Single Moms and Raising Teen-Aged Sons

Single Moms and Raising Teen-Aged Sons

By Diane Windsor (Publisher, MotinaBooks.com)
Diane@MotinaBooks.com

I remember so clearly when my son was little.  He was seven when his father and I divorced, and we moved out of state.  Sure, we struggled, but we had many good times, too.  I was a super-involved single mom.  When he was in elementary school, I knew all of his teachers.  I attended class parties, and I never missed a parent-teacher conference.

I made sure he was involved in fun extra-curricular activities with other boys his age.  We were very active in Cub Scouts.  The Pinewood Derby was always my favorite event!  Together, we built several cars that won the race!  I was a very proud Derby Mama; I knew how to polish those axels and make the cars go FAST!

He joined a basketball team for several years, and that really helped him grow.  I was there for every practice and game, and I was the mom who kept track of all the players’ statistics.  My son was good at defense, but he never wanted to shoot.  I’ll never forget the one time he was in the perfect spot to get a basket.  The parents were sitting on the bleachers wondering what he would do.  Then, he threw the ball and made the basket!  We all got on our feet and cheered.

But sports were not his passion.  And he decided not to continue with Boy Scouts.

My adorable little boy was becoming one of the most feared creatures on Earth; the teenager with an attitude.  He loved to argue with me.  Everything I said was wrong.  He was still doing pretty well in school, which was certainly a relief.  But home was a different story.  We got along fine as long as he was doing and getting what he wanted.  But when I needed him to do something for me or the household, it wasn’t happening and an argument erupted.

The Challenges of Raising Teen-Aged Sons

Being the mother of a teen boy can be so challenging!  I’m five-feet, three inches tall on a good day, and my son towered over me when he was only thirteen.  His father lived out of state, so I was on my own with this kid.  How in the world would life be bearable until he graduated from high school?

As a mom, I was tempted to just give in to his wishes to make peace in our home.  I certainly did not look forward to the days that, after being at work for nine hours, there would be a huge knock-down, drag-out waiting for me at home.

Truths About Raising a Teen-Aged Son

I needed to remind myself of several important truths:

  • I’m the adult, not him. This was my home, and he was allowed to share it with me.  I paid the bills, and I made the rules.  Even though he is absolutely sure that he knows more than I do, I know that I’m right.  I need to stand my ground and be the adult.
  • Giving in to his demands will not help him. As a parent, it’s my job to raise a child into an adult.  This boy needs to become a strong man, and I need to help him.  This means that he needs to understand that the choices he makes will have consequences, whether they are good or bad.  If he chooses to not complete his school work, he will suffer the consequences of that choice.  It’s not my job to bail him out.  The same rules apply at home.  If he decides not to do a household chore that is his responsibility, I will provide the consequences.
  • Enabling him and bailing him out will not help him. It would have been so easy for me to clean up after him, cook all his meals, and just give in, in order to keep peace in my house.  But is that teaching him how to be a strong, independent man?  No!
  • Parents have more power than we think we do. It seems that many parents today are almost afraid to discipline their children.  It is okay if we don’t give our children every single thing they want.  “No,” is a complete sentence.  We do not need to give them an explanation for the decisions we make.

This difficult time with my son is only a season.  It won’t last forever.  I know that it’s my job to help him grow into a successful young man, and he won’t always enjoy the process!  I’m looking forward to the day, maybe five or ten years down the road, when I hear the words, “Mom, you were right!”

6 Ways to Get Paid What You’re Worth

6 Ways to Get Paid What You’re Worth

Although your networth isn’t a factor in credit scoring, it does influence your ability to purchase necessities, pay bills and keep your accounts current. So how do you get paid what you are worth?

For some professionals, the topic of salary can be more uncomfortable than the interview itself. A Salary.com survey revealed that 18% of job candidates don’t negotiate annual compensation at all, sacrificing the potential for greater earnings and career satisfaction. While there are limits to every job offer, there are a few strategies that could help you in the negotiation process.

