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Modern Manners To Set Your Tween Or Teen Up for Success

If you’re here today and want to equip your tween or teen with essential life skills before they leave the nest, this episode is for you. In this podcast, you will learn all about modern manners to set your tween/teen up for success in relationships, school, work, and life.

I’m thrilled to have Brooke Romney with us today. Brooke is a best-selling author and a book ’52 Modern Manners for Teens: Part I & II,’ and ’52 Modern Manners for Kids’. Brooke brings a wealth of knowledge and practical advice to the table.

In our conversation, Brooke shares invaluable nuggets of wisdom on fostering connection and supporting our kids to excel in relationships, school, work, and life. She doesn’t just focus on teaching skills and manners; Brooke offers fantastic ideas for building traditions and meaningful connections with our kids, especially during Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Her approach is not only educational but also incredibly fun and engaging.

And there’s more. For those struggling with gift ideas for tween and teen boys, stay tuned until the end of the episode. Brooke has some great suggestions that you won’t want to miss.

So, let’s dive in and discover how we can better connect with our teens, teach them valuable life skills, and create lasting family traditions.

Let’s dive in! 

What You Will Learn: 

  • What inspired a book on manners, especially with teens?
  • What are the challenges that our kids and teens are facing today regarding manners?
  • You are passionate about the power of connection when it comes to the parent-child relationship – what threatens that connection – how can parents get it back?
  • Ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas – can you share some ideas to build a connection with our teens?
  • Hot gift ideas this year?

Where to find Brooke:


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And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone, and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.

I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and becoming more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.

SHERYL:    Well, hi, Brooke. Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. I’m so excited to have you here. 

BROOKE:    I’m so excited to be here. This is my favorite age group to talk about.

SHERYL:    Now, before we get started, you have three boys.

BROOKE:    So, I have four boys. One is out of the house now. Yep, that I have four. So they range from age 21 down to age 12.

SHERYL:    And you will be so good to talk to because we will discuss manners. You’ve written two books on manners that are both best sellers. We’ll also be talking about the upcoming holidays and how to make it meaningful and connecting, but I want to launch and just have you start by sharing what led you to write the book 52 Manners for Teens. You have Volume One and Two, so it does not surprise me that we need to increase the volume.

BROOKE:    Right? Well, that is such a great question. I started observing when my oldest became a teen that there were kids who understood, and when we talk about manners, they’re more social norms and relationship manners; our world has changed a little bit. 

And we’re not quite as worried about which fork we’re using. But we’re very worried about our kids being able to relate and exist in this world. And so what I was observing is there were two groups of kids, and one group just kind of got it; they had higher social and emotional IQ, maybe their parents were very great about teaching them, maybe they had more opportunities to observe, maybe they got cell phones later in life. 

So they hadn’t been glued to a screen for quite as long. And then there was another group that I watched, too. It just didn’t come as easily. Maybe they’re neurodivergent, maybe their parents didn’t know what to teach them. Maybe they just had a little bit of a harder personality. 

Watching these groups of kids move from elementary school to junior high. I saw one group on this great positive feedback loop. They understood how to exist in the world. They understood how to have relationships; they were the kids that kids wanted to hang out with, the ones that parents wanted to have in their homes, and the ones that were good examples for teachers. 

Because of this, they got a lot of opportunities. When you get a lot of opportunities and chances to be your best self, you gain a lot of inner confidence. So I watched that one group, and it felt like things were going well for them. I watched the other group simultaneously; I was involved in teens’ lives in the middle school at the church. 

And I watched this other group, which had the opposite effect. Because they didn’t know how to relate to people around them, because they didn’t know how to pitch in, because they didn’t know how to be a good guest at someone’s home, they were in a negative feedback loop. 

As I was watching these two groups of kids, I thought these were really small things that they were not doing that could significantly impact their lives for the good. We’re not asking this group of kids to ace a calculus test or be the basketball team’s star. 

