And why we still miss her so much, even after 46 years.

Charlene and Virginia Scholtes, c. 1960

My mother was an adult, in the traditional sense of the word, with four children to care for, a husband, a home, and myriad volunteer activities. But it was her sense of play, of joyfulness, of truly loving life, that set her apart.

And that’s what makes us miss her so much, even today, 46 years after her passing. She died at 54, much too young (I was only 18), but she packed so much living into her short life.

All we knew is that the neighborhood kids…


Remember to extend the same kindness to yourself as you would to your kids, family, friends, and colleagues.

There seem to be so many learning curves right now. Distance learning, social distancing, shelter in place, virtual webinars, online workshops, livestream, homeschooling, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts.

The list goes on and on…it seems like we learn something new each day, only to find out that we need to re-adjust, re-calibrate, and re-learn it all tomorrow. Time is both extended and compressed, strangely resistant to the norms of our lives pre-COVID-19.

My favorite coronavirus-related meme goes something like this:

Thirty days hath…


Many tweens and teens are responding to shelter-in-place with creativity, resilience, and optimism for the future.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Teenagers are social creatures, so the “new normal” of shelter-in-place orders to control the spread of coronavirus can be incredibly challenging.

At the same time, it turns out that their drive to socialize, to help others, and to connect with their communities— despite the rap on teens as insatiable consumers of screentime, YouTube, and social media — is more powerful than many of us realized.

Lisa Otsuka, head of the English department at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, Calif., reports that she is seeing…


And other life lessons my mother taught me (applicable to #coronavirus).

Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

While the tag line above gives credit to my mother, in truth it was our parakeet, Percy Bluebell, who used to chirp, “Two and two is three!” But it was Mom who taught him to say it.

The message here is that sometimes — like now, in the midst of an international pandemic — it’s important to show our children that humor matters, that looking on the light side of life can be life-saving, and that life will go on (even if two plus two really equals four).

We…


And how will Silicon Valley families adjust to life under the coronavirus quarantine?

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past few weeks (and even if you have), you’ve no doubt heard about evolving national and local directives for keeping the coronavirus (COVID-19) at bay. We’re not Italy yet, but the rules are tightening day by day.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley, within a matter of days, we moved from guidelines that shuttered all large gatherings (over 250), to mandated gatherings of no more than 10–50, to a new “shelter-in-place” directive, effective at midnight tonight. What does…


One minute they’re born, and a few minutes later you’re waving goodbye.

I remember sobbing over my five-day-old son, thinking of the day that he would leave me and go away to college.

And then, one day, he did.

They say that children provide a yardstick for our lives, but they don’t tell you how quickly the time telescopes between birth and the day you wave goodbye outside your child’s freshman dorm.

As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” …


From the beginning of time, we’ve tried to rush our kids…but to what end?

While we savor the last days of summer, many of us picture carefree childhoods that allowed us time to daydream, relax, explore, let our imaginations run wild.

I remember story time at Mitchell Park, running through sprinklers, churning homemade ice cream in my best friend’s backyard, and foggy afternoons at Half Moon Bay on a plaid blanket with hot dogs tucked into a Thermos. There was a disastrous week at Girl Scout Camp when I was nine, where my Canadian mother sent me with a 3-foot-long…


Play may be a child’s work, but teenagers need time to explore as well

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

In an incredible stroke of luck, I landed my dream job right out of college: teaching preschool at Bing Nursery School, the renowned Laboratory Preschool for the Psychology Department at Stanford University.

Our work at Bing was embedded in the new field of developmental psychology, led by pioneers like Stanford’s Eleanor Maccoby and Albert Bandura. These forward-thinking psychologists studied young children as complex beings, capable of creative problem solving. …


Losing my mom as a teenager changed the way I raised my kids

Photo by Ian Baldwin on UnSplash

I don’t remember much about my high school graduation, but I do remember that my mother wasn’t there.

I wore an ankle-length dress of creamy linen, embroidered with red poppies on the puckered bodice. It was a rare thing for me, wearing a dress purchased from a store, rather than one my mom had made. As a teenager, I didn’t appreciate my “couture” clothing, stitched on Mom’s well-worn Singer sewing machine, but I did love that dress.

My mom wasn’t there because she was home dying from…


If you’ve raised your children well, there comes a moment when they start giving you advice. Not just the “you should drink more water” kind of advice, but smart, practical, “wow, that’s a great idea!” kind of advice.

I provide parent education programming to families in Silicon Valley. It’s a tall order, staying ahead of trends that impact today’s children and teens, particularly with highly-educated, highly-informed, high-achieving moms and dads.

But my secret to success is giving families what they need, not necessarily what they want. …

Charlene Margot

Founder and CEO, The Parent Venture. Palo Alto native, mom of two young adults, lifelong advocate of kids, schools, and families.

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