The Benefits of Failure

Written by Laura Goldman on . Posted in Advice Columns

A few weeks ago, my daughter tested for her yellow belt in taekwondo. I sat and watched her and the other novices (white belts) break boards with their kicks; they were permitted as many attempts as necessary to achieve success and receive their next belt color. I watched the parents videotape the moment and clap and “aaah” in amazement and pride as they heard and saw the board break.

Summer Vacation Situation

Written by Laura Goldman on . Posted in Advice Columns

With school complete and summer in front of us, there can be a moment of dread when we realize that the three to eight hours a day in which the kids were occupied and supervised by others during the school year are now our responsibility again. Some of us will send the kids to camp. Others will do “Camp Mommy/Daddy” or go on vacation. Still others will have their children at home “hanging out.” Most will do some combination of these.

Whatever choice you make, summer is a terrific opportunity to encourage kids. As with any of us, kids want to feel like their voices are heard and that they are capable and relevant people. During the summer break, when the pressure and the rigid schedules of the school year are relaxed, there are numerous opportunities for kids to step up and try their hand at things that they normally are unable, or we are unwilling, to let them do.

For example, if you haven’t yet planned a family vacation, or you would like to take the kids on a day outing, you could take the opportunity to involve the children in the decision making. Consider sitting down with the family and brainstorming ideas of where to go. If your children aren’t familiar with what is available, you might ask them about the type of vacation/outing they would like to go on; hiking, boating, activity centers, historic sites, and visits to family are just a few examples.

Once everyone agrees upon a type of vacation, you could offer choices of several places that would satisfy that criteria. Then involve them in the tasks necessary to making that outing a reality. Ask an older child to research how to get to that place, or ask them if they would like to work on it with you. Ask younger children to decide on what toys, snacks, and videos to bring along. In involving the children, you enable them to feel like an important part of the decision, which increases their sense of self-worth. And you also earn the coveted “buy-in” from the kids, which should make the trip much more enjoyable.

Another benefit to involving the children is that they will get exposure to and training in a new set of skills. They will learn how to organize a trip, listen to others, collaborate, research logistics, and plan for necessities. While at the beginning of training the child is more of an observer, soon thereafter the roles switch and the child begins to take responsibility for pieces of the project with the parent as overseer. Before long, the child can do things without oversight. I have a friend whose son, by the age of 13, was savvy about accumulating and using airline miles and took responsibility for booking all the family airline reservations.

Summer is also a great time to teach kids how to assume more of the responsibility for themselves and the family. Children as young as five can learn how to set a table and clear dishes. Children eight and older can start learning how to do basic cooking, laundry, and cleanup. They can learn how to clean a bathroom, sew on a button, spray the table, or make a menu. They can learn how to make their own lunch — a skill that will come in very handy when they start school again. While the objective is not to create Cinderellas, the summer is a great opportunity to enable children to learn how to contribute meaningfully to the family and become more self-sufficient.

Needless to say, training and engaging kids takes a good deal of time. And while it is summer vacation for the kids, it might not be for the parents. Work on one skill at a time and be patient — with yourself and them. And employ your child’s creative brain in decision-making discussions as often as possible. Then watch for the results: the blessing of engaged and self-reliant kids.

By Laura Goldman

 Laura Goldman is a parent educator and coach. She is the principal and founder of Arise, LLC, a leadership and parent coaching practice. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Skype Interviews

Written by David Marwick  for KempMillJobAssist on . Posted in Advice Columns

In the previous issue, we discussed phone interviews, and today we move on to Skype interviews. Skype interviews are increasingly used to vet candidates. Crystal Chen says that her company, Coursera, “uses Skype for a good 90 percent of our first-round interviews.” Perhaps this is an extreme example, but it is likely a herald of things to come. To convey the complexities, Chen says that a Skype interview is “like being on TV, except you’re filming, directing, and acting in this role.”

The basic rules about preparing for an interview are the same whether it is conducted in person, by phone, or by Skype, but following the medium-specific tips below can make your Skype interview more successful.


Make sure that you will not be disturbed during the interview — by people or pets barging into your room, or by noise from another room. Have a neutral background that will not compete with your attire. Soft but adequate lighting is also important. Harsh lighting can make you look washed out.


Have the right equipment. Chen suggests: “Don’t rely on the built-in microphone unless you want to sound like you’re in a bat cave. Get a dedicated microphone and test it out.” Michaela Gianotti adds that using a headset will help your audience “hear you more clearly and with less distracting background noises.”

Similarly, make sure you have a solid internet connection, because a dropped call distracts from the interview and may reflect poorly on you. Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes suggests: “Test yourself by filming yourself answering some sample questions.”

