We Aren’t Twelve Anymore

We Aren’t Twelve Anymore

By
José-Andrés Alegría

The point of no return. There comes a time when you look at your kid and need to realize that they are no longer 12.

Let me preface this by saying that my mom is the kind of mom everyone dreams of having. Growing up, she always said the same thing to me. “I’m not raising a kid. I’m raising an adult.” Those words have sat with me ever since. My mom always valued my opinion when it came to decisions that affected my life. When she wanted me to change schools, she told me why. But then she let me “state my case” arguing why I should be allowed to stay at my school. Ultimately, the final decision was hers to make, but she knew that it affected my life and let me participate in the decision-making process. It’s the reason I have no problem with making decisions now as an adult. But man, sometimes I look at my friends, and I see that my mom didn’t raise them. That’s not to say that their parents aren’t great, but some parents have a harder time letting go of their kids. Some have a hard time realizing that the dynamic between parent and child changes from authoritarian to more of a mentorship after we move out. When I moved out and went to college, my mom was always there for me, but in being there for me, she never babied me. If I went to her for advice, that is what she would give me. She never told me what I should do, never forced her opinions on me. My mom would say to me what she thought she would do if she were in my position. But ultimately the final decision was now my own. She made sure that by the time I moved out, I could take care of myself. The last thing she wanted to do was raise her son to be like his father.

Indecisiveness, with a fear of failure, and overall anxiety of being alone are the leading factors in snowflake syndrome. We are told our whole lives that we can be anything we want to be but then stripped of any freedom to go out and take the world by storm, so we grow up to be entitled. (I probably got an eye roll from all the Gen X-ers). When you have a generation that is too afraid to fail, they end up doing nothing but cowering behind the safety net of their parents. But those same parents don’t want to see their precious little angels fail either. Failure breeds success. You don’t know what is going to work unless you try, fail, and then try again.
As a kid, I was pretty good and picking up a new skill. Nothing was outside of my range of Do’s. And if I didn’t get it right away, I would spend countless hours mastering whatever stupid skill it was I was learning that week. I get so enthralled with little tasks until I learn how to do them. It is annoying. But in the end, I usually found success in my endeavors, which kind of annoyed my mom. Not saying she hoped that I failed, but she knew that when I failed, it was a learning experience for me. I was such a sore loser as a kid, and that terrified my mom. I think the reason she was so encouraging in all my adventures was because of my potential to lose or fail. That may sound horrible, but I was such a cocky little kid that I needed to learn how to fail gracefully. And so I did.

Failure is not so bad. It’s not the best feeling, but that’s life. We tend to fear failure, but it makes us stronger. We learn from it; some even thrive from it. It isn’t the failure that defines us but the grit to keep trying. Ray Allen, NBA guard and Heat legend, says it best: “Losing is so important as a kid… I love to see when they [his kids] lose because it makes them want to fight harder, it makes them want to try, it makes them want to practice.” Allowing your kid to fail is only allowing them to grow as a person. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be good at everything. Failure is inevitable in life, so take it the “L” and keep moving; otherwise, your failure will define you, and nobody wants that. So let your kids fail, you’ll only be doing them a favor.

Letting your kids figure out who they are through trial and error is just the next step in parenthood. Us kids start our lives incredibly dependent on our parents but there comes that decisive moment where we go from dependent to independent. The best thing you can do is to be there for us when we do fail. We can be dumb and reckless, and having the guidance of a mentor who has gone through it all is the second best gift any parent can give their kids. The first being the gift of life. I went into college wanting to be a mechanical engineer but a year in I changed my mind. Instead of dictating my life and forcing me to do what she thought I should do, my mom let me follow my passion. I got a Bachelors in English, quite the opposite of engineering, but she never gave me a hard time for choosing a humanities degree. Instead, she showed her support by sending me articles of “Thing You Need To Do To Get Hired with an English Degree” or “Why More Businesses Are Hiring Grads with Humanities Degrees.” She was a light of support in the way she knew how. Just being there goes a long way.

