Katie Parla Brings Rome to Chicago

Tasting Rome Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City (Clarkson Potter 2016; $30).

“A lot of what I do is covering the lost or disappearing foods in Rome,” says Parla, a writer, blogger and certified sommelier who earned a master’s degree in Italian gastronomic culture from Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”. “Food in every city is evolving as is the way we eat and in Rome that comes about with the change in family structure and such factors as their very high unemployment, very low wages, and a high cost of living. Women are working now and there’s not the time for long complex dishes which take hours to make. There’s a myth that there are no bad meals in Rome but there’s terrible food here.”

But, continues Parla who will be at Monteverde in Chicago on May 16 cooking from her book, there are also innovations and improvements as well. Farmers’ markets are opening up, some places still serve the classic dishes and chefs are evolving in how they make classic dishes, turning them into lighter fare.

“Rome continues to be an important place for food,” says Parla, noting that she just celebrated her 13th year of living in Rome where she moved after graduating from Yale.

Parla takes an intense interest in delving deep into the city’s culinary roots discovering fascinating microcosms such as how the recent influx of Libyan Jews is impacting long established Jewish-Roman cuisine.

“The firKatie_Parla_TastingRome_creditRickPoon_Fotorst Jews came to Rome about 2000 years ago,” she says. “A decade or so ago, thousands of Jews left Libya and because of the Colonial relationships between Rome and Libya there were all these people who brought the Libyan Jews to Rome and housed them. Now there are about 4500 Libyan Jews in Rome and about 13,000 Jews in Rome altogether so it’s a pretty large faction of a small group. Many Libyan Jews own restaurants in the Jewish quarter, so you’ll find their richly flavored and spicy foods different than local Jewish classics like deep fried artichokes, pezzeti fritti–battered and deep fried vegetables, aliciotti con l’indivia which are anchovies with endive. It’s a fascinating turn in Roman food.”

Though drinking in Rome and in Italy seems synonymous with wine, there’s also an emerging cocktail culture too that was important to include in her book says Parla.

When asked to recommend recipes in Tasting Rome for beginners, Parla says that Involtini di Manzo or beef rolls—slices of rump roasts layered with prosciutto and julienned carrots and celery and braised in a tomato and white wine sauce–are a delicious and simple one pot meal.

“Recipes when taken together with the culture and the history tell the complete story,” says Parla who offers as an example cacio e pepe, Roman pasta dish using ingredients that stretch back millenniums.

“Cacio is the local Roman dialect word for Pecorino Romano, a sheep’s milk cheese made in the region since ancient times,” she writes in her explanation of the recipe citing the dish’s provenance.

“Pepe (pepper) was an important ingredient in Roman cuisine as it was super valuable spice stretching back into Roman antiquity and was a symbol of Rome,” says Parla, expanding on the subject as we chatted on the phone. “During the Renaissance it was the symbol of nobility.”

Parla also offers advice to ensure the sauce is perfect—not to dry nor soupy.

“Finely grated Pecorino Romano and very hot water are essential to a smooth sauce, while fresh, coarsely ground black pepper gives flavor and texture–the most important component of a flawless cacio e pepe, however, is speed because if the water cools before melting the cheese, the sauce will clump,” she says noting that they adapted the recipe made by Leonardo Vignoli’s at Cesare al Casaletto for home cooks.

“Wherever you are when you cook with the Roman spirit which is cooking simply with fresh ingredients,” she says, “Then the food speaks for its self.”

Follow Parla at katieparla.com/blog

Cacio e pepe di Leonardo Vignoli

Servings: 4 to 6

Sea salt

1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli

2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1½ cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and to obtain a juicy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe excerpted from Tasting Rome by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill.


What:  Kate Parla “Tasting Rome” Cookbook Dinner

When: May 16, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Monteverde, 1020 West Madison Street, Chicago Il

Cost: $120 includes dinner, wine, a copy of the cookbook, tax and gratuity.

