• February 2022

    Everyday Acts of Love

    Everyday Acts of Love By Nicole M. Young, MSW Dr. Gary Chapman says that everyone expresses and experiences love in the same five ways – physical touch, receiving gifts, words of affirmation (praise, positive feedback), acts of service, and quality time – but each person has a primary love language that is most meaningful to them. Almost every Saturday morning, my husband cooks breakfast for both of us. He serves me first, bringing a plate (and often a coffee refill) into my home office, where I’ve usually been working for a couple of hours already (yes, even on weekends). We say very few words besides, “Here you go,” and “Yum!…

  • January 2022

    Stress Busters

    Stress-busters for Positive Parenting Awareness Month By Nicole M. Young, MSW Are you a parent or other caregiver who’s raising children and teens? If so, it’s that time of year to celebrate YOU! The County Board of Supervisors has partnered with First 5 Santa Cruz County to declare January 2022 as the 10th annual Positive Parenting Awareness Month. Other California counties are doing the same, and the California legislature will pass a resolution, declaring January 2022 as Positive Parenting Awareness Month across the state.   Celebrating positive parenting during the first month of the new year is an opportunity to remember that: Raising children and youth to become healthy, confident, capable individuals is the most important…

  • December 2021

    Supporting Mental Wellness

    Supporting Mental Wellness by Nicole M. Young, MSW I’m grateful for the little moments that start to feel like pre-pandemic life. Before 2020, I never thought that going to a grocery store or a friend’s house without being afraid to touch things or breathe air was cause for a celebration. But after nearly two years of the pandemic, these “small” things make a big difference. While I’m hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is over, I’m deeply concerned about the extent of the pandemic-related emotional and behavioral health challenges faced by many children, youth, and adults. The holidays can be a challenging time anyway for mental health, so it’s…

  • October 2021

    Violence in Schools

    When Violence Happens at School by Nicole M. Young, MSW Our community is still grappling with the tragic, violent death of a high school student on campus. It’s been weeks since it happened and I didn’t know the students involved, but I still get emotional when I imagine the pain of losing a child. Many people responded with compassion, honoring the student who lost his life and donating money to the family. Others shared strong opinions about whether to have more law enforcement or mental health counselors on campus. And some shared their theories about what causes violence in the first place (hint: it’s usually framed as a parenting failure).…

  • August 2021

    Preparing for the New School Year

    Preparing for the New School Year By Nicole M. Young, MSW The back-to-school routine is going to be bittersweet for me this year. I’m excited for my kids, who will experience their senior years in high school and college with in-person classes and activities. They’re excited about returning to a more “normal” routine, but there’s also some hesitation about returning to a regular (i.e., earlier, non-pajamas) school day and busier, crowded environments. As for me, I won’t miss the extra dirty dishes and unstable internet during Zoom meetings, but I will miss their presence during the day and will treasure the extra time we had together. This monthly column provides…

  • July 2021

    Home Alone

    Tips for Leaving Kids Home Alone By Nicole M. Young, MSW As a working parent, summer vacation was always a mixed blessing when my kids were younger. It was a relief to have a break from the daily school routine, but figuring out a patchwork quilt of childcare and supervised activities was stressful (and expensive). The older they got, the harder it became to find affordable options that would work for both of them – and not require me to spend half of my working day getting them to and from their different activities. So it was a relief when they were old enough to be left alone, unsupervised –…

  • June 2021

    Celebrate Dads and Father-figures

    Celebrate Dads and Father-figures By Nicole M. Young, MSW This Mother’s Day, my kids gave me the best gift ever: their time and attention. Yes, I love the beautiful ceramic pitcher from my daughter and the cheese basket from my son (he knows me well). I thoroughly enjoyed the bagel breakfast and going out to dinner. But what filled my heart the most was sitting, eating, talking, laughing, gardening, making travel plans together – not just being next to each other, but really being with each other. The older they (and I) get, the more I appreciate the gift of time with them and the ways we love each other,…

  • May 2021

    Self-care is Essential

    Self-care is Essential By Nicole M. Young, MSW You’re not alone! Parenting is hard when you’re tired and stressed. That’s why taking care of yourself is one of the five principles of positive parenting in Triple P. I’ve been a mother for 21 years, which is hard to believe. Although my kids are still at the center of my heart and mind, my daily routine no longer revolves around them. They don’t need help with eating, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, or going to bed. I don’t check their homework or drive them places anymore. It’s both sad and liberating. And it makes me realize that for many years, taking…

  • April 2021

    Creating Positive Childhood Experiences

    Creating Positive Childhood Experiences By Nicole M. Young, MSW April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, which makes me pause to think about all the hardships and trauma children and families have experienced this past year. COVID-19. Displacement due to wildfires. Racism. Social isolation. Hunger. Lost jobs. Financial instability. Struggles with remote learning. Hate crimes. These multiple “storms” have left their mark. Communities across the nation have reported increased calls to domestic violence and mental health hotlines. Recent results from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Household Pulse Survey, suggest “the proportion of U.S. adults with symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder have quadrupled since before the pandemic,” especially…

  • February 2021

    Love Language

    Showing Love in Many Languages By Nicole M. Young, MSW The primary love language of children and teens may change as they grow, so it helps to learn how to “speak” each language and be ready to show your love in multiple ways. “Back in the day” (before COVID-19, when I had to drive places), I used to see an older couple taking morning walks as I drove to meetings or dropped my kids off at school. It always warmed my heart to see them walking the same route, holding hands, swinging their arms in unison, and smiling as they walked and talked. Even from a distance, I could tell…