1. Improve Your Resume

Learning what skills employers in your industry are looking for is one of the first steps toward earning higher pay. Review open positions online and create a list of common requirements. Research desirable credentials and think about highlighting the skills you have that meet these requirements. You might even consider earning a higher degree or certification to solidify your skills.

2. Avoid Specific Salary Requirements

Do your best to resist the urge to list a specific figure requirement on an application unless pressed. If you must, you might want to write “competitive” or “negotiable” to keep the conversation open. Disclosing your salary history can also lead to fewer bargaining options. In fact, earlier this year, Massachusetts passed state legislation prohibiting employers from considering past salaries in their hiring practices. It’s a good idea to discuss your workplace merits and skills before discussing money.

3. Consider Your Local Market Value

Location is a vital component of earning potential. According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary for a senior-level mechanical engineer in Chicago is $85,601, while the same position in Seattle yields $134,127. Consider cost of living and your own market value during the negotiation process. Your research will help you set realistic expectations.

4. Prepare a Counter-Offer

It’s a good idea to assess your worth and have an amount in mind that you can use for a counter-offer if you don’t like the first offer a company gives you. Make sure you consider base salary, benefits, signing bonuses, vacation time and other perks. It’s a good idea to make the counter-offer higher than what you’d settle for to give you negotiation room. Mutual flexibility is key here.

5. Share Your Ideas

An effective way to demonstrate value is to come prepared with ideas to help productivity. Research the company’s work and create a list of tasks you would like to complete if hired for the role. Early initiative shows enthusiasm and creativity, two qualities worth consideration during salary discussions.

6. Avoid Limiting Your Job Search

Salary negotiation is easier with a little competition. Pursue multiple job openings with the hope of securing more than one offer. It may be helpful to use competing salaries as leverage to land the position you prefer.

Preparing in Every Way

Many employers look at a version of your credit reports as part of the application process. It may not have a direct impact on your salary, but it’s still a good idea to know where your credit stands so you go into every interview as prepared as possible (which will likely only boost your value to your potential employer). You can see where your credit currently stands by taking a look at a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

[Book Excerpt] Discovering Your Own Doctor Within

[Book Excerpt] Discovering Your Own Doctor Within

An Actress WithinDiscovering Your Doctor Within book cover about emotional wellness

A girl in her midtwenties who wore a peasant shirt arrived for a simple checkup of her sprained right wrist. She’d been
wearing a brace and managing within her work restrictions. Blonde-haired and doe-eyed, she appeared reserved but polite. I proceeded to examine the wrist and check the fit of the brace. I also offered her a different medication and asked about physical therapy.

We then chitchatted a bit, during which she told me she was working an assembly line job and raising her sons, but she’d just graduated from acting school and was very excited to audition the next day for a commercial in Cincinnati. She thought it was important to show her sons the importance of following a dream by following her own. She said she’d always wanted to portray characters that brought out emotions in those watching. I commended her for this and wished her the best for the audition.

I encouraged her to show the joy in what she was doing, even if it was an awkward tryout, as though the time on stage would truly be what she’d be doing for a living; projecting her comfort would allow the producers to feel more relaxed and happy to hire her for the part. I asked her if there was anything else about her health that we should talk about, and she stated she’d had migraines since childhood.

meditation for emotional wellness

Unsplash / Pixabay

I felt a sense of properness while in the room with her; a sense of calmness that was more like forced tranquility than genuine peace. So, I brought to her attention that allowing her true feelings to come out, such as anger, would not only help with her migraines but also with her performance on stage. I felt that somewhere during this young adult’s upbringing, she’d learned to turn off any anger, having judged and condemned it as improper.

“As a matter of fact,” I told her, “anger can be very helpful.”

I recommended that she join a self-defense class where she could strike out, kick, and punch, and with each one of these offensive moves, assign with it something that happened to her that caused her to feel angry. She was to channel that feeling and event into every strike.

I told her that if she did that, she would not only help her migraines but also be able to channel that emotion in the human characters she played. I explained that the suppression of this emotion doesn’t get rid of it but instead just chains it up for a while and builds inner pressure that can result in all sorts of destructive influence on the body. Emotions are vibrations, and the body, under poor vibrations, can develop disease and be unwell, exhibiting symptoms such as migraines, ulcers, and stomach issues.

She nodded in agreement and said that in her final exam at acting school, she’d had to deliver part of a monologue of a very angry woman, standing alone on stage. She said she had done very poorly because she hadn’t been able to get in touch with the anger. I’d told her that it made a lot of sense because she’d never given herself permission to access it. While she worked through this, I recommended that she try butterbur, an herb showing promise in treating migraines, embraced by large neurology clinics for its effectiveness and low side effect profile.

I then asked if I could say a prayer with her for her audition and new dream career. She agreed, and I held in my mind the portrait of her as an actress who was so in touch with each of her emotions that she could portray any character, and the genuineness of this would be felt by all the audience members, who would be in turn inspired to find the genuine nature in their own lives. I saw this so clearly for her and asked that she be guided to this, as she felt comfortable in allowing it to happen. She’d been an inspiration, and I was blessed with a new realization about prayer from our visit.

In having prayed and seen the young actress so sharply in my mind’s eye doing and loving what she wanted so much to do, I felt what true prayer is. True prayer is holding a deeply felt, detailed image of someone’s best self, when he or she isn’t yet able to do so. I was reminded of Jesus among the sick. He saw his fellow beings in their full state of radiant health, walking with their beds instead of focusing on their lameness and skin lesions. He held so strongly the vibration of their well-being that they all let go of their own beliefs of sickness in his presence. We can all do this for each other by focusing on each other’s best selves and holding that in our hearts as our image of them.

——–

About the author

Amy E. Coleman author of discovering your doctor withinDr. Amy E. Coleman is the CEO and founder of Wellsmart, a company that cultivates technologies and healthcare strategies that strengthen the patient/doctor relationship. She served as a United States Air Force flight surgeon, and was appointed the youngest and first female Commander of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Clinic. There, she helped guide global medical missions and build creative clinic systems, including those employing complementary care methods still employed today throughout the Air Force.

9 Helpful Tools for Fixing Your Credit

9 Helpful Tools for Fixing Your Credit

You know you have a problem — a credit score problem — but you don’t know how to fix it.

There are so many different possibilities that could be the source of your credit problems that it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some tools to help you understand, diagnose and manage your credit problems so you can fix your credit once and for all.

1. Spending Alerts

One of the biggest factors impacting your credit score is how much debt you have. Setting up spending alerts on your credit cards can help you make sure you don’t let your balances wreck your credit. Spending more than 30% of your credit limits on revolving accounts, like credit cards, can do major credit score damage. In fact, people with the best scores spend less than 10% of their limits. Some credit card companies let you set spending alerts for when you’ve charged more than a certain dollar amount or a certain percentage of your credit line. These alerts can help you make sure you keep that major credit scoring factor in check.

2. A Credit Card Payoff Calculator

The easiest way to hurt that “amount of debt” credit scoring factor is by carrying a balance on your credit cards. When interest charges accrue, they can quickly add to an already-high balance, doing double damage — you’re in credit card debt and your credit score is taking a hit. You can use a credit card payoff calculator like this one to get a handle on your debt and make a plan for paying it down.

3. Free Annual Credit Reports

If you don’t know what the problem is, how can you fix it? That’s why your free, federally-mandated annual credit reports are so important. Your credit reports have the raw data your credit scores are based on. You can get a free annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

4. Free Credit Scores

There are a lot of places where you can get your credit scores for free nowadays. You can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com, and many credit card issuers and banks offer a monthly credit score for customers as well. Checking your credit scores regularly can help you track your progress as you work to improve your scores.

5. Disputes

By law, every major credit reporting agency must have a dispute process in place for correcting errors on consumers’ reports. Just one late payment reported in error can drop your credit score significantly, so a dispute can be a powerful tool. Here’s an in-depth guide to disputing credit report errors. 

