Shop the fall collection ➔

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of doing or saying something you shouldn’t be when all of a sudden you realize your little ones are watching you? You know the expression,”Little pitchers have big ears?” It’s so true, kids watch what we do and listen to what we say far more than we realize. Ever have your child pick up a curse word and then repeat it at your in-laws’ house? Yeah, me too. It turns out that this modeling of behavior can be a powerful parenting tool. It’s one that I often employed as my kids were growing up. Modeling good behavior is not always easy and I recently discovered just how difficult it could be.

My kids and I had just finished up a picnic down by the riverfront park in the middle of our city. It was one of those rare days when we all had fun. No one was complaining that they wanted to be somewhere else, or was lost in a video game on their phone. There was no bickering or sullen teenage drama. It was a sunny day and this picnic was the perfect start to their spring break. We were all laughing and smiling as I sped on down the road towards home.

I was having a mom moment to be proud of… Until we heard the sirens behind us.

I looked at the speedometer and realized I was going 15 mph over the speed limit and was being pulled over. I had never been caught speeding before so as I nervously pulled over, I was trying to remember the strategies I had heard about to avoid getting a ticket. Should I insist I wasn’t going that fast? Beg the officer for a warning since I was a first timer? I even glanced down to see if  I was wearing a blouse that I could unbutton a little farther and try to get away with a smile and a wink. As my mind was racing, trying to think of the best way to get out of this, I realized that my three teenage children were quietly watching me from the backseat and waiting to see what I would do.

Damn! This was one of those teachable moments wasn’t it? One of those times where I really needed to set a good example for my kids. I knew right then as I looked back at them that I had to forget any chance of weaseling my way out of this ticket if I wanted to model the right behavior.

Teachable moments can be so hard! Think of all the times you have had to hold your tongue and be polite to someone who is being nasty toward you, because your kids were watching you. Or what about the time you felt compelled to turn in the hundred dollar bill you found in the parking lot because you wanted to teach your kids the right thing to do? It’s not always so easy, right? I’ve utilized tons of teachable moments over the years and I’m sure you have as well, but this particular one was torture. Not only was it going to cost me money, it also involved me feeling humiliated in front of my kids. Yes, I had broken the rules and I knew I had to take my lumps and move on. But it wasn’t easy.

Teens don’t often listen to what their parents try to teach them. But they do watch what we do. I knew I could talk until I was blue in the face about taking responsibility for mistakes, but if I made excuses and tried to worm my way out of this mistake they would follow my poor example in the future. The pressure was on to do the right thing even though it was so tempting to do the opposite! Damn those teachable moments!

After I was issued the ticket and the cop went on his way, my daughter asked, “Why didn’t you tell him that you always drive so slowly?” ( It’s true, I usually drive like a turtle which is why I hadn’t gotten a ticket before in all of my 30 years of driving.) I told her, “When you do something wrong, you admit it and accept the consequences.” I would hate for my kids to try and argue their way out of a ticket if they really were speeding. My son asked, “Weren’t you supposed to put your lipstick on and talk real sweet?” Note to self: this kid has been watching too much TV. I told him, “I got a little distracted, not that that is an excuse, and I was going at a dangerous speed. Paying this ticket will help me remember to drive at a safer speed from now on.” (Yes, I am rolling my eyes even as I write this.)

I really  wanted to sweet talk my way out of that ticket and I’m pretty sure I could have, but this was one of those times I had to choose to do the right thing no matter how difficult. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up to demonstrate to my, soon-to-be driving, teens the right way to  handle this situation. It cost me $150.00 and I’m sure it will pay off in the end, but damn those teachable moments are hard!

Dr. Jennifer Pinto

Jennifer Pinto is an avid reader, writer, psychologist and mom to a daughter(20) and two sons (16 & 14). She has been married to her husband for 21 years. She is currently writing a young adult novel and has a psychology-themed blog called "Off the Couch..." She enjoys drinking coffee at all hours of the day, cooking Indian food and being the team mom for her son's tennis & football teams.

Our Friend Steve Is Back! Get Ready for the “Blue’s Clues” Live-Action Movie

In: Kids, Living
man in a trench coat and green tie looking out door

We just got a letter, we just got a letter! Except this time, it’s even better! ’90s kids rejoice, because one of our favorite classic Nickelodeon series, Blue’s Clues, is getting a live-action makeover. Not only that, but it will also feature all three of the show’s hosts, which means our beloved Steve Burns will be returning to the screen after all this time! You may remember, Steve popping back into our lives unexpectedly last year for the 25th anniversary of the show to explain why he had departed so suddenly. He hit us all in the feels when he...

Keep Reading

Dear School Bus Driver, My Whole World Is In Your Care

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing on school bus stairs, color photo

To the bus driver I do not know, You don’t understand how hard it is to let go of my child’s hand in the morning and hand him over to you. You don’t know how long it took me to make this decision . . . to let him ride the bus.  Some may say it’s brave or courageous to trust another with your child’s life. I sometimes think it can be daring but also really unwise.  RELATED: Every Time I Leave My Child With Autism in the Care of Someone Else, I Worry In today’s world, we must worry...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Blinked, They Grew—and It Was So Beautiful

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boys kissing mother black and white photo

I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t. Not even close. Not in the tiniest, least little bit. When we hugged our precious, oldest boy and left him to start college just a few hours away, we didn’t know what was coming. The waves of emotion, of loss, of pride, of accomplishment. They say not to blink because your kids will grow up. But despite how much we may not want to, it’s involuntary. We have to blink. They don’t talk about this part. No one tells you what to do when you open your eyes again. RELATED: I Blinked and...

Keep Reading

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading