Movie Mothers We Wish We Could Be in Real Life

Sometimes the movies just get it right. There are times when you sit there, watching the silver screen, and you say to yourself, “Now, that’s the way a mother should be,” or “Man, I wish I had a mom like that.” Here are some movie characters that we wish we could be in real life, either as the mother or as the daughter.

Mrs. March from “Little Women”

There’s a lot to envy about Susan Sarandon’s character, Mrs. March, or Marmee as her girls often called her. Surrounded by her four loving girls while her husband is away fighting in the Civil War, it’s clear from the outset that Mrs. March has reared her four daughters well. They are simultaneously independent-minded and respectful of their mother. Full of love and vigor, they obviously feel free to become the best versions of themselves without rebelling against their loving mother or losing their own dignity or sense of womanhood.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have daughters like Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy sitting on the floor at our skirts? The times have passed since we can expect our daughters to find joy in learning to embroider in the candlelight in the sitting room after supper. But maybe we could glean a little glimmer of that bygone age by teaching our daughters to sew a button, dance a ballet or listen to classical music.

Leigh Anne Touhy from “The Blind Side”

Watching Sandra Bullock portray the real Leigh Anne Touhy in “The Blind Side,” mothers everywhere can relate to the desire to give a deserving young adult a good home. As she and her family welcome Michael into their affluent home, we watch in admiration as she shows her friends and community what unconditional love really means. Her show of strength hides a deep emotional current that adopted son Michael is well aware of. He senses the depths of her love, possibly, because his own love for his new family is equally profound.

Isn’t there some part inside all mothers that wants to save the underdog? It’s the part that makes a mother bear a bear. It’s the part that makes us stop at nothing to make sure our kids get their turn at bat; gets an equal share of everything that’s handed out. It’s the part of us that sacrifices in the name of motherly love. In that sense, there’s a little bit of Leigh Anne Touhy in all of us.

Betty Mahmoody from “Not Without My Daughter”

If you missed this older movie that’s based on a true story, you owe it to yourself to watch it. (Just hide in the bedroom some afternoon with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine. We won’t tell.) Sally Field portrays a woman who lives in America and is married to an Iranian man. In the opening scenes, we see that her husband is a doctor with a magnanimous personality who gets along swimmingly with his in-laws. Over the course of the movie, they move back to Iran, where the husband decides he wants to revert to the traditional Iranian lifestyle. We won’t tell you the whole plot, but basically, Betty and her daughter are prisoners. Betty has opportunities to escape back to the U.S., but she would have to leave her daughter behind in Iran – something she is unwilling to do (hence the title).

Sally Field’s character is someone that all mothers should aspire to. She uses her wits, her wiles, and her connections to come up with a plan to spirit herself and her daughter through treacherous terrain and dangerous situations. In the face of adversity, this mother stood up and faced the challenge. When it’s our turn as mothers to stand or be defeated, we can find hope in this true story of survival.

Movie characters like these help to promote the true essence of motherhood. That is, gentle guidance, unconditional love and protection. Whether you’re a young mother, single mother, or mother of an adult, what you offer to your children as their mother is something they will always cherish.

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TV Show Moms That Make Us Feel Better About Ourselves

Some TV moms just have a way of making us feel better about our own parenting skills. On the surface, the following TV show moms are shining examples of how to show affection to a child. Underneath, there’s a lot to love about a mom that makes us look good.

The Middle

Patricia Heaton does an awesome job of portraying Frankie Heck, mother of three kids on “The Middle.” There’s something about her that almost all moms across the country can relate to. Going to a job she hates, being misunderstood by her family and dealing with challenging kids. Yup, you can smile with understanding as she comes home and flops on the couch with a beer. But dinnertime at the Heck’s? Now that’s another story.

How can a mother who claims to love her children throw down a few bags of take out burgers and fries almost every night and call it a meal? I mean, sure, you’ve been known to pass around the local Chinese takeout menu to get everyone’s orders. Chinese food has vegetables. Fast food joints don’t. Besides, you can’t cook Chinese. Or pizza. Or Indian food. So it’s actually a treat for the kids when you order out. You’re not like Frankie at all. Nope.

Madam Secretary

As Madam Secretary, Téa Leoni tries to show us how awesome she is as a professional working woman, wife and mother. Wow. What an inspiration. Plus, she apparently has a smoking hot love life with her husband, played by Tim Daly (off-screen as well, but that’s gossip for another day). I mean, what woman wouldn’t want to be as good a mother as Elizabeth McCord, Secretary to the President of the United States? How does she do it all?

