Family – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

July 5th, 2015

Family is the most important thing in the world.

Princess Diana

As made famous in the Monty Python catchphrase…’now for something completely different’ I’m sharing a video rather than simply a blog post on this week’s topic – Family.

Presenting in a video format feels a little more personal, though I’ll continue to provide helpful information to support the topic throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter.

When asked, “What is the most important thing in your life,” people will respond without a moment’s hesitation – my family, though our actions may not be as obvious as our intentions.

Here are some thought starters on demonstrating the importance of family:

  • When you were growing up, you had a sense of different kinds of families you visited
  • Now that you are the head of your household, what do you want your children to remember about growing up in their home?
    • Ask them what kind of a family they want to be
    • They can even create a family crest
    • By defining your family, you stand together

This week, please look for Parental Wisdom’s Facebook post and Twitter feed on the kinds of things families can do together.

  1. Monday, July 6th – Coolest Roadside attractions in every state
  2. Tuesday, July 7th – Top 10 Sports Halls of Fame in U.S
  3. Wednesday, July 8th – Fun Activities that create memories
  4. Thursday, July 9th – Cooking with kids
  5. Friday, July 10th – Fun ways to read with your child

As always, feel free to add your own great ideas, because after all, we are all in this together.

Enjoy and have a great week!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®











Love – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 28th, 2015

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life. Leo Buscaglia

I have a complied a list of over 400 values/qualities with a plan to focus on one each week for this series, but how to choose?

This week’s post was easy – it was love based on The Supreme Court Ruling best said by the closing paragraph:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.  The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.”

It is so ordered.

  • We fail to understand when we deny people love, what they have to lose, which are the things we take for granted:

“This Fall we [my partner and I] will go to Disney World. It will be the first time that we travel out of state without having to bring Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy forms with us, in case anything happened to either of us. We had to do 2nd parent adoptions for our children, in case anything happened to either of us. We have had to do many things that everyone else takes for granted, all because of legislative action (or inaction as the case may be).“ Kris Conley

  • We have to think what those who are opposed to gay marriage have to lose…Sorry, I can’t think of a single thing.

 Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.  Buddha

 Love is Love. Finally!

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Creativity – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 21st, 2015

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. 

Mary Lou Cook

Parenting now includes ‘cruise director’ to the ever-growing list of required skill sets. Buying highly rated educational toys, enrolling babies and toddlers in music, art and dance programs are must do activities to ensure our children are creative.

Children don’t need things to be creative; they are all born naturally creative. This was proven in 1968. Dr. George Land took 1,600 five–year-olds and gave them a creativity test used by NASA to select innovative engineers and scientists. He retested the same children at age ten and again at age fifteen. What he found was that 98% of the children at five years old tested in the genius level category of creativity. The percentage at age ten dropped to 30%, and at fifteen, the test results dropped to 12%. The same test was given to 280,000 adults; 2% were in the genius level category. Dr. Land concluded that non–creative behavior is learned. We’re all given the gift of creativity; we have to work to keep it.

Creativity is one of the most desired qualities for a CEO because in its highest form, creativity is about problem solving. This is best illustrated by Einstein’s own response to his discovery:

“When I ask myself how it happened that I in particular discovered the Relativity Theory, it seems to lie in the following circumstance. The normal adult never bothers his head of space-time problems. Everything there is to be thought about, in his opinion, has been done in early childhood. I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I only began to wonder about space and time when I was already grown up. In consequence, I poked deeper into the problem than any ordinary child would.”

What parents can do:

Recognize that boredom is good.  In our ‘cruise director’ role, we need to fill every moment with an activity, play date or some form of distraction.  But boredom is a good thing.  You don’t have to figure out what they need to do, just tell them screen time of any kind of off limits.  You may consider giving them a household problem to solve.  Since we don’t often do this, you may have to ease it in.  Consider ‘book end’ blocks of time with structured play, starting with shorter times at first. Let kids know what to expect, play for 20 minutes, and then I will call you to help fold the laundry.

Designate a play space and remember, one man’s trash is another’s treasure:  Don’t toss old hats or jewelry. Instead create a costume box and buy an inexpensive door mirror.  We did this and family parties always lead to dress up with kids and adults.  The same is true for oatmeal containers, tissue boxes and the most treasured gift of all – a large cardboard box!  Keep it simple and don’t worry about creating a ‘pinterest’ worthy space.  While that impresses other parents, it does nothing for kids.

Appreciate, but don’t reward creativity.   You want to build their confidence and encourage creativity,  but rewarding them isn’t the way to do it; in fact it has the opposite effect.