It’s good to have a backup plan in case your internet connection fails you. Options include a landline, cellphone, or Google chat. Rescheduling the interview is a last resort.


“Avoid standing out,” advises “Ace Your Interview” author Lisa B. Marshall. “You want them to remember what you said, not what you wore.” As Rangel notes, “Prints and patterns can overpower the screen and make it hard for the interviewer to watch you.” She also suggests: “Full dress for the call.” That means dressing head to toe, not just head to waist. Wearing your comfy Hawaiian shorts with your collared shirt and suit jacket is fine — unless you need to stand up for any reason. Marshall provides extensive suggestions, especially for women, on colors, makeup, and jewelry.

Body Language

You want to keep your eyes on the camera, not on the view from your screen. Chen quotes a tip from Paul Bailo, author of “The Essential Digital Interview Handbook,” for helping you appear to be looking right at the interviewer: Download a photo of the hiring manager, print it, and make a hole in the photo to allow the camera lens to see through. “Now you can look at the photo, which makes it more human to conduct your digital interviews,” says Bailo.

Moreover, make sure your body language expresses that you’re engaged. “As you’re communicating, lean forward,” suggests Bailo. “This will show interest and concern and will engage your audience. It will also convey eagerness and willingness to listen.” Just be careful not to overdo it. “Even more so than in an in-person interview, avoid excessive physical movements.”

“Put on your best newscaster face,” says Rangel. “You have to be a little more animated and expressive than you would in person to convey your enthusiasm.”

Additional Tips

You should have all backup materials (job description, cover letter, resume, etc.) readily accessible on your computer, so that you don’t need to riffle through a stack of papers to find something. Also, turn off all notifications, so that you won’t be disturbed during your interview.

Bottom line: Check out everything ahead of time: the background and lighting, the microphone and computer connection, your attire, and your “look” on camera.

By David Marwick 

for KempMillJobAssist

 David Marwick is KempMillJobAssist’s workshop coordinator. He studied economics at George Washington University and worked as an economist for George Washington University and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.


In-Town Versus Out-of-Town: Going the Extra Mile While Dating

Written by Rachel Burnham on . Posted in Advice Columns

There are differences of opinion regarding the issue of “long distance” dating; that is, between those who live “in-town” (i.e., the Tri State area) and those who reside “out-of-town.” In-towners often insist on dating only within their zone, because the world outside is hard to get to. To make it there, you have to travel, make time, and spend money.

While I have to agree with the in-towners that the inherent difficulties of dating out-of-town are hard to avoid, I would caution them not to let their faith in hashgacha pratis — Hashem’s hand in our dating success — to inadvertently paint them into a corner. It is reasonable to request Hashem’s assistance in dating, but less reasonable to dictate the terms on which that assistance can come. If you will only accept a date with someone with a specific look or career and living in certain zip codes, there is very little wiggle room for His plan to play itself out.

Reevaluating ‘The Player’

Written by Rachel Burnham on . Posted in Advice Columns

As the all-time greatest hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” This adage can be applied to dating, as well. When you go on a date with someone, even if they aren’t exactly who you are looking for on paper or at first glance, you are taking an important step in the journey of finding your everlasting relationship. A healthy and active dating life propels the momentum of dating forward, gets others to think of us more often, further develops our communication/dating skills, and allows us to be more open-minded in the process. Sitting at home, waiting for Mr. or Ms. Perfect is very limiting. It does not allow for many opportunities, and can make you feel depressed.

Mother-Daughter Dueling

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Dear Rivkie,

I am a teenage girl in a family with multiple siblings. My problem is that my mother and I often seem to be embroiled in one fight or another. Sometimes I don’t even know what it is I did wrong, so I don’t know how to apologize. What’s more, my mother seems to get along with my siblings better than with me.

Singles Sound Off: Long-Distance Relationships

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Anonymous Female Single:

A few years ago, I was pretty big on long distance dating. I have warm memories of waking up early and making the trek to New York City to meet someone. I’d arrive in midtown by late morning, scurry off the bus to apply makeup in a Starbucks restroom before my date would pick me up. Yup, those were the days.

Growing with Gesher

Written by Alex Frame on . Posted in Advice Columns

On June 15, I graduated from eighth grade at Gesher Jewish Day School (Gesher JDS) in Fairfax, Virginia. It has been an amazing experience. Graduation is a big step. For many it is going to a new school, meeting new people, and having new expectations and experiences. For me, it is all of that plus a new home in a new state as I prepare to attend boarding school at the American Hebrew Academy (AHA) in North Carolina.