Awesome Moms Tell Your Tweens + Teens

Free Connecticut Fun

This week I came across a parent requesting the names of Connecticut “museums or the like” that have free or discounted days. (I’ve alphabetized the responses below.)

There were 30+ responses. Is that a great example of reaching out for support – and receiving it? Instead of parenting like you’re alone on an island, find people who are experiencing situations like yours. They contribute to you, and you contribute to them.

Please share any free or discounted family activities that you know of. Make sure you include which state or country it’s in. Here’s a list of comments for Connecticut:

“We just went to the Aldrich Museum this past Saturday. It is free the third Saturday each month. It’s a small museum but tend to have great exhibits.”

Audubon Society.”

“The Bronx Zoo is free on Wednesdays. Advance reservation required.”

CT Science Center in Hartford used to offer discounts to homeschoolers. Not sure of what going on now.”

“I don’t know if the Feinstein Jr Scholar Program is in CT, but if it is, the children get a Jr card. That card provides all sorts of free admission and discounts. Like Mystic Aquarium is one. You can take the child and two additional people for free.”

“You probably could pull up the Feinstein program right online and get one.”

“It appears you can order a card. You need to put in a school though.”

“There is a program called Free Fun Fridays, but it’s only during the summer, through the Highland Foundation. You pick any of the locations participating that Friday (in Mass only) and just get there early because those days can get pretty busy. I don’t know if they’re still doing it due to the pandemic but you can check.”

“The Libraries used to have discount passes. Not sure if they are doing that with Covid though. Local public libraries have free passes available to borrow. They tend to get booked up early though, so be sure to reserve them in advance.”

“Also try your local library several of them have free or discounted tickets.”

“You can get a museum pass at your local library.”

“If you get Snap, Mystic is free for the recipients.”

“Nautilus and Submarine Museum in Groton is always free.”

“We usually get a membership to a museum that has reciprocal benefits to other museums. Our New England Air Museum family membership was $100 and they are part of the North American Reciprocal Museums program, so we have used it to get in free to a lot of other museums.”

“Old Sturbridge Village is charging half price for kids admission now, and sometimes they have free admission days on Mothers Day or Fathers Day.”

Peabody  Museum in New Haven usually has free days in Thursdays from September to June. With everything being shut down, not sure if they’re open. They were also in the middle of remodeling. Children’s museum in New Haven, too.”

Roger Williams Zoo does the same thing with other zoos and museums.”

“If you have a membership for Roger Williams Zoo, you get free admission to the Boston Museum of Science.”

Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum is currently free, you have to book online.”

“The Wadsworth Athenaeum is currently free, operating at reduced capacity. 

You can get timed tickets online.”

The White Memorial Nature Center is free, for kids, one week every month! It’s a really great nature center. And definitely tie in a little pond boardwalk hike!”

Awesome Moms

6 Steps For Improving Your Relationship With Your Daughter

The relationship with her mother is the most important female bond in a daughter’s life. She needs it because

  • children are too heavily influenced by media and young friends, especially if their relationship with their parents is strained or volatile. They need you to provide balance with the world.
  • your relationship with your daughter builds trust, and teaches her how to handle herself in other relationships.

A loving relationship built on trust is possible, even if your daughter’s behavior is starting to become difficult to handle. It’s important to find a solution early before the relationship spins out of control.

Here’s a quick outline for improving your relationship with your daughter by building her trust. FYI, everything here is addressed in depth in How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door with plenty of mother-daughter relationship activities to go through.

  1. Learn and practice conversation starters.
  2. Stock up on strategies for handling conflict.
  3. Make and keep rules and consequences.
  4. Increase your engagement with your daughter.
  5. Set aside time devoted to fun that you two spend together.
  6. Take some time out for you to keep yourself centered and balanced.

Step # 1 – Learn and practice conversation starters.

  • Prepare a list ahead of time.
  • Use the examples in “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door” or make up your own.
  • Ask other moms how they engage their daughters.

Step # 2 – Stock up on strategies for handling conflict.

  • Have a plan in place before conflict arises.
  • Step Back and Come Back when the conversation gets heated.
  • Count to ten before answering.
  • Do Deep Breathing and the other Quick Fixes.
  • Model the behavior you want your child to employ.

Step # 3 – Make and keep rules and consequences.

  • Share rules and consequences with kids before they are needed.
  • Kids can discuss, but you own the Adult Role, so you make all decisions.
  • Enforce consequences when a line is crossed. 
  • Avoid disciplining out of anger. Wait until your distress decreases before discussing consequences. 
  • If rules need adjusting, change them after a proven period, and never at the start of something new (like a new school year).

Step # 4 – Increase engagement with your daughter. 

  • Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered yes or no.
  • Use magazine articles to start a conversation by asking her opinion.
  • Share stories of you and your mom with your daughter.

Step # 5 – Set aside time devoted to fun that you spend together.

  • Brainstorm ideas that can include others (family members, BFFs, neighbors).
  • Spend a girls-day together (nails, hair, make-up, shoes).
  • Plan a day trip with her BFF and the BFF’s mom to some unique event.
  • Spend a day cooking food together for the entire week with music you both like.