6. Credit Repair

For people with many errors on their credit reports, the dispute process may not be sufficient to get everything fixed with all the credit bureaus. Some people want to hit the easy button and not have to file all the disputes and track whether the errors are removed. Those people may want to consider a credit repair company — here are tips for picking a reputable one.

7. Credit Freezes & Fraud Alerts

If you’re a victim of identity theft, fixing your credit can be incredibly difficult. Someone took your personal information, like your Social Security number, old addresses, maiden name, etc. It’s one thing to dispute incorrectly reported information on your credit report when you hold all the information, but it’s another thing entirely once those details are out of your hands. In fact, you run the risk of being victimized over and over and over again — your Social Security number doesn’t expire, after all. That’s where filing for a credit freeze or fraud alert can come in handy. These are tools the major credit reporting agencies provide to help fraud victims protect their credit.

Fraud alerts require a lender or creditor to further verify your information when anyone applies for credit in your name. This helps ensure it is actually you who is applying for credit and not your identity thief. A freeze goes one step further and essentially shuts down access to your credit file until you unfreeze it. Depending on where you live, a credit freeze may be free or come with a fee.

8. Cash

A credit problem is often a cash problem as well, but sometimes it isn’t. For example, if you’re recovering from bankruptcy, short sale or other credit disaster, it can be hard to get new credit because your credit score is so low. But, you can get a secured credit card and start rebuilding your credit if you have some cash you can use to “secure” the card. These cards require a cash deposit that generally serves as your credit limit. Treating that account right, paying your bill on time and managing your credit usage, can help you build credit quickly and allow you to eventually access a standard credit card.

9. Lifetime Cost of Debt Calculator

Sometimes the key to building good credit is simply to stay motivated. That’s where this lifetime cost of debt calculator can come in handy. Plug in your age, where you live and a few other details and you can see just how much a good credit score can cost you in a lifetime vs. how much a bad credit score will cost you. The price tag alone will keep you focused on a better credit score.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

5 Coping Strategies to Steer Single Moms Away from- “I Quit!”

5 Coping Strategies to Steer Single Moms Away from- “I Quit!”

Have you ever asked yourself “Why am I on this roller coaster ride? How do I get off?” What can you do to silence the nagging voice that keeps whispering in your ear “just quit”? Despite having faith and juggling life, as a single mom, there will be times that feel like everything is suffocating you. This does not indicate weakness. This is life—the life of a single parent. While I have no silver bullet that will help you defeat trying times, I do have a set of invaluable coping strategies that will empower you on your journey.

These are the 5 coping strategies:

  1. Crying-Purge set some things free

As much as crying yourself to sleep at night will bring no positive result or qualified answers to the problem that you are facing in the moment, it is still effective. Crying is a purging process that ultimately relieves some of the heaviness you carry daily.

  1. Faith- You have to have something you believe in and that fills you up

Having faith to know and believe that no matter what is happening in your life there is something greater than you and will never fail you is critical. Believe in the power of the universe to hold you up, show you the way, and open up closed doors when you have met the end of your own strength.

  1. Quiet Time- Rest your mind, Reclaim your power and Rejuvenate your spirit

As a single mother, a lot is asked of you. You give until you have nothing left in you. Take the appropriate time to sort things out and to spend some time alone relaxing your mind.

  1. Self-Improvement-Feed yourself positivity. Feed Your Mind

It is critical that you as a single mother do not stop growing and becoming better. It keeps your mind alert and continues to open up the door to opportunities to offer more to your children. And let’s be honest, it is good to lead by example.

  1. Devotion/Meditation- Tap into your inner core

My favorite scripture is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” from Philippians 4:6. Whether it is to run over, step over, climb over, roll over, or even crawl over the mountains before you, it has to be done; quitting is never the only option. Single mother’s you must pull out your mantra/verse and recite it with unwavering belief to produce the inner strength and power to make it a little longer.

These strategies are a starting point for overcoming the “I quit” syndrome. You have no barriers or boundaries except the ones you create. Single mother’s, you will never be faultless or handle every situation the right way, but you can give your best. You are more than you think you are and can go much further than you know. Be confident and be bold. You must have faith to know that you are chosen, equipped, and ready to change the face of the next generation. You have to release “I quit” in order to receive “I can”.

