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How to Raise Great Kids & Leave a Legacy Through Your Children

Inspired by Inc.’s lead parenting columnist, Bill Murphy Jr.’s, collection of science-based parenting advice collected and shared.


As parents, one of our core desires for our children is for them to be happy.  As working parents, we recognize that one of the core tenants of our own happiness is the pursuit and achievement of success, however we have defined it for our careers, our families, and ourselves.  Naturally, we want to raise our children to succeed as adults, but we also want them to experience the emotional health that is supported by their encounters of success (and dare we say, failure) as children, teens and young adults.  If we invest our parenting capital in these five key areas, we can later reap the rewards of that investment in children who become successful and well-adjusted adults (and grown children who still want to come ‘home’ for the holidays).


One | Great Expectations

We all have expectations, and we all know the frustration that results when those expectations are not met (likely, because they were never communicated in the first place).  We also know the power of a boss who sets clear (and high expectations), revisits them often, and celebrates our fulfillment of those expectations.  Our children are no different.  The greater our expectations, when communicated clearly and supported intentionally, the greater our children will perform.  That performance will directly translate into confidence, and improved self-esteem.

Our expectations communicate to our children that we believe they are capable of doing hard things, that we hold them accountable, and that we want them to achieve their dreams.  Establish your expectations, communicate them clearly, re-visit and remind your children of them often, and affirm and celebrate their fulfillment of those expectations.

Two | The Power of Praise

People perform better when they receive praise routinely.  However, in order to support our children in taking risks, and pursuing academics and activities with persistence, the way we deliver that praise is imperative.  Otherwise, we may end up raising vapid egomaniacs, and the world is already full of those.

So, how should we deliver praise? First, know that there is no ideal ratio, but the more you praise your children, the better the results.  In other words, you cannot spoil a baby by holding them too much, and you cannot spoil a child by praising them too much.  Next, it is important that you praise their effort and specific application of skills or attributes, rather than their innate talents.  When you offer praise frequently and ‘correctly’ you avoid the adage of, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.

Here’s an example.  Instead of telling your child, “Wow, you are so fast!” praise them instead by saying, “I am so impressed with the way you were determined to push your body to move your legs so quickly.  You didn’t give up!”

Three | Chores, Chores, Chores

According to the longest running longitudinal study in history, there are two key factors people need to possess to be both happy and successful: love and work ethic.  How, as parents can we instill those two traits in our children simultaneously? Chores.  When children participate in chores they learn the importance of work ethic, and they feel loved knowing that they have a purpose in their family life and knowing that they are contributing to that family life.

But, we have to include them.   And that means letting go of some of our own expectations along the way.  They have to learn, and the only way for them to learn is to practice.  Give them grace, and ample amounts of praise, and then learn to live with the missed crumbs –they will get it right, with time.

Four | Be There

In a Love and Logic world, it can be hard to remember that ultimately our children need us there, and they need us to be a safe and empathetic shoulder as much as they need us to walk them through the natural consequence they were just delivered.  When something happens to our children, whether they get hurt, make a mistake, or are confronted with failure, you can (and should) rush to their side.  In numerous studies, researchers found that adults who reflect on their childhood, had a much more positive perception of their parents when they were perceived as being there, rather than modeling self-reliance by maintaining their distance.

You can be there for your children, without ‘fixing’ the situation.  And this is the Love component of Love and Logic.  We don’t sit back when our child trips and falls; instead, we lovingly acknowledge their pain, “Ouch!  That looks like it hurts; I am so sorry that happened. What would make it feel better?” and we offer them Logic when the time is right, “Do you think your shoes being untied caused you to trip? What are your ideas for preventing another trip?”

Five | Champion their ‘Weirdness’ and their Social-Butterfly Aptitude

Children are laughably weird, and it doesn’t take more than a year or two of parenting to also realize, they come to us as they are —wonderfully and wildly unique— with their own interests and passions and eccentricities.  Rather than dejecting their affinity for dinosaur trivia, champion it and channel their interest into some real life connections, like paleontologists or a trip to a dinosaur museum.  Warren Buffet attributes his success to his eccentric tendency toward entrepreneurship as a child.  So embrace their quirkiness, and help to develop it so they can later leverage it for success and happiness.

