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It’s Not the Wedding — It’s the Marriage!

Mia found wedding planning stressful. Her mother’s was obsessing over the invitations, flowers, color scheme, favors, hors d’oeuvres, guest list, and other details -- so much that it seemed like she was the one getting married.

Exasperated as her mother droned on about ice sculptures and chocolate fountains, Mia wished she had decided to elope. She finally blurted out: “It’s not the wedding, Mom! It’s the marriage.
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Embracing and Savoring an Imperfect Holiday Season

“This year will be different,” author and mom of four Alexandra Kuykendall inevitably tells herself every year as she pulls out her Christmas decorations. This year she won’t be tired or stressed. This year she won’t be ready for the holidays to be over.

And this year it is different, because she's vowed to focus on loving her actual Christmas, to be present in her life as it really is. Which she documents in her new book aptly titled,
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Your Autistic Teen and Family Holiday Gatherings

Little kids with autism grow to be teens with autism. As is true with all adolescents, pressures both inside their bodies and in the social world can make them sometimes be irritable and reactive. Parents who live with them adapt and adopt new strategies for supporting their children over time. Relatives who see the kids intermittently often aren’t prepared for what it means to interact with a bigger kid who can’t be as easily directed or managed as when they were young. This is especially true if some of the teen’s behaviors are socially awkward or even potentially frightening.

Christmas is a time of year when many families have a big family gathering to celebrate. Parents of teens with autism and their extended family members are often torn: The teen is a loved member of the family who should be included, but will including him be disruptive to the family or even harmful to the teen?
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Ethics & Morality

Spouses Who Volunteer Create Awesome Marriages

You cannot love someone maturely and try to control him (or her). The behaviors of both partners should be voluntary.

As you discuss the kind of life you want to have together, focus on what really fits for you. Ideally, before marriage, you will discuss how you would like to handle money, chores and responsibilities, parenting (or step-parenting) concerns, if applicable, where you want to live, and so on.
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4 Ways to Fight Back When Family Questions Your Career Choices

With the holidays around the corner, dinner table conversations about work are bound to come up.

It’s common to feel anxiety at the thought of explaining what you do for a living to a skeptical audience, especially when your job title can’t be summed up simply or straightforwardly.

Don’t panic yet.

It may seem difficult to get Aunt Sue to understand what the heck a Digital Strategist is or to convince Dad that you’re able to support yourself
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Caring for Yourself When Caring for Elders During the Holidays

If you are caring for an elderly family member, you are not alone. A 2015 report by National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015) shows more than 34 million people are providing significant care to an adult over age 50. Most of this unpaid care is provided by women. Further, most of these women are doing double and even triple duty, caring for their own families and children and working while also providing care for a parent or parent-in-law. Balancing all those responsibilities is a huge challenge.

Studies show that the average caregiver spends 20 or more hours a week doing everything from basic hygiene care to administering medications to cooking and cleaning to taking their loved one to appointments to running errands. It’s exhausting. It is stressful. But if they didn’t do it, it could well be that no one else would.
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Christmas with Nana: The Joys of Giving and Giving Back

We called our grandmother on my mother’s side “Nana.” Nana was a widow for most of my life. Back in 1965, my grandfather died when I was about two-years-old. Nana supported herself after that, and although she worked a full-time job, she was poor. She lived in a one-bedroom apartment overlooking Lake Erie. She enjoyed the simple pleasures: watching the boats float on the water, entertaining her family on the weekends, swimming alone at midnight in the apartment’s tiny swimming pool.

How did we know Nana was poor?
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Children and Teens

Talking to Your Children about the Threat of Nuclear War

On Nov. 29th, the Today Show reported on North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch and then my 13-year-old son Tommy asked, "Is North Korea going to bomb us? Mom, is this going to be our last Christmas?"

I was struck by Tommy's intelligence and lack of innocence in his startling inquiry. I was born in 1963, the year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and grew up during the Cold War. But I would have never had the wherewithal to ask something such as this. Schools had stopped teaching duck and cover. I don't think I even knew in junior high what a nuclear bomb was. The only hint I had that these types of weapons existed was the fact that my older brother had a poster on his wall which offered advice about what to do if a nuke bomb went off. It said, "Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye."
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Navigating the Holiday Hustle and Bustle as a Highly Sensitive Person

The holidays are often a meaningful time for highly sensitive people (HSPs). But they also can be tough. For starters, there’s the overstimulation, according to marriage and family therapist Joy Malek: “overcrowded shopping, dazzling displays, and aggressive commercial advertising. HSPs take in more detail about their environments than most people, and while this can be overwhelming at any time, the crowded atmosphere of the holidays can be particularly fatiguing.”

The world also moves quicker during the holidays, Malek said. There’s more traffic, and people are more impatient. There are more tasks, more errands, more shopping trips. “We are in a constant state of nervous system arousal, running on adrenaline. Since HSPs have more responsive nervous systems than the general population, we feel this stress more acutely.”
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Children and Teens

How Parents Can Overcome the Consumerism Trap This Holiday Season

Consumerism and materialism can be challenging for parents as the holiday season is approaching.

Many people experience pressure to buy gifts, sometimes in excess of what they might be comfortably able to afford. Kids often have high expectations for receiving gifts based on how many gifts their friends are getting and messages from the media telling them that they need more and better.  

Without mindful awareness, we as parents can easily fall into the trap of going on automatic pilot and doing what we think we “should” do to keep up with societal expectations instead of making choices based on what is most meaningful to us.

Here are a few suggestions for how to step out of the consumerism trap this holiday season:
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Upgrading Your Communication Skills

You have a choice every time you say something to someone. By your choice of words, your tone of voice and your body language, you nurture or weaken a relationship.

Now I know a few people who will take this as bad news. “Are you suggesting that I have to watch what I say to people -- even at home? I can’t just say what I think? You’ve got to be kidding.”

No, I’m not kidding. And I’m not suggesting that you need to be obsessive about monitoring your conversations. But, I’m still sticking to my point: how you communicate matters -- a lot. Let’s look at an example.
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