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Guest Bloggers

April 23, 2021

So Your Kid Was Rejected By Her #1 College Pick? Have Her Read This

Today I'm happy to welcome Rob Gilbert, Ph.D., professor of sport psychology at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, as a guest blogger. I love his perspective on college life, and I plan to save this post to share with my own son when he gets a bit closer to college age.

Dr. Gilbert is the author of How to Have Fun Without Failing Out: 430 Tips from a College Professor. And his blog offers great motivational tips for students. (Yes, he's a busy guy!) Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Gilbert!

REJECTED? I CAN HELP!

You got the dreaded thin letter and found that the college you desperately wanted doesn’t want you.

Of course, you’re devastated—look at all the time, effort, and money you and your parents put into the whole college application process with guidance counselors, private college consultants, tutors, test-prep courses, college visits, interviews, essays, SATs, etc.

It’s not true that all your hopes and dreams are now destroyed. Your future is not over. Once I saw a poster that read, “It’s not the end of the road; it’s just a bend in the road!”

I’m not going to give you some Pollyanna-type pep talk and tell you not to worry. What I’m going to tell you is that wallowing in your misery is not the answer. You must regroup and refocus — starting right now!

Maybe I can help. I speak from over 40 years of experience. I’ve been on a college campus since 1964 — first as a student, then as a staff member, and for the last 29 years as a professor at Montclair State University.

However there’s one big mystery about college I’ve never been able to solve.

Why are students putting so much time, effort, and energy into finding their so-called “right” college, and so little time, effort, and energy into figuring out what their personal passion is once they’re in college? I see students devoting more time to determining where they’re going to spend the next four or five years of their college lives rather than concentrating on how they’re going to spend the next 40 to 50 years of their professional lives — in their careers.

And here’s a warning if you did get into the college of your dreams: Be careful of the “Yale Syndrome.”  Donald Archer, an expert in higher education and the author of “Cool Colleges,” reports that some students are so obsessively focused on receiving the “fat envelope” that getting admitted becomes an end in itself. Remember: Gaining admissions is not the end of the adventure — it’s the beginning!

The late psychiatrist and radio talk-show host Dr. David Viscott once said, “The purpose of life is to discover your gifts. The meaning of life comes from giving your gifts away.”The purpose of college is to find your gifts, to find your passion, to find your life’s work.

Right now stop regretting why you didn’t get into that school that was “perfect” for you and start refocusing on the future. Whatever college or university you’ll be attending in September, you can have a spectacular, life-changing experience there. There’s mounting research that shows that your future success is not determined by the college you attend.

However, no professor, advisor, or classmate is going to show you how to follow the yellow brick road to your passion. Sure, you’ll receive a lot of help, but it’s primarily a do-it-yourself job.

Where you attend college is not nearly as important as what you’re going to do once you get there. Here’s some advice for when you arrive on campus in September that’ll help you find your passion:

#1. Find out who the most passionate professors on campus are and enroll in their courses —regardless of what they teach or when the classes meet. I joke with my students that most of them probably would not take Religion 101 if it met at 8:00 a.m. even if it were taught by Professor J. Christ!

#2. The noted mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” What are the subjects or activities that you find endlessly interesting? What are the things you like to do that energize you? Be a detective. Listen to your heart. Find what you love.

#3. Professor Joseph Renzuli from the University of Connecticut advises students to carefully examine what they loved to do as a child because this might give some insight into what they might really want to do for a career. Did you know that when they were kids, Sesame Street’s Jim Henson loved to play with puppets and Walt Disney loved to draw?

Of all the things you can discover in college, the most important is your passion.

Look at it this way: College is a fountain of knowledge. Some students come to drink. More come to sip. But most come just to gargle. Make sure you take a big gulp!

April 21, 2021

Can Being a Parent Help You In Business, Too?

Today I'm happy to welcome guest blogger Adrian Miller, president of Adrian Miller Sales Training in Port Washington, New York. The proud mom of 23-year-old Eric (left) and 20-year-old Nick (in the green shirt, below), Miller has had just enough time away from the everyday parenting world to have gained a little perspective that the rest of us (who are still in the trenches) can benefit from. Here's her post on "How Being a Mom Has Helped Me In Business." Thanks, Adrian!