While we’re discussing comments you may anticipate hearing at Parent Teacher Conferences, if your child is often discussed as being ‘too social’, help them to curtail it…to an extent, and know that children who are perceived as prosocial, later have a significant financial lead.  And if your child struggles socially, seek out opportunities and employ strategies to help improve their social skills and their future.


While there is no handbook for parenting, employing these 5 study-proven and scientifically supported practices will help you to raise children who are both well adjusted and successful.  And, at the end of the day, if “all you need is love”, and your children are loved and secure, you have already started a beautiful legacy.  We are so looking forward to the return on our investment, of a home filled with grown children during the holidays.

Children Step Parent

Blended Families: The Joys of Being a Step-Parent

Let’s face it, the stereotypical step-parent and step-child relationship is pretty nightmarish—just picture Cinderella’s evil step-mother and step-sisters!

It’s no wonder that with such a widespread negative stereotype many people tend to shy away from being a step-parent.

But the truth is, acquiring a step-family doesn’t have to be a negative experience for anyone involved. Many adults and kids have very pleasant experiences and find themselves in a loving, supportive blended family.

It’s normal to be nervous about your new family, whether you’re a step-parent, foster parent, adopted parent, or even a biological parent. So, instead of focusing on the challenges that may come with this new role, let’s spend some time highlighting the joys that come with being a step-parent.

Developing Strong Bonds 

Step-parents and stepchildren can have wonderful, loving bonds.

Naturally, you may be concerned about how you’ll be treated in this new family, but instead of focusing on that, focus on how you’ll treat your partner and their children. How you treat them will directly impact how they’ll treat you in return.

Yes, it takes time to develop bonds—especially if you come into the children’s lives when they’re slightly older. But, spending quality time with your stepchildren so that you can all get to know each other will go a long way towards establishing strong, healthy relationships.

There’s More Love to go Around 

Remember the old adage, it takes a village to raise a child?

Well, as a step-parent, you have the amazing opportunity to bring more love and support into a family that may be struggling, particularly the children. A child can never have too many loving adults looking out for them.

You’ll also receive love! There’s nothing like a child’s love—they love totally and without restrictions.

See What Kind of a Parent Your Partner Is

If you and your partner intend to have kids of your own, being a step-parent also gives you a preview of your partner’s parenting style.

Plus, since they’re a parent already, your partner will be much more equipped to handle a lot of things—from changing diapers to handling a sick child and everything in between.

Parenting can be scary at times, and it will be great to have someone experienced in that area who you can count on for guidance.

You Bring a Fresh Perspective to the Table

Being the newcomer can seem daunting at first, but it can be good for the entire family to have someone with a fresh perspective join the mix.

Maybe your partner is having trouble with their adolescent children. You could be a great sounding board for listening to their troubles, giving advice, and positively influencing your partner’s parenting and relationship with their child.

Plus, once you’ve established a relationship with your stepchildren, they may appreciate coming to someone who isn’t their mom or dad for advice—that makes you the cool parent instead of the evil step-parent!

Just be sure to have a conversation with your partner about parental roles so that you don’t accidentally overstep any boundaries. Being on the same page as co-parents is crucial for effective parenting!

Everyone Involved Becomes More Resilient

When families separate, for whatever reason, it’s a very painful, emotionally-draining process for everyone involved.

But every cloud has a silver lining—the upside of this one is that blended families can become more resilient because they learn how to bounce back from that pain and make the best of a complicated situation.

As complicated as things may be, put in the effort to work through family problems instead of sweeping things under the rug. That just leads to resentment and a reluctance to change.

In the same vein, due to the complicated nature of a blended family, ones that are happy and well-adjusted also tend to be open-minded and accepting of others. Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of that?

You Get to be a Relationship Role Model 

Depending on the situation, children of divorced or single parents may not get to see what a healthy marriage looks like. This is you and your partner’s chance to show them what a healthy marriage is—day in and day out, the good and the bad.