Step # 6 – Take some time out for you to keep yourself centered and balanced.

  • Read something positive, uplifting, exciting.
  • Meditate or listen to encouraging songs.
  • Go for a walk with your friends.
  • Move your body to upbeat music.
  • Take a long luxurious bath.

Hopefully, recognizing how basic these solutions are will encourage you to attempt them. Just make sure when you make changes that you tell your family ahead of time. Otherwise, they might freak out when things switch up out of nowhere.

For more info on relationship building with teenage girls, see the books, “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door” and “How To Get Your Happy On.”

Feel free to contact me at if you’d like to discuss a particular situation. It takes a village.


Tell Your Tweens + Teens

To Compare, Or Not To Compare… That’s the Academic Question

Children are wondrous Works-In-Progress. The way they grow and develop is nothing short of a miracle. The biggest error we make, and the gravest injustice to our kids, is to compare them to others. We all do it. We can’t help ourselves because that’s the way we were raised.

We were taught that trophies and report cards represent accomplishments, when in actuality, mastery and life application are what matters. Those exterior symbols may reflect your children’s achievements, and in turn, may boost their self-esteem, but those positive effects are temporary at best. 

They also are the foundation for developing an Imposter Syndrome in your child. When we, including kids, are not sure if external praise is deserved, we doubt our ability. Deep down inside we suspect a mistake has been made, and privately we know we really aren’t as nice, or intelligent, or strong, or beautiful, or likeable as the world thinks we are. That creates an underlying fear of being exposed as a “fraud” if the “truth” comes out.

Win or Lose, It’s How You Play the Game

It’s time to let go of the emphasis of awards based on comparison. Instead, focus on our kids’ personal progress. That’s what builds the foundation for long lasting self-worth. They progress, they know it, and no one can take that away from them.

When I coached basketball to middle schoolers, I always emphasized personal improvements. A trophy from a well-fought contest feels better than one received from a blow-out game against a significantly weaker team. Of course the girls were happy to win either, but the latter felt hollow and mildly embarrassing to our players in the long run. 

So, to make sure they played their best in a way they could be proud of, we changed the objective. Instead of merely racking up points, the goal now was to execute five passes before attempting a shot, or to make sure everyone on our team scored before you got another basket, or to rack up rebounds. Then we’d compare their individual progress to previous games so they could value their own improvement.

Winning because the opponent was weak creates that feeling of being a fraud. But figuring out how to break your personal rebound record by five more rebounds is something a player can own and value, since rebounds happen no matter who you’re up against.

The opposite held true, also. When faced with a tough competitor, win or lose, we always focused on their personal best. We told them that they had no control over who showed up on the other team. The only thing they could control was which part of themselves they brought to the game. Losing didn’t have the same kind of sting for young girls when they accomplished some personal best. They owned it, and it built up their internal self-worth. That lasts a lot longer than a self-esteem boosting trophy that the team earns.

Thwarting the Imposter Syndrome In Our Children

The same holds true in the classroom. School systems that use A,B,C,D,F  as their protocol (their version of a trophy) have an external reward system in place. Other schools use a Pass/Fail system to recognize student work. My personal favorite is the system that measures actual progress with criteria like Emerging or Mastery. When any of these systems focuses on individual development, the student is more likely to own their progress, and build self-worth. But, usually the goal is to do what the other kids are doing at the same speed they’re doing it, and in the same way they do it. 

I believe distance learning is especially difficult for students trained to have their self-esteem derived from comparing themselves to other students. Robbed of the ability to lean over and ask other students how they did on a test or project, they no longer have a measuring stick for propping up their self-esteem. Now, they risk being exposed as an imposter in front of their parents. If this is affecting your children, you may see

  • increased irritability and anxiety
  • hesitancy to try new things for fear of getting them wrong
  • tendency to withdraw

I also believe that parents trained to value letter grades, and whether their child is “keeping up,” find distance learning nerve wracking. Their focus on the school’s external yardsticks exposes their own imposter syndrome. They doubt their ability to be the home-teacher, forgetting that they were the ones who taught their kids to walk, talk and explore… and most likely without any specific training of their own. 

You can easily shift the focus from the external to the internal by comparing where they were this time last year, academically, athletically, etc. An emphasis on using the appropriate yardstick (personal progress) will help your kids eventually make the shift themselves, and thereby build their self-worth. 

Teach Them How To Be Smart

I kept a banner on the wall in my classroom that stated, 

“Smart” isn’t something you’re born with. “Smart” is something you become.

Anyone can become “Smart.” You just have to work at it. The brain improves the same way a muscle improves. If you challenge a muscle with exercise or movement, you become stronger. If you challenge your brain with schoolwork, art, music lessons, or puzzles, you become smarter. The more you practice, the greater the change. 

Understanding this puts the power to improve in your child’s hands. It also converts the negativity of mistakes into the positive realm of learning experiences. When something doesn’t workout right, the brain now knows to find an alternative. 

You got this!

If you’d like more, reach out to me at