldn’t have an adult conversation because my mind wandered constantly to panicked thoughts of, What’s my son doing right now? Is my mom remembering to put him to sleep on his back? Is she using the car seat correctly? What if he refuses the bottle? Or forgets about me? My husband saw the bigger picture, too. We were de

I'm Teaching My Teens to Self-Advocate by Asking Them These 5 Questions

“Having the courage to stand up for yourself is like bringing swords to a stick fight.” My sons both have invisible special needs. While individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 plans are fantastic, support teachers rock, and this mama bear is always poised to help, I’m finding it’s more and more important for my children to advocate for themselves. Especially as they get older and prepare to fly the nest. Invisible challenges aside, anyone can benefit from smart, effective strategies

If you see a kid do something nice, tell their parent

If a stranger has ever approached you to let you know how kind or polite your kid was that day, you know how good it feels. So pass it along! Every morning, I send my boys out into the world. And every day, I worry about them. I don’t walk my kids into school, and I don’t do the car line either. I drop them a block away and, if the coast is clear, they sprint down the sidewalk until they reach the crossing guards. Then they wait patiently and proceed carefully through the busy four-way stop le

How I teamed up with my son on technology

Two years ago, my son sat me down for a talk. He fidgeted. As a tall 11-year-old, he looked older than he was. I braced myself for what might be coming. “Hear me out: It’s time we got actual TV. And you need an iPhone.” Normally, I would have laughed him off. My base-model Tracfone was perfectly fine. And we’d never had cable TV or satellite or Hulu. But his serious tone made me pause. He went online and found me a great deal on a new iPhone 5S. After I grudgingly purchased it, I was touche

The invisible part of special-needs parenting is what makes it so tough

It’s really hard to parent through issues nobody can see, understand or wants to talk about. “What a life, huh?” a well-meaning stranger commented on my peacefully sleeping child in his car seat carrier. I knew the correct answer was to smile and agree. To lament on what an easy existence my sweet baby was living. Eat-sleep-play repeat, right? Because that’s what the man saw. What he expected. If I was honest, I would have said my little cutie pie’s life had been hell thus far. That my seemin

Raising Good Humans Is More Important Than Nagging My Teens

“Why are you playing video games when you have homework?” Far too often, this is my interaction with my teen. Last night, we had a particularly tense dinner table conversation where I got on his case about not signing up for an extracurricular activity, and he declared that he’d never sign up for any school sport or club, period! We both carried that tension throughout the evening, peppered with my requests that he switch to new contact lenses and put his backpack away and find where the dog h

Others See Dyslexia; I See An Amazing Kid

I see your slumped shoulders and head down when you leave school. I see you reciting your presentation from memory, even though the words are right in front of you. I see you at the library, paging through Where’s Waldo, and trying to hide it from your peers with their chapter books. I see you cracking jokes, stalling, making excuses and sometimes getting in trouble to avoid embarrassment related to your learning differences. I see you collapse into bed, exhausted, at the end of every school