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Kraft Family Greatly

Every week, American parents feel an average of 23 pangs of guilt over their parenting. For Casey Fitzner, she's lost count.

As the mom to twins, she was plagued by questions and worries from day one. How do you take care of two kids at once? What do you feed them? Where should you raise them? How do you make sure they grow up to be happy?

All images courtesy of Casey Fitzner, used with permission.


The pressure also came from the fact that she felt there was only one right answer to every parenting question.

“The media gives moms the impression that there’s only one way,” writes Casey in an email.

For her, that one way seemed like the “suburban dream,” complete with a two-parent household, a minivan, and a tidy suburban home. It was a lot to keep up with — and now, as a recently divorced mom of three, she thinks back to how hard it was to let go of that dream.

For example, Casey remembers when she had to leave her youngest son’s first tee-ball game. She’d imagined it as a perfect day, but the divorce was fresh, and it was the boys’ father’s day to spend with them.

“I was a mess... I cried all the way to the car,” Casey shares.

With time, Casey realized that her push for perfect parenting came from emotions like fear, shame, and guilt. That realization changed everything.

That image of the suburban dream just didn’t fit Casey’s family. What’s worse, she felt awful while trying to achieve it, following rules that didn’t even make sense for her life.

The only “rule” Casey needed to follow was to throw out the rulebook, and focus on what’s best for her own family.

And what’s best for her family, she realized, is to embrace what makes them happy — even if it’s a little unconventional.

These days, Casey and her sons, 7-year-old Charlie, and the twins Ben and Colin, who are now 10, enjoy activities like a regular full moon drum circle celebration. Her mother, who’s 82 years old and doesn’t act a day over 60, moved in last year.

Their lives are nothing like she once imagined they would be, and she wouldn’t dream of returning to her old standard of perfection.

This is a family “filled with free thinkers, creatives, and people who are proud to be a bit different,” she says.

For example, young Charlie is already emerging as an artist, making paper models. Casey loves seeing him at his happiest, when he’s creating.

The family’s creativity comes out at holiday time, too. With a small family, they don’t spend the holidays in a big gathering, like you see in the movies. Last year, they celebrated Thanksgiving with a turkey buffet dinner, a stay at a hotel, and a cannonball contest in the hotel pool.

“We were fed, we had a blast, and we all felt loved,” remembers Casey.

And that matters more to them than any tradition.

Casey knows that she’ll never achieve what she once considered perfect parenting – and now she realizes that’s a good thing.

And she's far from alone. Here are several other parents who couldn't agree more.

#FamilyGreatly

Myth: There’s one perfect way to family. Truth: There’s a billion ways to family greatly. Share with the people you think #FamilyGreatly”

Posted by GOOD on Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Fitzners may have different traditions than other families, but their traditions show their love for one another, and that’s what’s important.

Since every family is different, there is no one way to be a great parent. With so many parents feeling the pressure to be perfect (one national survey shows it's 8 out of 10) it’s clear we could use more reminders that we’re not the only ones with unique ways of being a family.

“Nobody is perfect. Nobody,” says Casey. “But my kids are perfect for me and I think I’m the perfect mom for them.”

Sometimes, she says, being “perfectly imperfect” is the best way to be, and that’s a lesson she’s teaching her sons.

These days, Casey and her family live in a city, instead of a suburban dreamhouse. The boys have been enjoying a giant pile of blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows instead of keeping the house immaculately tidy.

But they’re having a great time, and they’re making Casey laugh, so it’s just right for them.

No matter how unconventional your family is, doing what works for your family is the absolute best you can do.

So if you’re feeling the pressure to make everything perfect this holiday season, just remember how Casey and her family create their own joy — and then go out there and create a little of your own.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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