I look back on the things my mom taught me, and I am grateful. Some parents don’t want to see their kids fail, but my mom made sure that I failed. She was always there to help pick up the pieces afterward, but she knew that I needed to learn how to deal with not reaching my goals. She taught me how to be decisive, to work through problems, to make decisions, and to have the backbone to just live life outside of her parental safety net. Some people were never given a chance to grow as a kid and had to learn those same lessons later in life. So, thanks, mom. I wouldn’t have made it this far without you. And in the wise words of Shea Serrano, “Always shoot your shot. Someone’s gonna do the thing you wanna do — it might as well be you.”

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

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Jose-Andres Alegria is an intern at Family Bridges who does whatever the boss tells him to do, but if he can’t be found it usually means that his face is buried in a book somewhere or that he is taking a nap and you should come back later when he’s not “busy”.

Follow him on…
Twitter: @No_Way_Jose11

Never a Dull Moment

Never a Dull Moment

By
José-Andrés Alegría

Family is everything, especially on 31st Road. Growing up, I could take a two-minute walk down the street to find someone to help escape the clutches of boredom. My mom and two of her sisters all decided to buy houses on the same street. They also happened to all have kids around the same time. So you can’t even begin to imagine, to the dismay of the neighbors, the shenanigans and mischief my cousins and I got ourselves into growing up. But the one thing I want to make clear is that my cousins, although they are technically extended family, are more like siblings to me. We have always been close and will always be close. We scattered in every direction. A few of us in Chicago, some in California, a couple in Florida, and the rest in Tennessee, but we all make sure that we know what’s going on in our lives. And when we get together, there is never a dull moment. I mean, what trumps family?

My favorite vacations always involve family. Thanksgiving in California when we visited my oldest sister while she was pregnant with her second kid. Going to the Dominican Republic for Abuelita’s 100th birthday party. Visiting family in Chicago as a kid and being taken to all the cool spots in the city. But the greatest of all these hits was Christmas 2012. It takes a lot of planning and mental fortitude to get my mom and her five sisters (The Sisters) and their families in one place. Everyone is always busy. Life can get crazy like that, but this year everyone was on a mission. My Abuelo was sick, and we were scared that this was his last Christmas. The Sisters wanted to make this one as memorable as possible. And they did just that.

 

On some mountain in Tennessee, (Maybe it was a really big hill. What do I know? I’m from Florida.) in the middle of winter, we crammed all 27 of us into this magical cabin. I remember being worried that I wouldn’t be able to have any fun with my cousin. I had torn my ACL, and when this vacation was over I was getting surgery. But then I remembered that my family, although they enjoy adventure and fun, is a group of bums who like to sit on a super comfy couch and do absolutely nothing. It’s awesome. Also, it was waaaaay too cold to go outside. (Again, I’m from Florida. The second it hits 65 degrees the whole state is in jackets and sweats.) Locked in a cabin with family and no end in sight? To some, this sounds like an especially evil version of hell. But we filled the time with board games, catching up, and food. There was enough food to feed a small army. There was never a dull moment. Someone was always telling a story. Stories that we all have heard a million times but were still funny nonetheless. Like the time I got hit by a car. And finding out later, that it was my oldest sister who was driving the car. Or the time my dad decided he didn’t want to take me to the hospital. So instead he took my cast off himself…with a chainsaw. (Child Services if you are reading this, please disregard the previous statement). Or any of the other crazy stories my family has in their back pocket.

