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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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This Child Didn't Notice When Her Parents Vanished While Driving. Would Yours?

This beautiful commercial from Thailand reminds us how uncool it is to disappear in front of your closest friends and family.


Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

@thehalfdeaddad/TikTok

Dad on TikTok shared how he addressed his son's bullying.

What do you do when you find out your kid bullied someone? For many parents, the first step is forcing an apology. While this response is of course warranted, is it really effective? Some might argue that there are more constructive ways of handling the situation that teach a kid not only what they did wrong, but how to make things right again.

Single dad Patrick Forseth recently shared how he made a truly teachable moment out of his son, Lincoln, getting into trouble for bullying. Rather than forcing an apology, Forseth made sure his son was actively part of a solution.


The thought process behind his decision, which he explained in a now-viral TikTok video, is both simple and somewhat racial compared to how many parents have been encouraged to handle similar situations.

“I got an email a few days ago from my 9-year-old son's teacher that he had done a ‘prank’ to a fellow classmate and it ended up embarrassing the classmate and hurt his feelings,” the video begins.

At this point, Forseth doesn’t split hairs. “I don't care who you are, that's bullying,” he said. “If you do something to somebody that you know has the potential end result of them being embarrassed in front of a class or hurt—you’re bullying.”

So, Forseth and Lincoln sat down for a long talk (a talk, not a lecture) about appropriate punishment and how it would have felt to be on the receiving end of such a prank.

From there, Forseth told his son that he would decide how to make things right, making it a masterclass in taking true accountability.

“I demanded nothing out of him. I demanded no apology, I demanded no apology to the teacher,” he continued, adding, “I told him that we have the opportunity to go back and make things right. We can't take things back, but we can try to correct things and look for forgiveness.”

@thehalfdeaddad Replying to @sunshinyday1227 And then it’s my kid 🤦‍♂️😡 #endbullyingnow #talktoyourkidsmore #dadlifebestlife #singledadsover40 #teachyourchildren #ReadySetLift ♬ Get You The Moon - Kina

So what did Lincoln do? He went back to his school and actually talked to the other boy he pranked. After learning that they shared a love of Pokémon, he then went home to retrieve two of his favorite Pokémon cards as a peace offering, complete with a freshly cleaned case.

Lincoln would end up sharing with his dad that the other boy was so moved by the gesture that he would end up hugging him.

“I just want to encourage all parents to talk to your kids,” Forseth concluded. “Let's try to avoid just the swat on the butt [and] send them to their room. Doesn't teach them anything.”

In Forseth’s opinion, kids get far more insight by figuring out how to resolve a problem themselves. “That's what they're actually going to face in the real world once they move out of our nests.”

He certainly has a point. A slap on the wrist followed by being marched down somewhere to say, “I’m sorry,” only further humiliates kids most of the time. With this gentler approach, kids are taught the intrinsic value of making amends after wrongdoing, not to mention the power of their own autonomy. Imagine that—blips in judgment can end up being major character-building moments.

Kudos to this dad and his very smart parenting strategy.


This article originally appeared on 3.24.23

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Pop Culture

Middle class families share how much money they have in savings and it's eye-opening

"I transfer money each paycheck but always end up needing to transfer it back."

Many middle class families are sharing that they have nothing in savings right now.

According to an April 2024 Gallup poll, 54% of Americans identify as part of the middle class, with 39% identifying as "middle class" and 15% identifying as "upper-middle class." That percentage has held fairly steady for years, but for many, what it feels like to be a middle class American has shifted.

Notably, inflation caused by the pandemic has hit middle class families hard, with incomes not keeping up with cost-of-living increases. Housing costs have skyrocketed in many areas of the country, mortgage interest rates have risen to levels not seen since the pre-Obama era and grocery bills have increased significantly. One government study found that cost of living has increased between around $800 and $1,300 a month depending on the state since 2021, putting a squeeze on everyone, including the middle class.

One woman shared that her family is just getting by and asked other people who identify as middle class to "chime in" with what they have in their savings account.

"I swear, every paycheck I am putting money into my savings, but needing to transfer it back within a few days," shared @abbyy..rosee on TikTok. "My registration is due. My husband's registration is due. He needed two new tires, even though they had a warranty. That's $300. My oldest needs braces, he needs a palate expander, that's $120 a month. Not to mention groceries are $200 more a week. Forget about feeding your family great ingredients because who has $500 a week to spend on perfect ingredients to feed your family?"


@abbyy..rosee

somethings gotta give #savings #middleclass #relatable

She explained that her husband makes enough money that they should be able to live comfortably, and that she quit her job because the cost of daycare was more than she was making.

"At some point, something has to give," she said. "What is going on? How do I save money?"

