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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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family

This is a message we've all needed at least once in our lives.

Dads don’t typically get labeled as the parent you come to with an emotional issue—that’s usually one of the many jobs reserved for mom.

A father’s sensitivity, or lack thereof, is often depicted as going straight for “practical solutions” and preaching the values of stoicism—you know, the manly stuff. . There’s of course nothing inherently wrong with these coping strategies, but in times of despair when all you want is a shoulder to cry on, they can feel a little…less than satisfactory.

But sometimes we get stories of fathers breaking the mold with profound compassion. And when we do, it can help heal the parts of ourselves that maybe didn’t get that from our own dads.

That’s certainly the case for the millions of viewers who were moved when a woman named Fallon Thompson shared the incredible text her dad sent her right after a breakup.

As Thompson explained in her video, her partner dumped her in the driveway of her home, and her father saw the entire thing—prompting him to send a little reassurance.

First, he shared how his own experience with heartbreak helped him find the relationship he truly wanted.

“Hey baby girl…here is some perspective from your old man…I have had lots of relationships…from one night stands, to flights, to friends with benefits, to girlfriends, to live-in girlfriends, and then I met your mom” his message began.

girl dads, fatherhood, emotional intelligence

"What you are dealing with today is necessary in order for you to one day be able to discern when a person is really right for you."

www.tiktok.com

“I can say with certainty that when I met her, it was instantly different. I can also say I knew it was different because I went through those other experiences,” he continued. “So what you are dealing with today is necessary in order for you to one day be able to discern when a person is really right for you.”

He even tried to remind her to be grateful for the experience, without trying to diminish her pain.

“When someone lets you know that you are not for them, deal with…the knowledge that this person gave you back the most valuable thing in the world—your time…Rejoice…that your life is still completely yours and you have not wasted it shackled to someone that did not completely want you.”

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more poetic, the dad then used a brilliant metaphor about cows, bulls and bravery.

Simply put, he said that cows run away from a storm when they see it, and in the process “end up being tortured by the storm longer” since they inadvertently stay in it longer.

Bulls, on the other hand, run towards the storm. The feeling is initially “terrible” but the storm passes by quickly, bringing peace and a renewed sense of strength.

“Be the bull, and lean into your storm,” the dad concluded.” Embrace the suck and let it fill you up. You are strong enough to endure, and very soon you will be at peace. Still on your path, achieving goals, and with all of your time still in surplus. Love, Dad.”

This dad’s heartfelt message not only helped his daughter in a time of need, but millions of viewers as well.

“Tell you dad thank you on my behalf, I need that sm,” one person wrote.

Another echoed, “Your dad just fixed a little part of me. Thanks for sharing.”

One even quipped, “Oh to have an emotionally intelligent dad.”

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Scott (Thompson’s father) shared why it’s vital for dads to be emotionally available to their daughters.

"To the girl dads out there: Just be there. Be invested in their lives; they are so much tougher than us and deal with so much more than we will ever know. That’s why it’s so important to lift them up for both their wins and losses. The world is tough on our girls, and if we can support them during the challenges they face, eventually, they will be able to support themselves and make their own path. Hug your girls tight, never be afraid to be vulnerable with them, and tell them you love them any chance you get," he said.

Indeed, research has shown that fathers play a crucial role in helping their kids to become emotionally resilient adults. Not all fathers will actively take on this role, but even the second hand healing from witnessing it in other father-child relationships is potent. Thank you to dads like Scott who show just how impactful a father's love can be.

Photo by Stacey Natal/Total City Girl used with permission.

Jillian, “... my heart skips a beat."


I'm trying desperately to be respectful of the person speaking to me, but my husband keeps texting me.

First he sends me a selfie of him with Rafi*, then it's an account of who stopped him on his way into the NICU.


Then he suggests I take a selfie with Jillian* so he can post them side-by-side on Facebook and boast that we finally have two babies.

People will ask if they're twins, I'm sure. But they're not twins. In fact, the babies aren't even ours.

family, babies, adoptive parents

James' dream come true: Two babies! Rafi in the NICU with Tatte, Jillian at home with Eema.

Photo by Ann Lapin, used with permission.

I take care of these babies because I'm what's known as an "interim parent."

volunteer, newborns, interim parents

Over the past four years, my family has cared for 22 newborns.

Photo by Ann Lapin, used with permission.

The program I'm part of is rare; there are very few like it in the United States.

While the babies are in my care, the birth parents retain their legal rights as parents and are encouraged to visit their babies (if that's something they would like).

social care, adoption, psychology

My three kids with our baby before he meets his forever mommy.

Photo by Ann Lapin, used with permission.

If they weren't in the care of interim moms like me, these tiny babies might wait in the hospital a few extra days while their adoptions are finalized — or they might enter the foster care system.

In New York, biological parents have 30 days after adoption proceedings begin to change their minds about their placement plan.

I became an interim parent when a local mom posted about it on our neighborhood Yahoo! group.

"That! THAT I can do!" I thought, as I looked at the computer screen.

