12 Things You Must Do For Your Adult Kids Before You Die

1. Go on an unforgettable vacation
with them (and their spouses,
if they’re married)

From a fishing trip to European cruise, depending on your tastes and budget.


8 Things Our Grown “Kids” Love To Hate About Us

We asked 20-somethings to tell us how we really irritate them.

It doesn’t matter who you are. Generation Y “kids” have all kinds of hang-ups about us. Here’s what they had to say, but we know they still love us!

1. You think you’re so smart
about the Internet…

But you’re hopeless without Google


Where There’s a Will, Nothing Gets in the Way

None of us enjoys thinking about our demise, but it’s crucial to understand why we need to prepare a will, and to get it done, pronto! Simply put, this legal document clearly explains how we wish to have our “estate” distributed when we’re gone. This includes our bank accounts, property, financial investments, and material possessions, from jewellery to photo albums. If we don’t leave a will, the government takes control of our estate and decides who gets it, making it even more difficult for our family during an already stressful time.

A properly drafted will puts us in control and ensures that our exact wishes are carried out.

Even if you aren’t leaving a king’s ransom, you’ll still want your worldly possessions to go to the beneficiaries of your choice, not to some long lost relatives who you haven’t seen in decades.

You can write your own will. As long as it’s witnessed and signed properly, it’s just as valid as if a high-priced lawyer drafted it. Of course, the more complicated and extensive your estate, the more likely you’ll want and need an attorney who specializes in wills to help guide you through the process, to whom do you want to leave the care of your young children? Who gets the country house outside of London, the apartment in Paris and the beach house in the Hamptons? Who will pay your debts?


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{FOF Woman of the Week} Grieving Mother of MH370 Passenger

We don’t know her name, but that doesn’t matter. A Chinese mother, whose 36-year-old son was on Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, barged into a press briefing by the airline demanding more information on the missing plane. Her anguished cries were heart wrenching: “My son,” she weeped. “I just want my son back.”


Worse, she was physically carried from the room by a group of Malaysian guards.

A statement from the airline, following this incident, spoke of feeling empathy for the families of the missing passengers. Yet, reporters weren’t even allowed access to this grieving mother, or to the other Chinese relatives who were inconsolable over the lack of information about their loved ones.

Even if the executives from the airline know nothing, their management of the awful situation is horrendous. This mother was waiting in Malaysia for four days and learning nothing. She had enough and succeeded in getting her voice heard round the world.

She is FOF Woman of the Week.

[Read: {FOF Woman of The Week} Annelie Nordström]

{FOF Woman of The Week} Olivia Manning

You’re tall (5’ 11”), beautiful, smart and homecoming queen at your college senior prom. You recently married the football team’s starting quarterback, who was drafted, a day after your Acapulco honeymoon, to play pro football. Seems like you’ve got a pretty sweet life ahead of you.

Turns out, you do. Your name is Olivia Manning, and almost 43 years after your 1971 prom at Ole Miss, you’ve come to New Jersey to watch your middle son play in the Super Bowl, on the same field that your youngest son’s football team calls home.

You don’t have to guzzle Budweiser or know the meaning of “third down” to have heard of brothers Peyton and Eli Manning, respective star quarterbacks of the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants.

But even if beer and football are in your blood (or, at least, in your husband’s blood), you’ve probably never heard of their FOF mom, Olivia. Hailing from Philadelphia, Mississippi, Olivia raised her three boys (oldest son, Cooper, is an energy trader) in New Orleans, where husband Archie played for the football team right out of Ole Miss.

Olivia worked tirelessly to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.


7 Things We Must Have In Our Handbags at All Times

1. Burt’s Bees

“Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm” —Jeanie Scoggins Williams“Burt’s Bees lip shimmer” —Diane DiBiase“Burt’s Bees.” —Barbara Fritz


What empty nesters must never say to those who left the nest

He won’t “be back for the summer” anymore.

You may have a little difficulty with your recent graduate out of the house and on his own, but at some point, you’ll need to embrace this new chapter in both of your lives.


