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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.

Kid's Electronics Social Media Summer

How to Keep Your Kids Off Social Media This Summer

Remember the good old days when summer meant running through the sprinklers, playing hopscotch, and riding your bicycle through the neighborhood? I certainly miss that!

These days, summertime for kids often means more time on their computer, phone, or tablet. Chances are high that your kids are probably on a device right now—and if you have teenagers, they’re probably on social media instead of spending time outdoors enjoying the warm weather.

Yes, social media has its benefits and it’s great for kids to be able to stay in touch with distant friends over the summer. But, you know what they say: too much of anything is not good—and that includes social media! Here are a few statistics to put things in perspective:

  • The Huffington Post reports that 71% of teens admit to using more than one social network, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Snapchat.
  • The same study found that 56% of teens say they are online several times a day.
  • Another Huffington Post article found that 32% of teens have experienced threatening advances from others when online.

These data are pretty concerning! Other negative effects of too much social media include less sleep, higher rates of cyber-bullying, obesity, disrespect, numbness to violence, and changes in brain structure—the statistics are plentiful.

With that in mind, what better time to start a social media detox than this summer? We mean going cold-turkey. No social media for your kids—or you (because you have to lead by example)—this summer.

Already imagining your kids having a panic attack or staging an outright rebellion? Don’t worry, I have some tips to help keep your kids off social media this summer while still keeping them occupied.

Talk to Them First

Before taking any drastic measures, it’s important to let your kids know why social media will be off the table this summer.

Educate them on the effects of social media and point out how they’re spending too much time on social networks. Highlight the benefits of a social media detox and let them know it’s not forever.

Let’s be real—they will probably resist. Explaining why you’re enforcing a ban on social media is a better route than simply leaving them in the dark, and it may help get them on board with the plan. Make it clear that it’s not up for discussion and there will be no compromises.

Get Rid of Temptation 

Now comes the hard part—enforcement.

Simply uninstalling social media apps will not be effective if you want to stop all social media contact. Try switching out your kids’ smartphones for basic ones so that you can still keep in touch this summer while still limiting their access to the internet.

Put away your other household devices like tablets, desktops, or laptops, and stick to one communal computer in a busy location like the kitchen or living room so that everyone’s activity can be monitored.

Swap Outside Time for Social Media Time

That said, it may be nearly impossible to actually enforce a ban on social media, especially for older, technologically-savvy children.

In that case, give your kids an opportunity to have limited, semi-monitored time on social media a couple days a week. That way they can still check in with their friends, and they’ll be more willing to stick to the social media ban on other days.

For example, institute a swapping system where 2 hours spent doing outdoor activities earns 30 minutes of social media time. You could even make coupons to keep track of the system.

In time, your kids will (hopefully) stop missing social media and will choose to spend more time outdoors doing fun summer activities.

Institute Family Activities

Getting the kids off social media is a big step, but the next is spending more time with them as a family. Instead of sending the kids outdoors by themselves, get yourself and the whole family outside and moving!

Hiking, cycling, camping, fishing, or simply going for a swim are examples of fun activities for the whole family. This is a great opportunity to talk and bond with your kids while they’re not distracted and staring at their phones.

But, make it a rule that no social media is allowed by anyone—even parents—while spending time with the family.

Keeping Your Kids Off Social Media: Lead by Example

Let’s face it, we’re often just as bad about social media as parents—if not worse—than our kids.

Particularly as working moms, it’s easy to become slaves to our devices. Whether we’re checking social networks or work emails, we can set bad examples by over-using our electronics.

To help keep your kids off social media, set a good example by not being so tied to your phone. Don’t distract your kids with the iPad all the time—although I admit it can be a lifesaver at times—and spend more time engaging in outdoor activities with your family this summer.

Not only will your kids benefit, but so will you!


6 Tips On How To Child-Proof Your Home

6 Tips: Child-Proof Your Home

If you are the parent of young children, or you have young children coming to visit with their parents, here are some tips to make sure they stay safe while in your home:

  1. Cover electrical outlets. Plastic electrical covers are a cheap and easy way to protect small children from
  1. Place fragile items and valuables up high. If it’s shiny, colorful, expensive, or made of glass, chances are little hands will want to touch it. Make sure it stays in one piece by placing it on a high shelf or putting it away until your guests leave.
  1. Get in touch with your inner child. Think back to when you were a child and look around your home. Which items would you most like to play with? Move the trinkets or rare books from the lower bookshelves, remove any possible choking hazards and put child locks on the lower kitchen cabinets to ensure that nothing gets broken or misplaced.
  1. Get down to their level. Children are small, so crouch downto their height and travel around your house, looking for areas where they may trip, hit their heads or possibly poke an eye out. If possible, purchase rubber bumpers from the store and place them on your furniture, move potentially dangerous furniture or warn the parents ahead of time.
  1. Think ahead. Slipcovers over your chairs and sofa are easy to was should they get dirty. Placemats on your end tables or coffee table can protect the wood from scratching.
  1. Talk to the parents ahead of time. If you have rules you’d like the children to abide by, tell the parents before they visit. That way they can prepare their children and enforce your rules.

