Tag Archives: raising kids

15 things I want my kids to know before they’re adults

A mom recently made a list of 44 things she wanted her kids to learn before they hit adulthood, which is something we should all think about as we’re raising our own future adults. I know for me, there are certainly some major values and skills I want for their lives. So without further ado, here are 15 things I hope to instill in my kids before they hit their adult years.

P.S. Have any you want to share from your own list? Leave it in the comments!

1. Honesty is always the best policy. Best way to not be caught up in a lie is to not do anything worth lying about. But if you do find yourself in a situation where you’re tempted to fib your way out, DON’T. It might make things uncomfortable in the moment, but trust me, you’ll be better for it in the long run.

2. The first step to something great will likely feel insignificant. This goes for anything – learning a new skill, saving money, beginning a new project… But it especially goes for getting a new job. You cannot expect to enter the workforce and be given an impressive job title and high salary right off the bat. The reality is you will probably be paid far less than you want to be paid for a job that only hints at your interests – if you’re lucky to get that close to your dream job. Do it anyway. Even the most successful chefs started out washing dishes in the back. With experience comes knowledge, and that will help you not only learn more about where you want to be in life, but will help others easily recognize your potential. Which brings me to #3….

3. Take pride in your work. I don’t care if it’s sweeping the floor, working a minimum wage job, or climbing the corporate ladder – always put your best effort into what you are doing. After all, if you can’t handle the smallest of tasks with finesse, what makes you think you can handle the bigger ones?

4. Handle your money like an adult, not a kid. Keep your checkbook balanced. Do not rely on credit to get the things you want. Save for expected expenses, and unexpected ones, too. Never pay a bill past its due date. Avoid borrowing money like the plague (but if you must borrow, always pay it back). Live only as large as a portion of your paycheck – not the whole thing, and definitely not more than you make. And regularly give to charity.

5. Learn to cook one meal really, really well. By all means, learn to cook in general. But find that one dish that will impress. There will come a day when you will need to pull that ace out of your sleeve (cooking for your significant other’s parents, inviting the boss over for dinner, contributing to a dinner party…). Wouldn’t it be nice to be prepared beforehand?

6. Do your best to only speak about your spouse in kindness. Not only will badmouthing your spouse kill your marriage, it will also kill your friendships. Trust me, there is nothing funny about being stuck in a room with someone who can only say snarky things about their husband or wife, even in jest. It’s just uncomfortable and terrible, and no way to treat a person you love.

7. Never stop learning. Read lots of books, take a class, learn a new language, study a culture or religion, challenge yourself to a new word a day, pay attention to the news of your community/state/country/world…. Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” This is truth. Live by it.

8. Figure out your passion. And once you do, don’t let life get in your way of pursuing that passion. If you love singing, then join a choir or band. If you’re a writer, join a writing group. If you’re an artist, take classes. If you love to build things, go fishing, play golf, then do it!

9. Make time for fun. Once we get into adulthood, sometimes this part is forgotten. There’s a job to go to, a house to clean, bills to pay, errands to run, committees we signed up for, a family to care for, life to contend with… All of those things are important. But so are you. Schedule in a portion of your week when you can enjoy the things you like to do so you can be a better worker, friend, mom or dad, etc.

10. Treat everyone as you wish to be treated. We all want love, kindness, equality, generosity, honesty, dependability, and more wonderful traits from the people around us. Be this to the world, and the world will be this to you.

But on the same token…

11. Do not give anyone permission to walk all over you. You are your best advocate. Stand up for what you believe is right.

12. Abuse is never okay. Be it hitting, using derogatory names, or making dangerous threats, these are not the actions of someone in love. These are actions of someone who wishes to control their partner. If you are tempted to take these actions against someone else, get help immediately. If someone is mistreating you, get out of the relationship. Don’t walk, RUN. Because if you stay, you are giving that person permission to treat you in a way no one should be treated. You cannot change them. It is not your job to change them. But it is your job to look out for your own safety, because no one is going to do it for you.