For most women, becoming a mother is a turning point in their life. It's a time that's rife with challenges, frustrations, and uncertainties, but it's also when many of life's most rewarding achievements and miraculous moments occur. What many new moms figure out rather quickly is that the skills that they use every day while taking care of children are also very applicable in succeeding in business. Nurturing a needy newborn isn't all that different from managing a high-maintenance client, and trying to juggle chores and kids can be strikingly similar to the multi-tasking required to manage a large list of prospects. Here are just a few of the skills that are fine-tuned and mastered the minute you take that leap into motherhood:

Patience. Colicky infants, whiny toddlers, defiant teenagers... If you didn't have patience before you had children, you quickly developed this virtue as a parent. And, the patience required for childcare definitely helps you increase your tolerance threshold in business. Difficult clients and prospects are plentiful, and patience is the key to unlocking their buying potential.

Time Management. As any new mother knows, time can be a scarce commodity and shouldn't be wasted frivolously. Whether you need to meet a specific deadline or only have an hour before your child wakes from a nap, time-management skills are essential to getting things done. Parenthood does wonders for enlightening women (and some men) on the need to budget time wisely, and this skill certainly gives moms a distinct competitive edge over their child-free colleagues.

Multi-tasking. If you've ever changed a diaper while on the phone making a doctor's appointment, while reading an email, you understand multi-tasking. Sure, we'd all love to be able to focus on one task at a time, but in this age of technology and information, the ability to multi-task is a necessity if you want to be competitive in the market. Motherhood promotes multi-tasking skills tremendously, and these skills remain with mothers long after the diaper changes cease.

Training Skills. One of the primary jobs of a parent is to teach your child what is needed to succeed in the world. This requires you to be a dedicated, skilled trainer. The same skills are required in business. Whether you're training a classroom of seminar attendees or guiding a client through the sales process, the training abilities you've acquired as a mother will certainly come in handy in the business world.

Flexibility. Children are full of surprises, and staying flexible is a necessity to maintain sanity. Every day is full of challenges and interruptions, and if there is one thing that is consistent about parenting, it's the fact that it's ever-changing. Inflexibility doesn't work for parents, nor does it work in business. People can be indecisive, situations can change, and even your role can evolve. Having the flexibility to gracefully manage the unexpected is a skill that will always serve you well, whether with the kids or in the office.

April 14, 2021

Join Us Friday When The "You're a Good Mom" Blog Tour Stops Here!

For 21st Century mothers, there seem to be just two choices: Live up to the Super Mom or give up to be the Slacker Mom. One's bad for you; one's bad for your kids. So what's a momma to do?

In You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either): The 14 Secrets to Finding Happiness Between Super Mom and Slacker Mom," the Internet's favorite momma, Jen Singer, tells all. Turns out you can raise perfectly good kids in that sweet spot between flash cards at breakfast and "donuts for dinner, kids!" You'll find great tips like these:

  • Don't answer the phone when the class mom calls.
  • Your kid's birthday party isn't your coming-out celebration.
  • Don't treat fine restaurants like a McDonald's PlayPlace.
  • You think you're a "cool mom," but they think you're a pushover.

Filled with "that happened to me, too!" stories, YOU'RE A GOOD MOM offers giggles and a pat on the back for today's moms, whether they're deep in diapers or petrified by puberty.

Join us Friday for a great Q & A with author Jen Singer as she stops by Parent Talk Today on her blog tour!

And check out this terrific You Tube video preview:

March 11, 2022

Guest Post: Let Them Be Girls!

Today I'm jazzed to share with you a guest post from Juliana LeRoy, an award-winning writer and editor at Family-Life magazine in northern California. LeRoy also blogs over at at www.mamabear.pnn.com. I love what she has to say about shopping for clothes for young girls.

It seems to me there is a massive disconnect between what people want and what we have to choose from in the marketplace. Like the ridiculous clothing choices available for girls, when everyone is so against the objectifying of them.

In 2005 Abercrombie & Fitch put out tee shirts with phrases across the front that were demeaning to girls, including, “Who needs brains when you’ve got these?” A group of girls in Pittsburgh decided to take the company to task by “girlcotting” the stores — their version of boycotting — and they made their voices heard. Abercrombie & Fitch removed the offending shirts.

