The imperfect perfect family

November 28th, 2017



“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.” Friedrich Nietzsche

The problem with Facebook is that you believe what you see.

The photo of the perfect table setting, golden brown turkey, and what appears to be well behaved children.

It’s not real.  

Families, on the other hand, are very real – imperfections and all.

We survived Thanksgiving and are heading into Christmas, which has considerably more stress.  Before you go down that rabbit hole, think more about how to have less stress.

If the person matters to you, and you can’t think of something they need (honestly, do any of us need anything?) then spend time with them.

My grandson is teaching me that a game of hide and seek is just about all a person needs to be happy.

Back to the imperfect families – despite miscommunications and mistakes you are still better off having them in your life than not.

Now back to decorating….

Tina Nocera

Founder, Parental Wisdom®

Time to start new traditions

October 29th, 2017

Michael & Matthew

Planning the perfect costume, only to have your child change his/her mind two days before.   Pulling the kids off the ceiling from the incredible sugar rush as they ate their way through their trick or treat bag. Rushing out of work in your Kohl’s holiday sweater with the pumpkin pockets so you would never miss a single Halloween parade.

As I think back on these moments, I smile and realize it was my time with my kids, and look forward to the realization that my adult children will get to build their own memories and traditions.

Where we pulled ideas from magazines, they have Pinterest. We took dozens of pictures of the kids and their friends in the hopes we had a single keeper; they post directly to Instagram, Facebook, and share Snapchat stories.

In the end, parents both past and present gets to have their moment. And despite how we get there or how it is shared, it is a tradition that each family gets to build, and the way each family creates their own culture.

How to Make a 4th of July Costume

Whether you want to dress up for a local 4th of July parade or you want to go all out for a big Independence Day backyard barbeque, there are a number of getups that will show off your patriotic pride. What’s more, the costumes are not hard to make. Say happy birthday to the land of the free by piecing together the following 4th of July-inspired costumes:

Uncle Sam

Party like a real man by dressing up as Uncle Sam. Don’t worry if you don’t have a red, white and blue tuxedo like the one Sam donned in the old army propaganda posters. Instead, look around the house for a white button down shirt, red bow tie and a blue coat. If you don’t have red and white striped pants, make your own from a pair of cheap white sweats which can be embellished with red fabric. Or, you could use an old pair of white pants and attach strips of red fabric. Purchase a plain top hat from a costume store and paint on stars and stripes. Finish off the look with a fake white beard and white wig. This is the most comfortable American flag hat in the world.

Betsy Ross

Pair a white top, a red skirt, and blue apron to bring Betsy Ross back to life. Accessorize with sparkly star stickers stuck on the apron and a white sleep cap. You could also carry around red, white and blue fabric scraps to mimic Ross’ hard work sewing the first American flag.

Statue of Liberty

No other costume celebrates the joy of independence than Lady Liberty. The famous statue greeted millions of immigrants as they sailed into New York Harbor when the United States was still in its infancy. Now you too can look like the queen of sweet freedom by putting together a costume made from household items.  Start by making a wig out of green yarn. Hold it in place with a green headband and a crown made from green poster board. Next, wrap a mint-green flat sheet around your body in a toga-like fashion. Then, make a torch from rolled up green construction paper. Use red and brown construction paper taped to the top of the torch to mimic a flame. Accessorize with a pair of sandals and a green notebook featuring the Declaration of Independence. Finally, use some light green face paint to cover your forehead, cheeks, nose, mouth and chin.

American Flag

Red, white and blue never looked so good. This is an especially appropriate costume for a young child, who might fuss at putting on an elaborate getup on a sizzling hot July day. Dressing like an American flag can be as simple as slipping on a shirt covered with stars and red and white striped pants. Otherwise, purchase a super cheap American flag shirt at a post-holiday sale and save it to wear the following year.

Why does that matter you might ask? So that many years from now, you sit around a holiday table, and laugh about how perfectly imperfect it all works out.

And you smile happy tears that you had those moments. They are after all, your new traditions!