Avoiding these questions, when you do have the honor of seeing him or her, will give you a little assistance during this transition and help develop that adult relationship with your darling offspring.

1. “Are you really wearing that?”

By the time she’s reached her 20s, your daughter has developed her own style. She probably doesn’t like your clothes either.


2. “I miss you… Can we be friends on Facebook?”

No. (And if you’ve already coaxed your daughter into being Facebook friends, don’t comment on how ‘hot’ she looks in all her photos.)


3. “Can you empty the dishwasher after you walk the dog?”

Your son didn’t visit home for the weekend to do your chores. At least say “please.”


4. “I was looking through your bookshelf when…”

When what? Why were you doing this?


5. “Do you miss home?”

Translation: “I am miserable with you gone. Any chance you’ll move back?”

{Family} La Vie Childfree!

This FOF decided she didn’t want kids. Now she’s telling the next generation, it’s ok to be childfree.

What do you think when you meet a married woman in her 50s or 60s who never had children? Are you curious about why? Do you question her marriage? Her upbringing? Her psychological stability? Her fertility?

FOF Laura Carroll, 51, is a successful writer and communications consultant. She’s been happily married to her husband since she was 28 years old, and they chose not to have children. In fact, Carroll says, she’s known she didn’t want kids from the time she was quite young. She’s also warm, engaging, close with her parents, psychologically stable, fertile (or at least, she was), and get this . . . she loves the kids in her life.

She’s also a pioneer. With marriage and childbirth rates on the decline in this country, it seems that an increasing number women are choosing to live childless–whether married or single. To whit, Laura is the author of Families of Two, a book on happily married couples who chose not to have kids, and she’s about to come out with her second book related to the “childfree choice.” She’s even started a popular blog called La Vie Childfree where readers can learn about and discuss the decision whether or not to have children.

Here, she talks to us about her decision. Read on, and then tell us, What do you think of the decision to “be childfree?”

When did you decide you didn’t want to have kids?
The signs were there early. I was never really interested in playing ‘mom’ or dolls. In Junior High, I was taking all these occupational inventories . . about things you could grow up to be.  I was much more interested in thinking about career than looking into the future about when I would be a mom.

A lot of women may have felt this way, but still chose a more conventional route and had kids because of outside pressures. Why do you think you didn’t?
I had a godmother who influenced me when I was young. She was in her 20s, single and didn’t have children. It was an early model that you could grow up and didn’t have to be a mom. Also, I had great parents. They didn’t push parenthood as an expectation. They raised us to create our lives any way we wanted.

How did it effect your dating life? What’s it like to date when you don’t have a biological clock ticking in your brain?
I wasn’t marriage-minded. I dated because it was fun. When I met my husband, I was in my 20s, and he was 10 years older than me. He was neutral about having kids, and that was attractive to me. He had dated a string of women before me, and I think he felt they were looking for a father for their child over and above everything else, which wasn’t attractive to him. I took that expectation or pressure completely out of the equation, and he liked that.

How do you think the decision to get married is different if you don’t want to have kids?
For my husband and myself–and I see this with childless couples of all ages–marriage is more about a committment to each other than about procreation. You’re together as partners in life, for personal growth, and, for us anyway, adventure.

Did you ever contemplate having children?
I didn’t. He thought for a little while that I might change my mind.  And we went through a few years of me saying, “No honey, I’m not going to change my mind, I promise.”  We waited a little while to close the door with any permanent medical procedures! He wanted to be sure that if I ever changed my mind, he was in a position to have them. He was someone who was probably on the fence. He could have had them if his wife really wanted to, but since I didn’t want them he had no problem with that.

What has not having kids enabled you to do?
It’s allowed me to dedicate myself to my career in a very free way.  When you don’t have kids, you could end up in your 70s with 5 careers, because you have more freedom to evolve and grow your work life in the directions that you feel are best–without constraints.  It’s also allowed me to have a strong marriage and for my husband and I to support each other in our passions and careers. My husband’s career has evolved from working in human resources to working in the highest levels of the Sierra Club and focusing on the environment–something he doesn’t think he would have been able to do if he were a father.