I was thrilled. I felt incapable of doing other types of volunteer work, but I felt like I had finally found a community service that I could perform. So, my husband and I applied. And after months of doctor appointments, background checks, interviews, and letters of reference from close friends, we were accepted.

biological parents, decision making, social care

We left the adoption agency with an empty stroller — but it didn't stay that way for long!

Photo by Stacey Natal/ Total City Girl, used with permission.

The hope with the interim boarding care program is that biological parents have time to gain clarity about their decisions without pressure.

It also helps adoptive parents feel secure in their status as parents.

The children don't usually get the chance to be present when one of our babies goes home, so this was a special day. Roughly 30% of the babies I've cared for have returned to their biological parents after their stay with me, and the rest have been adopted. Many of the birth mothers I've known have pursued open adoptions, selecting and meeting their child's forever families.

People often ask me what the experience of interim parenting is like, but there's no rule: Each case is different.

Babies stay with us, on average, for a few weeks. But one baby stayed with us with five days, another for nine and a half weeks.

Whatever the scenario, my family and I are available to care for these babies until they go home ... wherever "home" may be.

medical insurance, dads, moms

This work can be emotionally challenging, too.

Photo by Stacey Natal/Total City Girl used with permission.

This work can be emotionally challenging, too. Some biological parents do not interact with us at all while they're making big decisions, and some end up being very involved. Some text regularly, requesting photos and updates on the baby while the baby is in our care. Sometimes they schedule weekly visits with the babies. One birth mom became such a constant in our life that my son asked if we could bake her cookies.

I am often blown away by the biological parents' gratitude.

Melody* was one of the most beautiful babies I'd ever cared for, and I met her parents a couple of times. When they came to take her home, it was as though she was the only one in the room. When they thanked me for taking care of her, my lip started to quiver.

I had also never met Jibraan's dad, either, when I placed him in his arms the day they went home together. "From the bottom of my heart ... I can't tell you what you've done for me," he said. I remember that he towered over me, the size of a linebacker, clenching his jaw to keep the tears from spilling down his cheeks.

family, adoption, emotional connections

Big smiles and on the phone.

Photo by Stacey Natal/Total City Girl, used with permission.

When I wave goodbye to the social workers at the agency after introducing each baby to their forever family, I always wonder how long it will be before I get to hold another baby.

I don't get attached to each baby, per se. But I get attached to having a baby, to taking care of a baby. I resent my empty arms, and I feel like I've lost my purpose. So each time I see the adoption agency's phone number pop up on caller ID, my heart skips a beat.

When the voice on the other end says, "Hi, Ann ... are you ready to take another baby?" my first thought is, "Baby! I'm getting a BABY!" That excitement lasts for at least 48 hours.

But even as the adrenaline calms down and the sleepless nights begin to take their toll, the experience of caring for each baby proves to be more than enough motivation for me to keep going.

The emotions that swell when my babies go home with any parent — their adoptive parents or their birth parents — are not just because of the emptiness I feel in my arms or even because of the happiness I have for my babies and their families.

The emotions I feel are because of the fullness in my heart and the gratitude I have for being a part of each of these babies' stories, even if it's just for a moment.


This article was written by Ann Lapin and originally appeared on 04.08.16

Family

7 secrets to raising awesome, functional teenagers.

Step 1: Ditch the myth that all teens are sullen, angry creatures.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

My beautiful teens.


I occasionally get asked by mothers of young children what the secret is to raising great teenagers.

My initial response is that I have absolutely no clue. My kids are who they are IN SPITE of having me as a mother. (The young moms don't find that answer too helpful.)

Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parents. Some do that, but the overwhelming majority do not. Every one of my kids' friends are just as happy and fun as my kids are, so I know it's not just us.


Teenagers are incredible. They are funny, smart, eager to please, and up for just about anything as long as food is involved. They have the most generous hearts and want desperately to be loved and validated. They are quirky and messy and have the best sense of humor.

rules for teens, raising teens, secrets, privilege

Bright smiles on the couch.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

So, here is my list of "rules" for raising teens. These are the secrets we have found to be successful.

1. Love them fiercely.

Love everything about them, even the annoying stuff. Love them for their actions AND their intentions. Let them know in word and deed how much you adore them. Daily. Love their wrinkled shirts and Axe-body-spray-covered selves. Love their bad handwriting and pimpled cheeks. Love their scattered brains and long limbs. All these seemingly insignificant details are an amazing, magical process at work. It's like being witness to the miracle of a diamond mid-formation. All this imperfection is going to one day yield a responsible, serious adult. A loving husband and father. Or a wonderful wife and mother. It's a privilege to be witness to such glorious growth.

See your teenagers as a privilege, don't see them as a burden. They're more perceptive than you can imagine. How you feel about them will be no secret. So just love ‘em.

2. Listen and pay attention.

When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes when they will divulge the secrets of their day with you. Be excited to see them. Put down the cell phone. Don't waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Make their victories your victories. Be empathetic. It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don't offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don't lecture. Just listen. It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.