Mothers Acting Up is a group that has taken “girlcotting” to another level and made it an active way to support companies that are aligned with their values. They promote companies that have fair trade
agreements, or commitments to offering a living wage. The idea is to draw attention to good things and make them more visible.

My daughter, Megan, is eight, and she is tall and slim. Her sense of style is emerging, but she mostly wears clothes that you can move in: leggings because she’s too skinny for most pants, and she’s too busy for
skirts. She doesn’t wear tees with slogans on them, unless they say something about one of the Girl Scout camps she’s gone to, or have a school mascot on them. She’s active, and she’s feminine, and loves to feel extra pretty when the occasion calls for it.

When Megan needed a dress for a father-daughter dance, I was sure I’d be able to find something cute and fun and suitable for a third grader in no time at all. We wanted it to be fancy enough for her to feel really dressed up and special, but not too fancy. You know, something girly and pretty and sweet. Not smocking and pinafores, but not Christina Aguilera, either.

I looked online for a girl’s size 7 for Megan, and in some local department stores. It was too late for the holiday dresses, and the Easter dresses weren’t in yet. What I found was slinky materials, skimpy necklines and arms, high hemlines. The dresses were miniatures of the adult sizes, with bold prints and bright colors. They were cute, but not for the ages the sizes were for. I was puzzled and frustrated. What nine year old needs to dress like Britney out on the town? What seven year old needs to show off cleavage?

The dress we finally chose was a pretty blue shiny material, which Megan loved, and it was very simple, which I loved. It was more adult than I originally wanted, but it wasn’t a complete sell-out.

Other moms I’ve talked to have run into the same trouble looking for sixth-grade or eighth-grade graduation dresses. “We had to look all over for a dress that didn’t have spaghetti straps, or no straps at all,” one mom said. “The school has a dress code, and finding something that was dressy enough without being ridiculous was hard.”

“Last year my daughter graduated from 6th grade,” says one mom. “We went to every department and dress store, Mervyns, Macy’s JC Penney, Gottschalks, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart, second-hand stores  and bridal stores. Everything was sheer, strapless, super short, tight fitting, plunging necklines and/or backless — for a 12 year old?! I don’t think I’d let my daughter wear most of these styles to prom. I think they make girls look hookers. We finally found a dress at a bridal shop, paid too much, and had to sew on straps besides. Isn’t there anybody out there that has decent dresses?”

Today’s girls and teenagers want to feel cute, and want to be fashionable. Why can’t the clothing choices be appropriate and cute? Why does everything have to be low-cut, tight, revealing or provocative? To answer that it doesn’t, two major department stores have recently introduced more modest clothing lines, aiming at the vast market of girls, teens and women who believe confidence and intelligence is sexier than any amount of skin showing: Macy’s Shade line and Nordstrom’s Modern and Modest line.

What do you think? Are the choices out there in keeping with your values and sensibilities? Are you comfortable with the styles and examples we are being sold? Why or why not? Where’s the best place to find cute dresses for young ladies?

February 12, 2022

Guest Post: His Two Dads (What Kids Are Really Learning at School)

             

I'm so jazzed to feature a guest post from Cynthia Jenkins, AKA "Sugar Mama." LOVE her stuff. Jenkins writes a monthly column, and also a blog, for Parenting Orange County magazine in Southern California. As she puts it: "Sugar Mama writes, lives and bribes her kids with sugar in Laguna Beach, California. And sometimes in Target."      

I had every intention of turning my firstborn’s first-day-of-kindergarten angst into a column filled with conflicted feelings every parent goes through. On one hand, we’ve been waiting for our energy-charged kids to be old enough to fly the coop from the moment they could crawl — just for a little respite! On the flip side, each morning they wake up and don their backpacks marks one day closer to them leaving us permanently (and perhaps with someone they meet in kindergarten, no less!).
          

What if there’s a girl in Jackson’s kindergarten homeroom who wears rainbow-colored bows and likes trains? She’ll undoubtedly steal his heart from mine faster than I can say, “my baby.”