FYI: (312) 888-3041



The Last Voyageurs


The Last Voyageurs cover_fIn her last year of college, Lorraine Boissoneault, an avowed Francophile and writer who lives in Chicago, became interested in the French history of North America and the journey undertaken by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the first European to travel from Montreal to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Her fascination with the great explorer led to a conversation with an underwater diver and the story of La Salle’s Le Griffon (The Griffin), the first full-sized sailing ship on the upper Great Lakes which disappeared in 1679 with six crew members and a load of furs—also making it the first shipwreck in the Great Lakes. Luckily La Salle had disembarked before the ship made its final voyage. She also learned about a Reid Lewis, a French teacher who decided to re-enact La Salle’s trip, an eight-month, 3,300-mile expedition he undertook with 16 students and six teachers dressed in the period clothing from that time to celebrate the country’s Bicentennial.

Interviewing the voyageurs as well as visiting places where La Salle had landed during the journey and reading original documents written in French (“nothing is ever quite the same in translation,” says Boissoneault), she wrote The Last Voyageurs: Retracing La Salle’s Journey Across America: Sixteen Teenagers on an Adventure of a Lifetime (Pegasus 2016; $27.95).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“It’s amazing when you think of how much they could withstand,” she says, meaning both La Salle and Lewis’ crews.

Indeed, Lewis and his group of students and educators had to trudge over 500 miles of Midwestern landscape during one of the coldest winters on record in the 20th century, paddle in Voyageur canoes across the storm tossed and freezing Great Lakes and, in keeping with their pledge to emulate La Salle, start their campfires with flint and wood.

Of all the thousands of miles they retraced, Lewis’ voyageurs felt that Canada’s Georgian Bay on Lake Huron was most unchanged and therefore the closest they came to what La Salle would have experienced in terms of the water and landscape.

“We’re fascinated by history but you can’t go back no matter how hard you want to,” says Boissoneault noting she can’t imagine seeing Chicago without civilization as La Salle would have done. “The past is unobtainable. Most poignant for me is their walk across the Midwest. They were doing the same thing La Salle did and wearing the same clothes but nothing was like how it would have been in La Salle’s day.”


What: Lorraine Boissoneault will be discussing her book The Last Voyageurs

When: Wednesday, May 18 at 7:00pm

Where: 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (773) 293-2665


The Daughters of the Last Tsar

In her latest book, The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra (St. Martin’s Press 2015; $17.99), historian Helen Rappaport writes about the four young women who, as daughters of the Tsar of Russia, were swept up in the Russian Revolution in 1917.

“I had a very longstanding desire to write about the Romanov sisters because I felt very strongly that they had been totally marginalized by history – they had always been the pretty set dressing to the bigger more dramatic story of their parents, Nicholas aRomanov Sisters cover_Fotornd Alexandra, and their tragic young brother who was heir to the throne,” says Rappaport. “I wanted to tell their story, as individuals, to describe their own unique personalities, for they were very different from each other, and show what a loving and supportive group of sisters they were to their sick mother and brother, and how they kept everyone’s spirits up after the revolution changed their world so irrevocably.”

Known to most of us by photos showing them dressed in exquisite white dresses and large hats and by the movies and novels based upon the mystery of Anastasia, the youngest of the sisters and whether she had escaped the mass slaughter of the rest of her family (she didn’t, says Rappaport), the author did extensive research finding newspapers, memoirs, journals and letters scattered across the globe.

It was a time full of so many imponderables and so much that could have been different says Rappaport including how the revolution could have been averted if Nicholas II had agreed to political concessions and the formation of a truly democratic government or if the tsarina Alexandra had not allowed herself to be so in thrall to Rasputin because of her desperation at keeping her son Alexey, who was a hemophiliac, alive, thanks to his supposed gifts of healing.

“I always live with my subjects very intensely when writing my books and immerse myself very deeply in the period of history,” says Rappaport, author of 12 books.  “But I have to say that of all the books I have written, the Romanov sisters lived in my heart and my mind much more than any of my other subjects. I am myself a mother of two daughters, and have a granddaughter the age Anastasia was when she died. By the end of my research Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia felt like my own daughters.   And they will always be with me, no matter what else I write.  I wanted so passionately to tell their story.”


What: Author Helen Rappaport Discusses the Romanov Sisters

When: 6:30-8:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 11

Where: Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, Chicago IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (312) 747-4300







The Polar Express: A Favorite for Three Decades

van_allsburg$chris_hresIt’s been three decades since “The Polar Express” first came chugging off the pages and into our lives, enchanting us with the story of a young boy who boards a train on Christmas Eve to take a fateful and reaffirming journey.