Like every big group, my family has its cliques. The Sisters consists of my mom and her sisters, and they talk about family chisme. It’s usually about some cousin or aunt that I didn’t even know existed. The White Uncles gathered in a corner, fend for themselves in a sea of melanin. The Latin Uncles get together, and either brood in a corner (cause they have some past trauma from a world us 2nd generation kids would never understand) or they talk about the Bible and Church for hours. Then you have the Big Kids, which is where I fall. We are the first group of kids that popped out. There are seven of us. Then there are the Little Kids, at the time they were six strong, but some new ones have popped up over the years. The groups mingle and mesh. But since there are so many of us, there is usually always someone in the kitchen cooking. Which means there is at least one group in the kitchen. And there is, at any given time, at least five different conversations going on. And this is where my family is weird, we all, for some reason, cram into one room. Oh, there’s a group in the kitchen? Well, you can bet that everyone is going to make their way into the kitchen. There’s a table for six? We can fit 10 more people on the table. Who needs elbow room?

But what made this Christmas memorable? It was a chance for all of us to see my Abuelo’s legacy. On top of all that he did in his life, I like to think that his greatest achievement was us. The family he loved, and that loved him. This vacation wasn’t just a destination that we went to and explored. It wasn’t about sight-seeing. It was about drinking hot chocolate in a room filled with people that you love. It was about reminiscing the good times and laughing at all the embarrassing dirt we have on each other. It was a vacation, sure. But more than anything, it was a reminder that family, my family, is never dull. And without them, I don’t know where I would be today. And for that, I will always be grateful.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges
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Jose-Andres Alegria is an intern at Family Bridges who does whatever the boss tells him to do, but if he can’t be found it usually means that his face is buried in a book somewhere or that he is taking a nap and you should come back later when he’s not “busy”.

Follow him on…
Twitter: @No_Way_Jose11

Parenting Tips to Preserve Summer Sanity

Parenting Tips to Preserve Summer Sanity

By
Eva Fleming

Summer is a time to take a pause from the overcrowded academic schedule and reset our priorities. The relaxed pace is welcomed by most. Even parents who work, and have to drop off their children at daycare, enjoy the ease of the warm evenings without having to worry about homework.

Summer brings its challenges, however. I recently saw a meme of a parent panhandling for summer with a sign that read, “I have a job!! It’s just summer, and my kids are at home, and they won’t stop eating!”

Here are a few ideas that may help you find a nice balance that can help you preserve sanity during the summer months:

Don’t fall into the busy trap

Your children don’t have to be entertained by you every second of the day. They are quite capable of entertaining themselves. Children can only hone their skills when they are extra bored and have nothing better to do. My boys love music. They often leave all the challenging pieces they have wanted to learn for summer when they have time to dedicate to it. They walk away from it when they are frustrated and go back to it when they feel they’ve cooled down enough. If you are filling up their time too much, you will never see them grow as they struggle through the things that matter to them.

Let kids sleep in

Most children don’t get an adequate amount of sleep during the school year, and summer provides them a chance to catch up on the most needed rest. Their growing bodies crave it. Sleep promotes growth, and it also affects weight. Children crave higher-fat or carbs food when they are tired. Tired children also tend to be more sedentary. Sleep has many benefits for children, so while on vacation don’t get things started at 7:00 am like a regular school day. Allow for a little extra sleep, and enjoy your coffee in peace.

Set up a schedule so children are fruitfully occupied but not hurried

You want to set aside a time for reading. Reading for school assignments is not the same as reading for fun. Children, as well as adults, do what they find pleasurable. The capacity of a child to immerse in a story, visualize details in the plot, and relate to the characters in the story can create long hours of pleasure; not to mention how smart they are becoming. Studies have shown that good readers unknowingly even strengthen their mathematical skills. Go figure!

Teach them how to do new chores. Every summer, you want to take the time to add a new chore to their repertoire. Show them how to do something new to help with the household every year. Remind them that as they grow older, they need to learn how to become more independent. The goal is that one day they will be capable of managing their households alone, like a boss!

Take them outside and insist they exercise. It is recommended that children and teens get a minimum of 60 minutes of vigorous exercise a day. Summer is the easiest time to accomplish this goal because every child loves scootering, swimming, riding bikes and playing sports indoors and outdoors. In addition to the usual physical benefits of exercise, active kids are less likely to experience bouts of depression and anxiety. Moving around improves mental health. That is a fact!

