What do you do when you find out your 3rd grader has no friends and is bullied?  What do you do when you hear another child call your child a nerd?  What do you do when your child’s best friend starts hanging with the “cool kids” and has left your son or daughter behind?  What do you do when your child’s friends don’t call back or make excuses in order not to come over for a playdate.

Being a parent is painful, we feel every heart ache so deeply and we want to make it all better.  As I watched my kids navigate bullying and rejection and then go on to be happy, social and all find great friends,  I can say it did not happen “naturally”.

Moms talk about this a lot… some moms say “don’t worry, it will all work out” and it might, but it doesn’t always.  Some say “all they need is one good friend” but it’s so much better to a great group of friends.

Some mothers are overly involved in manipulating their children’s friendships to ensure they are in the “popular crowd”.  What is popular?  According to one child, “the populars only talk to the populars and one level lower”, “I’m in a crowd where I can talk to anyone I want”.  I asked “That sounds so much nicer, is it?, “Oh definitely” she replied.

Here is my advice to parents:

  • If they are being rejected by a certain group of kids, or the neighborhood kids, or the soccer kids, or baseball kids – let that be!  Don’t force your child into a group that is rejecting them.  Help them develop a friend in the sport they love but don’t force friendships where they aren’t.
  • If kids don’t call back or reciprocate invites… find out if it’s because the never have friends over or if they don’t invite your kid over.  If it’s the latter, then help your kid focus on friends that reciprocate and genuinely want to stay and be with your kid.  Otherwise, they are banking their friendship on a fair weather friend and when the wind blows they will be alone.
  • Find their own tribe.  They know who they like and who likes them, and it might not be the crowd they want to be in.  Talk to them about how they feel inside with different friends.  Which ones make you laugh, come running to you in the playground.
  • Grow those friends one at a time and bring them together with group sleepovers and play dates as well as individual play dates. Watch how they behave during the play dates.  Praise them later on specifics on how they exhibited great social skills and sharing, caring, etc… but also note issues they might have did they pout or cry when they didn’t get their way, not share, not listen well.  Work on those issues when the time is right.  Coach them on how to react, share and listen.


Also learn why kids are bullied or are rejected:

  • Is your kid bossy?  This is going to hurt  but this is probably a reflection on you… mom or dad.  Do you demand that they do this now and do that later?  Change your tone and your way of requiring they do things by saying it nicely. They will mimick you.  Yes as  a parent you have the right to say “Do your homework now” but if you change it to.. “Sweetheart, would you please do your homework” in a soft tone…. you will not hear them be so bossy. Bossy kids are often rejected by their peers.
  • Does your child have difficulty communicating? Whether it be speech issues or nonverbal communication, they need to be very aware of speaking clearly and reading people’s faces, body language, etc…
  • How are their social skills?  Actively work with them on listening, sharing, negotiating, and giving more than they receive. Do they remember people’s names?
  • Kids love confident and assertive kids… do you actively build their confidence?  Do all you can to create winning situations and build their confidence.

Two out of three of my kids had super tough times.  Once we found the right tribe of friends, kind, smart, witty kids who were not necessarily the coolest or the best jocks.. but genuine kids who were thoughtful and kind… I worked at it, we invited them over frequently, had sleepovers to help develop bonds, I don’t let them spend much time on screen time as that is not bonding time that lasts.  Force them outside, to take walks etc…  You have to try out different friends and watch their behavior… are they are really good long term fit for your kid.  If so encourage it.  Or do you see serious behavioral issues like disrespect, if so discuss it.

I can say after heart ache that the child I was most concerned about is never ever home.  If I allowed it that child would be at sleepovers every weekend all weekend and have back-to-back playdates as that child’s friends call all the time to get together.  That child is not “popular” but is very popular with his/her friends.   They are not the kids who we thought would be his/her friends, they grew from clubs and extracurricular activities.  But they are true friends, the kind that will last a lifetime.


I met a woman in my industry, she is young, strong and so intelligent.  She is a Christian, yet a full on bulldog in business.  I’m completely in awe by her, inspired.  She embodies strength and determination.  I said “yet”… I often thought that Christianity meant being soft, it does not, being a bulldog in business does not mean you aren’t soft inside, it means you make the hard decisions and those turn out better for everyone in the end.  She completely challenged so many of my preconceived notions and has made me a better person for knowing her just a short while.  That is inspiration.  You don’t need to be mentored, just shown.