Don’t manage the activity.  You may build the fort differently, but not necessarily better.  Ask them to explain what they’ve done and how it works.  Very often, they will invent something new.

Change up the routine. If you always drive to complete errands, consider taking public transportation instead.  Kids LOVE simple changes in routine, especially when they are active participants like putting in the bus fare.

Help kids pursue their passions. Pay attention to your child’s interests and make these materials and activities available to them.  If they love taking pictures, consider a trip to the library to find books on the topic or take a trip to a gallery.

Take the time for your own creativity. Kids learn best from watching you.

Now that school is out, summer is a perfect time to start a new habit!  Be on the lookout each day this week for more creativity tips on Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page.

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Gratitude – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 14th, 2015

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Arthur Ward

As the second in our series, this week’s focus will be on gratitude. According to Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.”  Interesting that in America we have a holiday dedicated to being thankful.  Does that imply that all other days we are not?  With all values, our goal is to form a habit.

Geoffrey James explains gratitude as, “an emotional muscle,” one should use so it is strengthened. People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what is wonderful in each day, and take nothing for granted.  They take time to see a child’s smile, acknowledge a stranger’s kindness or appreciate the cool summer wind.

This TED Talk by Louie Schwartzberg called, Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. is the most beautiful presentation on gratitude that I have ever seen.  Sharing this is my gift to you because it will change the way you think, and what you may have been taking for granted.

As always, we model the behavior we want to see in our children.  Though we intend to express gratitude, too often we put our daily tasks at the top of our list, and may simply run out of time.

What we can do right now to change our behavior:

  • Be present; don’t let the busyness of life make us stressed
  • Appreciate the people in our lives; possibly sending a letter of gratitude each week
  • Give at least one compliment daily, and say thank you often
  • Work on a cause for the greater good
  • Keep a gratitude journal

What this does for us:

  • Gratitude makes us happier
    • It puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck
    • Gratitude reduces envy
      • It helps us realize what we have, and lessen our need for wanting more all the time.
      • Gratitude strengthens relationships, deepens our friendships, and makes us less self-centered

How we can create an attitude of gratitude for our children:

  • For babies
    • Obviously they can’t do very much, but you can!  One mom made her very own thank you notes with the baby’s handprint.
    • Babies learn language at an incredible rate; so use the words ‘thank you’ often.
  • The preschool years
    • Create a thank you card with their picture on it and ask the child what they liked about the gift, including their words in the note.  If they don’t like the gift, explain the gift givers consideration and thought in selecting it.  You could say, “Grandma, loves you so much, she carefully picked out this sweater.  It makes her happy to do nice things, and we should thank her for such thoughtfulness.”
      This can be reinforced when your child makes gifts for family.  “See how happy Grandma was to get the macaroni picture!”  Ask them how it made them feel to see Grandma’s smile when she received it, and explain that is how Grandma felt choosing the sweater.  This reinforces empathy.
    • Every evening, ask your child to share the three best things that happened today.
  • Elementary School
    • Again, great idea to create a child’s very own stationary.  Consider putting all the supplies (cards, pens, and stamps, return address labels), which you can make also, in a plastic box with their name on it.  Quality over quantity – even a one-line thank you is great.
    • As they develop writing skills, have them create a gratitude jar.
    • Leave sticky notes out so family members can thank each other.  You can include a sticky note in their lunch box to thank them for being ready to leave the house on time.
  • Middle School
    • Think past notes and have your child call or even create a video.
    • Encourage them to help without being asked at least once a day, and ask them to share what that was and how they felt.
    • Create a gratitude picture board that could include family, friends, pets, and pictures of nature.
  • High School
    • By this time, they need to own ways they show gratitude.
    • At the end of the school year, ask them which teacher made a difference and encourage them to send a hand written note.
    • Donate time to help your school, church or a local shelter.

I am thankful to each person that reads and comments on these posts. Be sure to like Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page and share stories where your child demonstrated gratitude.  We’d love to hear from you, because we are all in this together!

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Teaching Empathy – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

June 7th, 2015

 “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

– Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

It was the PTO’s annual ‘meet the candidates’ for the Board of Education.  One speaker promised funds would stay in the district and not go to other (implied poorer) districts. I raised my hand and asked if said differently, aren’t we responsible to ensure all children have a good education? No reaction.

At that point I realized that my kids were going to school with his kids, and we have the responsibility to teach our children that all children didn’t have the same start in life.  But how could we do that without lecturing?

Our solution was to sign up for Big Brothers/Big Sisters where we were introduced to a wonderful mom and her two children, close in age to our kids.  As often happens when you try to help someone else, you gain so much more.