What would you add to this list?


Decatur Dispatch: March 2015

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Tamara Lucas and Brittany Brown are two Decatur moms who have worked together in the wine and spirits industry for 11 years. Both women have degrees in social work and are passionate about helping others. For a long time, Lucas and Brown desired to develop an additional income stream that involved helping others while still maintaining their current, successful careers. They found such an opportunity in the company Moms Making Six Figures, shortened as “Moms”, and are now introducing it to the Atlanta area.

San Diego resident Heidi Bartolotta, founded Moms with two other women in December 2009. For the 12 years prior, Bartolotta had worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, but after having two daughters, she no longer wanted to work late and travel; she wanted to be home.

To stay at home and also have a career, Bartolotta launched the company, seeking also to help other women get back to their families and either replace or supplement their income, depending on each woman’s life circumstances. Since then, Bartolotta and women like Lucas and Brown have grown Moms to a company of over 400 team members across the country and around the world. For about one-third of those women, their work with Moms has become their primary source of income. The other two-thirds work with Moms part-time, on their schedules, alongside their other careers.

At the company level, Moms is partnered with a U.S.- based manufacturer that makes home and wellness products that are safer for both the individual and the environment and at a competitive price. “Our job is simply to help people. First we educate them about the toxins that can sneak into our homes and about overall wellness. Then we provide a solution to help people reach their personal goals, whether they be related to physical health or financial,” Lucas said.

Team members come from all different backgrounds, education levels and work experience. “The great thing about this team is the incredible level of support,” Brown said. “We all work together to help each other reach our goals. We have fun together and we’re making a difference in so many people’s lives! And the ability to build my own business to create a significant, additional income stream while working from home in my spare time is amazing.”

To find out more about opportunities with Moms Making Six Figures, go to their website


7 Tips For Mamarazzi With Smartphones

Mamarazzi: Taking Better Pictures With Your Smartphone

“Mooooom, another picture? Really?” I can’t count the number of times my siblings and I squawked that question. I was convinced that my mother could have easily pursued a lucrative career in the paparazzi when I was growing up. Among the contents of her bulging purse was a clunky old camera that she carried everywhere. Literally. She was ready to snap shots of everything from birthdays and graduations to hotel bathrooms on family vacations and the loose tooth my brother persuaded me to extract using a string and a doorknob.

Childhood events, significant and otherwise, were recorded ad nauseam with that 35mm monstrosity. It seemed to constantly emit blinding flashes and grating mechanical whirrs as activities were interrupted to pose for pictures. The worst part: upon developing the film, we’d discover that most of the prints weren’t album-worthy. They were either overexposed or blurry or featured someone blinking in the shot. All that effort Mom exerted to motivate her reluctant children to “say cheese”, only to find that one of our heads was blocked by an index finger that she had unintentionally placed in front of the lens.

Family photography has come a long way since then. Now, we have pocket-sized cell phone cameras that display shots immediately after they are taken. We have editing software that allows the modern mother to perfect photos—eliminate red eyes, add artistic filters, crop unwanted background and zoom in on delightful details. We have a selection of modes tailored to capturing anything from action shots to sweeping landscapes. But these technological advances can be daunting when all you want is to commemorate your kid’s first day of school.


1. Get close, don’t zoom. Though not exactly beloved by photography purists, smartphone cameras excel when you bring them close to your subject. Their tiny sensor provides a relatively wide depth of field, offering exceptional focus on small details. But the image noticeably degrades if you use the digital zoom function. If you can’t get near your focal point, consider cropping instead. Zooming in on your photo after it’s shot will do a better job preserving the image’s quality.

2. Adjust to lighting. In photography, light is key. Natural light from the sun is the best option. If you’re indoors, move your subject near the window. But if you’re limited to artificial lighting, try to arrange lamps to illuminate the subject as evenly as possible. Just avoid firing the flash, as the little LED lights aren’t powerful enough to capture the whole scene. In fact, I recommend turning off the auto-flash feature. You’ll have fewer blurry, oddly lit, red-eye night photos as a result.