Well, she doesn’t. Not really. Take a closer look and it’s hard to find a mother less tuned in to what’s going on with her kids. She had no idea that her daughter, “Noodle,” was into fashion, no clue that her youngest son Jason hadn’t made any friends at his new school, and absolutely no notion that her oldest was sleeping with a heroin addict. (And, he is the President’s son, no less!). Honestly, if you were those kids’ mother, you would make it your business to know what they were up to every minute of the day. As Madame Secretary, wouldn’t it be within your rights to have your kids’ every action monitored? You bet it would! You are SUCH a better mother than her! Wait a minute. It’s almost midnight! Where’s your daughter? Her curfew is 10:00!

Modern Family

Gloria has one child to rear, and she does it with style. Sofia Vergara plays the doting mother so well, and her son Manny, played by Rico Rodriguez, is all the better for it. He’s a well-mannered, sophisticated young man who reflects positively on his upbringing. Even though Gloria spent years raising Manny as a single mother after her divorce, their relationship is perfect.

A little too perfect, if you ask her new husband, Jay, portrayed by Ed O’Neill. Jay sees what you see. A little fancy pants boy who is doesn’t want to let go of his mother’s apron strings. On the other end of those strings is an overprotective mother who has trouble letting her baby grow up. You’re not like that, though. You can see the error in preventing anything bad from happening to your kids. You know that Manny will always need approval from his mother, and that his future romantic relationships may suffer because of it. That’s why you always tell your son he can date whomever he chooses. As long as she’s a good girl. With no piercings. And she should be the same religious faith, obviously. That’s just a given.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey has given us six glorious years of entertainment, so they are hereby relieved of any scathing remarks about Lady Edith’s reluctance to acknowledge her own child to save her own reputation, or Lady Mary’s curious lack of motherly bragging about her amazingly adorable and handsome son George. Suffice it to say, it’s hard to understand the mother-child relationship of the olden days. The only one that makes sense on the show is the one between The Dowager Countess and Lord Grantham. The way he still comes to his wise old mother for advice; the way she still tells him what to do and how to behave. Now that’s the way it should be!

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4 Tactics to Keep Back to School Spending in Check

When parents and kids are both excited to shop for back to school, it can turn into a textbook case of out of control spending. Who can resist those rows of fresh new pencils, fat empty notebooks just waiting to be filled with ideas bordering on genius, and the array of dazzling organizers that promise that this, this year is going to so much better than last year!

Back to school equals new beginnings, fresh starts and do-overs. Back to school means back to serious business, where new friends await, old mistakes are forgotten and the future is wide open. It’s a time when the coolest teen magazines Instagram is filled with filtered photos of perfect little coeds, jumping and laughing together with friends, all the while sporting the latest backpacks, hair bands and fall skirts and shoes.

The thing about back to school spending, is someone’s got to keep a level head. Because if you don’t, there won’t be any money left in the budget for new sports equipment, that cheerleading outfit, the school trips or the endless pizza parties, not to mention that adorable new winter coat that hasn’t even been advertised yet. The fact is, school spending goes on for the entire year, so it’s better to keep tabs on the back to school spending so you’ll have more than a small fraction to spend the rest of the year.

Make a Budget

Boring? Yes, but it’s also good practice for the scholar in the home. Talk about what activities the student might want to join this year, figure in an allowance for shopping trips with friends, and remember to factor in the over-priced, “Oh, my God, I’ll never ask you for another thing as long as I live if you just let me get these boots!” boots. If you make a budget and stick with it, it really will be a good school year, at least financially.

Dig for Coupons

Before you go shopping, arm yourself with as many coupons as you can lay your hands on. Think about that jumbo coupon book you bought off the Boy Scout outside the grocery store earlier this year. Dig that out and see if there are any coupons for the usual teen beloved stores like Forever 21 or H&M. Go online and sign up for their newsletters so you can get coupons delivered to your inbox. Consider a club membership at Sam’s Club or BJs, where you might find school supplies with a hefty bulk discount.

Consolidate

Each year, teachers make long lists of supplies for their classes. But for one reason or another, half the stuff ends up not getting used. And teachers don’t really have the time to coordinate with other teachers to make sure they aren’t accidentally asking parents to buy double the amount of supplies they really need. But you can make sure. One 3-subject notebook will cover three classes. Your youngster doesn’t need three separate notebooks. They also don’t need a pack of eight ball point pens. They only need one, and they can probably find a perfectly good one in the kitchen junk drawer. When they lose that one—and they will—there’s probably another one underneath the pile of clothes on the floor in their bedroom. The point is, consolidate the list and the existing supplies in the household, and save money. Every penny counts.