Encourage them to be creative. Creativity is more of a skill than an inborn talent. Summer is a great time to learn to draw, play music, dance, create science experiments, write, learn to recite poetry, serve the people around them, etc.

Savor your time with your children during the summer months, cuddle, read together, play, enjoy and for God’s sake, stop worrying!

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

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Eva Fleming is an expert educator and curriculum developer. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and has taught all age groups including, preschool, elementary, middle and high school children and adults. When she’s not teaching, she’s cooking something delicious or driving her children around.

Best Trip So Far

Best Trip So Far

By
Omaira Gonzalez

If you are like me, you have probably watched the movies “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or “Mama Mia” and dreamed of one day visiting Greece. I finally made it in May 2018 in celebration of my 31st anniversary, and I fell madly in love with Greece, making it one of my best vacations yet.

It was spectacular, and I learned a few things on this trip. Here is what I discovered.

Be ready

I do not mean be ready in the sense of clothes, shoes, and that sort of stuff. Yes, of course, pack light, wear comfortable shoes and wear lots of sunscreen lotion. However, I mean more like be ready to experience every facet of Greece. I was on a boat with my husband, and I decided to stay inside as it was very windy and cold. My husband, on the other hand, decided to remain on the deck, and he witnessed Dolphins jumping alongside the boat. I could not believe I had missed it. I learned a valuable lesson that day: do not focus on the present situation, if you do, you might miss amazing opportunities that may not repeat themselves.

Be open

Greece is full of culture, amazing people, and let’s not forget the delicious food. Fresh Greek salads with bread and virgin olive oil. Yum. Practically everything you eat there is like an explosion of flavors in your mouth. I tried different dishes, and I was never disappointed. However, I also enjoyed walking down those beautiful streets of Santorini, Mykonos and Athens. As we strolled down the streets, we ran into people from almost every part of the world it seemed. At times, it was challenging trying to navigate through the language barriers. I learned that a smile, a kind gesture and a warm greeting is a language we all can understand. We met some great people along the way that made this trip extremely memorable.

Be surprised

Upon our arrival to Santorini, my husband and I had booked a room at a lovely hotel. The staff learned that we were celebrating our anniversary and, upon our arrival, greeted us with Champaign and hugs…yes, hugs (loved it). The biggest surprise was when they shared that the owner has several hotel establishments, and when he learned about our anniversary, he upgraded our stay to a 5-star suite. It was gorgeous and had amazing views. I witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises. I learned that life will surprise you with some good – do not question it, do not be suspicious, but receive those blessings and recognize how much God does love you. I also learned that the sunrise is just as beautiful as the sunset.

Be Adventurous

We thought it would be a good idea at Thira, Santorini to walk down the steps with the donkeys instead of waiting for the cable car line or riding a donkey down. Not quite the adventure I was hoping for, as I was extremely nervous and scared. Many times, donkeys would surround us, I could feel my heart beating in my chest, and I desperately made my way out. Here is what happened next: we took the cable car up. That was the end of that adventure. We also rented mopeds and rode around the island, visiting the different beaches and enjoying the scenery. It was breathtaking. I learned that getting lost can be more fun, will lead you to discover more and will give you some pleasant surprises. I also learned that you might not always enjoy every adventure you embark on, but have them anyways.

I am convinced that I will revisit Greece once again, and I would love others to plan the trip as well. It is full of history, culture, adventure and many surprises. Be ready, be open, be surprised and be adventurous.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges
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Omaira Gonzalez is the COO for Family Bridges. Omaira and her husband of 30+ years love adventure, long walks and Broadway shows. With their two kids Yomari and Omar, and new granddaughter, they enjoy great meals and playing board games. But look out–losing is not an option!

You’re broke. I’m broke. We’re all broke. But let’s have fun anyway.

You’re broke. I’m broke. We’re all broke. But let’s have fun anyway.