In the book, which has sold more than 6.5 million copies, author Chris Van Allsburg weaves a tale of fortifying traditions and intensifying feelings we already have about the holiday. It begins as a young boy listens for the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells hardly hoping to beliPolarExpress30theve anymore after a friend has told him that Santa doesn’t exist.

“That theme deals with the coming of age transition that parents are reluctant to witness in their children,” says Van Allsburg, who is on a multicity tour including a stop hosted by Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, to celebrate the book’s 30 years of popularity.

“Their children are leaving childhood behind and mom and dad are sorry to see it happen. The book addresses that issue and might even delay the inevitable for one or two Christmases.”

Van Allsburg, formerly a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, who used oil pastels to illustrate “The Polar Express,” giving it a dreamy fantastical look, describes that medium as unwieldy and “not particularly well suited for detail but goof for atmospheric effects.”

Interestingly, he hadn’t used it before and hasn’t since, adding to the one-of-a-kind charm to both the story and the illustrations. The book also was turned into a movie with Tom Hanks starring as the kindly conductor.

When asked about the sustaining popularity of his book, Van Allsburg says that both the train ride and the anticipation of Santa Claus are two reasons he thinks the book remains a favorite.

“This makes it an ideal book to read as the holiday approaches.” he says. “When children are already primed by the season to hear a story about the remarkable event that is just days away.”

White Collar Girl

Even if you weren’t addicted to the black and white movies about newspaper gals such as Katherine Hepburn in “Woman of the Year” and Glenda Farrell in the Torchy Blane series like I was, Renee Rosen’s latest book, “9780451474971 (2)” about a Chicago reporter in the 1950s, is still a great read.

Rosen, who plums Chicago’s history to write such books as “Dollface,” about flappers and gangers like Al Capone, and “What the Lady Wants” about the affair between department store magnate Marshall Field and his socialite neighbor, tells about a time not that long ago when women reporters were almost always relegated to covering soft news and society items.

In her latest, Jordan Walsh wants to break out of her role as a society reporter and sees her chance when she finds a deeply connected source in the mayor’s office. But despite her source and ambition as well as family connections to such great Chicago writers as Mike Royko, Nelson Algren and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan must still contend with the attitude of it’s a man’s business.

To research her book, Rosen spent a lot of time talking to reporters to find out what it was like back in the day.

“I think what I found most surprising was how the female reporters back then were called ‘Sob Sisters’ because they were assigned the sentimental stories or stories intended to tug at the readers’ heartstrings,” Rosen says about what she found when she began her extensive research. ”Sexism in the newsroom was blatant back then. Also in terms of sexual harassment, back in the day that phrase wasn’t in anyone’s vocabulary. Of course career women didn’t like it, but there was no one to turn to, no one to complain to.”

Rosen, who lives in Chicago, says she often will find herself walking down a street and thinking this is where Dion O’Banion worked (one of the gangsters featured in “Dollface”) or this is where Delia Caton and Bertha Palmer shopped (“What the Lady Wants”).

“Or in the case of ‘White Collar Girl,’ I’ve been to some of the watering holes where a young Mike Royko or a Nelson Algren would have frequented,” says Rosen, noting that she’s watched “All the President’s Men” about “a million times.”

“I can go to City Hall and walk the very hallways that Mayor Daley walked. Call me a history nerd, but for me that’s a thrill. Sometimes I do get so obsessed with a subject matter that I do find I have to pull myself back to the present time.”

United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists

United States of Jihad jacketIn his latest book, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists (Crown 2016; $28), CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen discusses the factors leading to the radicalization of U.S. citizens, how social media plays a big part in recruitment and the increase in the number of women joining terrorist groups. His book, made into documentary, aired on HBO a few weeks ago.

Compiling a database of people in the U.S. who were either born or grew up here to help determine how they became radicalized, Bergen describes them as being, for the most part, seemingly ordinary. Of the 330 people charged with jihadi terrorism in this country since 9/11, 80% were American citizens or permanent residents. The majority were also well educated and about one-third were married; their average age 29. Almost 20% are women.

So what happens? Many radical Islamists become militant not only for religious or political reasons says Bergen, but also for the sense of belonging which comes from being part of a group and the need to be seen as “somebody.”