13. Appearances DO matter. Sure, we say beauty lies on the inside. But can a potential employer really see the inner beauty of the person they are interviewing? First impressions can never be taken back, regardless of the situation. So always leave the house wearing clean clothes. Keep your hair and teeth brushed. Shower regularly. And seriously think about where you place artistic expressions on your body.

14. Don’t forget me when you leave the nest. I want you to be independent and make it on your own. That is my biggest goal for you when you leave this house to create a home of your own. But call me once in awhile, okay? Let me know how you’re doing. Keep me in the loop about what’s important to you, what you’re struggling with, who your friends are, what’s going on in your life. I’m your mom, and I always will be. And you’re one of my favorite people in the whole world. Keep in touch.

15. Love your sister/brother. He/she shares your history. He/she is your closest link to our family. Be there for each other, celebrate each other’s families, cheer each other on. Don’t ever take your sibling for granted. When I leave this world, nothing will make me happier than knowing you have each other to lean on.

The fine art of being selfish (excerpt)

I’m currently in the process of taking old posts of mine and putting them together in a book.  Right now I’m working on posts I wrote in 2009 – the days when I was a single mom with two kids and had just met my Mr. Wonderful.  Today I edited one of my favorite inspirational posts, one with advice I have given many times over to lots of moms – whether single or not.

How to regain your sense of self instead of placing your whole identity in your kids.

(P.S. I just wrote an article for the newspaper on a mom, on a journey through fashion, who emphasized this truth as well.  Check it out HERE)

Look for this chapter in my upcoming book on single parenting!


When kids are young, we as moms become totally immersed in motherhood. Suddenly everything is about the kids. It’s our tendency to go from being totally involved in ourselves, our work, our marriage, and our friendships – to being involved solely in our kids. Upon the arrival of these little beings, our whole world suddenly revolves around them.

It’s hard to break away from that.

I was no exception. For most of my married life, I was a stay at home mom. I volunteered at my daughter’s preschool. I carted the kids every single place I needed to go. I gave up going out at night in favor of staying with the kids. I sacrificed my personal interests and dreams one by one as interests and dreams wrapping around them took their place.

I was a mom. That was my name, my identity, and my world.

Most days the kids were the only beings on earth that heard my voice. I’m not saying that this is how it is supposed to be in motherhood, or even that most moms suddenly mutate into this being that resembles more gray than any other color. But that’s what happened to me.

For me, it took a divorce to shake me out of the clutches of “hermitting” into motherhood. It was jarring when my kids spent their first weekend away from me with their dad. I knew that I was aching to have a break, to not have anyone to worry about other than myself. But once that happened, I had no idea what to do with myself. How did I survive before the kids came along? What did I do with myself and my time? Suddenly there were too many hours in the day, and the world was much too quiet. I knew I needed to do something with this gifted time, but what? I didn’t have a lot of friends, having let a lot of friendships go to the wayside as my focus changed. And I really hadn’t done much else but kids’ activities in the past several years.

I needed a plan.

End of excerpt. Read the rest in the eBook “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows“.


The rage of Taz


This morning my son tore his room apart. Annihilated is a good word. He had so much anger pent up inside of him that he didn’t know how to control it. And so he raged. He threw things. He ripped his bed apart. He knocked over his chair. And he growled deep into his throat with a primal energy as he slammed his hands against the wall.

We were at odds this morning. He got on the video games when he wasn’t supposed to. And though I knew he would argue against any limitation I placed on him for the two minutes of game time, I also knew I had to follow through. So I told him they were gone for the day.

Hence, the rage.

I don’t know what to do when he gets this angry. I know that, probably, the thing he needs most is for me to stay calm and loving with him so he can find an anchor in me and bring himself down. But when he gets that overly angry, being loving with him is like hugging a grizzly bear.

My natural impulse was to get angry back. But I refrained and chose to walk away. I had to get ready for work. He was to leave within the next 5 minutes. I was frustrated that all this was happening at the worst possible time. The last thing I wanted him to do was to go to school totally amped up with rage. So walking away seemed like the best choice.

And that’s when he tore his room apart.