Because of your influence, your stepchildren will be able to use your marriage as a benchmark for their future relationships and will mirror the valuable lessons they’ve learned from you.

Being a Step-Parent: It Takes Time 

As with all relationships, building bonds and letting people in takes time—especially when trying to fit into an existing family dynamic.

If you want this experience to change you and your new family for the better, it’s best not to force relationships, but to nurture them instead. Give it time and don’t push everyone to adjust at the same rate.

You have the opportunity to create positive experiences and teach important life lessons as a step-parent. Yes, it takes time, effort, and emotional involvement, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Family

21 Affordable Summer Activities for Kids

Some of us Mom’s have a love/hate relationship with Summer Break. We love the first week, no rushing out the door, no packing lunches, no homework stress, the list goes on and on. Then a few weeks in we begin to feel the stress of having kids around 24/7 or we hear the dreaded “I’m bored.” Finding a balance can be tough, especially for us work-from-home moms. I try to plan 2-3 out of the norm activities/outings each week to keep summer fun and make sure we get in some much needed quality time. The summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Consider some of these free or very inexpensive activities:

National or State Parks

Check out your local state parks or national parks, you can usually find some great hiking and scenery.

http://www.stateparks.com/
https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm

Hiking

Find a local trail

http://www.traillink.com/

Geocaching

If your kids love a good treasure hunt then go Geocaching. All you need is a GPS enabled device such as your smart phone and you can play a real-world treasure hunting outdoor game called Geocaching. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using their smart phones and then share their experiences online

https://www.geocaching.com/play

Museums

Local Museums can offer educational opportunities and usually have special deals during the summer.

http://www.museumsusa.org/

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Have your kids (grades 1st-6th) read books and answer the questions in the Summer Reading Triathlon Reading Journal. Bring the completed journal to any Barnes & Noble bookstore between May 17th and September 6th, and your child can choose a FREE book from their selection on the Reading Journal list.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/summer-reading/_/N-rs9

Scholastic Summer Challenge

May 9 – September 9, kids can log their reading minutes to earn virtual prizes.

http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2016

LEGO Fans

Is your little reader a LEGO fan? Go ahead and grab this freebie for kids, a free membership to the LEGO Club including (for kids 4-12) a subscription to Lego Club Magazine.

http://www.lego.com/en-us/club/member/articles/details/magazine-sign-up-2-e344dd7a1961497187adf5352ff87e53

Regal’s Summer Movie Express

Regal’s summer movie program is on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and runs for nine weeks. Admission is $1, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute.

http://www.regmovies.com/Movies/Summer-Movie-Express

Bowling

Register your kids for Summer Games at AMF so they can enjoy free bowling. They can bowl three free games every weekday from open till 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from open till 4 pm. Valid May 23 through September 5.

https://bowlsummergames.com/

Roller Skating

Kids 12 and under can skate for FREE this summer at participating Kids Skate FREE Rinks. Use the link below to find a location near you and sign your kids up to snag their FREE skating passes. Hours and additional fees (including skate rental fees) vary based on location.

http://kidsskatefree.com/locations.php

Home Depot Kids Workshops

Home Depot offers FREE workshops for do-it-yourselfers of all ages and experience levels.

http://workshops.homedepot.com/workshops/kids-workshops

Lowe’s

Bring the kids to a Lowe’s Build and Grow workshop where they’ll get to tackle all sorts of DIY projects.

https://lowesbuildandgrow.com/

Michael’s

Have your kids join the Michael’s Kids Club and let them explore their creativity while you shop. Only $2 per child reserves 30 minutes for your creative kid. Sessions start every half hour from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

https://classes.michaels.com/OnlineClasses/control/main?firstVisit=firstVisit

Lakeshore Learning Crafts

FREE Crafts for Kids for kids ages 3 and up every Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/general_content/store_locations/storeCrafts.jsp?ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1369103498148

Tech Savvy Kids – Apple

Apple Camp! For your tech savvy kids, have them attend a FREE Apple Camp at a participating Apple Store. At Apple Camp, kids ages 8-12 will have the opportunity to learn to make their own movie including a soundtrack or an interactive book.