My kids love this word. Random.  I am that word. I wish I were more planned but I’m not. I like spur of the moment, moving on a whim. Big ideas, heart, instinct, emotion… I’m unlearning random and working towards defined, precise, planned, being more emotionally intelligent.

My family….

My family is everything but it’s extensive, of course, it’s my mom, dad, sisters, kids, husband, in-laws.. but it’s also the friends who I can call to pick up my kids, chat with, cry with, it’s the employees – for whom the word “employee” feels all wrong, I love them with all my heart.  Family is Toni, Belen, Inez, Ana, Christina… I don’t see you but you are my brothers, sisters and just plain family.

God knows I’ve tried…

Belief.  To believe in something greater… as small as a mustard seed is all you need?  OK, I choose to believe.


Playing tag, kids no longer yell “time-out” they yell pause… a sign of the times.

What matters…

People, that’s all that matters. Simple.  To myself… put that phone away… focus on them, the moment, love them deeply, be in the moment.  Never substitute screen time for facetime.


Last night,  I watched Fault in our Stars with Julia.  When I read the book, I related to the main characters, the children.  But last night, I felt the intense emotions and love that the parents felt for Gus and Hazel. The connection that movie made with me as a mother was too close to home,  I was a puddle.  I tear up thinking about the reality that so many parents have to live with and I am grateful.   Overwhelmed with gratitude that in this moment my loved ones are happy and healthy.  As a mom, that is what I live for.  I am blessed with an amazing family, siblings, parents and in-laws.  and a am grateful…. very grateful.