They just need to know these tiny, tiny, little micro manners that draw people to them, that allow them to have relationships and keep relationships that allow them to be their best selves and make a great first impression. 

And I watched that, and I thought there had to be a simple way for us to help these kids who were struggling to figure out how to do life before they lost all that confidence. And there has to be a way for us as parents, even for the kids who do it well, to ensure that we’re teaching the most important things that will allow them to be successful.

SHERYL:    I love that you are watching the two groups of kids and how one group got caught in that negative feedback loop. And so and then it was little, little things. And I love that because it goes with the lack of the lagging skills. They had lagging skills.

BROOKE:    Right. Right. And a lot of it was right after COVID. So, a lot of it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Particularly, it was just the fault of this circumstance that we were in. And I felt so passionate about giving these kids an opportunity to succeed. 

Not all of them will take it. Not all of them will take every manner. But I wanted them to have the opportunity. I thought you shouldn’t have to go to a private boarding school or have parents with excellent social skills to be a successful teenager. 

We need to be able to teach this on a very simple level. And especially for the parents who may not know how to do it themselves. I wanted to give them a blueprint and something that would be easy for them to incorporate in their home.

SHERYL:    Which is why it’s so cool. I want you to tell them how you lay the book out because that’s one of the most special; the books are amazing. I think everybody has to have it. But the way that you, it’s not just a book. So tell them about that.

BROOKE:    Yeah, so it’s a stand-up flip chart. And on the front, there’s a manner; I think it’s really important for parents and kids to have a common language. So, let’s say the manor is pitched in. So the manor is pitch-in. And then, below, it tells you what pitching is like. 

If everyone’s working, you shouldn’t be sitting. If you’re at a friend’s house, and they’re making dinner, see if you can help set the table and chop a vegetable when you’re finished with dinner at your own house, even put the dishes away, push the chairs in, those types of things, and then on the back, I wanted there to be a white jeans need to understand what’s in it for them, we would love for them to understand the higher purpose. 

But I’m a mom of teenagers. And I know the most effective thing for me when teaching my teenagers is to let them know what’s in it. I don’t want to pitch in. I get that. But let me tell you why you want to. If you’re the kid that pitches in at your friend’s house, you’ll get invited back to that friend’s house repeatedly when those parents try to decide who they want to take to the movie. 

Who do I want to take on this fun vacation this weekend? I want to take the kid that pitches in, right? That is what’s in it for them. So this needed not to be just doing these things. So I can look like a good parent. 

I have four boys. That is not motivational to them, unfortunately. But what is motivational to them is this will make my life better. And I wanted to make it clear with each matter how doing those things would make their life better. Now, the bonus is it makes my life better as a parent and our world, in general, a better place to live.

SHERYL:    Planting seeds. I love it if we get too busy to even think about these things and teach them, and then when we do try to teach them, we come off like we’re big nags.

BROOKE:    Well, and that was like that. The other thing that was so important about this book for me is I feel like, as a parent of a tween or teen, many of our interactions are negative. 

A lot of the time, we were like, Hey, why didn’t you put your shoes away? Your teacher said this happened whatever it is, and I thought I didn’t want to spend my whole life parenting through negative interactions. So this book, and we’ll go back to the format. So it’s a stand-up book. So it has its stand. 

So you talk about it on Sunday when you’re all together. And then the manor stays up on its little easel on a flipbook. So it’s displayed all week. So everyone’s reminded of it. This also allows kids who are a little bit prickly to take it in on their own if they’re like, I do not want the kumbaya moment with my parents talking about a manner that allows them to just take it in on their own, read it to themselves, and then decide what they want to do with it. 

I love that this book allows our interactions to be positive; we give them cheat codes and empower them to be the person they want to be. And the person they’ll be excited about being instead of just constantly correcting what’s wrong with them.