So next I got angry. And when I got angry, I got really angry. I let loose with the language, told him this was unacceptable. And we yelled at each other, both so angry at what was going on.

And then the truth behind his anger came out. Because you don’t just get that angry over video games, you get angry about all the stuff you’ve been stuffing inside. The video games just made all that stuff overflow.

boy holding a teddy bearHe’s angry about stuff going on at school and at baseball – how he’s rejected by the cool kids on his team and deemed fat and ugly by his classmates. He’s angry about being so out of control. He’s angry that he keeps getting in trouble. But mostly, he’s angry over his dad, who failed him many times over during his last visit – a visit that I keep learning more about.

Like that my Ex told him secrets from my past – a past that happened before my son was even born.

Like that my Ex yelled and screamed about anything and everything while my son sat in a corner of the room.

Like that he threatened the lives of anyone who dared to come to his house.

And the latest, that a game of roughhousing took a wrong turn, and my Ex took his anger out on Taz – physically.

And no one was there to protect him.

I am so angry right now. Angry, devastated, torn apart…exhausted…  Mostly, I’m furious with myself that I actually let Taz visit his father all by himself, knowing how delicate Taz is underneath his rough posterior, and knowing that the Ex has a lot of flaws.  And I’m furious with the Ex that he can’t recognize just how much his son idolizes him, even when the Ex lets him down over and over again.  The Taz is always ready to forgive his dad.  He even kept all this a secret for as long as he could, afraid that I would take his dad away from him.

I called the counselor this afternoon to try and get the earliest appointment we can. At Taz’s last appointment, Taz had us all believing everything was fine. But over the past couple of weeks, he has had several intense moments of rage that prove everything is NOT okay. The counselor talked me down over the phone, the concern evident in his voice as he sensed the brokenness in both Taz and me. And we see him next week. In the meantime, Taz is to write down everything that makes him angry in an effort to control his rage. And I have to do my best to remind him that his rage makes it too hard to help him.

In the meantime, my life is still being controlled by a man I never should have made children with or married. I will never be free from his torment. And now, he’s making our kids’ lives a living hell. And I’m tired. So, so tired.

Words cannot express the rage I feel at this man.

Parenting advice from a bad mom

I have a parenting article due tomorrow, and I am strapped for ideas.  They say to write what you know.  But it seems that all my parenting issues are turning into things that are way too personal to include on a page read by thousands.  Sometimes they even feel too personal to leave here, on a page read by maybe 20 – on a good day.

Here’s all that’s going on with us.  Feel free to tune out now because I’m about to go into a very long-winded whine.

My 14 year old daughter’s boyfriend of almost 8 months just moved three hours away.  Before that, she was Miss Manipulator, getting away with doing nothing around the house while she spent every waking moment with her boyfriend.  Now she is battling panic attacks and bouts of sadness as she adjusts to a social life that doesn’t include him, and coping with the fact that she alienated herself from all of her other friends because of her relationship.  In the midst of all this (or perhaps because of it), she’s revisiting the idea of moving back in with her dad, a guy who I honestly could never allow raise our kids – especially when I found out that he’s received a restraining order from his current girlfriend over abuse.  Hm.  That makes three baby mamas, three cases of abuse, three restraining orders, and three families with kids that he created he can’t see hardly at all and pays dick for.  I could be wrong, but I sense a pattern.

At any rate, DQ called me today to see if she could go back to see her counselor, which I of course said yes to (and yes, to paying more money a week and juggling my work schedule to get her there).  In the meantime, she has become a Jekyll and Hyde of emotions – either totally up and happy, or ready to tear my face off.  It’s anyone’s guess where she’s at in any given moment.

