What If This 12-Year-Old Ventriloquist Had Never Practiced?

In 2017, 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer wowed the audience and the judges on America’s Got Talent. Before the 7-minute video was over I laughed, and I cried. Real tears. I am not kidding.

And then I thought…

What if Darci Lynne had never practiced ventriloquism on her own at home? What if she’d just waited until age 18, signed up for ventriloquism classes, and then expected those classes to give her everything she needed to perform like a superstar?

Would Darci Lynne have ever gotten anywhere?

ventriloquist

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Key Difference Between Teens Who Succeed in School and Teens Who Don’t

This article was originally published on February 1st, 2016. It was updated and republished here on August 17th, 2017.

You desperately want your teens to succeed in school, but cajoling and hovering and pushing them is just so exhausting.

Here’s fantastic help that will take you under two minutes to implement.

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Your Job Change COULD Save Your Kid $40,000 on College Costs

Parent, might you be ready for a job change by the end of this summer?

If you make this job change decision strategically, you could save your kid $40,000 on college costs.

job change

“Really? How could my job change save my kids money on college costs?”

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9 Reasons to Talk your Kid OUT of Applying to the Ivy League

Parents, you feel a lot of pressure to get your kids into a “good” college after high school. An “Ivy League” university would be ideal! But is all the work and stress really worth it?

Probably not, honestly.

Ivy League

William Deresiewicz, former Yale professor and author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life has a fascinating take on this question.

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More Cheerful Chores * Fewer Screens * More Fun

5 Ways Parents Can Have a More Fun, More Relaxing Summer

This article was originally written on June 5th, 2017. It was updated and reposted here on June 4th, 2018. I plan to repost it every June, right when school’s out and parents need it most. Here’s to a fun, relaxing summer for your whole family!

screens

Carol kicked off her work shoes and put them away in the front hall closet. “Hi, kids; I’m home!” She called out.

It’d been an extremely long work day for Carol, and the commute home had been long and sweaty due to heavy road construction and her car air conditioning being out. All she wanted to do was get her shoes off and collapse.

When she walked into the kitchen, though, she gasped.

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Best Gift Ever For Students Age 17-29

This Meg Jay Book is Changing Lives

If you’re looking for a birthday, holiday, or graduation gift for a 17-29 year old, here’s the one I most want people in this age range to receive.

It’s the book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay.

definingdecade

Sure, a lot of 20 somethings read this book after graduating from college. But I say: Why wait? If your kid’s a high school senior, order this book right now and give your son or daughter a huge head start on building a happy, fulfilled life.

Believe me — this book can be a game changer for any student in their late teens or 20s.

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Why Your Kid Shouldn’t Take a Car to College

One of the best money-saving ideas I suggest for college students is, “Don’t take a car to college.”

Most college campuses provide easy access to safe public transportation, and when a student really needs a car she can always call Uber. (Anyone, anywhere, can use this promo code to get $20 off of their first Uber ride: jeannieb105ue.)

Worried about your daughter’s safety on campus?

She may be safer walking with a campus security escort than trying to locate her car in a dark parking lot.

Students who don’t take cars to college save big.

They save thousands on gas, oil, parking fees, insurance, and auto maintenance over four years, plus they greatly decrease their potential for being in auto accidents or getting career-crippling D.U.I.s.

But what do students without cars do when they need to shop?

Nobody wants to lug four large Target bags back to the dorm room on the bus.

Fortunately, students can order almost everything they need on Amazon.com, and get their purchases shipped to them for free in two days using Amazon Prime Student. The best news? College students pay only half what I do for Amazon Prime. Plus they get a 6-month free trial when they sign up. Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students now, or read on.

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“Push Your Kid into Electrical Engineering!” (Really?)

Recently, I was contacted by a freelance writer hoping to guest post on my blog. Her article was essentially a long list of reasons why electrical engineering is a great career for students to consider.

electrical engineering

The writer provided several great reasons for students to consider electrical engineering, including these:

  • Electrical engineering can be an excellent part of an interdisciplinary career that also includes chemical, civil, petroleum, mechanical, software, or biomedical engineering.
  • Electrical engineering can be applied to work that involves signal processing, control systems, robotics, microelectronics, and more.
  • Electrical engineering pays well, and career prospects in electrical engineering are good. (Just take a look at this excellent information page that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides on the subject of electrical engineering.)

I refused to publish the article, and here’s why.

My reply to this writer said:

“Ella, it’s clear that you have worked very hard on this article about electrical engineering, but I’m sorry; I cannot accept it for use on my blog.

In everything I write, I stand against pushing kids to certain career goals unless three specific psychometric assessments indicate that the child would be naturally good at that career as far as personality, interest, and strength bent. I go into detail on exactly how parents can access these assessments and figure all this out in chapter 13 of my book.

I can’t publish anything encouraging students toward one certain career. What if the parent reading the article has a child who is a born artist, and that child will be miserable and a failure as an electrical engineer? Thank you for your effort here. I hope you can get it published somewhere else.”

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In Just 5 Minutes — Change Your Future Grandchildren’s Lives

grandchildren

Last year, I climbed a mountain in Zion National Park.

My husband, the avid hiker, gave me a set of hiking poles and these instructions: “When you start to feel exhausted,” he said, “just concentrate on your next step. Where’s the next, best place to put your foot? Carefully put your foot there, and before you know it you’ll be at the top.”

Many of us get through parenting in this exact same way.

Exhausted, we survive day-to-day by focusing on the bare minimum required next step in our parenting journey. Just getting through until bedtime, or until Saturday’s soccer game, or until the next school break. We limit our thinking to the immediate, the urgent, and the short-term—because that feels productive. It feels like we’re getting somewhere.

In truth, taking just 5 minutes to look at the long view can be exhilarating.

When I was climbing that mountain in Zion, the moments that took my breath away happened when I stopped, lifted my head, and looked out over miles of sheer cliffs and valleys, all the way to the misty distant horizon.

Taking 5 minutes to look toward the parenting horizon can be both exhilarating and transformative.

For 5 minutes right now, think, “What could we as a family do this year, that could impact our descendants 100 years from now?”

Is there something you could do now related to education, to money and debt, or to moral and spiritual development, that could pay off for generations to come?

Our culture is currently plagued and limited by a short-term thinking mindset. You don’t have to be.

Ari Wallach, in this powerful TED Talk, urges us all to transform our children’s and grandchildren’s futures by breaking free of the 3-5 year “short-termism” that, he says, “permeates every nook and cranny of our cultural reality.” Wallach calls us all to practice “longpath” thinking that asks this important question: “To what end?”

What is the purpose in what we’re doing? Where are we going with this?

How will these decisions we’re making today impact our family 100 years from now?

What could we do this year that could pay off in huge ways…for generations?

Carefully consider these words, which I consider to be the most important in Wallach’s TED Talk: 

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My Best, Funniest Parenting Tip

For Parents of Kids Ages 8-18

In this short post, I’m going to share my best, funniest parenting tip.

This one makes me laugh just thinking about it.

funniest parenting

What do you do when your normally good kid turns sassy or disrespectful, or makes a deliberate choice that’s against family rules?

My mom used to make me sit on a hard chair facing an empty corner of our dining room for 20 minutes, and it was excruciating.

I use a different strategy for my kids. 

I make them watch TED Talks.

“Honey, would you please put your phone on the kitchen counter for awhile? Feel free to take it back after you’ve watched 30 minutes of TED Talks. Pick any subject you like! If you can’t get it done today, that’s OK. Any time this week will be A-OK with me.”

The results can be hilarious.

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