By
José-Andrés Alegría

So you want to travel but are too broke to go through with it? Yeah, same. I’m seeing all of my friends getting married, having kids, or traveling the world. And yet, I am, somehow, at home not doing any of those things. Granted, I only want to do one of those right now. But I just finished school and just started to make money, how am I supposed to travel like everyone around me? The first step is that I have to accept the fact that I may not be able to go to Greece and have the trip I want right now at this point in my life. It doesn’t mean I can’t start thinking about it and start to plan it. It simply means I have to live within my means (which sucks), meaning that instead of a long trip far far away maybe I take a day trip or staycation.

Try a Staycation

Staycations are pretty awesome. The city you live in seems to drastically change when you stay in a hotel on the other side of town. Do all the fun stuff that you take for granted because you live there. Growing up in South Florida, I never went to the beach unless I was forced to go with family. (I really hate sand.) So I planned a trip to the Keys with my friends and experienced my state from the perspective of a tourist. Well, I had way more fun. Or maybe you can wait for a fun event to come to your city, like a concert or comedy show and plan a weekend around it. We tend to think that we know our city. So eventually, we get bored of it, however, if you go into a staycation with the same explorative sense of adventure that you would have had had you gone somewhere else. Then maybe, just maybe you’ll be surprised by all the fun you might have from home. You just have to treat it like a real vacation. So what do you enjoy?

Eat your way around town

I like to plan around food. I love food. I live by the philosophy that eating food is an activity we do at least three times a day, every day so I might as well enjoy it, right? So I will look up the best places to eat and plan around them and fill the gaps between meals with boring stuff like hiking, museums, and sight-seeing. Okay…they aren’t boring per se, but food is the best. There is nothing quite like going somewhere and eating what they are known for. Going to Miami? You’d be a dummy if you didn’t go out to eat some seafood or some Cuban food. It’s like traveling to Chicago and not trying deep dish at least once before you leave. It’s almost sacrilegious.

Travel in a group

If you don’t want to go alone, then check out tour groups or travel groups. I know, it sounds a little weird, but you might be surprised at the people you might meet. Another great way to meet new people is by staying at a hostel. They are usually cheaper and have an array of people coming and going. You might have to be a little more social than expected, but it can be a fun experience.

Enjoy a resort experience for cheap

Not looking to go out and do stuff? I get that. ResortPass is this cool website that lets you buy a day pass to a resort for pretty cheap. They have different packages that offer various amenities. You get access to all the cool perks of staying in a hotel without actually staying. So if all you want is to unwind by the pool, sipping on a Piña Colada, reading a book, then this is the best option for you. I went one time and got a day pass for $35 and chilled all day on the beach and relaxed.

 

If I’m completely honest, my ideal staycation is to lock myself in my room, take long naps, eat an asinine amount of Chinese food, and watch movies till my eyes hurt. And when my eyes start to hurt looking at the TV screen, then I will binge whatever book is closest to me.

I’ll leave the comfort of my room every once in a while to let people know that I am indeed alive. It’s like my version of a system reboot. Sometimes, you need to restart your brain. For me, that means no human interaction and getting lost in some weird, wacky book or tv show. But if that sounds like literal hell to you (I’m looking at you extroverts) then simply remember there is always something to do. You just need to be like Dora. Go explore. Grab your Boots and go. I’ve recently moved to the Chicago area, and there is so much that I already want to do.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges
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Jose-Andres Alegria is an intern at Family Bridges who does whatever the boss tells him to do, but if he can’t be found it usually means that his face is buried in a book somewhere or that he is taking a nap and you should come back later when he’s not “busy”.

Follow him on…
Twitter: @No_Way_Jose11

Keys to a Peaceful Family Vacation

Keys to a Peaceful Family Vacation

By
Eva Fleming

Family vacations are great for several reasons. The number reason though, is that they help us form bonds and strengthen relationships with our loved ones like few things can. In a world where so many things demand our attention, a time and place dedicated to strengthening those bonds are priceless and necessary. As parents, we must collect our children. Vacations give us the ability to reassume our roles as the mentors and nurturers of our kids. They allow us to get into our children’s spaces in a friendly way. As love partners, we must also collect the attention of our lovers. Vacations allow us to rekindle the love we feel for our partner away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Vacations allow us to make our families a priority.