Do you think going childless makes marriage harder, or easier?
I think not having children gives you the ability to tend to the issues in your marriage in a way that couples with children don’t always have. Some of my friends have told me that in way they envy my husband and I, because when there are issues, we don’t have the distraction called “kids” that keep you from dealing with them. So many couples get divorced once they become empty nesters. Often they had issues all along but just didn’t make the time to deal with them. Once the kids aren’t there, they realize their marriage has problems, and some survive and some don’t. I’m not judging that at all–I just realize that it’s challenging to keep your marriage really strong and raise kids.

Has there been any time when this decision has been difficult?
Probably when my friends were young and started having babies. Initially, it was hard finding ways to stay in as much contact with them. But it soon passed, my friends are great–they never assumed that because I didn’t have kids, that I did know anything about it and couldn’t be party to a conversation about it. They also did not lose interest in what I was up to. It’s easy to get hurt and feel defensive on both sides. Don’t take it personally–keep your eye on you love for your friend and your curiosity about her life.

Do you have any regrets?
No. As I get older, I see the great relationships developing between some of my friends and their older children. But I also understand what a huge commitment they made and what it’s taken to get to that place. I know I never would have been willing to do it.

I’ve seen that’s there’s a better role for me to be play. I am much more valuable being a really wonderful godmother and mentor to young women. Through my blog, I help support women young women and their choices. Being a mother is not the only maternal role you can play.

I hope that with the next generation, we make it more of the norm to think hard about why you want a child. What experience are you looking for? Is being a parent the only way to have that experience?

{Family} My family secrets…and how I discovered them

Four FOF genealogists uncovered surprising family facts… Here they share their secrets and the sources they used to track down their ancestors:

1) Maureen Taylor

Location: Westwood, MA
Maureen Taylor, “The Photo Detective,” is an expert in finding the stories behind family photos. She once researched Meredith Vieira’s family tree for a Today Show segment and was named “the nation’s foremost historical photo detective” by Wall Street Journal editors. Her website is maureentaylor.com.

What is the most exciting discovery you have made about your family so far?
I have this great photograph that was torn into pieces and glued back together. I couldn’t find out much about it until I met distant relatives at a funeral. They told me the man in the photo was mostly deaf because he stood too close to a boat whistle as a child. They also said he was very difficult to get along with and stopped speaking to his sisters after an argument. It suddenly made sense why I had so much trouble finding out information from his descendants!

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your research?
Researchers should prepare themselves for the unexpected since their relatives may have acted in different ways than we act.

What is your favorite research tool?
I love city directories. They really help when trying to understand the world in which your ancestors lived. I also use maps and study the clues in photographs. A single photograph can reveal so much!

2) Courtney Cannon Scott

Location: McDonough, GA
Courtney Cannon Scott began tracing her own family history after the death of her father in 1996. In 1997, she founded her company, Back in the Day, to help others with their ancestry searches. She’s written articles on genealogy and lectured on the subject for nearly fifteen years, African-American history groups and family organizations across the country.

What is the most exciting discovery you have made about your family so far?

To my surprise, some of my ancestors had a notable part in the history of the United States. Tower ‘Tar’ Adams, my maternal great-great-great grandfather, was a conductor on the underground railroad in Western Pennsylvania. Frances Viola Dawson Walker, my maternal great grandmother, was a teacher in the first graduating class of Storer College in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Hamilton E. Holmes, a distant relative was one of the first two African-Americans admitted to the University of Georgia. James Gersin Cannon, my paternal uncle served in World War II as a Tuskegee Airmen (one of the first black military airmen).

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your research?
Once you start gathering names of ancestors, it is important to read history books for information about the times in which those ancestors lived. This makes historical research more personal, relevant and interesting!

Is there ever an end to your research?
I have had quite a lot of success in finding my ancestors, but I still have a list of places I need to visit in person for more details about my heritage. One adventure leads to another!