Bergen notes interesting parallels in such cases as that of Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist who opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 of his peers and injuring 30 more.  Educated and successful in the military, it’s hard to decipher what led him to become a terrorist while his first cousin, Nader Hasan, who was raised in the same neighborhood, is a well-established attorney in Northern Virginia.

The ease of recruitment using modern technology helps recruit from a younger group of people and crosses gender lines.

“Those drawn to ISIS skew younger,” he says adding that more females than in previous generations are becoming militant. Indeed, one in five is a teenage with the youngest being a 15-year-old girl.

But despite the alarm that acts of terrorism on American soil bring about, Bergen says that statistically they’re not necessarily a significant threat.

Peter Bergen - Photo © CNN-Jeremy Freeman“In any given year, you’re somewhere between 3,000 or 5,000 times more likely to be killed by a fellow American with a gun than you are to be killed in the United States by a jihadi terrorist inspired by the ideology of Osama bin Laden,” he says.


What: Peter Bergen talk and book signing

When: 5:30–7:15 pm, Wednesday, March, 16

Where: Union League Club, 65 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL

Cost: Members $10; Nonmembers $20

FYI: 773-2 93-2665; bookcellarinc.com







Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the US Film Industry

When California was still all about oranges, Chicago ruled when it came to movies—a brief but glorious decade where local girl Gloria Swanson earned money as an extra to pay for pickles (of all things) before moving on to stardom, becoming Joe Kennedy’s mistress and then later the fading actress in the classic Sunset Boulevard. Charlie Chaplin came to town to film aFlickering Empire - Cover.indds did child star Jackie Coogan and heart throb Francis X. Bushman who lost his adoring fan base when it turned out not only was he married with five children but he was also having an affair with his co-star in the The Plum Tree which was filmed, in part on Miller Beach.

It was during these early years of the 19th century when two Chicago power house studios, Essanay and Selig Polyscope, churned out thousands of serials and silent movies.

“Almost 99% of those movies are gone now,” says Adam Selzer, who with Michael Glover Smith, wrote Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the US Film Industry (Wallflower 2015; $25). “But between 1907 and 1917, Chicago was the place to make movies.”

Not all is lost. Remnants of that time remain including the studios themselves. Essanay is part of the St. Augustine College campus and the Selig Polyscope Company, its S encased in a diamond still above the entranceway, is now condominiums.

And every once in a while, a gem reappears including the 1916 film Sherlock Holmes produced by Essanay Studios which had disappeared for decades only to be found a year or so ago in a French film archive.

“We’re gong to be hosting a screening of the film a century after it was first made at the old Essanay Studio,” says Selzer. For more about the event which is the same date as their book signing at the Chicago Public Library, visit Selzer’s Website, mysteriouschicago.com. Tickets can be purchased through eventbrite.com and be sure to dress in your best Sherlockian attire.

There are of course anecdotes as well.

“When you drive through the entrance to St. Augustine,” says Selzer, “you can see a cemetery across the way. One day George Spoor, the owner of Essanay, saw actor Ben Turpin walking over to the cemetery carrying flowers. Spoor said Ben, I think that’s a great thing to do, we should always take the flowers we used in the movies to the cemetery. And Ben said ‘sure boss, that’s where I get them.’”

Likening their research to a treasure hunt, albeit a time consuming one, the two not only compiled a trove of information on those early days by reading microfilm editions of now defunct Chicago newspapers at the Harold Washington Library and locating relatives of the Selig family many of whom live in and around Chicago and were willing to share their extensive scrapbook collections. The two also perused the Website, mediahistoryproject.org, a digitized collections of classic media periodicals.

“I like to say that I’m a Chicago historian who knows a bit about films,” says Selzer who also operates ghost tours in the city and has written other books about Chicago. “While Mike is a film historian who knows a bit about Chicago.”

What made the Windy City so attractive?

According to Selzer, it was far enough west to stay under Thomas Edison’s radar.

“Edison had—or claimed he had—patents on the equipment and if film makers didn’t pay royalties, he’d send his goon squad to wreck the equipment,” says Selzer. “The studios didn’t stay here for long, a lot of people say it was because of the cold weather but they may have moved further west to get even further from Edison. But I think the the movies got to so big they needed their own town.”