But peaceful vacations don’t just happen. They must be planned, as logistics and emotions can play a big part in their success or failure. Four years ago, my family went to the Dominican Republic. When we arrived at the second location on our itinerary, our hotel had lost our reservation and my husband, a strict organizer, got so distraught that it took him almost six hours to compose himself before relaxing enough to enjoy the rest of the trip. When things go wrong, our attitudes suffer, and as a result, our vacation can turn to chaos.

Here are a few tips to keep your vacation stress-free and peaceful.

Plan Ahead

The first rule for a peaceful family vacation is to plan ahead. If possible, decide where you are going and pay for things ahead of time. One year we went to the UP in Michigan, I paid for our hotel accommodations, plane tickets and car rentals beforehand. I also planned all of our hiking trips way ahead of time. It was great not to have to worry about upcoming credit card bills, which can easily ruin one’s vacation. Since nature is so pure in that part of the U.S., it was a relief to be able to choose activities that the whole family could enjoy without having to spend a fortune.

Make Sacrifices

Secondly, you must be willing to make sacrifices. You need to enjoy your time together and shut up about the inconveniences or the things that may scare you or bother you. I hate water activities because the ocean makes me nauseous. But while on an extended family vacation, I went kayaking with my sister despite my reservations, and enjoyed the experience even though my first instinct was to stay on the shore under an umbrella. I may or may not have had to throw up the minute we got back to the beach, but I will never forget the experience, and how much closer and connected I felt to my sibling.

Save on Food

Third, if you are not traveling on an RV of sorts, try to book a place that has a kitchen. Most children need to eat three meals a day, and trying to coordinate all that eating and paying for it can be highly stressful. But if you can eat in at least two simple meals and leave the eating out for only one time a day, you will not only save money but also reduce the amount of stress eating out can cause.

Take Time to Relax

Lastly, if you want a peaceful vacation, don’t overbook your schedule. Doing something every second of the day is not good for the introverts in the group or the very young ones. Plan some downtime, where everyone can just relax, read, play cards or nap. That downtime will recharge you to keep going and minimize the complaints of crabby children and whiny adults.

It’s highly unlikely that you will travel as a family and not get on each other’s nerves at least once. But many of our annoyances are the result of poor planning. Learn ways to take steps beforehand to minimize those annoyances, and you will create precious memories that your family won’t soon forget, but even more importantly, you will strengthen the family bonds, and that’s priceless.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

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Eva Fleming is an expert educator and curriculum developer. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and has taught all age groups including, preschool, elementary, middle and high school children and adults. When she’s not teaching, she’s cooking something delicious or driving her children around.

Latinos Destacados: Imelda Hartley – Bringing Domestic Violence Awareness

Latinos Destacados: Imelda Hartley – Bringing Domestic Violence Awareness

By
Eduardo Morales

“Imagine you are pregnant, living inside an airport for three months. After your baby is born, you marry the baby’s father. And when you think you’re going to start living a life of happiness, you start living the hell of domestic violence for 20 years,” said Imelda Hartley to a group of young girls.

Recently in Phoenix, Family Bridges had the opportunity to host Imelda Hartley, founder of Imelda’s Happy Tamales, as she shared her story of domestic violence and abusive relationships.

Imelda recalled family telling her it was ok and her duty as a wife was to take the abuse. However, after several visits to the hospital, suffering multiple injuries, Imelda knew that this wasn’t the lifestyle she wanted to live. While Imelda admitted that it took her a while to realize that she couldn’t change people, she was determined to break the vicious cycle she found herself in. Hartley credited her pursuit of education as a source of inspiration to get out of her circumstances.

“Domestic violence is a real social problem,” Hartley said. Now, as a domestic violence survivor, Imelda uses her business of cooking delicious tamales as a platform to spread awareness of domestic violence in the community. Each of her tamales is named with words of encouragement. One of her more popular tamales is the Hope Tamale.

This event was part of Family Bridges’ Wise Up Girl program, a mentoring program for High School and College aged girls, providing relationship education content. Divorce, domestic violence, addictions, and relational conflicts are shaking the foundation of families and impacting the present and future lives of children. Through the Wise Up Girl program, Family Bridges is committed to ensuring a brighter future for these girls, no matter how bleak their current situation may be.

Imelda acknowledged that for her, recognizing that she was in an abusive relationship was not easy. People often fail to realize there is a problem because of either denial or fear. Imelda shared a few tips and warning signs with the girls to help them identify red flags. Unhealthy behaviors could include things like:

  1. Your partner wants to know where you are at all times.
  2. Your partner wants to access your social media accounts to monitor your interactions.
  3. The person wants access to your phone and monitors who is calling.
  4. Consistently wants an explanation to where you will be, what you will be doing, who you will be with.

Ultimately, “relationships are about trust and respect, not about control,” said Imelda. “If the person is demonstrating these behaviors, then that is control, and control is not love.”

If you or someone you know may be experiencing dating or domestic violence, there are resources out there. Call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

To learn more about Imelda, watch her story:


For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

You Are You

You Are You

By
Sarah Pichardo

I was reading about a study that shows how baby names can affect future behavior. (Yes, there really is a study about this.) The research revealed that a person’s name can influence where he/she chooses to live, occupation, and even choice of political candidates. Naturally, after reading this, I immediately wanted to figure out how my name has affected me and since the study didn’t have specifics, I did the next best thing – I googled it. I did a search for how people named Sarah where supposed to act, but that didn’t really help.

The whole thing got me thinking, though, about the names we have grown up with that have defined our persons.

Think of those names that you were called when you were younger and perhaps are still being called now. The majority of them are probably parts of your identity that were called out by others – things that people noticed in you and they began to know you as those things, such as smart, athletic, musical, chunky, goofy, lazy, etc.

How have those labels influenced the person you are today? Have they affected the way you look at yourself? Determined the choices you’ve made?

I’ve been called everything under the sun – stubborn and impatient, creative and generous. These have been reinforced throughout the years by others and as time has passed, I have accepted them to be true and have allowed them to define me as a person. Fortunately, these names and labels that I’ve grown up with haven’t been untrue or harmful. I have a close friend who wasn’t so lucky. He grew up in an abusive home, and despite all his best efforts, he was always referred to as stupid and good for nothing. For a while, he allowed those words, those labels, to define him. It wasn’t until after high school, when he joined the military, that he began to peel off the negative labels and live into more positive ones.

Take a minute to weed through the names you’ve been given. Recognize that some negative ones might be true and that those are areas that you need to work on. Also recognize that not all the negative ones may be true. Judgment and name-calling will always be a part of life. There will always be people around the corner telling you that you aren’t smart enough or patient enough or successful enough. But don’t let others opinions of you dictate your future. If your name is going to be a determining factor on how your future shapes out to be, then pick your own labels. Make a conscientious choice to live into the person you want to be.

And remember, you really are more than just a label. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “You are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges
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Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.
Follow her on…
Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726

The Love of a Mother

The Love of a Mother

By
Savannah Gonzalez

I’ve never seen or understood the depth of a mother’s love until recently. My mom is an amazing woman. Can you believe that I have never seen my mom angry? From the day that she brought me to this world, 32 years ago, I’m yet to see her mad. She never complains about anything. Whenever Mother’s Day, Christmas or even her birthday comes around, she never asks for anything. And all I want to do is shower her with gifts, pampering her with her heart’s desires, yet she always tells me not to get her anything. I always knew my mom was special, but now that I’m a mom, I know realize how much she loves my brother and me.