Happy Halloween!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®




How to show you genuinely care

September 28th, 2017

“If you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you’re doing business not kindness.” Unknown

Recently I held the door for an elderly woman leaving a Wells Fargo bank as I was entering.  She seemed preoccupied and didn’t return my smile. While I was being helped, this same woman came back to the counter and asked about her recent transaction.  The employee was visibly annoyed that she had to remind the woman she withdrew $100 from her savings.

I read about Wells Fargo’s post scandal scrutiny and $185 million fine for opening more than 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customers’ permission.  John Stumpf, the CEO, apologized and accepted full responsibility for unethical sales practices.  The source for deceptive practices stemmed from incentives and goals meant to motivate their workforce.

But their values claim they have a Culture of Caring SM.  They cared enough about that catchphrase to have it registered as a service mark.  Here is this vision from their site.

Culture of CaringSM

Our success has as much to do with attitude as aptitude — what’s in our hearts, not just our heads. Our success depends on how much we care for each other, our customers, our communities, and our stockholders. Our culture is reflected in the essence of our brand: “Together we’ll go farSM.” We want our team members to feel proud of working for a company that truly cares about people, goes the extra mile to do what’s right — in good times and bad — and believes that “better” is possible for everyone. Central to our culture are the following mindsets: • Caring. Caring is core to who we are. We always want to be warm, welcoming, and humble; to take the time to listen and genuinely understand; to have empathy during the tough times; and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Perhaps Wells Fargo needs to do more training.

For the rest of us, this should serve as a wake up call.  Are we using our words to teach and not demonstrating behavior that supports our talk?  That is not a mixed message, but a very clear one.  When raising children, they will do as you do, not as you say.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

What legacy will you leave behind?

August 29th, 2017

Carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. – Princess Diana

Parents wonder if our children hear our words, learn the lessons we try to share or see the actions we model. Yet sometimes we see a glimmer of hope as they perform a random act of kindness for a classmate or ask you to help a stranger.

At those times you secretly smile and think, ‘ah yes! It is working.’

Well if you ever have doubt, I suggest you look at Prince William and Prince Harry 20 years after their mother, Princess Diana’s death. Even though they were still relatively young when she died, they witnessed how she genuinely cared for those less fortunate and take up their own causes today.

Our children shouldn’t believe they are the center of the universe. It’s likely they are fortunate and should be encouraged to help others. There’s a commercial that really bothers me where a little girl asks viewers if she is cute and responds herself saying, “I think I am.” But then goes on to say that mom and dad can’t play with her because they are busy cleaning. Is it just me or does anyone else think that the cute little girl can help mom and dad? She gets to learn what is like to do a little housework and help mom and dad so everybody can play!

If we are concerned about the polarization of views in this country, a unifying view could be that kindness always makes things better. Anyone disagree with that?

Start kids thinking early about helping others. One way is to sponsor a child through Children Incorporated. Their mission is to provide resources to children in need in the United States and abroad. They passionately believe that children everywhere deserve education, hope and opportunity. Our kids may need to know every child doesn’t start out with the same advantages.

Like Princess Diana, our legacy is that we should leave the world a better place for our children. It may be a small start, but much like Saturday chores, why not make them active participants?

Have a great week!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me



When you realize you are friends with your children

August 20th, 2017
Tina and Noelle

Tina and Noelle

Well before the Gilmore Girls made it popular to be friends with your daughter, Noelle and I had a relationship based on mutual love, respect, trust and laughter.

Now I’m realizing how much I’m learning from her. I don’t worry about keeping up with the digital age because she recommends websites, blogs and podcasts I should subscribe to, and provides valuable insight such as the groundbreaking decision that Allure magazine is no longer using the term anti-aging.

We do things that girlfriends do like sharing clothes and going to our favorite mall we affectionately refer to as our ‘mother ship’, even at a time where malls are becoming passé. We do it for the experience we’ve always enjoyed, which begins with shopping and ends with lunch because well, doesn’t that order makes sense?

She explains why the Khardasians are marketing geniuses because everything they touch turns to sold, and why she is moving from Snapchat to Instagram stories because she is always just ahead of the curve (remember kitten heels Noelle?)

She tells me what is cool, but at the same time suggests I not use that word.   We discuss politics on a daily basis, because there is always something to talk about, and there is a concern about the future, and the children she will have one day, and what we can do to make a difference.