 About the Author

Grayce Bernard is the founder of IMPAC, Inc. and the author of the book: Raising Giants-Repurposing the Life of the Single Mother. She helps women break the cycle of generational poverty to build wealth by creating a life plan and step into a bigger vision of herself.  C. Grayce serves as a voice and advocate for the voiceless. She specifically helps single mothers reframe their stories of shame into stories of empowerment. C. Grayce Bernard is a coach, speaker, trainer and transformational leader. Book C. Grayce Bernard for your upcoming event at443.364.8789 or email: cgb@cgraycebernard.com.  Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

7 Steps to Making the Most of Financial Aid

7 Steps to Making the Most of Financial Aid

(BPT) – What do parents of toddlers and parents of high school students have in common? Both worry about paying for college. With the constantly rising costs of higher education, financial aid becomes more important than ever for making the dream of a college education possible. So if you’re interested in receiving financial aid, where should you start?

“The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is your gateway to money for college from both the federal and state governments for most colleges and universities,” says Mark Kantrowitz, author of “Filing the FAFSA” and “Secrets to Winning a Scholarship.” “Filing the FAFSA correctly is crucial, as it has a direct effect on how much money you receive from various types of financial aid.”

College Ave Student Loans partnered with Kantrowitz to offer top tips for maximizing your need-based financial aid for college:

1. Save strategically

When it comes to covering the cost of college, financial aid should be at the forefront of your mind, whether you’re ready to file the FAFSA right now or not. It’s best to save money for college in a parent’s name, rather than the student’s, as the FAFSA assesses money in the parent’s name at a much lower rate. Every $10,000 in student assets reduces aid eligibility by $2,000, while every $10,000 in parent assets only reduces eligibility by up to $564.

2. File early

The earlier you file the FAFSA, the better. Right now, you should file the FAFSA as soon as possible on or after Jan. 1, but starting in 2017, you can start as early as Oct. 1. Ten states award aid on a first come, first served basis, and 12 have hard deadlines in February and March. Specific schools can also have specific deadlines, and students who file early may qualify for more aid. So, as a rule of thumb, file the FAFSA in January to maximize your eligibility.

3. Minimize income in the base year

Using income and tax information from a previous year, or base year, the FAFSA calculates the financial strength of your family. Because the formula is heavily weighted on income, it’s a good idea to reduce your income in the base year. If you can, avoid realizing capital gains. If you must sell stocks, bonds or other investments, try to offset capital gains with losses. Taking retirement plan distributions during the base year will also count as income.

4. Reduce reportable assets

Minimize your money in the bank by using it to pay credit card and loan debts. This not only makes good financial planning sense, but may help you qualify for more aid.

5. Maximize the number of children in college at the same time

Something as simple as having more than one child in college can dramatically increase your changes of receiving more financial aid. While you can’t change the ages of your children, you can use this impact on aid eligibility as a deciding factor when determining whether to allow your child to skip a grade.

6. Seek generous and low-cost colleges

There are many generous colleges, including some in the Ivy League, which implement “no loans” financial aid policies. This means they replace loans with grants in the student’s need-based financial aid package. Additionally, in-state public colleges are likely to be your least expensive option, especially after subtracting gift aid, grants and scholarships.

7. Organize your documents and information

Filing the FAFSA is all about the details. Pay attention and stay organized to get the job done right, starting by filing the FAFSA for the correct year and staying on top of deadlines. Make sure to use the right Social Security Number, date or birth, marital status and correct financial information. Follow the instructions and fill out the forms as carefully as possible to get the most accurate results.

Once you receive your financial aid award letter and assess your savings, you’ll have time to consider taking out a loan. If you need it, find a simple option that works for you, such as College Ave Student Loans.

Navigating the world of financial aid can be tricky, so follow these tips to maximize your eligibility and make college a reality. For more information and resources, visit collegeavestudentloans.com.