3. Say yes more than you say no.

The world is forever going to tell them no. For the rest of their lives, they will be swimming in a stormy sea with wave after wave of "you're not good enough" and "you can't do this" crashing down on their heads. If nothing else, I want to be the opposite voice in their lives for as long as I can. I want to instill in them the belief that they are not limited and they can do anything if they're willing to work hard enough for it. I want to be the YES, YOU CAN in their lives. I want them to leave my house every day feeling invincible.

4. Say no often.

You need to say no to experiences and situations that will set your child up for harm or unhappiness. Don't let them go to the parties where they will be forced to make a choice about alcohol at age 16 in front of their peers . Don't let them stay out until three in the morning with a member of the opposite sex. Be the parent. Set up rules for their safety, both physical and moral. You would think this rule goes without saying, but we have known a shockingly large number of parents who don’t.

5. Feed them. A lot.

And not only them, but their friends too. These bodies are growing and developing at an astonishing rate and need fuel to do so — most of which they prefer to be loaded with processed sugar and hydrogenated-something-or-others. When their friends know your pantry is stocked to the gills with treats, they will beg your kid to hang out at your place. This allows you to not only meet and know their friends, but to keep an eye on your teen as well.


6. Don't sweat the small stuff.

When living with teenagers, it can be so easy to see the backpack dropped in the middle of the living room as laziness. Or the bedroom scattered with dirty clothes as irresponsible. Instead, and before you open your mouth to yell at them, put yourself in their shoes. Find out about their day first. Maybe they are feeling beaten down, and they just need to unwind for a minute and tell you about it. Ignore the mess for a bit and put your arms around that big, sweaty kid and give him a hug. Talk to him about his world. Find out what he did, wants to do, and dreams of doing. THEN, and only then, ask him to pick it up and put it away.

That being said, do I completely ignore the state of my boys' bedrooms all the time? No, I do not. But I pick my battles, and I pick the appropriate time to fight them. Once every seven to 10 days or so, I tell them their bedrooms need to be picked up. Which they do happily because it's not the running loop of a nagging mom. They know when I ask, it needs to be done.

7. Stand back and watch the magic happen.

teens, adults, education, parenting

Having a funny picture taken.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

If you let them, these glorious creatures will open their hearts and love you more fiercely than you could possibly imagine. They are brilliant, capable, strong spirits who bring with them a flurry of happiness. They are hilarious and clever. They are thoughtful and sensitive. They want us to adore them. They need us to adore them. They love deeply and are keenly in touch with the feelings of others.

They are just about the greatest gift God gave to parents.


This article was written by Christie Halversson and originally appeared on 08.20.19

Family

Overwhelmed new mother hears the perfect parenting advice from her mom on doorbell cam

Monica Murphy was just one month into welcoming her third child into the world.

@monica_murphy/Instagram

Sometimes mom knows just what to say

“How on earth can one person do it all?”

This is a question so many mothers ask themselves. Especially after giving birth, when life seems to expect them to take care of their newborn, get their body back, return to work and keep a clean house all at the same time.

It’s a question that had completely overwhelmed Monica Murphy, only one month into welcoming her third child, while still recovering from a C-section and taking care of her other children, who were also nursing, according to Today.com.

Luckily for Murphy, her mom had the perfect piece of advice to ease her troubled mind. And luckily for us, it was all caught on the family’s doorbell cam.

In a now-viral Instagram post, Murphy wrote her formidable to-do list, which included:

Working

Staying present on social media

Maintaining a clean home

Tandem breastfeeding

Being present with my kids

Eating a nutritious diet

Making time for my husband

Keeping in touch with friends

Making time for myself

Planning activities for kids

Frick decorate for Christmas

Followed by that burning question: “How on earth can one person do it all?”

Of course, Murphy hadn’t expressed any of these stresses to her mom, who had been visiting. But still, her mom knew something heavily weighed on her daughter's mind.

So, as she was walking out, Murphy’s mom left her with these words of wisdom:

“They aren’t gonna remember a clean house, they are gonna remember how much you loved them and hung out with them.”

Murphy told Today.com that she “broke down” crying after her mom had left, and was instantly inspired to share the video for other moms who needed similar encouragement.

Indeed, the message struck an emotional chord with thousands of viewers.

“The way I would’ve just bawled if she said that to me,” one person commented.

Another added, “I needed to hear this today.”

Some shared how it was a sentiment they sadly would never hear from their own mothers, and how they are now re-parenting themselves.

“My mom would just nag I’m lazy and how am I supposed to leave my house a mess. So I’m just easing my anxiety with gentle words from other people’s mothers. As I’ve been doing my whole life. Clean house was above happy children,” one person wrote.

It can be so easy for moms to lose themselves in the never ending cycle of responsibilities and, frankly, unrealistic societal expectations. But hopefully this sweet message can help moms everywhere go a bit easier on themselves, and actually enjoy the time they have with their kids. That’s part of what family is all about, after all.


This article originally appeared on 11.15.23