My 11 year old son is back into his videogame addiction.  We are in counseling about it, and the counselor said to give them back and record what happens.  So far it’s been both a blessing and a curse.  I have something to dangle in front of Taz to get him to do what he’s supposed to.  But then he stays on them for hours on end, telling me “5 more minutes” when I say it’s time to get off.  Before I know it, 40 minutes will have passed and he’s still playing, insisting that I told him he could actually finish the match he’s on and it isn’t done yet.  Over the weekend while visiting his dad, he managed to talk his dad into giving him a bunch of money, and then talked his grandpa into taking him to the store so he could buy himself Black Ops 2 – a game I told him we would work towards buying depending on his attitude.  And I feel like a chump, being taken advantage of right and left with absolutely no power as a a parent.

Meanwhile, he argues with me about EVERYTHING.  Literally, everything.  He’s bending rules right and left, and I know he’s testing the waters to see if I’ll follow through on punishment.   But when I do, he loses his marbles and just totally goes off the deep end.  It’s exhausting!  I just want to take everything he owns, put it all in a pile, and set it all on fire.  That would seriously make me feel better.

I get along with my 17 year old stepson, but I admit that I breathe a ton easier when it’s time for him to go to his mom’s house because it means there is one less kid in the house.  Frizz has these weird quirks that I’m not sure how to deal with, like being ultra paranoid about everything.  His latest is going for runs late at night, and then giving us a full run down on the strange cars that are following him or casing the neighborhood.  It reminds me of my ex, and how he is sure that the government is watching his every move, and how Obama is the antichrist.  The paranoia bugs the shit out of me.

And last on my list of things I’m groaning about?  Money.  We just had a wedding, Christmas is around the corner, my daughter’s camp fees are due this week, and I’ve already spent the paycheck I’m getting in three days.  I was promised a raise that was supposed to take effect with the paycheck that’s coming this week.  And then the raise was lowered substantially.  And then I was told it’s actually not taking effect until the next paycheck – you know, the one I get when I’m supposed to be done with my Christmas shopping.  And I’m stuck between feeling grateful that I am even getting a raise (I totally am), and completely pissed off because it was supposed to save my ass this month.

Plus I think I’m PMSing.  Hence the reason that everyone sucks.

And I still need to write that damn parenting article.  Too bad I can’t just turn this whine of a blog in.  At any rate, thanks for listening.  I think I just needed to vent.

7 things to say to your toddler

Vintage Taz (circa 2005, I think… He was about 4 here)

(This article publishes in the Press Democrat on August 24, 2012.)

Raising a toddler is much like going the opposite direction on an escalator – you have to work twice as hard to get to your destination or you’ll never reach the top. Between coaxing them to get a move on and pleading with them to behave, it’s tempting to rush whenever possible. But in the busy world of raising a toddler, there are some things you shouldn’t forget to tell your child along the way.

“Crying is not just for babies.” Kids of all ages should be given room to cry if that’s the emotion that needs to come out. When you try to bottle up her tears, you’re skipping over a teachable moment of helping her to name her feelings. Of course, it can be admittedly frustrating to handle the constant tears of a hypersensitive child, especially when you’re in a hurry. The number one key is to stay calm. If she’s more prone to tears, refrain from being overly sympathetic, but remain understanding. If you keep your cool, it gives her an anchor to pull out of the tears and move on with her day.

“It’s ok if we go slow.” You’ve got things to do. The laundry isn’t going to fold itself. The groceries are still sitting on the shelves at the store. There are bills to pay, places to be, people to see… But your toddler has his own agenda planned for the day. There’s the insistence that he can dress himself. There’s that exact moment in the day that’s perfect for running around in circles just out of your reach. The groceries on the shelves look perfect for knocking down, and the stroller isn’t as much fun to ride in as walking is – even if it’s much slower. I know you’re in a hurry. But isn’t life going fast enough? Take a few moments to go slow with your toddler and see the world at his level. You might be amazed at how much you can learn from a two-year-old.

“You can do it.” Most toddlers insist they are more than capable of doing everything on their own, asserting their own independence by attempting things just out of their reach. As tempting as it might be, practice restraint whenever you can and let your child do it on her own. If she gets frustrated, encourage her that she really can do it, only taking over when it’s absolutely necessary. Not only will her newfound freedom head off some of her stubbornness, it will also place healthy habits in both of you when teaching lifelong independence years down the road. When she’s a teenager and capable of cooking and cleaning on her own, you can look back on her toddler years and know you were on the right track.