Outside, direct sunlight creates harsh, unattractive shadows. Overcast days or the hours during sunrise and sunset are perfect for shooting. Otherwise, have your subjects stand in the brightest patch of shade available. I try to keep my back to the sun when taking my shot, but if the sun is on the side of the frame, cup your hand around the smartphone lens for a makeshift hood to reduce the amount of flare.

3. Keep the lens clean. From grungy dollar bills to items our kids retrieved from the floor for us to carry, the contents of our purses and pockets make them dirty places to hold our phones. Fortunately, the lenses are tough. Wiping them with a soft cloth (or shirt in a pinch) can’t hurt, but it’s worth it to occasionally use lens cleaning solution to remove grime and prevent spotty or hazy images.

4. Play with perspective. The best part about your phone doubling as a camera is that it’s compact and you’ll more likely tote it everywhere. Take advantage of its convenience and size by snapping lots of photos from various angles. Take 10 to 20 shots of the same person or event, making sure each frame is unique by doing things such as turning your phone sideways, getting down to a kid’s eye level, using a panorama feature, switching to burst mode (available on newer smartphones) for action shots, introducing props or taking candid photos. Most smartphones or camera apps also have a grid feature that can be used to keep the horizon straight and to create more visually balanced photos by placing points of interest along the lines or where they cross.

5. Hold your phone steady. Ditch the impulse to take a quick arm-length shot. It’ll lead to crooked, blurry pictures. To get a good, sharp image, hold the camera with both hands and pull your arms into your chest or stomach. Some phones or apps also offer a stable shot setting for added support. This measures how much you’re shaking the camera and only snaps the picture when your hand has been steady for a couple seconds. Some apps even let you set the sensitivity, so your phone will wait until you’re barely moving to take the photo.

6. Adjust settings. Don’t let automatic features on your phone do all the thinking. For better control and results, get to know your camera modes and perhaps even invest in an app. There are thousands of apps dedicated to camera functions that can help you easily edit and share photos with friends and family. Here are a few important adjustable settings standard on some phones or available with apps:

White Balance Ever notice that your pictures look a bit orange? White balance helps your camera properly process color. Smartphones are pretty good at detecting the white balance until you enter a setting with low light. You can avoid the resulting unnatural tints by focusing on your subject and giving the phone a few seconds to adapt. But if that doesn’t work, try adjusting the white balance yourself. Typically, the phone will have a few light settings such as “fluorescent” or “cloudy” that, when chosen manually, may give you a better result.

HDR Auto iPhones come with an option called High Dynamic Range, or HDR. It allows you to take clear photos of settings with high contrast light sources (such as a bright sunset against a dark mountain) by snapping several pictures in quick succession at different exposures and merging them into a single image. Ideally, the results are clearer photos, but HDR images take quite a bit of space, so I’d suggest limiting its use.

Focus If you want your camera to single in on a particular subject in the frame, some phones will allow you to tap and hold on the object to prevent your camera from shifting focus. To remove the lock, just touch anywhere else on the frame.

Exposure Meter Available on most smartphones, exposure meters are used to brighten (or darken) images before shooting the picture. They are typically identifiable by a meter bar and a sun icon. Slide left or right before taking the shot to adjust the brightness.

7. Strike a pose. Though I usually avoid being the subject in any photo (probably thanks to my mother), it’s useful to know how to best represent your features in photographs. A couple quick fixes I garnered from a photographer are to tilt your head and angle your body. He says people generally look better when they’re not looking dead-on at the camera. So, slightly turn your head to the side or tilt your head down a little and look up toward the lens with your eyes. For the most flattering body position, stand at a slight angle, tilt your hip, put one leg on tiptoe and keep your shoulders straight.

As I adjust my phone to take the millionth photo of my son’s sideways smirk, I’m grateful that technology is so different from the days of my youth. Then I see my son rolling his eyes and uttering a pleading “Moooom.” I guess some things never change.


Are You Raising A Good Sport?

20090123-Baseball BoysAhead of the Game: Raising a Good Sport

For kids, few things compare to the giddy elation of victory or to the crushing disappointment of defeat. Heck, it’s pretty much the same for adults. Our challenge as parents is to learn to temper these reactions, so we’re not raising whiny kids who scream Not fair! at every loss or who adopt in-your-face attitudes when they win.

Sound familiar? We’ve all experienced this at one time or another. It’s an important issue to address, as this behavior can lead to relentless arguments about scores, cheating, pouting at times of defeat, obnoxious bragging, quitting activities or making excuses rather than coping with loss.

Our instincts are to shield our children from every hazard and celebrate their triumphs. So it’s natural to want to let them win at a card game, overemphasize their role in their little league’s victory or even shy away from competitive activities to avoid potential disappointment. But we live in a competitive world. Sooner or later they will have to learn to deal with opposition without having a meltdown.

As a child, I never had that problem. My family still enjoys embarrassing me by sharing soccer game stories where our team lost because I would chat with other players on the field, unfazed by the ball rolling by. My son, on the other hand, can make a competition out of any activity. In the morning, he declares that he can make it downstairs first. At bedtime, he bets that he can put on his pajamas faster.

While amusing, this competitive bent mixed with his sensitive nature is a recipe for trouble, especially in our family. His closest relatives are his cousins, both varsity basketball players and intensely involved in the game. With March Madness in full swing, they fervidly root for their favorite teams, and my son, significantly younger than my two nephews, mirrors their enthusiasm. Unlike my nephews, when my son’s team loses, it’s a DEFCON 2 fit of despair.

The difference, of course, involves age and maturity, but my nephews have also developed a healthy understanding of competition by participating in sports themselves. They’ve learned to constructively accept loss, respect their opponents and cheer on teammates, even when it shifts attention away from their talents. This healthy attitude developed with encouragement from my sister and her husband. And my nephew’s skills spill over to other activities in their lives, too, from schoolwork to social interactions.

As my nephews have done, learning to face ups and downs with grace will go a long way to improving self-esteem and sportsmanship, even if your kid is an I-will-own-you-at-getting-ready-for-bed type. Not only will they find success in athletic endeavors, but in life as well. Following are 10 tips to help you teach your kids to be better sports, on and off the field.

1. Keep the focus on fun. Once you’ve settled on some activities that interest your children, have them explain to you what they like about each game. Remind them of those things when the scores aren’t satisfying. Whether they are rushing to you in excitement or schlepping home in defeat, always be sure to point out fun moments in the match.

2. Emphasize effort. Remind yourself that your child is not a professional. He or she is not getting paid to perform and therefore has no reason to worry about who is winning. Instead, concentrate your attention on their efforts. Praise ways they give 100 percent and reassure them that a loss or a win isn’t as important as doing their best.

3. Set goals. Help your kid decide what he or she wants to achieve. Maybe it’s to perfect their passing game or score more three-pointers. Or perhaps it’s to simply learn the rules. Whatever it is, keep their focus on achieving those skills rather than comparing themselves to teammates or agonizing over scores. Track their progress and use their setbacks as learning opportunities.

4. Model good behavior. Kids parrot their parents. When you yell at the TV after an opposing team scores, they learn that winning points is important, and, in turn, adopt those frustrations. Whether live or on television, check your conduct during games. Praise others for their efforts, respect the coach’s decisions and congratulate opposing players in front of your kid. They’ll learn from your example.

5. Provide consequences. If they can’t be a good sport, bench them. Once they’ve relaxed, explain to them, in terms they can understand, why they are being punished. Even if they are responding to taunts from an opposing player, explain, “We don’t talk like that on our team.”

6. Downplay celebrations. Teach your kid to keep celebrations low-key. One way to do this is to help them redirect their enthusiasm to the next play. Instead of gloating, they should be thinking, “What’s next?” Also, emphasize team efforts and the role luck plays in the game. “Good thing Jessica passed you the ball,” or “It was lucky the goalie jumped the wrong way.” Urge your kid to recognize excellence and effort in others and to give shout-outs when he or she sees them.

7. Commit to practices and games. It’s ok for your child to decide that a particular activity is not one they would like to pursue. However, they must learn to stick to current commitments. When you sign them up for a sport, teach them that it’s their responsibility to put in the work, sit on the bench when necessary and show up to every practice.

8. Minimize pressure. If your child decides they don’t like a sport or activity, don’t push it. Children who are pressured to do sports often get burned out. Set a balance with non-competitive activities and reassure your child that he or she doesn’t need to perform to make you happy.

9. Ask for input. Ask your kid the rules of good sportsmanship and write their answers down. This will help them consider and commit to better behavior, from respecting the coach to valuing teamwork, by giving them a voice on the subject.

10. Accept loss. When your kid inevitably loses a game, don’t feel too sorry for them or else they’ll put too much importance on the loss. Instead, help them congratulate everyone on the opposing team, identify problems, remedy deficiencies, reset goals and laugh at errors. This will help them realize that falling short of a goal doesn’t mean they are falling short as people and that we love them just the same.