http://www.apple.com/retail/learn/youth/

Bass Pro Shops Family Summer Camp

Bass Pro Shops host FREE activities and crafts for the family. These FREE camps are every Tuesday and Thursday starting at noon and Saturday and Sunday starting at noon. Your family can enjoy FREE crafts, FREE shooting gallery, FREE casting pond, FREE family workshops, FREE make campfire s’mores, FREE photo, and FREE merit badge workshops. Please note that not all activities are available at all Bass Pro Shops.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=-1&lf=&pageID=4766&cm_Sp=Sur

Whole Foods Kids Cooking Classes

Do you have a little chef in your family? If so, then check out the Whole Foods Kids Cooking Classes for kids 5-12 years old. At most locations, you have to purchase a membership but it is just $10. Pre-registration is required for all cooking classes.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/just-kids

Volunteer in your Community

Teach ‘em young! Kids can participate as volunteers in your local community. While volunteer activities are inspiring FREE summer activities for kids, the rewards usually tend to be a touching experience.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

If your kids want to have a lemonade stand, encourage them to donate the proceeds to charity such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation which helps children with cancer.

http://www.alexslemonade.org/

Staycations and nearby Amusement Parks

Local Deals

You can also check out Groupon or Living Social for some affordable staycation hotel options or local amusement parks

https://www.groupon.com/
https://www.livingsocial.com/

For more summer fun, click here for our FREE downloadable summer bucket list

Family Work

Tips for Moms to Thrive This Summer

Buckle Up Moms It’s Summer! Field Day, Volunteer Appreciation lunch, Principal retirement lunch, 8th grade beach day, 8th grade graduation practice, graduation, graduation dance, party and ½ days for the next two weeks. Somewhere in there you strive to schedule things for you. Workouts, personal appointments and oh yes, if you work from home or in an office you have to schedule your work around your kids already crazy schedule.

End of school year and Summer can be tricky, overwhelming and exhausting – but I’d like to think that I’ve found some tips to help you keep your sanity and actually get the best of time with your children and still get it all done at the same time….You know, that thing all mothers crave – BALANCE.

We are all in different places and phases of motherhood. Some are stay at home moms. Some are corporate moms. And then there is me. A Mom who works from home. Some have younger kids, some are gone – and yep some have come home for summer which brings so much joy but a whole other set of dynamics. So what’s the answer? How do we survive the summer?

Tips for thriving as a mom this summer:

Let’s start with the Calendar. Not your iphone, google calendar, or the device of the day, I’m talking a BIG old fashioned calendar that you can write on. Assign each family member a color. Then enter away. Fill in any camps, sports practice and games, travel, doctors and other appointments. See where your conflicts are and see where your openings/opportunities are.

Now start finding solutions. If you work a corporate job like I used to, summer brings great solutions to town when all of the responsible college kids come home. They are looking for part time work and you have it! If you don’t have enough hours, team up with a friend and guarantee x amount of hours per family – get a schedule and your kids can get to and from their activities. If you don’t have activities – get outside and have them take them to the beach, on hikes, on bikes. The outdoors in summer is a playground. You don’t have to spend your income on a camp every week of summer. Your kids don’t want that either – it’s supposed to be their downtime, let them have it! You should not be left out either. I found that by taking as many Fridays off as possible it gave me a long weekend with my kids and I was not always missing out!

If you work from home – this takes some adjusting to. Your calendar is just as critical. But you will likely need to change your business hours. You also need to DECIDE if you are taking the summer off or if you are going to treat your job like a career. I’m all about working hard and playing hard. This starts with a family conversation about expectations. I have specific conversations with my boys about my business hours, what they can expect from me and vice versa. I get up extra early and typically work from 6AM-12 take the boys to do something and resume my work in late afternoon early evening when they are at their sports. I used to call it camp Kara. Truth is – now with two teenagers, they are not going to want to hang with me every day – but I love the beach and they do too – they can meet up with friends and I can get my tan on, make calls, and keep my life and business moving forward in a great atmosphere. You can also team up with other moms – I have a group of mom friends who each take a day per week to take a crew of boys to do fun summer activities. The kids get to be with friends – and you get days to focus on other kids and life.

Keep your refrigerator and pantry full. Do some pre-packaging of snacks so the kids are not asking you to make something at any hour of the day. I have found on line shopping helps in this area. I shop on line for as much as I can to save trips to the store, and everything comes to me. Who has time to bounce from store to store?

Be PRESENT when you are with your children. Enjoy the time. Put the devices away during the time you have dedicated to them. If at meals, we play the phone stack game. Everyone’s phone goes into a pile in center of the table with ringers off. Parents can’t take calls, return emails, and kids can’t play games or work on their snapchat story. You get the idea. TALK to each other.

Moms, summer will be what you make of it. ENJOY every minute you get with your kids. Yes, you will be ready to get them back to school in the fall but soon you will blink, they will be driving themselves everywhere and you will wish they needed a ride. Take control of your calendar up front and enjoy every day! Let’s thrive not survive the summer.

Spotlight

Friday Spotlight: Dana Wikoff

I have always been a hard worker and at a young age worked in various management positions. I started in restaurant management at age 18, and then transition to the position of Warehouse Manager for a high-end women’s fashion line.

Realizing I hadn’t found my passion, I returned to college full-time at the age of 23 and after 4 years of school and 2 kids, I knew I didn’t want a job that would require me to be away from them all day! So, I specialized in health and fitness, obtaining certifications in both personal training and nutrition. I was able to work when I wanted and it was truly fantastic. With the birth of my 3rd child, however, I found I had less time to work but my bills were growing!

When I was first introduced to Mom’s Making Six Figures, I knew a lot about working from home but had yet to find a business that provided both the flexibility and income I needed. What I saw in Moms was an opportunity about which I could be passionate; the time freedom and income potential matched up with the ability to help other women like me achieve those same things for themselves!

My business has changed my life in so many ways, from having more time with my 3 kids, to easing the financial burden off of my husband’s shoulders, to teaching other women how to work from home. I’m so thankful for the amazing women of Mom’s Making Six Figures, and the wonderful opportunity we share.

Money

What are you teaching your children about money?

As parents, we intuitively recognize that teaching life skills is our responsibility. As such, we teach our children manners by constantly reminding them to use simple phrases such as “please” and “thank you.” We teach them about faith and God by reading the bible with them and praying before dinner. We teach them responsibility by assigning them age-appropriate chores. We teach them about personal care by having them bathe regularly and brush their teeth.

Parents are also often reminded that while we can preach these life skills until we are blue in the face, our children are more likely to mimic our actions than follow our words. So, if you’re telling your children to say “please” but not using the phrase yourself, your children are not likely to adopt that particular skill.

As I teach adults about how to handle their money and also have conversations with them about what they’re teaching their children, I am often met with a blank stare. For some reason, “handling money” is a skill that many parents have not recognized as THEIR responsibility to teach their children. Recently, I had a parent tell me, “I’m not good with math. That’s the school’s responsibility to teach my child.” My response? “I beg to differ!”

We don’t hold teachers accountable for teaching our kids the other life skills I mentioned above, right? So why is this skill any different? I think teachers’ plates are pretty full teaching our children subjects like English, Math, History and Science. We don’t hold our teachers accountable if our children don’t brush their teeth or express gratitude when they’ve received a gift…because we know that teaching these life skills is our responsibility. So let’s reframe how we think about teaching personal finance and handling money to our children and be deliberate about it!

While I could probably write an entire book on this topic, I’ve just started here with a brief outline of some basic principles that each of us can adopt with our children.

1. Money comes from work

Let’s be honest, as an adult, we know that money comes from work. If I don’t work, I don’t make money. But often we aren’t teaching our children this principle. I like to steer clear of giving my children an “allowance,” as it gives them the impression that they are entitled to money “just because.” Instead, I give my children an opportunity to earn “commission” if they are willing to take the initiative and do some work!

