There are certain experiences that all parents have to reckon with at one point or another. When your children begin to grow up, they’re going to go through a period when they stop thinking you’re cool, they’re going to want to hang out with their friends instead of you, and eventually they’re going to — gasp! — start dating. It’s a rite of passage so universal that it’s become the subject of countless movie cliches: the dangerous bad boy boyfriend, the overbearing dad eager to intimidate possible love interests, and so on. Given that I have four children who are all at or past the age of first dates, one of whom recently got married, I’d like to think I’ve become another kind of stereotype: the mom who’s seen it all before. All kidding aside, I’ve been extremely lucky when it comes to the dating lives of my kids. I can’t pretend I’m an expert on the topic or have a foolproof tip to keep your child from dating somebody who makes you scratch your head. Every family is different, and each will have their own rules and customs. But if I may be so bold as to offer some advice to parents reading this newsletter about navigating the waters of teen dating, then two pieces of wisdom stand out. Given that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I figure it’s the perfect time to share them. My first tip is to scare the bejesus out of your kids when they’re young. Now, I don’t mean to say you should make them terrified to ever go on a date and leave scars they’ll have to parse out in therapy in a few decades. No, I mean it’s important to instill the dangers and foibles that come along with romance before they are too old ignore your advice. Kids are going to get ideas about dating early and often from every direction — TV, social media, etc. — and it’s important that your voice is heard. If a child is old enough to brush you off dismissively, which is another universal parenting experience, they’re old enough to have an honest conversation about dating. A PARENT’S GUIDE TO TEENDATING IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A NIGHTMARE
the single greatest gesture in this regard is inviting your kids to have their dates over. When any of my children are dating someone, I want to meet that person and talk to them. If they’re shy, I’m going to do my best to ask them direct questions to engage them. Mostly, it’s a chance to have an honest dialogue and get to know people who are important in the lives of my kids. As a bonus, though, I think it encourages them to date people they’d be comfortable bringing home to mom. There’s an important caveat to this strategy, and that is making sure you go through these meetings without being outwardly judgmental or critical. Sometimes, that is a tough ask, but I promise you, it’s the best route. Kids are going to make their own choices, so all you can do is educate them and be there for them. Mocking their decisions isn’t helpful at all. I remember one time, one of my children brought over a date who made for a patently ridiculous pairing. The date had nothing in common with my child, and the two of them looked about as well matched as ketchup and breakfast cereal. Part of me wanted to ask my kid, “What on earth are you thinking?” But I bit my tongue, and they figured it out eventually. Unless your child is with someone you think is truly dangerous or bad for them, I think it’s best to let them figure it out on their own. Valentine’s Day is a chance to share our affection and love for the special people in our lives. It may also be the impetus for your children to begin dating. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be so bad, provided you enter the process with your eyes open.
-Melissa Emery WWW.EMERYLAWOFFICE.COM | 1
My second piece of advice is to be involved in a way that’s caring and not overbearing when you are ready for your children to begin dating. For me,
VALENTINE’S DAY TREATS FOR YOUR KIDS DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR LITTLE VALENTINE THIS YEAR
A HEARTFELT BREAKFAST Take the time to whip up their favorite breakfast and try to add a little bit of Valentine’s Day cheer. If you want to get extra crafty, you can cook bacon, pancakes, eggs, and toast all in the shape of hearts. For extra love, add strawberries or raspberries to complete the Valentine’s Day vibe. REFLECTIONS OF LOVE While you’re busy cooking up a feast, your kids will most likely visit the bathroom to get ready for the day. What will they see when they walk in? Their mirror covered in sticky notes in the shape of a heart! You can write words of encouragement, love, and support and set the display up for them the night before. It’s a fantastic way for them to start their day.
LET YOUR KIDS BE IN CHARGE Valentine’s Day lands on a Friday this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate over the weekend. Let your kids plan a day of fun by creating a list of activities they can choose from. Let them decide whether you all spend a few hours together ice skating, watching a movie, going to the park, or visiting an amusement park. To add a little more fun, create a “menu” they can look at and choose what they’ll have for dinner that night.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just observed between romantic couples. It’s a day for celebrating the love you feel for people in all areas of your life. And if you have kids, Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to celebrate your love for them and let them know how special they are to you. Here are a few ways to make this Feb. 14 the most memorable one yet for your little ones. GIFTS AND BALLOONS Surprise your little ones the morning of Feb. 14 by decorating their room with their favorite treats and balloons. Tie their favorite candy bar or a small toy they’ve had their eye on to the bottom of one or more balloon strings. Then, place the balloons around their bedroom for them to find.
Enjoy this day of love with all of your special someones this year!
THE THINGS THAT MAKE MY TEAM’S HEARTS SING EMERY LAW VALENTINE’S PICKS
JOSEPH MCGRATH | INTAKE SPECIALIST
I’ve grown to love our staff picks section of the newsletter over the past few months. Not only does it give the readers of our newsletter a chance to get to know our team, but it also gives me a chance to learn a little bit more about them. With Valentine’s Day falling in February, it was an easy choice for this month’s topic. As always, we encourage you to head to our Facebook page ( @EmeryLawOffice ) to take the survey for yourself.
Ideal Valentine’s Day dinner: Breakfast for dinner in the form of steak and eggs. Flowers or chocolate: Chocolate Funniest date experience: I had a food fight at
STEVE DAMRON | ATTORNEY
dinner I’ve ever had.” Even the people around us could not help but laugh out loud. The quickest way to my heart is … : Showing kindness to someone who can do nothing in return and truly being sincere in doing so.
home that started because of burnt beef. The quickest way to my heart is ... : Food, enough said.
