Diapers to Diplomas: Guidance for Your Next Phase of Parenting

Every parent wants to see their children live happy, successful, fulfilled and self-dependent lives as adults where they can contribute to society in meaningful ways.

From diapers to diplomas, getting them there is a joyful journey, even though there may be many moments along the way where both parents and children encounter difficulty, setbacks and confusion. Sometimes, a mere abundance of choices can present an obstacle that must be overcome.

Thankfully, no parent walks the path of raising their children alone. Many have trod this trail before us, leaving breadcrumbs behind to help us help our children find their way.

Next Phase Parenting

Laura Dennis and Mel Studer are two such travelers. Co-founders of Next Phase Parenting, the pair have joined forces from their previously independent blogs (Parenting High Schoolers and Almost Empty Nest) to provide guidance to parents about how to grow through every phase.

We caught up with Mel to discuss next phase parenting and what she appreciates about Mama Bear Legal Forms.

Parenting through every phase of independence

MBLF: You talk about the next phase of parenting involving helping teenagers gain independence, adjusting to your own new independence, encouraging independence in adult children, and guiding parents as they lose their independence. What led you to start this site and what is your passion behind it?

Mel: Laura and I met in an online bloggers’ group for parenting teens and became fast friends. We ran three parenting summits together on a site we titled, “Next Phase Parenting.” As our kids grew older, we eventually met in person to discuss next steps about where we saw ourselves going professionally in the next few years. Ultimately, we decided to join forces.

One of the first insights we made was the idea of independence as being something that ties every phase of parenting together. Kids are starting to get it. When they move out and begin to support themselves, you as a parent begin to get it. Then, your own parents begin to lose it. It’s a good reminder that no matter what age or phase we’re in, we’re all in this together.

The importance of being supportive, even when you disagree

MBLF: What are your top recommendations for parents about to enter the next phase, where their kids will become self-sufficient?

Mel: The main thing we’ve discovered in our parenting is to be supportive, even when you are not in agreement with a choice your adult child is deciding to make. That’s not easy to do, but to be that port in a storm for your child is so important. If something happens socially, academically, financially or health-wise, you want to be able to be there for them. And that’s where Mama Bear Legal Forms came in for my own family, actually.

Mama Bear Legal Forms Young Adult POA Forms help parents protect kids

MBLF: Why would you recommend Mama Bear to your audience?

Mel: We’ve recommended Mama Bear for a while now. First, through my Parenting High Schoolers website. Also, I’ve used Mama Bear to create Young Adult POAs for both my 26-year old son when he went away for college and another child who didn’t go away for school, but moved out. Our 18 year-old-son will graduate this year and we’ve already filled out his forms.

There are two things we love about Mama Bear – the price and the ease of use. It’s so reasonable. I didn’t have to go to an attorney to pay for the forms. The simple online process saved me hours of time. And then, it was so easy. You can just literally download and print your forms, get them notarized and you’re done.

New Mama Bear App puts POAs on your smartphone

MBLF: Have you tried our new app?

Mel: Yeah, I’ve installed the Mama Bear app on my phone. After scanning the notarized documents, you have them within arm’s reach should you ever need them. That provides such peace of mind. Now I know that, God forbid, something should happen, I’ve already taken an important step in the right direction.

We’ve all heard horror stories of kids who get hurt while they’re away and parents have no say in their medical care. It’s awful, and not something any parent or child should have to go through. Especially when Mama Bear makes the forms so accessible.

Parting words for parents

MBLF: What final advice or recommendations would you have for parents getting ready to see one of their children graduate from high school?

Mel: Just to remember that at every stage, whether your child is a new teenager or a young adult, they still need you. So, stay in communication as much as possible. Whether it’s a text every morning or a weekly phone call, keep your connection strong by communicating regularly.

There are going to be mistakes as you move through new phases, and that’s okay. Just remember to forgive your kids and let them try again without holding it against them. That’s not easy to do, but there’s nothing easy about parenting.

Sometimes, life’s best lessons come from failure. We’d like to thank Mel Studer for sharing her experience with Mama Bear Legal Forms. You can learn more about her and Laura’s journey, and gain valuable tips and resources at NextPhaseParenting.com

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