We have our many traditions, including our favorite movies, Hokus Pokus for Halloween, Love Actually for Christmas and The Ten Commandments, reciting each line as we prepare our Easter raviolis. And the tradition of wishing you happy birthday at the exact moment you were born, August 21st 5:09am even if you took a day off!

Together, we may not be changing the world, or are we?  If everyone spent time building quality relationships with family and friends, that may be just the spark needed to start peace with others.

Even though parenting experts suggest not being friends with your children – I disagree. My daughter Noelle has made my life better, and who wouldn’t want a friend like that?

Happy birthday my sweetie – I love you with all my heart, and remember, I will always love you more.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me




How can we stop the clock?

July 30th, 2017

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

The circle of life is profound. There is a great similarity to parents caring for young children, and adult children as caretakers for aging parents.

The difference is where little children promise growth and potential, aging parents are about loss of capacity and decline.

Still, there is an incredible connection when young and old are together, representing an almost unspoken bond.

Both need to feel they are in control, whether it is the clothes they wear, food they eat, or when they go to bed.

Naps are a necessity!

Little children love to hear the same stories over and over again, while aging parents love to tell the same stories over and over again. The storytellers and listeners must maintain a consistent level of enthusiasm.

Perhaps the elders tell their stories over and over because they are afraid the lull in the conversation means the call or visit is over.

Perhaps children ask you to tell the same story over and over again, because they just love being with you, and don’t want it to end.

Both groups need your help with you everyday tasks; one is learning for the first time, while the other has forgotten.

There will come a time you will wish you were more patient, and you could turn back the clock and pay attention to little people or the elders that mean everything to you.

We haven’t found a way to stop the clock, so find moments to celebrate and laugh, and enjoy how wonderful it is to be needed.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me on Facebook 

Create a summer to remember

June 30th, 2017

Summer is a state of mind.

Before you blink and it’s over, create a summer to remember!

There are 31 days in July and August – here are 62 ideas.  Spoiler alert – none require tech gadgets!

  1. Make smores
  2. Have a bike decorating contest for July 4th.
  3. Fina a drive-in movie theatre near you.
  4. Plant a vegetable garden
  5. Make paper airplanes
  6. Make your own sidewalk chalk and then create outside art
  7. Build a new Lego challenge
  8. Learn a new card game
  9. Ask your parents or grandparents to teach you a game they played as kids
  10. Make and fly your own kite
  11. Go on a scavenger hunt
  12. Go to a minor league baseball game
  13. Go on a nature walk and take photos
  14. Print the photos and make them into postcards and mail to your grandparents!
  15. With your parents help, plan and make dinner one evening
  16. How long can you jump rope?
  17. Go to the library and borrow language tapes, and learn a few phrases.
  18. Catch lightning bugs
  19. Pay for ice cream of the person behind you in line
  20. Go to a water park, or run through a sprinkler
  21. Play minute to win it games
  22. Fill water balloons and play water balloon piñata
  23. Have a dance party
  24. Play board games
  25. Help take care of an elderly neighbor’s yard
  26. Hike in a state park
  27. Visit a museum you’ve never been to
  28. Reorganize your room
  29. Have a garage sale
  30. Make and mail cards to soldiers
  31. Bake cookies and take them to your local fire and/or police station
  32. Make popsicles
  33. Create a music video
  34. Try an outdoor science experiment
  35. Have a car wash
  36. Make finger paints
  37. Play ultimate Frisbee
  38. Create your own family madlibs game
  39. Attend a free concert
  40. Host an outdoor sleepover
  41. Play manhunt
  42. Visit a farmers market
  43. Go to a planetarium
  44. Try miniature golf
  45. Create a building from marshmallows and toothpicks
  46. Tie dye
  47. Make your own glitter slime
  48. Design your own pillow case with fabric markers
  49. Make your own outdoor twister game
  50. Make a puppet theatre and have a show
  51. Homemade play dough
  52. Host a joke telling contest
  53. Play Simon Says
  54. Visit a local factory
  55. Make a slip and slide
  56. Have a picnic
  57. Go fishing
  58. Go berry picking, and then make a pie
  59. Tell ghost stories
  60. Make a stand and sell lemonade
  61. Put on a magic show
  62. Play charades

Feel free to add more.