But the moment I start feeling this empty-nest-anxiety, I find solace in the fact that there are things Jackson will learn in school that he simply can’t get from home. And I’m not talking about reading, writing and arithmetic. I’m referring to the other 3R’s: Respect for Others, Respect for his Things, and Respect for the Environment. At least, these are the three tenents my husband and I committed to the moment we became overwhelmed with all the ”shoulda’s” in parenting. (So if our kids’ questionable behavior doesn’t fall into one of these R’s, we let it slide… Unless there’s blood.)          

But it’s the respect for others component to parenting that had us stymied by the time Jackson reached school age. Because unless we rented a melting pot of a family, inclusive of color, disability and alternative lifestyle, where was he going to gain an understanding of the real world? The world we hope he’d make a better place?

Not on our homogenous street in Laguna Beach, California… “Real Life,” folks, happens at school.          

So when it came to deciding on a kindergarten for Jackson, I had concern for things other than curriculum. I wanted to see the cars in the school parking lots, the names on the class rosters, the books on the shelves. I was, perhaps, looking for a glimmer of my own elementary experience. Born and raised in San Francisco, I had male teachers with boyfriends, a valedictorian named Monifa and a bus system that was public — not yellow with black letters. Did all this make me better at my times tables? Not necessarily. But did it make me a better person?

Most definitely.          

Or at least a better parent who can diffuse a land mine of ignorance before the light turns green.

Last month, while stopped at a red light with Jackson, he asked if he could have a play date with “Evan” from pre-school.          

“Sure. Let me find out who his mom is and see I’ll see if we can work something out,” I said.

“He doesn’t have a mom,” Jackson informed me.          

“Oh.” And I was immediately endeared to poor Evan. “Well, I’ll call his dad then.”

“Which dad?” Jackson asked. “He has two.”

Aha. This play date wasn’t about Evan. Nor was there a mom who had passed — it was about a boy with two gay dads.          

“Do you have a question for me about Evan’s family, Jackson?” I asked.

“Yeah, why does he have two dads and no mom?” he inquired.          

“Well, it sounds like his dads loved each other very much and wanted a baby, so they found a way to have one,” I offered.

“So, they’re... married?” he asked.          

“Maybe,” I said. “In some places, men can marry men and women can marry women.”

“So can I marry Evan?” Jackson asked.

“Well, I think you have to be eighteen, honey,” I said. “And you have to love each other no matter what.”          
“Well I don’t think we will, then,” Jackson said. “He pushed me off the swing today.” And then the light turned green and that was that.

You see, parents do all they can at home, and teachers nurture brilliant minds every day in school — but it’s the “Evans” in the world that teach our kids compassion, bravery and tolerance. I mean, this is a boy who will know firsthand about a love that defies boundaries, that gossip is hurtful, and judgment is usually a waste of time.          

Now that’s a kid I want at my son’s lunch table.

Am I conflicted this month, with Jackson’s first day of kindergarten upon me? You bet. It really does seem like yesterday that I held him in my arms as a newborn. Or when he muttered “mommy” for the first time. But with one tiny sneaker in front of the other, I accept that his time has come to navigate his future en masse — with friends, teachers and experiences that will shape his heart and mind forever.
         
And all this, on a little yellow bus...

So I’d like to dedicate this column to Evan and his family. Because of you, my son gained an understanding of love, compassion and tolerance I could never have found in a book.

And you’re not an “other,” Evan. You’re simply like no other.

February 07, 2022

Guest Blog: Our Get-Fat-Tuesday Family Tradition

Here's a fun post from first-time guest blogger Ellen Cajka, who knows all about healthy eating (and when to not worry about it) AND raising teenagers. I love her "Get Fat Tuesday" family tradition.

Mardi Gras, otherwise known as "Fat Tuesday," was a lot of fun at our house this year. No, we didn't have a wild costume party, partake in alcohol or even "earn" multi-colored beads.

My 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, and I planned our own version of Fat Tuesday — and boy did we do it up right! We called it "Get Fat Tuesday." Taylor is giving up fast food for Lent, and I am giving up sweets. No small task! So we decided to go out with a bang.

We ordered  three different kinds of takeout: pizza, Taco Bell and El Pollo Loco. And we finished the evening off with 31 Flavors ice cream and had two scoops each. I was planning on having a hot fudge sundae, but after a piece of pizza, 3/4 of a cheese quesadilla, some Nachos Bell Grande, chicken and mashed potatoes, a sundae suddenly didn't sound all that appetizing.