What: Book signing and chat with Adam Selzer and Michael Glover Smith

When: 3:30pm, Saturday, March 12

Where: Bezanian Branch Chicago Public Library, 1226 W. Ainslie Street, Chicago IL

Cost: Free

FYI: 312-747-4300; chipublib.org

Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas and Inspirations

When it comes to all things nuptials, it’s hard to imagine anyone who knows more than Darcy Miller Nussbaum, Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Weddings, a quarterly magazine which reaches more than a million readers and, as anyone who has ever picked on up knows—could substitute for weights at the gym. Immersed in weddings since first taking a jobWD110610_EG5U5233-2823854778-O 2 as editorial assistant at the magazine in 1992 after just graduating college, Nussbaum has also written “New York Times” syndicated column “Weddings” and even her own wedding, in 2001, to attorney Jacob Andrew Nussbaum who grew up in the Chicago area, was written up in the Times, a feat some compare as akin to scoring in the 99th percentile on the SAT.  In case you want to know, it was a formal New York City wedding and Nussbaum helped design the hand-sewn gown by Vera Wang.

So those considering tying the knot might consider attending “Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party,” a luxury bridal event at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago tied to the release of Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas and Inspirations by Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Editors of Martha Stewart Weddings (Clarkson Potter 20165; $60). Lushly illustrated with 300 full color photographs, Martha Stewart Weddings contains advice and ideas not only from Nussbaum but also other experts like event designer David Stark, pastry chef Wendy Kromer and caterer Peter Callahan. This team of experts has helped in producing a comprehensive guide for creating individualized one-of-a-kind weddings. It also takes readers into the world of a Martha Stewart wedding, which covers every detail from developing a unified theme and color palette, choosing a dress and suit, registering for gifts, hiring vendors, selecting the menu, choosing the flowers and cake and even arranging a sweet send-off for the evening.

“I will bColor Palette: Winter 2016e discussing ideas and advice for planning your wedding with Jenny Bernheim, Margo and Me blogger and Alaina Kaczmarski, co-founder of The Everygirl,” says Nussbaum. “We’ll be talking about new tips, tricks and methods for planning, for example: using social media to find local florists, venues and inspiration.”

Nussbaum, who’ll be at the event all day, says they look forward to taking questions during the designated question and answer time during the talk and she’ll also be at the event for the day.

With so many options, Nussbaum says it’s important that every bride knows their own vision.

“The best weddings are the ones that reflect a couple’s personal taste. I always suggest starting with answering my 20 questions, which are featured in our newest book, Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas and Inspiration,” says Nussbaum noting they’re also available at marthastewartweddings.com/326264/20-questions-help-design-your-big-day

Nussbaum describes the event which includes appetizers by several of the city’s premiere restaurants such as Wildfire and the Girl and the Goat and over 100 vendors, as inspirational.

“Stay organized through the whole process, make and keep to your timeline, and always remember to keep it all in perspective,” says Nussbaum about the process.Mbridal-bouquet-nosegay-flowers-03-d111996

Nussbaum’s ability to create the perfect wedding has made her a celebrity as well—just Google her name and you find a plethora of articles about her personal life (love the Upper East side apartment, Darcy). She says she loves sharing her tips and tricks with audiences nationwide, through appearances on The Martha Stewart Show, NBC’s TODAY, other news programs and cable appearances on the Style Network and E! weddings specials. Besides that, Nussbaum is a dedicated scrap booker and wrote and illustrated the book Our Wedding Scrapbook.  Her own wedding scrapbook weighed 50 pounds.

“I’ve thought a lot about how to make your big day,” Nussbaum writes. “My mantra is make it personal.”

To Nussbaum, making it personal drills down to such small but telling personal touches as displaying a favorite candy in the theme color.

“DIY weddings are trending,” says Nussbaum. “Tech Trends include 3D sugar wedding cake decorating, light projections on cakes, people are putting GoPro’s in their bouquets to capture every moment and periscope weddings live so everyone can watch. General trends are blush, creams and neutrals. Metallics are trending are desserts other than wedding cakes.”


What: Darcy Miller Nussbaum presents “Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party”

When: Sunday, March 6, 2016 – 11:00am to 3:00pm

Where: The Ritz-Carlton, 160 E Pearson, Chicago, IL

Cost: $40 and up

FYI: The Book Stall; (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com; facebook.com/weddingpartychicago/




Laura Kastner: Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens

Been there, done that and hate it.

