I have to admit, being a mom to a teenage son has its challenges. I cannot for the life of me figure out how he can function in his room that is filled with technology and dirty socks. With the buzzes of texts, the bam bam of the XBox games, and the other random noises I hear from time to time, it’s like an alien has landed here on 24 Maple.

Much of my time is spent, I have to admit, when I am home, is pondering how to bridge the gap between the foreign land of “teenagerdome” and the mind of a 41 year old (I would like to think but am reminded I am not) cool mom. And it was during this push and pull, (as Morrie Schwartz would say from the life lesson book, Tuesdays with Morrie, tension of opposites,) that I realized that Jake and I were not that much different after all. Actually, like Morrie, I could learn a thing or two from this blonde haired blue-eyed alien that really is wise beyond his years.

Life Lesson # 1 - Let it go. Sometimes it takes the blunt statement from a teenager to set you straight. Since much of my life is figuring out the best action plan to achieve a goal (I know, sounds very straight) I can get lost in how to make the plan the most efficient. But it is then, that I am a walking oxymoron (with an emphasis on the moron) when I am over-committed to my plot for organization and excellence. While pondering this strategy and that strategy, beating myself up over how non-efficient I am, my son looks me dead in the eye and says mom, “Why don’t you just let it go?”

I choke, “Let it go? How can I do that when I have this deadline and that deadline, articles to write, appointments to make, etc.?”

He looks at me very nonchalantly as if he is the wisest old man who is contemplating using the word duh, “Yeah, mom, lighten up.”

We have all heard the term, watch yourself, meaning, take a look at the life you are creating and look at it from the outside. One of my favorite clients has mastered this skill as she reminds me every week how important this is to do. Well, little did she know that she and Jake had much in common but used different phrases. Basically, Jake was reminding me to look at the big picture and sit back and chill awhile. And, he was right. A little stillness and reflection goes a long way.

Life lesson # 2 - Don’t assume the worst. Bingo! This is a biggie! In a world that is overconditioned to how potentially screwed up kids can be these days, especially teenagers, we have become a society of “over-focusers.” Each and every move our kids make can tend to get overanalyzed. For instance, when Jake calls to say he is going to be late when he is out on the weekend, how easy is it to assume the worst case scenario? “What? You are 15 minutes late? That must mean you are at some underage rave across town doing all sorts of nasty things.” Poor kid. I am like one of those jumpy crickets we find in our basements during the rainy season – jumping from assumption to assumption when all the poor kid wanted to do was grab a slice of pizza on the way home from a friend’s house.

During the course of the day, how often do we think the worst in things? For real, think about when the leak happens in the chimney how we automatically assume it is going to cost thousands of dollars to replace the entire structure rather than a few bucks to fill in a gap or two? Or, when we don’t make our quota for the month at work and we begin to catastrophize about how the entire year is going to down the tubes with the business? Keeping a positive mindset is so important in many ways, even to the life of a 15-year-old.

Life lesson # 3 - Notice what works. I notice the dirty clothes on the floor and the rolling of the eyes when I say a silly joke in the car in front of his friends, but I hadn’t realized I wasn’t noticing the good stuff as much as I should. It took my “wise beyond his years son” to say, “Look, Mom, I don’t do this and I don’t do that, but this is what I do DO!” He pointed out his grades, his athletic ability, the thank you he always says to me after dinner and how he consistently comes into my room before bedtime to say good night.

Yup, Jake got it right this time and I was grateful for him pointing these valuable life lessons to me.

In a world that tends to concentrate on what we are always doing wrong, we are not only fueling the inner critic to ourselves, but the outer critic to those around us. What a miserable existence that can be! Who wants to be around someone that is constantly trying to point out your wrong-doings in hopes of getting you to do something right? And, the scary part is, according to THEIR rules! That is not how I want to live, that’s for sure. It’s also not how I want the core of my family to exist, either, fueled by negative reinforcement.

It’s been quite a week, I have to say. Snowed in with two teenagers (yes, my daughter Maddie will be 13 soon!) and some would say they would rather get teeth extracted from the dentist then to face the wrath of snowbound adolescents. But, I see it as the opposite. I see it as my life lesson bootcamp. It wasn’t easy, it took some sweat and tears, but it was well worth the effort. Little did I know my drill sergeant would be a X-Box playing, sophomore in high school wearing skate shoes.

Author's Bio: 

I am a forty something single mom of two awesome kids. In the past six years, I have: separated and divorced, finished a graduate degree with honor’s, started a part-time career as a writing instructor at a local college, opened up my own business as a transition coach, and as of November 2008, became newly engaged! In addition, I have finished my basic training to become part of a collaborative law team. As you can see, it has been quite an eventful few years! However, I have never felt more fulfilled in my life.

How did I do it?

I can honestly tell you that I have utilized many of the same principles I learned in graduate school (I have an Master’s of Arts in Teaching) and applied them to my life. I thought, “What are my goals? Where do I want to be in one year – two years – five years? How am I going to get there?” (Think of this as being your own tutor!)

Like a teacher does with her class, I wrote out my lesson plans on how to achieve those goals. Hour-by-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, slowly but surely, I kept my eye on those goals and made sure that I kept forging ahead, even on the days I barely could get out of bed. (On those days, I gave myself a gold star for even making myself a pot of coffee or going to the dry cleaners!)

This is a true testimony on how you can use a crisis to create a new path for your future. That is what I did. I took all the pain and suffering I had during my divorce, turned it around into a positive learning experience.

What is the magic formula that makes my business thrive?

I knew that knowledge was power and the better educated I was as to what I could expect from the divorce process, the better. I wanted to be one step ahead of the game when meeting with the professionals and my goal was to be the ideal client. I wanted to get the most for my money when meeting with my lawyers and other professionals for many reasons – I wanted to save money, not waste my time talking about emotional issues during our meetings and I wanted to get it over with as smoothly (and quickly) and possible.

In the meantime, I read and studied books on goal-setting and laws of attraction as well as countless books on divorce (refer to recommended book list) and interviewed many legal professionals.

While I was studying and researching the various aspects of divorce and how to do it right, so to speak, I would reward myself with reading books on how to achieve your dreams! As a result, Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC, the Transition Coach, was created!

You can do two things at once during times of crisis – you can work on YOU and go through the divorce process as skilled and knowledgeable as possible!

All you need to do is commit to wanting to move forward in a positive direction.

What will we do out your coaching sessions?

* We will find the necessary resources for you and clarify the various roles of the lawyer and other professionals as part of the legal process. In doing this, we will make it easier for those professionals to help you by implementing their legal, financial and psychological areas of expertise.

* We will focus on creating a positive client-based relationship that will give you the ability to compartmentalize the divorce process separate from your emotions.

* I will help you achieve your goals and find a balance between divorce and moving on with your life.

* A step-by-step plan will be devised on how to manage the legal and financial aspects of your divorce.

* In addition, personal goals will be set and a plan will be developed on how to achieve these goals.

* By creating a road map for you to follow during your divorce, we can concentrate on empowering you with the peace, self-respect and hope that may have been lost along the way.

Piff – Tomaro Professional Building

1704 Maxwell Drive

Suite 302

Wall, New Jersey 07719

(732) 865-5377


“Helping you find the resources you need to stay focused and balanced during times of transition.”