Have an amazing summer!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter


Kids are always teaching us how to spell love

May 7th, 2017

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a man named George Lucas wrote a story about a western set in the future. No one believed in his story except one Hollywood studio that gave him a movie deal. George opted to take less money in exchange for something quite futuristic called licensing rights.

The rest is retail history.

Also, a long time ago in another galaxy (the East Coast), a different George named Carlin had a futuristic view of people having too much stuff.   This concept is one of the reasons the retail industry is in its current death spiral – not to be confused with the death star.

In their never ending quest for product sales, retailers lost sight of what matters more than things, and that is experiences.

About ten years ago I realized my nephews, much like my own kids, had too much stuff. I wasn’t the biggest fan of gift cards because I felt they were a lazy form of gift giving.   With their birthdays and Christmas relatively close, I stopped giving gifts in favor of an experience we call ‘cousins’ weekend’.

Our nephews would gather at our house and play games all weekend, ranging from basketball in the park, to teaching them Brooklyn classics like ‘moonies up’ to card games, board games, bowling and BBQs always ending on the Saturday night with letting them (finally) play video games. As they got older, the games changed to include an escape room, and a trampoline park.

The short-term gift was the fun they had with each other. The longer-term gift was the relationships they formed. Even after ten years, they still love this time together.

Retailers can’t package and sell these experiences, but caring families can.

After all, children spell love T-I-M-E.

Have fun!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®


Why Moms Don’t Actually Need Gifts

April 27th, 2017

I was listening to a podcast by Simon Sinek, whose TED Talk is the third most popular presentation of all time; he often talks about givers vs. takers.

It dawned on me that’s why mothers are universally loved – because they are unconditional givers and sure deserve a seat massage chair to use while you drive to relief her stress.

As givers, they don’t want anything in return except to see the manifestation of their selfless acts reflected in their children, which can often reveal years down the line.

But they patiently wait, continue to give and model the behavior they want their children to emulate.

The ultimate gift is when the giving is passed on. It’s the 5th grader whose teacher compliments his kindness to the new kids, or the college student who puts family over partying, or the new dad who simply adores his baby.

So what does mom want for Mother’s Day?

More of these gifts, though some time alone, a bottle of wine and a spa gift card wouldn’t hurt!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®



How kids backyard theme parties matter years later

March 15th, 2017

Well before videos went viral, our family was famous for birthday theme parties.

You may wonder how we got everyone to make and wear costumes, memorize scripts and perform. It was easy – – no one ate until after the show! The oddest thing is that they all had a part, which meant we actually had no audience.

In celebration of the opening of Beauty and The Beast, here are photos of our production for Noelle’s 4th birthday on Saturday, August 21st 1993 .

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find pictures of the entire cast.  One of my favorites, was Priscilla, an amazing person always impeccably dressed, smoking a long Virginia Slim cigarette, and wearing her very high heels. She was our very own Auntie Mame.

For our production, she wore a large refrigerator box because after all, she was the wardrobe, Madame Garderobe.  Although she complained that her heels were digging into the grass, she still flawlessly delivered her line, “The master’s not so bad, once you get to know him.”

What our kids learned is family and friends play a role in our lives, just as they played a role in our backyard productions.  We needed to fill all kinds of parts, which is why our differences help enrich our lives.

Our parties mattered not only for the memories they created, but appreciation of the people that mattered.

Enjoy the show!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 1.55.41 PM

These little wolves are all in their late 20’s now. Andrew, Ryan, Michael and Vincent.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 1.52.56 PM

My brother Michael as Cogsworth, Gerard as the horse, Bobby Clinton as the cart and of course my husband Mike, wearing a rented beast costume on a 95 degree August day. I’m the only one without a role. After all, I directed!

After an amazing birthday celebration, a little girl goes to sleep in her matching sheets.

After an amazing birthday celebration, a little girl goes to sleep in her matching sheets.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 11.38.16 AM

Rosie as grown up Belle and the spin around costume she made for herself and Noelle as little Belle. Quite clever!

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 1.53.41 PM

Kenny and Anthony play Gaston and LeFou. Kenny gets credit for the dishwashing gloves to look like his character, but loses credit for not memorizing the script.