We had fun planning and it certainly felt sinful enjoying all those forbidden foods. Sweets are my nemesis, and any teen would struggle to go just a week without pizza or a burger. It's going to be LONG 40 days and 40 nights.

But hey, maybe the Easter Bunny will bring me some chocolate.

January 30, 2022

What Do You Really Value?

Today we're featuring guest blogger Carol Muse Evans, publisher of Birmingham Parent magazine in Alabama. When I read her publisher's letter in the January issue, I asked to use it as a guest post here because I thought it would speak to a lot of parents the way it spoke to me. Thanks, Carol!

Each year, I and many others write a list of New Year’s resolutions that are often abandoned before the ink is dry. But this year, my resolutions aren’t about losing weight (though I need to), exercising more (ditto) or other frivolous causes. I have more lasting things on my mind.

I’m more reflective in 2008 — perhaps I’m feeling my age a bit, readying for my empty nest in a few years since I now have teenagers, and just realizing that life is a little shorter as the obituary page becomes a bit more familiar each day I open the newspaper.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but I am trying to live more like I would want to, and want to be remembered for. It seems books I read, movies I see and sermons I hear are moving me in that direction. Perhaps it is God who is leading me down this path.

This year, my list is more important than ever to me, and I’m going to try really hard to make it. Here are some of the things on MY resolution list:

•    I want to right wrongs. For those I have hurt inadvertently or purposefully, I want to try to make it right. While I cannot make people forgive or forget, I want to try to bring resolution in areas when I need to.

•    I want to get over being bitter about things. Old relationships, old hurt, old business dealings gone wrong and even old school-day pains. I want it gone, out of me.

•    I want to reunite with old friends and relatives with whom I’ve lost touch. We get so busy, we often let relationships, particularly long-distance ones, go.

•    I want to let my house get a little dirtier and have more fun. I want to give up trying to have the perfect life and really have the perfect life — by spending more time having fun with my family. I want to do things I’ve never done — like snow skiing, taking that ballroom-dancing class, etc. — and enjoy life.

•    I want to help the less fortunate. Many of us just think of it during the holiday season, and while that’s important, I want to remember those who are in need ALL year long and do more than I’ve ever done before. God has blessed me, and I want to pay it forward.

Ultimately, I hope by doing the above that I’ll be the best example to my children. I hope they’ll think more about the truly important things in life because they see Mom finally doing it. And that would mean everything.

Happy New Year!

November 28, 2021

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

I'm happy to welcome guest blogger Leah Ingram today. Leah is a magazine journalist and author as well as a blogger on The Lean Green Family. Be sure to check out her blog!

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

It shouldn't come as any surprise that this year is going to be the greenest Christmas (and Hanukkah) of all time--at least for the folks on my "nice" list. My mission in nearly everything I do and buy this holiday season is to have green in mind, which hopefully won't cost me a lot of green.

For starters I'm still searching the Internet for the best recycled paper holiday cards. (If you know of a website, please let me know.) Hallmark stores sell recycled paper greetings, but only in single cards, not the boxed kind for the holidays, though you can order (PRODUCT) RED recycled cards for the holidays from Hallmark.com. Worse-case scenario: I print my family newsletter on recycled paper, send it in a recycled envelope, and skip the cards altogether (though I don't think my family newsletter will go over well with my clients).

As far as holiday wrapping goes, I don't plan to use it this year. Instead, I'm going to hit my local Wal-Mart this week, and stock up on their $1 reusable bags that say "Paper or Plastic? Neither" (pictured at left). These bags will become my default packaging for holiday gifts.

With regard to the gifts, I'm going for items in the simplest packaging, such as CDs, DVDs and video games, which come in containers that double as storage vessels. Also, I found some cool recycled rubber doormats on Target.com which are right in my price range. And, as I'd blogged earlier, I am doing the lion's share of my shopping via the Internet to save fuel (though the family and I did spend this past Sunday at the mall, and we will be one of those crazies up at 5:00 a.m. and in line on black Friday).

Continue reading "Dreaming of a Green Christmas" »

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