Judgment and Keeping Up Appearances

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I was quietly panicking. “Don’t bring out the mugs with the broken handles,” I whispered to Don. My daughter and her in-laws, Mi Mi and John, had joined us for dinner that night. We were about to serve homemade chai tea after clearing the remains of the Sri-Lankan chicken curry off the table. Mi Mi and John had given us those lovely mugs for Christmas the previous year, and I didn’t want them to know they were damaged.

Don seamlessly set our old mismatched but unbroken coffee mugs on the table and served the tea. In my haste to avoid…


The Secret to Answering Hard Questions

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“Mom…,” pleads ten-year-old Sam, “Tell me the truth about Santa.”

“What do you want to know?” I ask, buying time, trying to figure out what exactly I’m going to say.

“I want to know the truth about Santa. Is there really a REAL Santa?”

Admittedly, Sam was a bit old to be having this particular conversation. Some might wonder how he could actually still believe in Santa Claus at the age of ten. In some way, we all still believed in Santa in our house; Santa had become a metaphor for our spirit of giving.

Answer Hard Questions with a Question

Nine years earlier, when Sam’s…


And Other Things That Don’t Matter This Year

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Several years ago I casually mentioned to my adult son that I wasn’t going to put up a Christmas tree, and a rebellion ensued; “It won’t even smell like Christmas! Where will we put the gifts? We ALWAYS have a tree!!!”

I didn’t intend to write an article about the holidays, but this might be important to you. I use the phrase “might be” because I’m not sure what’s important to you.

That’s the point; I have to ask.

I’ve made the mistake of assuming I knew what was important to the people I love, and I’ve learned my lesson.

We Can’t Have Christmas Without A Tree


It’s Time To Flip The Narrative, And Here’s Why: Tales From 12 Years On The Road With 3 Kids

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How we talk to kids about money impacts how they feel about money.

My husband loved to “window shop” at marinas. He was a bit of a dreamer. There is no yacht in our future, but we’ve owned our share of ski boats. Past-tense on the ski boats, since we were living in an RV and could tow only one fun toy at a time.

On one such marina gawking adventure, our 10-year-old, Sam, pointed to a beautiful speed boat for sale and exclaimed with rapture and regret, “Gosh. Too bad we can’t afford THAT!” This led to a compelling discussion. “But we CAN afford that,” his dad explained. “We can walk into…


How to Give Up People-Pleasing and Realize Who You Really Are…

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My kids say I’ve abandoned them. I left my daughter and her husband with their six-day-old baby boy to fly to Austin and spend a week with my lover. Superhero moms don’t do that. Family is first; we are helpers and fixers. We know what everyone around us needs, and we are there to make it happen. Superheroes don’t get to have an identity of their own.

I have always put my kids first. How could I have thought it was okay to walk out and leave her with…


Wisdom From Three-Year-Old Nina

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Three-year-old Nina leaned over her best friend, enthusiastically jabbing a toothbrush inside Ava’s mouth. Nina’s recent dentist visit inspired a new version of creative play. Ava lay prone on the couch, her face scrunched in discomfort; she kept her mouth open and soldiered on with the prodding and poking. Nina hunched over her, brushing intently, and noticed Ava’s distress.

“It’s okay, Ava. You don’t have to like it,” Nina informed her.

She nailed it. There are countless things we do that we don’t like. Cleaning toilets is second only to cursing and fighting with my printer when it won’t work.

It’s Okay, You Don’t Have To Like It


What Getting Lost Taught Us About Scarcity And Gratitude : Tales From 12 Years On The Road With 3 Kids

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“Mom, where will we be tomorrow?”

My stubborn pride about using only paper maps resulted in a nerve-racking detour through New York City towing a 30-foot trailer — with three children in the back seat.

Year 2

We loaded the kids and suitcases into our Chevy 1-ton van and left Grandpa’s house in Asbury Park, New Jersey at 6 am towing our 30’ home (aka RV) behind us. We planned to arrive at the campground in New Hampshire by noon. Two years before that we sold our 3 bedroom ranch house and packed our family into a tow-behind travel trailer.


The Proven Method To Teach Kids (And Adults) Impulse Control Without Losing Your Sanity In The Process

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Every parent dreads the grocery store candy gauntlet of the checkout aisle. It’s like an episode of American Ninja except you are negotiating the gauntlet with a toddler, a pre-K, and a cart full of groceries. You know you’re going to have to deal with the persistent nagging the moment your child sees the candy. Immediately they go into what I call the see it, want it, buy it mode.

The impulse buy is the marketer’s mission. Amazon’s “Epic Daily Deal’’ screams at us to buy it NOW at this great low price, or forever regret your dithering. Just last…


Why Loving A Child Is Not Enough, and How To Inspire Confidence

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As a kid, my very identity was all tied up in wanting people to approve of me.

A rowdy family discussion erupted over dinner the day after my aunt, uncle, and cousins elected me designated driver for a raucous trip to Greek Town in Chicago. That adventure started with Ouzo shots and ended by closing the Karaoke bar across from the restaurant.

At Grandma’s Sunday dinner table my uncle became famously furious when he realized his Ouzo-induced fog had caused him to double-tip the waiter the night before. This discovery was complicated by the disapproving input from Grandma Sally, who had been blissfully ignorant of our exploits until my uncle lost his cool.

As a 20-year-old, it…


The Single Most Effective Tool To Inspire Kids To Become Expert Savers.

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Our plan was to teach our kids how to save money so they could put themselves through college and make financial choices that would direct their futures.

We were living our dream, traveling the country in an RV with three kids, no house payment and adventures every day, but we were on a tight budget. We could only continue our travels if we spent less than we made, and had some savings. No way could we put three kids through college with our cash flow.

While combing through books of parenting advice, I stumbled on a bizarre idea. Pay your…

Rebecca Hollinger

Helping parents raise confident, kind & financially savvy kids. RebeccaHollinger.com

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