The first time we picked up our little brother and sister it was like The Wizard of Oz film transition from black and white to Technicolor, but in reverse.  We left the lush and gorgeous colors of our pretty middle class town to the sepia tones of the inner city.

It was immediately apparent playing outside was not an option as evidenced by the hypodermic needles strewn on the walkway, and questionable characters standing guard on the rooftop.  While we found it helpful to introduce the kids to our simple world of apple picking, bowling and trips to the city, they had given us and our children a view of life we could have never understood.

To do this day we continue our relationship with this family, who have become an extension of ours.

When a parent teaches the gift of empathy, that connection changes everything.

What can you?

  • Use the word empathy which is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., to place oneself in another’s shoes. Ask open ended questions when children present a situation, such as “Tell me about it” or “How do you think she felt?”
  • Set the example.  Be empathetic and caring to your child and others, and she will learn. Because she loves you, believes you are perfect, and wants to be just like you, she will grow up wanting to treat herself and others with the same loving kindness she gets from you.

Parenting with empathy helps your child to learn to manage his emotions, while experiencing your empathy will also help him to develop empathy for others. A child who feels empathy is more cooperative in accepting your guidance, making parenting a lot easier!

Be sure to like Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page and share stories where your child demonstrated empathy.  We’d love to hear from you.

If you would like to receive the weekly email, simply signup here.

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Raising a Person You Want to Meet at Age 25

May 31st, 2015

“So how am I doing?”  That was a frequent question posed by Ed Koch, the popular three-term New York City Mayor.  What a great question for parents! But how do you know how you’re doing?  Is our goal to raise a straight ‘A’ student or a good person?

The job of parenting is 24/7, 365 for the rest of your life.  It includes a laundry list of skills you are required to learn that look something like this.

But these are tasks, not the goal.

Then I came across a wonderful quote by Michelangelo in his response to someone who asked how he took a slab of marble and carved such a beautiful angel.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

And I realized that was the answer!

As parents, we need to see our children in the future, which is basically reverse engineering them into the adults we want to meet.

When I asked parents what values they want their children to possess, there was a response of over 400 qualities.

Raising a good person is easier than you think, and most effective when you:

  1. Model the behavior you want to see
  2. Encourage good behavior
  3. Offer alternative ways to act when children exhibit less than desirable behaviors

Starting next Sunday, June 7th I will be sending out a weekly evening email focusing on one value such as empathy, gratitude and family. That week’s highlighted value will be reinforced on the Parental Wisdom® Facebook page giving parents helpful ideas and tips, such as capitalizing on car time, breakfast banter and dinner discussions.

Being a parent can be unpredictable, but you can count on this email every Sunday night 9pm EST.  Consider it your “big kid bedtime story,” and a great way to kick off your week.

If you would like to receive the weekly email, simply signup here.

Don’t forget to share your stories too; after all, we are in this together!

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®


We need to see into the future

April 13th, 2015

Television has changed a child from an irresistible force to an immovable object.  ~Author Unknown

A young mom visits family and leaves her one-year-old with her aunt for a few minutes.  She returns to find her child holding an iPhone.  He has no idea what to do with it.  When the mom asks what happened, her aunt replies that her grandchildren, both under two, love playing with her iPhone.

A family goes to dinner with friends, looking forward to spending time connecting with their boys, ages 4 and 7.  The boys arrive with iPads and never look up.

No worries.  Now we have BabyFirstTV, a dedicated TV network for 6-month-olds.


Let’s ignore the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.

Huh?! People, like real people?!

Ironic that we want our children to emulate Einstein when Einstein himself as a young child talked late and did poorly in school. This is best illustrated by Einstein’s own response to his discovery:

“When I ask myself how it happened that I in particular discovered the Relativity Theory, it seems to lie in the following circumstance. The normal adult never bothers his head of space-time problems. Everything there is to be thought about, in his opinion, has been done in early childhood. I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I only began to wonder about space and time when I was already grown up. In consequence, I poked deeper into the problem than any ordinary child would.”

Are parents desperately trying to keep up with the stress of a demanding world and compensate by rushing their child’s development?

Dr. Sally Goldberg, author of Baby and Toddler Learning Fun, tells us that reading, singing, and talking to your child provide the best preparation for success in school. This is because the spoken language has an astonishing impact on a young child’s brain development. The number of words an infant hears each day is considered the single most important predicator of later intelligence, school success, and social competence. These words have to come from an active, engaged human being, not radio, TV, DVDs, or computers.

Don’t miss the opportunity to build a relationship with your child. Even worse, by relying on electronic media you’re sending a subliminal message to your child that the television is an approved teacher. Is that the message you really want to send?