Don’t get me wrong…that doesn’t mean I pay them for every little thing they do—they have certain responsibilities and chores they are expected to do simply as a member of our family. They are expected to keep their rooms picked up, make their beds, and take care of their pets, among other things. They don’t get paid for these activities—it’s just part of living in our household and being in our family.

However, they do have an opportunity to earn money by choosing to do other tasks. I made a “chart” that sits in our kitchen and on each day there are several tasks that can be done, each of which has been assigned a commission amount. The first child to take the initiative and complete the task earns the commission. For example, if someone takes out the trash, he/she earns $1, and $3 for taking all the trash cans to the curb on trash day. Each Sunday, I tally up the total commissions earned and the kids get their “paychecks” in the form of cash.

2. Buying “things” you want requires money

Do you ever get frustrated that your kids feel entitled to everything they want? I know I do at times. But then I try to remember it is just another opportunity for me to help my children recognize it’s completely in their control if they want “stuff.” All they need to do is work for it and earn some commission so that they can buy it!

It’s amazing how quickly a child will admit that something she wants isn’t something she needs when its cost is hers to pay out of her own hard earned cash. I know my children started making informed, carefully weighed purchase decisions once they understood the difference between wants and needs, and they recognize that they can’t have it all. They’ve learned to prioritize their wants based on how much they’re willing to work to attain them. What a great life skill!

3. Saving and planning purchases is important

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if our children never went into debt and only purchased things they could afford with cash? Believe it or not, that is very possible if we teach them the right skills. When I pay out commissions each week, I have the children put 10% into a giving fund (they can choose to donate to church or a charity of their choice), 40% goes into a savings fund and 50% can go into their wallet to be used for purchases. I’m helping them start to understand the concept of delayed gratification.

A recent example of this proving very effective is when my 8 year old daughter continually asked me for an iPod touch. Of course, on her Christmas list she wanted the newest and best version. Rather than buying it for her as a gift, I recognized a huge opportunity to teach her about savings. When she was disappointed at not having received it for Christmas, I encouraged her to start saving for it! We got online and started to look up prices so she had an idea how much she needed to save. She quickly recognized that brand new models with lots of memory would require $200 or more, whereas a used model with less memory was only about $60. Suddenly, she was absolutely fine with the $60 model, including tax and shipping!

She made an envelope and drew a picture of the iPod on it, along with a huge 6-0 on it. We talked about the fact that if she worked hard and earned $10 each week she could buy it in just 6 weeks, or that if she did the normal amount of chores she had been doing and only earned $5 per week, it would 12 (which admittedly, is an eternity to an 8 year old).

So suddenly she went to work! She took $20 out of her “spend fund” in her wallet and decided that buying candy, gum or other trinkets was not as important to her as buying the iPod. She also got very focused regarding earning commissions and she surprised me by saving the $60 after only 3 weeks! She honestly beamed with pride when her iPod came in the mail and she treats it with more care and respect than I’ve ever seen her treat another object before. Because she went through the process of saving for it, she better understands its value! It was truly a priceless lesson.

4. Practice what you preach

Has your child ever said “Just put in on your credit card, Mom.” Mine has! A few years ago, I was admiring a gorgeous purse that I wanted and my daughter said “It’s cute Mom, you should get it.” When I responded “No honey, it’s too expensive.” She replied “Just put in on your credit card!”

That moment was a serious eye opener for me. It’s hard enough for a child to understand the value of money; especially when she sees us parents swiping credit cards rather than paying with cash. Credit cards dull the impact and significance of the cost of our purchases not only on us adults, but also on our children; their perception being that there is always more money available!

From that conversation with my daughter about the purse, I realized that I needed to be much more careful in what I was modeling for my children. I now try hard to make a point to pull out and pay for things with cash around my kids. And rather than making statements like “It’s too expensive,” I make statements like “It’s not in my budget this month…I need to think about how important this is to me and decide if it’s something I want to prioritize in my budget next month.” When I demonstrate prioritization and delayed gratification to my children, it’s much easier for me to ask them to do the same!