People in the comments chimed in with their savings account totals and it was quite eye-opening. Many people shared that they have $0 saved.

"We make the most money we ever have and have zero savings. We live paycheck to paycheck and every month I don’t know how we get by."

"I think the middle class is 1 personal disaster away from bankruptcy."

"Y’all got savings accounts?!?! 😂"

"I used to freak out if I had under $10k in savings, now I’m happy when I have over $150. 😫"

"We make almost 100,000 a year with no savings!!!! It's always something!!"

"I'm lucky if we have $500-$1K for an emergency. every single time we start saving something happens. the vet, the cars, the kids... something."

"Savings account? I transfer money each paycheck but always end up needing to transfer it back. My husband makes great money too but we are scraping by."

"$803 but we have to pay a $750 deductible this week b/c my Husband hit a deer soooo… back at it 😭 It’s exhausting. Constantly draining it, refilling it, transferring."

Some people shared that they do have some savings, but several said it was because they'd had an inheritance or other chunk of money come their way. Many people shared that their savings has dwindled as increased costs have taken their toll. Some people gave lifestyle advice to save money, but most agreed that just the basics have gotten so expensive it's harder to make ends meet much less put extra into savings.

Thankfully, the inflation issue appears to be waning, but even just plateauing at their current financial reality isn't ideal for many American families. Middle class is supposed to be a comfortable place to be—not rich, but well enough off to feel secure. That's not how many middle class folks feel, though. Most Americans don't have anything close to the amount of money saved that is recommended across the age spectrum, but at least hearing that others are in the same boat is somewhat comforting.

It can be vulnerable to put your financial reality out there, but it's helpful to hear what other people are doing and dealing with so we all feel less alone when we're struggling. Perhaps if people were more open about money, we'd all be able to help one another find ways to improve our financial situations rather than lamenting our empty savings accounts and wondering how to change it.

Family

Mom explains the common Boomer parenting style that still affects many adults today

Many are relieved to finally have a term for this experience.

“What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”

There are certainly many things the Boomer parents generally did right when raising their kids. Teaching them the importance of manners and respect. That actions do, in fact, have consequences. That a little manners go a long way…all of these things are truly good values to instill in kids.

But—and we are speaking in broad strokes here—being able to openly discuss difficult feelings was not one of the skills passed down by this generation. And many Gen X and millennial kids can sadly attest to this.

This is why the term “dishonest harmony” is giving many folks of this age group some relief. They finally have a term to describe the lack of emotional validation they needed throughout childhood for the sake of saving face.


In a video posted to TikTok, a woman named Angela Baker begins by saying, “Fellow Gen X and millennials, let's talk about our parents and their need for dishonest harmony.”

Barker, who thankfully did not experience this phenomenon growing up, but says her husband “certainly” did, shared that when she’s tried to discuss this topic, the typical response she’d get from Boomers would be to “Stop talking about it. We don't need to hear about it. Move on. Be quiet.”

And it’s this attitude that’s at the core of dishonest harmony.

“What that’s showing is their lack of ability to handle the distress that they feel when we talk openly about uncomfortable things,” she says. “What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”



“Keep quiet about these hard issues. Suppress your pain, suppress your trauma. Definitely don't talk openly about it so that you can learn to heal and break the cycle,” she continues. “What matters most is that we have the appearance of harmony, even if there's nothing harmonious under the surface.”

Barker concludes by theorizing that it was this need to promote a certain facade that created most of the toxic parenting choices of that time period.

“The desire of boomer parents to have this perception that everything was sweet and hunky dory, rather than prioritizing the needs of their kids, is what drove a lot of the toxic parenting we experienced.”

Barker’s video made others feel so seen, as clearly indicated by the comments.

“How did I not hear about dishonest harmony until now? This describes my family dynamic to a T. And if you disrespect that illusion, you are automatically labeled as the problem. It’s frustrating,” one person wrote.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm a 49 yo biker sitting in my bedroom crying right now. You just put a name to my darkness!” added another

Many shared how they were refusing to repeat the cycle.

One wrote, “This is EXACTLY my family dynamic. I’m the problem because I won’t remain quiet. Not anymore. Not again.”

“I love when my kids tell me what I did wrong. It gives me a chance to acknowledge and apologize. Everyone wants to be heard,” said another.

Of course, no parenting style is perfect. And all parents are working with the current ideals of the time, their own inner programming and their inherent need to course correct child raising problems of the previous generation. Gen Alpha parents will probably cringe at certain parenting styles currently considered in vogue. It’s all part of the process.

But hopefully one thing we have learned as a collective is that true change happens when we summon the courage to have difficult conversations.