Communicate

Parents often feel guilted into buying back to school things that their kids don’t really need. It’s okay to say, “I have a budget, and we’re sticking to it.” It’s okay to say no. Saying no to buying more school supplies doesn’t mean you’re dooming your eager student to failure in middle school.

Let your kids know that there will be plenty more opportunities to bond over shopping during the year. Most important of all, let them know that buying new stuff won’t make life improve. A new sweater won’t get them a date for homecoming, and gel nails won’t get them into the popular girls’ club. Shopping for back to school items is the perfect opportunity to get your kids excited about learning, but the first lesson should be how to spend money responsibly.

How to Help Your Kids Be More Active

According to a recent study reported in The International Journal of Obesity, obese children who regularly exercise aerobically are up to 36% less likely than less active kids to develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes as adults. Clearly, exercise of any kind is a strong indicator of a healthy child, but this is a way that parents can help protect their children well after they’ve grown into adulthood.

The problem is, how can you get your kids to be more active when the majority of activities that kids now participate in are passive? Modern youngsters are often more interested in sitting down and texting friends, sharing photos or playing video games than running around and being active. Yet, no matter what age we live in, kids are kids, and there are still some time-tested things that will entice your kids off the couch. Especially with the holidays coming up, you have an opportunity to promote fitness and health in your kids. Try these to help your kids be more active and spend more time outdoors.

Get Them a Tent

Who among us doesn’t have fond memories of the tent in the backyard? Knowing that mom and dad aren’t far away and that lions aren’t likely to be lurking in mom’s rosebushes makes the backyard tent exciting yet secure.

Your kids will love setting up a campsite in the backyard. Supply them with all the extras, including sleeping bags and a flashlight. To make this outdoor tradition more active, encourage the kids to find their own firewood (sticks in the backyard), and plan a backyard scavenger hunt that all their friends can participate in.

Make Time and Set the Example

Young kids love one thing above all else, and that’s spending time with parents. Have family time frequently. When it does become available, use family time as a way to show your kids the joy of being outdoors. This can be as simple as tossing a ball to each other in the backyard, or renting a canoe for a ride in the local lake. There’s nothing wrong with family game night where everyone sits around a board game, but if health and fitness are an issue in your family, consider swapping a passive activity for one such as playing tennis together or building a go-kart in the driveway.

Your example will create a lifetime of memories, as well as set a pattern of healthy choices for your kids now and when they become parents.

Give Them Outdoor Chores

Most parenting experts agree that kids of all ages should have chores. As a family member, it makes sense that everyone should contribute something to the household, no matter how small. Even a 3-year old should be helping to pick up toys from the floor and putting them back in the toy basket. With fitness and outdoor activities in mind, consider giving your kids outdoor tasks and chores that will get them out of the house and into the fresh air. Examples include:

  • Raking leaves
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Gathering stick kindling for the backyard fire pit
  • Shoveling snow
  • Delivering a welcome basket to a new neighbor
  • Washing/Painting the backyard fence
  • Changing lamppost light bulbs
  • Planting/weeding the garden
  • Provide Active Toys

Throwing money at a problem is rarely a solution, but in the case of helping kids be more active, making sure they have active toys can help. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on these items. Toys are abundant at yard sales, and you can usually find things that are nearly as good as new with a little fixing up. Consider providing these items that will help promote activity:

  • Skateboard
  • Hula Hoop
  • Bicycle
  • Unicycle
  • Trampoline

Let’s face it. Kids are kids. They are easily distracted, especially when presented with something “awesome” like a new bicycle. Why not distract your kids from their screens, throw open the doors and introduce them to the great outdoors, where health and fitness await!

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How to Keep Your Kids From Peer Pressure

As most parents learn quickly, peer pressure is one of the most difficult challenges of rearing kids safely. According to a USC study, peer pressure is so strong because humans place more value on social rewards than on the rewards of doing the right thing when alone. In other words, the risks of bad behavior are worth it if the person achieves a higher social status. So what can a parent do to keep kids from succumbing to peer pressure—without overstepping? Try these suggestions:

Start Early

Start giving your child the tools to withstand peer pressure as early as possible. Strive to teach your child to get strength from within instead of from others. Tell them that they have intrinsic value that doesn’t rely on what others think of them. You can start this dialogue as soon as your child is able to verbally understand you.