  1. My mom, her wisdom, love and faith.  How no matter how tough things are in her life, my problems are important to her and her belief that we can lift them up to God and that he cares
  2. Sitting in the hot tub on rainy days with the kids and looking at the stars
  3. Kristina’s soul, she has the most amazing heart and is so beautifully sensitive
  4. Coffee with double chocolate powder in the morning
  5. Sean’s affection and humor, his intensity and brightness
  6. Camping on the islands with the family, s’mores over the campfire
  7. Julia’s personality, brains and leadership, she is wise way beyond her years, put together and incredibly kind
  8. All my customers but especially the first one’s who made such an impact on my future: Steve Ramirez, Scott Flagel, Gavin Landry and Phil Jackson
  9. A husband who loves me, cooks, has a sense of humor and is a wonderful father
  10. Tina and Jeff LaPell who make me laugh so hard I cry
  11. Pool parties, screaming children, floats, cookouts and bbq’s, happy chatter
  12. For soccer games where I can scream and cheer for Sean and his friends
  13. Zumba with Lisa and Jen, who smile while they get every last ounce of energy out of you and how great you feel because your doing it
  14. My sister Pam who is childlike in her joy and exuberance when surprised and brilliant and detailed in business and keeps me together there with her wisdom
  15. My sister-in-law Liz whose help with our landscaping has resulted in a backyard I love
  16. For the millions of flowers divided and given to me from my mom in my garden
  17. For Kristina’s artistic eye and how her photography captures light in the most spectacular way
  18. For an incredible community of friends who I can count on and who can count on me to help with watching, transporting and caring for our kids, who lend an ear when things go wrong and don’t judge and cheer for my kid as if they were theirs
  19. For my brother, and that he met a wonderful woman who he might marry and in Peru no less! and the fun we will have celebrating at his wedding
  20. For my dad and the depth of his love for me and the twinkle in his eye when we talk
  21. For music and dance parties with my kids, I love to watch them breakdance
  22. Tony Flores and his love for everyone and everything, his generosity and his Heart and the valves and a successful surgery.  For how he took me in so many years ago in Spain and for the memories I have of Europe from living in Spain to Italy and Mark and my epic backpacking trip through Europe.
  23. For Belen and our friends in Spain and the kindness and friendship they extended to us at our visit
  24. For the time with my family in Paris and London and the experiences of a lifetime
  25. Walks at the ocean, stepping over Jellyfish and looking for shells
  26. The sunshine and a cool breeze
  27. Customer Hugs – the customers who come into the office and offer a hug instead of a handshake because we are that close.
  28. For my oldest sister Cheryl and her thoughtfulness, and kindness, her glitter and her sparkle, her family for being able to visit them in NYC even though I don’t often.  For how it feels when you are in her house, for the walk around Prospect Park
  29. For being healthy and having healthy children and a healthy husband.  For surviving car crashes and an ectopic pregnancy that almost killed me – for the support of family in these times.
  30. Chocolate Pot of Creme,  chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies
  31. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the joy of gathering with family and friends
  32. My IPhone and the reminders which usually get me there on time
  33. Sea salt on everything but especially on buttered popcorn with yeast, cause that means we’re having fun
  34. Doris for being one of my two bestest friends in the world and for teaching me how to play poker
  35. Theresa and how it always feels like yesterday
  36. Stuart Weitzman shoes and boots
  37. Jeff Klein and Ian Hartten for getting me involved in the digital masterminds group
  38. Lake George, the water, the village, Bolton Landing and the memories in, on and near the water
  39. For sunsets anywhere
  40. For Michelle Brodt who keeps the circle going
  41. Mary Goetz and her exuberance, constant positivity and joy
  42. Mutti and in-laws that I love to be with, a father-in-law who helped us when we were struggling financially and 136 Ottawa
  43. Having a brother in law who is a lawyer
  44. Amazing teachers for my kids – especially Mr. Hendersen who made Sean’s year special last year
  45. The Galapagos and a trip I will someday take with Sean and the family
  46. My future Herpatologist, for turtles and turtle farms, his love of reading books and all things science
  47. Snuggles at nighttime and cuddles in the morning
  48. Rainbows and how the light shines after a rainstorm, the smell in the air and for stumping in the puddles
  49. A cozy home
  50. Winter concerts, teachers like Miss Conti who inspire, make you laugh, make you cry and inspire children to be kind and believe
  51. Mr. Verheyn and his encouragement of the kids musical abilities
  52. The Adirondack Theater Festival, movies, plays and musicals
  53. Time to jump on the trampoline with the kids playing silly games like hashi hashi poopi poopi
  54. Marco polo at nightime
  55. Champagne toasts, Valentine’s Day and Neighbors I really like
  56. Jaime Murphy who has bailed me out more times than once
  57. A pancake griddle – it saves sooo much time
  58. Skiing, snowboarding as a family for watching the kids as they try new things and yell – “Watch this mom!!!”
  59. Mark’s tradition of taking the kids skating on black ice and what a special memory that is
  60. Jumping off the cliffs in Lake George
  61. Galas and friends like Kristen and Anne to go with
  62. Mannix Marketing, the team, the teamwork, the talent and the caring people
  63. Having had Steven my magical nephew live with us for a while
  64. Go carts and laser tag with the kids
  65. Sean’s neighborhood friend Matt and how he is so polite and makes me laugh, he’s so cute and funny
  66. I’m thankful for the three scout leaders – Carole, Jaime and Courtney who dedicate so much time and patience to build self confidence, friendships, values and knowledge
  67. I’m thankful for swords and Nerf guns and how they get used daily in my life
  68. Christmas trees, the smell of wreaths, and Christmas lights that brighten the winter months
  69. How Lela and Kristina play for hours in her room, no electronics just imagination and they never get bored of each other.  Their imaginations are endless