When my twins were born, I was hit by the famous postpartum depression. Every day I cried. I felt trapped. My mind could not see into the future. It was challenging for me to take care of my babies. My mom, having an incredible job, saw how bad I was doing and she decided to leave her job to be with me full-time, helping me with the children. It was there and then that I realized the great love that a mother can have for her children; the sacrifices a mother makes to care for and protect her children. There is so much that I want to thank my mom for, but the words are not enough. I love her so much, and I thank God for sending me a mom full of love. She inspires me to want to be like her. I want to be a loving mother like her. I do not want my children to worry about me. I want to be there for them when they need help as my mom did with me. I love you, mom.

“A mother cries and laughs; punishes and praises; feels the hurt and the excitement with the accomplishments or disappointments of her children. Being a mother is a demonstration of excess within defined boundaries. She laughs, praises and is elated because she is proud and wants to develop her children’s self-esteem; she cries, punishes and hurts because she wants her children to build character.” Read more about The Art of Being a Mom

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

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Savannah Gonzalez is the Creative Content and Project Assistant at Family Bridges. She expresses her creativity most in social media. When she’s not working, she spends most of her time with her husband and twin boys, finding amazing deals at Goodwill, watching movies or serving at her church.

You can follow her on Instagram @savannahperez

The Art of Being a Mom

The Art of Being a Mom

By
Eva Fleming

When my daughter was 13-years old, she started to master the longboard, a kind of board larger than its counterpart the skateboard. She had fun with her friends going downhill, racing and using it as transportation. The year she started coasting the streets with her longboard, our family spent Christmas with my in-laws in Atlanta where the roads are not as flat as they are in Florida; as a matter of fact, they are very “hilly” since the town is located in the foothills of the southern Appalachians Mountains. My daughter was determined to use her longboard in that terrain. Performing one of her tricks, she missed her footing. The poor girl ended up hitting the ground hard and even though she didn’t break any bones her ego took a beating. We bandaged her scrapes and hugged her until the next day where she was once again performing her tricks in the mountainous terrain of her grandparent’s neighborhood.

Being a mom is an art because on the one hand, we are biting our lips as not to implode of anxiety with our children’s latest ventures, on the other, we are speaking life and hope into their ears, so they don’t get discouraged. A mother has the ability to treat the body, soul, and spirit of her children simultaneously without neglecting one for another. A mother lets her children take risks without putting them in danger; allows them to experience frustrations without letting them give up; gives them independence without licentiousness; trust without neglect.

A mother cries and laughs; punishes and praises; feels the hurt and the excitement with the accomplishments or disappointments of her children. Being a mother is a demonstration of excess within defined boundaries. She laughs, praises and is elated because she is proud and wants to develop her children’s self-esteem; she cries, punishes and hurts because she wants her children to build character.

When the voice of one of her children is silenced, the mother stands up for them. She pays for piano lessons so they can develop discipline, patience, and wake up their emotions and she enrolls them in sports so they can learn coordination, control, and teamwork. A mother seeks the success of her children, but not at the expense of the weak. In the process, a mother always teaches compassion without allowing abuse. Her life is not involved in her own needs, but in that of her kids.

Being a mother is an art. Science is based on explanations and predictions. But a mother does not treat her children as an experiment in a laboratory with measures and predictions because each child is different, and so are the circumstances, emotions, and situations. A mother’s answer is “yes and no,” “it depends,” “sometimes,”… but when is it yes and when is it no? A mother knows because she knows her child, the circumstances, the emotions and the situations.
So continue being a mother, a guide, a counselor, a protector, and a lawyer until your children are ready to face the world and unleash their full potential. Acknowledge that your only reward is their inner health, which will become evident when you are no longer there to give them a bandage the days they are doing their tricks on the sidewalks of life.

If you’re like me, you think all mom’s are awesome. Check out this podcast about how they put the WOW in MOM.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

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Eva Fleming is an expert educator and curriculum developer. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and has taught all age groups including, preschool, elementary, middle and high school children and adults. When she’s not teaching, she’s cooking something delicious or driving her children around.