Ideal Valentine’s Day dinner: Steak and lobster. Flowers or chocolate: Chocolate (even though the flowers would be better for me!). Funniest date experience: Having dinner on the patio of a nice restaurant when someone’s large dog runs up to my date and starts licking their face. My date turns to me and says, “He’s giving me kisses.” I reply, “Or he’s thinking … this is going to be the best V-Day
TOM BOYD | LEGAL ASSISTANT
AUDRA SENG | SENIOR PARALEGAL
Ideal Valentine’s Day dinner: Steak with my bride. Flowers or chocolate: Flowers Funniest date experience: First Valentine’s Day with Faye. The quickest way to my heart is ... : Spending time with me.
Ideal Valentine’s Day dinner: Just a dinner at home with the hubby. Flowers or chocolate: Chocolate The quickest way to my heart is … : Loyalty and honesty.
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HAVE A LAUGH!
BARKS FROM BELLA THE JOYS OF TRAINING NEW DOG OWNERS A few months ago, I told you that we’d become dog owners to a wonderful chocolate Lab named Bella. This month, we debut a new semiregular column that sees the world from her perspective. I hope you enjoy Barks From Bella. Boy oh boy, having new dog owners comes with some learning pains. Melissa and Dave have been wonderful to me from the moment I’ve met them, but I think we’ve both had to learn how to live together. For my part, it’s strange to have humans to answer to, but it’s more than worth it for the care and compassion they provide me. For their part, well, I think they’re learning some of the subtleties of caring for little old me. Case in point was the aftermath of my spaying. The operation itself went fine, and the vet told my folks to keep me from running and jumping. What they didn’t realize was that I really should’ve been kept sequestered so I couldn’t do damage to myself. The vet probably assumed they knew the drill, but they definitely did not. I got up to my old tricks and broke open my stitches. Bleeding like a stuck pig, I went to the garage to whimper. Thankfully, Zachary had swim practice that morning (I’m envious of his skills in the water), and he and Melissa found me. By the time we got to the vet, I had no pulse. Things were looking grim.
DATE TRUFFLES Inspired by The Minimalist Baker
Valentine’s Day is all about love … and chocolate. Enjoy these chocolate peanut butter date truffles with your date this Valentine’s Day. INGREDIENTS
• 1 lb medjool dates, pitted (about 1 1/2 cups) • 1/2 tsp sea salt • Warm water • 1/4 cup peanut butter • 1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1. Using a food processor, blend dates and sea salt until dough can be formed into a ball. Slowly add enough warm water to mixture to thicken dough.
WE WANT YOU TO THINK OF US AS YOUR LAW FIRM. If youhave a legal matter that needs attention, let us know. If we can’t handle thematter,wewillreferyoutoafirmthatcan.Pleasefeelfreetoreferustoyour friends and family for their legal needs.Wewelcome the opportunity tohelp. 5. Coat balls in chocolate and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 6. Top with additional salt and freeze for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature. 2. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Freeze for 20–30 minutes. 3. In microwave, warm 1/4 cup peanut butter for 30 seconds, then drizzle peanut butter on top of balls. Freeze balls for another 20 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, in microwave, warm chocolate with coconut oil until melted. Stir well.
Thankfully, and as you can probably guess since I’m telling you this story, I made it through. It was a tough two weeks of no activity, including wearing the Cone of Shame™, but I’m back to feeling great again. Really, the only remnant of our ordeal is the gnarly shave job on my legs from when they tried to put IVs in me. While I wouldn’t recommend any human or dog go through the same experience I did, it definitely brought me closer with my new family. Seeing the way they fought for me, I feel like the luckiest pooch on the planet.
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WHEN YOUR KIDS BEGIN TO DATE 1 YOUR KIDS DESERVE VALENTINE’S DAY TREATMENT TOO! EMERY TEAM VALENTINE FAVORITES 2 STRAIGHT FROM THE DOG’S MOUTH DATE TRUFFLES 3 LEARN ALL ABOUT LEAP YEAR 4 INSIDE
LEAP INTO 2020
FACTS ABOUT THE LEAP YEAR
L ike the Olympics and presidential elections, leap years only occur once every four years, which is why many people look forward to Feb. 29. But there’s a lot that you might not know about this quirk on the calendar. WHY To keep the calendar in sync with Earth’s orbit around the sun, an extra day is added to it every four years. Earth takes exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to orbit the sun. Those extra hours add up over time, so another calendar day becomes necessary. But a leap year doesn’t occur every four years. Adding that extra day still doesn’t quite keep Earth on track, so the calendar skips leap years that occur during century years not divisible by 400. For example, 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 won’t be. WHO The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are 1 in 1,461. That means that of the roughly seven billion people in the world, only about five million of them are “leaplings.” The number of leaplings currently living in the U.S. is roughly 187,000. Some famous leaplings include motivational speaker Tony Robbins, rapper Ja Rule, and singer Mark Foster of Foster the People. However, the most famous leapling is probably Superman. When you invent a super-being, you might as well give him a super-birthday.
WHERE Anthony, Texas/New Mexico (a single town that straddles the two states’ borders), claims the title “Leap Year Capital of the World.” The city throws one massive birthday party for all leaplings but invites everyone to join the celebration. Two leapling neighbors from Anthony began the tradition in 1988, and it’s blossomed into a festival with thousands of participants every four years. It includes banquets, hot air balloons, a carnival, concerts, parades, and more. When you have four years to plan in between each shindig, there’s time to go big. Celebrate this leap year by doing something unusual or new. It’s a special day that doesn’t occur often, so make the most of it by doing something you’ll talk about for another four years.
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