Encourage Independent Thinking

If your child doesn’t naturally think independently, you can sway them to come up with their own ideas by consistently asking them what they think about things. If they offer answers that have to do with popular opinion, encourage them to come up with their own reasons for what they think and believe.

Some kids are naturally independent thinkers. They may appear obstinate or prideful, ignoring what others have to say. There is a good balance to be struck between being stubbornness and independent thinking, however, so don’t be too quick to squelch a child who refuses to listen to others. Encourage the kind of independent thinking that considers other ideas, and help your child to learn how to weigh the pros and cons to reach an independent conclusion.

Let the Good Outweigh the Bad

It’s good to remember that peer pressure can work both ways. Look for signs that your child is competitive. If they are, you can use that trait to your advantage when it comes to keeping your kids from peer pressure that is harmful. Consider introducing people into your child’s life who will inspire healthy competition. Ideas include having your child join a chess club, a tennis group, or even a reading club. These are all ways your child can experience peer pressure to excel instead of peer pressure to act out or break rules.

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Gift Ideas For Your Kids That Don’t Involve Technology

As you leaf through the holiday gift catalogs, you’ll probably notice that most, if not all, the advertised toys are technology based. You’ve got virtual reality game systems, talking teddy bears, beginner laptops, and a whole lot more. Besides the fact that these all require batteries or electricity, wouldn’t it be nice to watch your child open a gift that doesn’t involve technology?

Of course, the challenge is that today’s kids are programmed to desire the latest technological advances in toys, just as adults are. They love light up, talking and walking toys just as we love bright and shiny new cell phones and gadgets. So will your child’s face fall when they open your gift and it doesn’t need batteries? Not if you choose one or more of these amazing gift ideas for your kids that don’t involve technology.

BOOKS

The old fashioned kind, not the digital kind. Yes, paper books are still desirable to kids, even though certain online digital publishing goliaths would have you think otherwise. If you don’t provide paper books to your kids, you’re depriving them of one of the most memorable parts of growing up – hiding under the bed covers at night with a flashlight, reading till way past their bedtime.

If you’re unsure of what books your child might like, tuck a bookstore gift card into their stocking and let them roam the aisles of your favorite local bookstore to choose their own book adventure. And word to the wise – if they gravitate toward books about how to score advanced levels of their favorite video game, don’t judge. Just be happy they’re reading.

JOURNAL AND PEN

Speaking of words, the gift of a private journal and pen would be valuable to a preteen or teen. Teens these days are filled with turbulent thoughts, just as you were when you were that age. Why not promote healthy writing habits that may last a lifetime with a beautiful journal and special writing pen? If your teen can’t talk to you about all their problems, at least they can get out their angst on paper.

You can find gorgeous journals at local bookstores, along with finely crafted pens that come in their own gift boxes. Most teens and adolescents would appreciate your thoughtfulness with such a gift.

WORD OF THE DAY CALENDAR

Does your teen struggle with vocabulary or reading? It’s possible to come home with poor grades and still have a strong yearning for learning. There are many reasons why your child might struggle with English language skills; including stress, poor teaching, poor diet and bad eyesight.

Why not help your child feel better about their ability to learn and grow with a Word of the Day calendar. These are fun and functional calendars that are available at most bookstores for under $20. Your child can increase their vocabulary on their own schedule instead of being asked to take tests and prove their skills in the classroom. It’s a refreshing take on learning that your teen will probably think is pretty cool of you to give them as a gift.

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When You Should and Shouldn’t Let Your Kids Quit Extra-curricular Activities

At the beginning of the school year, everyone’s excited about all the possibilities. Lisa’s finally going to get a chance to make cheerleader, Aaron’s been practicing all summer so he can make varsity, and little Grace is wearing her new ballerina tutu everywhere she goes. As the mom, you’re all set. The white board calendar is hung, schedules are posted, and the SUV is decked out and gassed up. You and the family are ready to be champs!

A few weeks in, though, the whining starts. “My coach is mean!” “I’m too tired to practice piano.” “My friend says I’m too chubby to be a ballerina. I quit!”

Plus, it’s not exactly fun for you, either, sitting on those hard bleacher seats in the hot sun as your kid does his own bench warming. So when is it okay to let your kids quit extra curricular activities? And when should you make them stick out a bad experience?

Ultimately, you have to be the best judge as the parent, but here are some considerations.

QUITTING WOULD RELIEVE STRESS ON THE WHOLE FAMILY

Okay, you might not think this is a legitimate excuse to quit, but hear me out. If the activity is causing in-fighting, stress, sickness, bad eating habits, unsafe driving to get there on time, or a drop in grades due to increased pressure, then quitting might indeed be the right choice to make. After all, this is life you’re living, and no elective activity should make life miserable for everyone involved.

YOUR CHILD IS INJURED

We’ve all seen those amazing athletes on TV who just push through the pain and go on to win the gold medal or run the marathon while limping though the finish line as blood pours from the bandages on their knees. But ignoring pain is a personal choice that those professionals might make in order to continue in their profession.

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4 Ways to Keep Back to School Spending in Check

When parents and kids are both excited to shop for back to school, it can turn into a textbook case of out of control spending. Who can resist those rows of fresh new pencils, fat empty notebooks just waiting to be filled with ideas bordering on genius, and the array of dazzling organizers that promise that this, this year is going to so much better than last year!

Back to school equals new beginnings, fresh starts and do-overs. Back to school means back to serious business, where new friends await, old mistakes are forgotten and the future is wide open. It’s a time when the coolest teen magazines Instagram is filled with filtered photos of perfect little coeds, jumping and laughing together with friends, all the while sporting the latest backpacks, hair bands and fall skirts and shoes.

The thing about back to school spending, is someone’s got to keep a level head. Because if you don’t, there won’t be any money left in the budget for new sports equipment, that cheerleading outfit, the school trips or the endless pizza parties, not to mention that adorable new winter coat that hasn’t even been advertised yet. The fact is, school spending goes on for the entire year, so it’s better to keep tabs on the back to school spending so you’ll have more than a small fraction to spend the rest of the year.

MAKE A BUDGET

Boring? Yes, but it’s also good practice for the scholar in the home. Talk about what activities the student might want to join this year, figure in an allowance for shopping trips with friends, and remember to factor in the over-priced, “Oh, my God, I’ll never ask you for another thing as long as I live if you just let me get these boots!” boots. If you make a budget and stick with it, it really will be a good school year, at least financially.

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3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids

If we could only hear what comes out of our mouths sometimes. Here are some (too) common things we say to our teens that can have detrimental effects.

“I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER WORD OUT OF YOU!”

Any parent of a reticent teenager who keeps mum about the details of their life probably wishes they could take these words back. Illogical as it may sound, a youngster who is told to hush up in their childhood may take those words to heart and assume it holds true through their young adult years. When your child becomes a teen, you want them to feel that you’re always interested to hear what they have to say. And isn’t that the same thing we all want from those who love us?

A better way to get this point across as a parent might be to say, “Let’s talk about this later. I think we’re both too upset right now to hear what the other is saying.”

“DON’T GIVE ME ANY EXCUSES!”

Usually a parent will say this when they don’t believe their child or they are trying to teach kids to take responsibility for their own actions. But when you say this to your children, what they hear is that you’re not willing to find out the real cause of the problem. They may need to learn a lesson in responsibility, but this isn’t the best way to teach it.

The next time your child messes up and comes to you with an entire catalog of reasons why they aren’t to blame, try this tactic. Ask them to start at the beginning and tell you just the facts. As soon as they start getting emotional or laying blame on outside people or events, steer them back to the facts. Then, after you have a clear picture of what really transpired, you can either exonerate them or help them to understand the role they played in the events. Remember to keep your own emotions in check, too.

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How to Keep Your Relationship Strong After Having a Baby

According to the Gottman Institute, experts in marital stability and divorce prediction, 69% of new parents report feelings of disappointment and hurt after bringing baby home. If you’re worried about how to keep your relationship strong after having a baby, you’re not alone. It’s wise to consider the strength of your relationship as you transition into parenthood with your partner. Here is a guide to building a strong relationship between you and your partner that will lead to a strong family unit.

Strengthen the Relationship Before the Baby Arrives

Parents who are already struggling with feelings of uncertainty about the relationship or about having a baby will be more at risk of separation or dissolution of the union after the baby arrives.

Spend quality time with your partner before the baby comes. Go to places where you can be alone and talk in peace without interruption, such as a park, by the sea, or even a walk down the sidewalk in your neighborhood. Enjoy this time alone together as it will be one of the last times you have before you both become parents and are changed forever.

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