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The Launching Years Part 1: The Developmental Tasks of the Late Teen Years

When I first started writing about parenting, my oldest child Aidan was about 11 or 12 and I had a baby. Now that oldest child is 18 and about to launch from the nest. He begins college in the fall. As I adjust to this reality, I find myself reflecting on the lessons I have learned about the late teen years. I’ve discovered that older teens have “developmental tasks” that are very unique to them. Older teens (17-19) are very different from young teens (13-15); what they need from their parents is different.

In this post (Part 1), I will lay out 3 of the more important developmental tasks of the late teen years, then in Part 2 I’ll talk about what parents of younger kids can do to lay the groundwork for a healthy, well-adjusted transition to early adulthood.

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Study: 4 Things Every Mom Needs to Thrive

moms-thriveMotherhood is a profound blessing. We moms know it. But motherhood can, at times, bring us to our knees. A mom regularly faces sleepless nights, strained schedules, and the competing needs of her kids, her spouse, her extended family, her community, and finally HERSELF!

What allows some moms to thrive and to find deep satisfaction in motherhood despite the inevitable challenges while others do not thrive emotionally?

One intriguing study identified 4 key factors that protect mom’s well-being and sense of satisfaction:

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Skeletons, Pumpkins, and Judgment, OH MY

Every year on Halloween night, one of my neighbors puts a sign in her window: “NO CANDY. We are Christians. We do not celebrate Halloween.” So far none of my kids has remarked on this sign that I can recall. In particular, they have never asked, “But aren’t we Christians? . . . Is it wrong to trick-or-treat?” I’m glad. But I admit this neighbor’s sign has left me feeling slightly guilty every year, as if I should slink away with my jacket over head.

I know that many of us Catholic parents are torn about Halloween.  Should we participate? Is Halloween intrinsically evil? What’s with the ghosts and witches? Where does all this stuff come from? Frankly, throughout my mothering, I’ve experienced very mixed feelings about Halloween. I love the harvest atmosphere of many Halloween parties and events, but the whole sub-culture around Halloween seems to become increasingly dark each year.  A few years ago I want into a Halloween costume shop to get my daughter a Wizard of Oz Dorothy costume, and I saw mechanical zombie babies with blood oozing from their eyes. Not funny or interesting; just creepy and disturbing. Young people are becoming increasingly drawn to anything related to the “undead” – zombies, vampires, etc. It’s weird.

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Back-to-School Traditions for Your Catholic Family

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Family traditions give our kids a little life jacket in the often unsteady waters of childhood. As we approach the beginning of a new school year, it’s a great time to think of ways to honor our child’s big step in starting a new grade and offer a nod to the enormous blessings and graces of education – of books, numbers, maps, bugs, play dough, or whatever else may occupy our minds this year.

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