3) Nan Jones

Location: Seneca, S.C.
Nan was a U.S. history teacher for 32 years and served on the National Council for Social Studies. She is a regent for the Daughters of the American Revolution and teaches genealogy classes at her local university and heritage center.

What is the most surprising discovery you have made about your family so far?
This spring, through research on Ancestry.com, I found that one of my German ancestors was a friend of Martin Luther and was ex-communicated by the pope for his involvement in the Protestant Reformation. Today, I have a cousin who is a Lutheran minister! I also discovered I have an ancestor who went to jail for plotting to kill President Lincoln…. Can’t pick your ancestors!

What was your most exciting moment while researching?
I was doing research at a small historical society in central Pennsylvania. When I asked for information about an ancestor, a woman tapped me on the shoulder to ask why. It turns out her husband and I descended from identical twins. We were able to share information as far back as the Revolution.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your research?
Research one ancestor at a time, otherwise family research can become overwhelming!

What is your favorite research tool?
For beginners, I like genealogytrails.com.  I use it for geography research. It’s organized by townships and surrounding counties so you know where to look for information.

4) Ann Middleman

Location: Westbury, N.Y.
Ann Middleman has been a genealogy hobbiest for several years. Hours of research have a paid off; she’s created a family tree and discovered distant relatives in Oregon, California, Israel, and Sweden. Last year she traveled to Poland to learn even more about her heritage.

What is the most surprising discovery you have made about your family so far?
There has been a lot of inbreeding in the family. It’s amazing we don’t have any hemopheliacs!

What was your most exciting moment you had while researching?
When I visited Poland last fall, I discovered memorials to people who perished during the Holocaust that were related to my family. It was news to me that I had relatives who died during that time.

Have you connected with family members you never knew as a result of your research?
I discovered a distant cousin in Israel. She knew a lot more than I did about several lines of our family who were killed in the Holocaust.

What research tools worked best for you?
Ancestry.com was a good source for me. A cousin found me because I had her grandmother on my family tree. Through EllisIsland.com I found an address listed by a relative as the place he was going to go to when he arrived in America. From that information I uncovered another whole line of the family. Then, I discovered more ancestors that were part of that line through JewishGen.com. I hired a genealogist in Poland to help find records I couldn’t retrieve myself. That expert sent me more information which uncovered even more relatives.

{Giveaway} Pocket-sized family tree

FOF genealogy guru, Rhonda Earley, is giving away 3 of her Pocket Trees. To enter, answer this question in the comments below: Where are your ancestors from?

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

When FOF Rhonda Earley turned 50 she realized she didn’t have long to learn about her family. “I thought I better do research now while I still have my parents here to answer questions.”

Each day that year, after she dropped her son off at elementary school, she would head to the library to begin work on her family tree.

She was fascinated with her findings. “I found one of the letters my ancestor wrote home to Germany. I also learned that there had been a great deal of land in my family at one point, but, surprisingly, my father grew up poor,” says Rhonda. “That’s something I’m still piecing together.”

Rhonda would carry her computer around the library as well as poster-sized sheets of paper. “It wasn’t convenient,” says Rhonda. “I was running upstairs and downstairs between files, microfilm and maps. You need to be mobile.”

Sitting on the floor of the library next to a file cabinet, she had her A-ha! moment. “There’s got to be a way to transport all my research easily,” thought Rhonda.

The result was Rhoda’s Pocket Tree, which folds up to the size of an index card and opens up to a family tree that can go back nine generations.

“Besides being a great research tool, it’s a great keepsake to pass down to younger generations,” says Rhonda. “Imagine how cool would it be to see your great, great grandfather’s handwriting on a Pocket Tree.”

Enter to win a Pocket Tree. 3 FOFs will win. Answer this question in the comments below: Where are your ancestors from?

(See all our past winners. See official rules. Three winners are chosen at random from all those commenters who answer the question. Contest closes June 2, 2011.)