Representative photo by RDNE Stock

Grandma challenges status quo by dressing how she pleases.

As people age, society expects them to fit into a neat little box of what is deemed appropriate. This can be anything from what job an older person has to their style of clothing to how they speak. Societal rules like these often go unspoken—that is, until you break them. That's when people have a lot to say about things that are seemingly no one else's business.

Things like women over 50 having brightly colored hair, wearing tall heels or having hair down their backs. Apparently women over a certain age are all supposed to go to a salon to get the granny cut and wear clothes that identify them as over an arbitrary age. But older women are starting to rebel against the status quo and looking fabulous while doing it.

Arlinda, who runs the page funkingafter50 on Instagram explains to Style Like U that due to her dressing in styles she likes, people often seem surprised. She has gotten some stares but she takes those moments and uses them as a teaching moment in a way.


Arlinda has no interest in keeping up with what society has to say about how women her age dress. "They say women of a certain age shouldn't wear things that are above our knee. You see my face, why can't I show my 66-year-old knees if I can show my 66-year-old face," she ponders to Style Like U.

But it's not just knees she's showing. The grandmother wears crop tops, bold colored bras that peek from under her shirts and brightly colored lipstick. It honestly looks like she's having a blast with her style, commenters also agree.


"Fly girls don’t have an expiration baby. When you got it, you got it," one person cheers.

"She’s eating the younger girlies up in the fashion department! I love this," another gushes.

"No explanation needed Queen!!! Love your body and teach others to love theirs. There ain’t two the same and we are all gorgeous queens. I’m almost 40 and trying to have this amount of self love and I’m getting there, but you are an inspiration," someone writes.

"Honey, she is my new muse. Don’t want to wait until I’m 66 to have this level of self-love," someone else shares.

Arlinda is an inspiration to a whole generation of women just by being herself. The amount of joy she exudes from wearing whatever makes her feel good is contagious. There's nothing wrong with a little "nana belly" according to the fashionista and it seems plenty of others agree. Life is short, wear the crop top.

Limiting screentime can be enjoyable for kids and parents alike.

Like most parents, Stephany Faublas often used an iPad to keep her 5-year-old daughter Cadence Gray entertained, especially during work hours when she couldn’t devote a lot of her attention.

But Faublas shared that she began noticing behavioral changes in Cadence after an extended amount of screentime.

“We were butting heads a lot," Faublas told Good Morning America. "I was noticing her ability to listen to the full direction was not there or was decreasing. Her patience was decreasing [and] so was mine."

Hoping to nip the problem in the bud, Faublas began a “no iPad challenge,” swapping out the normal hours of screen time for practicing writing the alphabet.


Though the 34-year-old mom was initially nervous about how her daughter would react, she was pleasantly surprised by Cadence's enthusiasm at the challenge. So much so that she decided to record the journey and share it on TikTok.

“Her excitement to start made me want to record and keep the moment – just in case the enthusiasm wasn’t the same the next day. I figured I could use this footage to remind her of her excitement to learn,” Faublas told Fox News Digital.


@stehfuhnee_ Day 1 of resetting that frontal lobe (pray for us both) #momsoftiktok #kumon #singlemom #motherdaughter ♬ original sound - Stehfunee

So far, we’ve seen the adorable Cadence have a blast with letters B through M, and viewers are having a ton of fun along with her. So many have written in commending the young girl’s confidence and bold personality.

“It’s giving class president,” said one of the top comments.

What’s more, Faublas noted that those previous behavior issues “went away immediately.”

"Her ability to have a little bit more patience was there. I also felt like her emotional responses were also much more tempered,” she told GMA.

@stehfuhnee_ The Gifted to @Poppi addict pipeline 🤭 #noipad #summerslide #letterpractice #motherdaughter #momsoftiktok @target @Scholastic ♬ original sound - Stehfunee

Though quitting screens cold turkey isn’t always necessary, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time for children between the ages of 2 and 5 to less than one hour per day and doesn't recommend any screen time for kids under 2. Still, the organization recognizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Regardless, it’s a good idea for parents to have some ideas for screen-free activities—particularly those that stimulate the body and the brain. Previously, Simple Life posted a video sharing a whopping 30 games that do just that. And luckily, none require a ton of props. A tissue here, a stuffed animal there. All in all, pretty darn simple.



As this video, along with Stephany and Cadence’s story, shows, finding ways to reduce screen time can be enjoyable both for parents and kids. Parents get a bonding opportunity, kids get to learn in exciting new ways. It’s just a win-win for everyone. IPads can definitely be a godsend at times, but we all know that relying on them too much doesn’t do parents, or their kids, any favors.

To follow along on Stephany and Cadence's "No iPad challenge," find them on TikTok.