“Everyone makes mistakes.” Jessica Snowden, a local mom of an autistic child, knows all too well the frustration that young children feel when they don’t get it right the first time. “Because my son is still ‘toddler-esque’, I tend to have to do things step by step and say ‘Everyone makes mistakes…that’s how we learn.’”

“I love you because…” Of course you love your toddler. And like most parents, you tell her this every day. But just as important as sharing your love with your child is to point out the things you love about her. ‘I admire the way you share with your friends.’ ‘I love how kind you are with animals.’ ‘You are so helpful when you pick up your toys!’ By pointing out all the things she does positively, it encourages her to keep up the good behavior.

“What do YOU want to do?” It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own agenda. But have you thought about asking him what HE wants to do? Even if he isn’t at an age when decision-making comes easily, it’s still a good practice to get him to think about his likes and dislikes, and what kinds of activities he prefers. Plus, this is another step towards encouraging his independence.

Most important is what your child SEES you doing rather than what they HEAR you say. “I believe the number one thing any parent can do, regardless of the age of a child, is to listen to them,” local mom Christina shared with me. “Talk to them in a reasonable tone. Use your eyes to express your love. Be patient and help them understand how they are feeling and teach them how to express how they feel.” And when it comes to acting out negatively, Christina urges parent to label the behavior rather than criticize the child. “Tell them that behavior is not acceptable and changes need to be made, but show them what is acceptable and show them by example.”

Recap: Kindness Counts!

Photo of the week: Rachel Harris sent in this photo of her adorable little hippy!

This has been a chatty week over at SantaRosaMom.com!  I want to extend a huge welcome to all the new members who have signed up.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed  chatting with all of you!  Here’s a recap of some of the discussions going on over at SantaRosaMom.com:

Quiz your husband!
At the beginning of the school year, kids bring home loads of papers to be filled out with everything from the name of their doctor, emergency contact, and their favorite things.  Typically it’s the mom who has to fill out all the answers to this huge packet of papers.  But we’re going to have a little bit of fun with it.  We’ve come up with 10 back-to-school questions for your hubby to answer.  Quiz him, and let us know how well he did!

Deep, dark mommy secrets
We all have them, those deep, dark mommy secrets.  But some of them would probably have kept us from having kids had we known them pre-family planning.  What are some of yours?

Giving up junk food for a year
I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to keep my family healthy.  So my attention was totally caught by the family who gave up all junk food for an entire year.  It was just supposed to be 100 days, but the challenge proved so beneficial they are keeping it up.  If you had to give up junk food for that long, what would you miss the most?

Mom sued for being a “bad mother”
Two adult children have decided to sue their mother for the years of torture they went through under her parenting.  But wait till you hear what they deem “bad mothering”…  By their definition, what are some of your parenting faults in raising your kids?

What you plant…
Good manners, responsibility, kindness….  They don’t just come naturally.  If we want these things for our children, we must be the ones to instill these virtues in them.  What are YOU doing today to make your child successful tomorrow?

Family Kindness Challenge
The best way to teach a child is through kindness.  How does the saying go?  You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?  It’s so true.  So my challenge to all of you: Say one kind thing to your child every day, and be specific.  Read more to learn how to create more harmony in your household.

Lots of exciting things going on this Labor Day Weekend!  All weekend long is the Taste of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.  Saturday there will be a Pancake Breakfast in Bodega Bay that the Bodega Fire Hall, and a Sand Sculpture Contest in Point Reyes at Drakes Beach.  In Jenner, the 3rd Annual Fry Your Head Chili Festival & BBQ promises a fun and tasty time for families.  And coming up in the week is the Fall/Back to School Just Between Friends Consignment Event.  The first day is dedicated to some special people (see if you qualify!), but the last three days of the event are for everyone.  Families with little ones will not want to miss this!  For more information on these events, be sure to check out the Events Calendar.

Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day Weekend, and I’ll see you on the forums!

Crissi Dillon