A serious conversation with our child suddenly devolves into a fight worthy of an elementary school yard. Instead of being able to settle the issue, we instead find ourselves upset and angry and our children feeling the same.

That’s not the way to work things out. But how do we get back on track?

Laura Kastner, PhD, author of GKastner picture (1)etting To Calm and Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens, suggests that first we need to get control of our own feelings.

“In my first book, Getting to Calm, I talk about emotional regulation,” says Kastner, a clinical psychologist and clinical professor in both the psychology department and the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. “When our kids push our buttons, we end up with what’s called emotional flooding. It’s where we have neurons fire in the emotional part of our brains. Our heart rate jumps, our thinking ability gets distorte
d and often we’re only thinking in very simple black and white terms—like I’m good; you’re bad. Unfortunately, our kids are probably at the same point and nothing is going to get resolved while you’re both in that state.”

What to do?WMP_cover_013113_REVISED2

It’s all about gaining emotional regulation. First calm yourself down–unless your heart beat slows you can’t get into your thinking brain to evaluate how to handle the situation—take deep breaths, step out of the room for a moment or focus on serene thoughts. In other words do whatever it takes to get your feelings under control and return to a rational state of mind.

“Once you get to calm, then you can decide how to handle the problem whether it’s having just discovered marijuana in your kid’s sock or they’ve been drinking and can’t understand why you’re so upset,” says Kastner, noting that one of her favorite mantras for getting control is repeating “the only person you can control is yourself. You want to connect before you correct, if it’s not going well, back off.”

But getting to calm doesn’t make the original issue go away. Now a parent has to use their cognitive skills to be wise minded, to know their values and what they believe is right.

Just as importantly, no matter the behavior, Kastner says we need to listen with empathy and create a connection by understanding your child’s emotions.

“Maybe they want to go to an overnight party but you’ve just learned no adults will be there,” she says.  “Say something like I know you really want to go to that party, but no you can’t. Another of my mantras is you might be right but is that effective? If you are sympathetic and kind, there’s a higher likelihood that it will work than if you become a tyrant and just say no. Teenagers have their own moral reasoning and can really believe that it’s okay for them to do things they shouldn’t.”

When a teenager or a child is flooding to the point where they’re having a melt down, it’s not a good time to talk, says Kastner who compares that situation to trying to reason with a drunk.

“Touch them gently, shoot some hoops, look at animal videos but don’t try to talk about the issue,” she says. “Don’t leave the room without saying you’ll be right back because that feels like abandonment. And if you’ve gotten too upset, use I statements—say I was so angry, I really regret what I said, I wish I hadn’t. Tell them you’re going to hate my jurisdiction; I get it but I’m saying no. Validation is not giving in. It just lets them know we understand.”

Sidebar: Wise-Minded Mantras

In Wise-Minded Parenting, Laura Kastner suggests repeating these mantras to yourself the next time you’re losing emotional control.

  • My teen is doing the best she can, given her age and stage.
  • Good character does not guarantee good behavior full-time.
  • My love messages really matter, even if my teen can’t resist expressing disgust or irritation.
  • My goal is to demonstrate emotional intelligence, not to control my teen’s reactions.
  • I will not cave when faced with high emotions


About Jane Simon Ammeson

Jane Simon Ammeson is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, food and personalities. She writes frequently for Northwest Indiana Times, Shore Magazine, Chicago Life Magazine, Grand Rapids Press, AAA Home & Away, Northern Indiana Lakes Magazine, Experience Curacao, Experience Rivera May, Long Weekends, and Cleveland Magazinphotoe. She also writes a weekly food column and the weekly book review column Shelf Life for the Northwest Indiana Times, has authored seven books and writes the Bindu Apps on Michigan, Indiana, Curacao and Indianapolis.

She is a member of the Indiana Foodways Alliance, a restaurant reviewer for Gayot.com and is also a James Beard Foundation judge. A member of Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Association of Food Journalists and Midwest Travel Writers Association, Jane’s base camp is Stevensville, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. She blogs for Shore magazine –www.nwitimes.com/niche/shore/blogs/will-travel-for-food and Tweets for the Herald Palladium food section @HPAmmeson . Professional profile on LinkedIn and Facebook. Follow Jane @janesimonammeson.


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