Children get it; they like to be read to because of the closeness they feel with the reader. Even with the advances of high definition TV, it is still better for a toddler to walk with you as you talk about the leaves that crunch under your feet, or see a real spider weaving its web. Parents are the perfect educational toy. There is tremendous joy that comes with having children, but the joy comes from spending time with your children.

Teach them how to pay attention by paying attention to them. Think ahead to the future, and raise a person you would want to meet.  You know, one that gives eye contact.

When you become a parent, you don’t get to phone it in.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Can we possibly fix everything through play?

March 20th, 2015

Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.  Plato, 427–347 BC

The best thing about the arrival of spring is the chance to get out and play.

For years, I’ve written about the transformative power of play and truly believe that play fixes all things.  Through play children learn through how to share, take turns, and negotiate. They learn how teams are supposed to work, and select players because they are the best players because the objective of the game is to win. For children at play it isn’t that they aren’t obeying the rules, it’s just that there aren’t any rules.

Every child should have an opportunity to play.  For this reason, Parental Wisdom® is supporting One World Play Project and a campaign to provide the One World Futbol to the Althea Gibson Early Childhood Academy in New Jersey; when you buy one, another is sent to the school. The ball is ultra-durable, never goes flat, and never needs a pump even when punctured.  Watch this video to learn more.

From the One World Play Project website:

Where Play Happens, Change Happens

Research indicates that play is a biological imperative. Children need to play to learn, grow and be healthy—physically, psychologically and emotionally. Play helps individuals and societies recover from trauma, cope with challenging situations and create bonds that transcend race, culture, gender and ideology.

“From an evolutionary point of view, research suggests that play is a biological necessity. There is evidence that suggests the forces that initiate play lie in the ancient survival centers of the brain–the brain stem–where other anciently preserved survival capacities also reside. In other words, play is a basic biological necessity that has survived through the evolution of the brain. And necessity = importance.” Dr. Stuart Brown, MD Co-Author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, 2010.

Please support this campaign which starts today on the very first day of spring.  Remember play is in our DNA.

Have a great week!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

[1] A mission-driven B Corporation

Aren’t we just big kids?

February 21st, 2015

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. ― Plato

In Feb 2006, Sir Ken Robinson presented a very popular TED Talk.  Seen over 31 million times “How schools kill creativity” suggests that schools treat children’s bodies as if they are only there to support their little heads.  It is a funny and compelling talk, but sadly not much has changed since then.

Since children aren’t in a position to change the situation, we must.  The challenge is that we are in the same boat.  While we would love to rescue children from constant preparation for tests, the stress associated with constant test taking, and disappearance of childhood, we are too busy working harder with less.

The answer is play.  Play is in our DNA.  If we understand the need for children to have recess, aren’t we just big kids with the same needs?

The airlines tell us to put on our oxygen masks before we do the same for our children.  Let’s get those masks on now.

Do less and you will do more.

  • Less email and more in person conversations.
  • Less meetings and spending more time walking around and building relationships.
  • Less heads down in work, and more time making sure we are doing the right things.

Give yourself recess and time to play.  The result will be a clear head and the happiness that comes from simply having fun.

With that, there’s no telling what you can do – perhaps even teach your kids a game or two.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Ever wonder why we want to spread democracy?

January 31st, 2015

I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.  -Maya Angelou

In August 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was able to conduct a demonstration of his telephone by using two telegraph offices that were five miles apart. Using only the existing telegraph lines, Bell was able to conduct the world’s first phone call in front of an audience of amazed onlookers. Later that year, Bell and his financial backers offered to sell the patent for the telephone to Western Union, but Western Union dismissed the telephone as a useless toy that would never amount to anything.[1]

Ideas and inventions are often developed before their use is fully realized or understood.

Social Media is yet another example. 

This modern day soapbox allows us to have meaningful conversations.  With social media we can really listen, gain empathy and understanding, which could eventually lead to us meet in the middle.

But instead, we use social forums to air public and private disagreements, instantaneously taking a stand and a side.  We use social media to speak, not listen so we don’t fully realize the benefit of Mr. Bell’s invention, a device that allows for long distance conversations.

A recent example of such a disagreement is the movie American Sniper. The irony is the very freedom our military provides gives us the right to disagree.  If we stopped to think about why we want to spread democracy; it’s because a truly democratic society would never vote to send their children to war.

When the phone was first invented, there were literal connections of wire to conversations.  Today we are virtually connected to almost everyone on earth.  Why not take the good intention of social media and really listen to each to create much needed social change?

Ask your children how they might use social media to help society.

Have a great week!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®