  70. For runs with Mark even though I don’t really love running and walks with Tina
  71. Giggling girls, is there anything better than the sound of a childs laughter
  72. Mother son time and laser tag
  73. A husband who gets me, who tells me when I’m out of line in a way that is kind, who cooks and helps with laundry because he can and is thoughtful and considerate
  74. For my mom’s birthday cakes, every year she makes the most amazing cakes for the kids and they are always so excited to see her creations.  She makes them feel special and know they are loved with this generous gift of her time and talents
  75. Hikes and having the Adirondacks as our playground.  I am thankful we live just 5 miles from a quick lovely hike that leads to views of the lake.
  76. Color me Rad runs, our first half marathon and mud runs with the children but most of all watching Mark run with Julia for their bonding and special relationship.  For friends who inspire us to run like Jeff and Amy.
  77. Two smelly dogs who get so excited every morning when I come down the stairs
  78. Concerts – where we can sit back and be proud and entertained and for Miss Conti’s enthusiasm and energy
  79. Hot Showers, they are mini-vacations every morning, where you can close your eyes and enjoy the moment
  80. Massages, I love massages – from my husband, from my loving kids and giving them to the kids – we call that making pizza, and paid professional massages.
  81. Holding hands – I love holding my children’s hands, I love having two hands when three hands want to be held, and we have to get creative, I love when Mark hold’s my hand to reassure me, strengthen me or just to say I love you.  I love how little children hold each others hands and swing them on the soccer field when they should be chasing after the ball but a new friendship means so much more my dear sweet Julia 🙂
  82. Double H Ranch and the work they do for children and families going through the unthinkable, for the love of the staff and every person that works there and the courage of the children
  83. For missionaries everywhere who give their time like my mom will to give food and medical attention to those that need it most.  For all of those dedicated to ending hunger and poverty
  84. Stand Up Paddleboarding dates with Julia – may we have many many more.  I love to watch her get more daring, try new things and her sense of humor mixed with challenge.
  85. My camera, I am blessed with a great camera that captures the most amazing moments that I want to remember forever.
  86. Hope, when things go wrong, for being an optimist and always hoping for the best
  87. August when everything is perfect from horse racing to the temperature of the lake
  88. That I never have to worry about Julia doing her homework, getting good grades, I never ask about her homework, quizzes or tests, because she works hard without any adult intervention, she has always been organized and she cares to do her best.  This is an amazing gift she has given me as a parent so I can spend my time worrying about other stuff.
  89. Margy & Pam Mannix and Ed Ostberg – when we moved back I had no friends in the area and my sister-in-law was my closest friend next door and invited me to know all of her amazing friends  – Evan, Melissa, Marjolaine…. and the time spent with these friends meant the world to me.  Ed because in that same time he introduced me to the arts project, where I met John Strong, Ike Wolgin and Tina LaPell, these people I not only admire but love despite the fact that my children have taken me away from spending time with them.  Pam Mannix for inviting me to her cookie swaps. I will always have a special place in my heart for this amazing group who helped me through my late 20 something and early 30 something days.
  90. Mary Brandt – she was my greatest mentor and the epitome of the female leader that I wanted to be like, for the time we had at West Mountain creating the crazy $10 Monday night couponless coupon nights and slush cup jump and the cardboard derby – for the opportunity to really spread my wings with marketing and go crazy with ideas.
  91. Ken Hoggins – Theresa’s husband – who cared enough to make sure I got the best insurance and finds the best wine for me
  92. A husband who buys me the most amazing dresses and how I feel when I wear them, a husband who actually loves me enough that he likes to shop with me.
  93. For Fort Lauderdale getaways – it’s a short 3 hour flight and I’m alone withe my husband at the beach and for my mom who babysits to allow us to have couple time that is so desperately needed when you have three very active children and a worrisome mom.
  94. Dick Taylor and Steve – for making me laugh, being the best clients I could wish for and for Dick for coming to Vegas with us when we were nominated for winning the US Search Award. For winning the US Search Award, that was exciting, such an honor for the company and to share that with Atlantic British and Chris and Dick and especially Nick, made it even more special.
  95. Sledding right outside our door, and having hot chocolate with marshmallows afterwards, the rosy cheeks and the feeling of happy exhaustion
  96. Cousins to love and that my children know and love their cousins.  For the example that Kathy and John have been to me as parents, for their wisdom.  I’m amazed by their parenting skills and the result is so evident in their successful, smart, kind and accomplished kids.
  97. The hardest times of my life for they make me appreciate the best times of my life.
  98. For the funny things the kids say, for in vitro and for having a boy who tells the story of how he’s older than his older sister but he was just frozen for three years.
  99. For surprises – How fun it was to throw a surprise party for Julia this year and how completely surprised she was
  100. Sales, bargains, treasures to be uncovered – growing up frugal and without much, makes you appreciate the bargain, love the hunt, for shopping at Salvation Army on Black Friday instead of a Big Box store with the family – for Scrabble after the turkey dinner.
  101. For our extended family: The Patels, Inez, Anna, Christina Keding, Michela Gambini and the whole Gambini family and for growing up in a household where everyone from India, Italy, Holland, Germany and Brazil was welcome, where troubled children came to heal where my parents lived a life where extreme generosity and love was overflowing and for the many fruits of that amazing childhood.

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