SHERYL:    And it’s one thing a week, yeah, too beautiful. So it’s not like you use it against them. So they’re sitting there eating, and the food’s dropping out of their mouth. And they’re bent over shoveling. And then you’re like, Okay, let’s flip to the flip one, and then their face, right? 

BROOKE:    We’re getting ahead of the curve. One of the manners says, don’t leave just one person out, right? That’s just a social manner, something really good for our kids to understand. So we read that manner, talked about it, the importance of it, the why behind it, why don’t you want to be the person that does it? 

Well, because you don’t want to be the person. That’s the one person that gets left out constantly, right? There’s a little karma that goes with that. And so instead of them inviting all their friends over and leading the one person out, you’re saying, hey, where was Henry? Why wasn’t he here? What? You didn’t invite him? That’s so rude. 

Instead, you’ve already talked about that manner. Your kid always already knows that. You can say something simply like thanks for not leaving one person out. I know, Henry, it’s a struggle for you right now. It was kind of you to include him anyway. So, we take that from a negative interaction to a positive interaction.

SHERYL:    And it helps to do that. So good. Did you boys have input into the book?

BROOKE:    Well, my boys gave me all the ideas for the book because I kept gathering manners as I watched everything they weren’t doing.

SHERYL:    How many pages is that?

BROOKE:    It’s interesting because some people will ask how you addressed it. I had three teenagers at the time and many teenagers in and out of my house. And I put things, and my kids did as well in the book because I hoped other kids would do them well. And there were things my kids were not doing well that I knew we needed in the book. 

So we could continue to teach those things in our homes. We had an interesting experience; one of the manners in the first book is acknowledging adults. So, kids have gotten better with cell phones. And just like texts tell their friend they’re here, the friend opens the door, they sleep down to the basement, and they leave when their parent comes and picks them up. There’s there’s no interaction. 

I was finding it so strange that my husband and I would be sitting on the couch while friends would walk in and friends would walk out. And no one would say a word. And I thought, This is strange. I hope this is not something my kids are doing in other people’s houses, but there’s no guarantee of that. 

So we talk about acknowledging adults, and it’s very simple. You don’t have to have a 40-minute conversation, but just like, Hey, Mrs. Romney, how’s it going? Thanks for having me over those types of things. 

And my one son went to pick a girl up for a date and went to the door. Her parents answered the door, and he sat and chatted with them for a few minutes; they left. He had asked when she needed to be home and brought her home on time. 

This girl texted him and said, Oh, my word, my parents love you. They think you’re so great. And he was like, Mom, that was so easy. The bar is so low. And just because most kids are not doing this, the kids that do it set them apart incredibly.

SHERYL:    This is such a necessary book. And it is done. So Wow. And so what do you make of that? It probably goes without saying, but what do you make of that that the book has done so well?

BROOKE:    I think parents were hungry for a simple solution to what was going on in our world. Parents are busy, they’re working, they’re trying to provide, they’re taking kids to activities. And while almost all of them have this higher purpose of things they want to be deliberately teaching. Sometimes, they just don’t have the “how”. And so I think parents were so excited about how. As they were using the book, they saw that it was working, they saw that it was working in their home, they saw their kid’s confidence increasing, they got good notes from teachers, they had nice compliments from their kids, parents, friends, they started telling their friends about it. 

Oh, my word, you need this. This is helping in our house so much. And it was a word of mouth that spread this book like wildfire. I think as parents, all parents, we need those simple solutions that allow us to connect with our kids and be deliberate teachers. And for us to also feel like we’re being successful. And what I love about the book is that in five minutes a week, you can feel like you’re teaching your kids what you hoped they would know before they leave home. And that feels good.

SHERYL:    That feels good. And it’s proactive. And we need it to be proactive and positive and make you feel good. And it just feels good. Like I’m doing something really good here. And the size is good too that you decided on that size. And I love the size of it.

BROOKE:    It was really important to me. I knew that if parents were going to use this, it needed to be neutral and be able to be incorporated into any home, any style, any size of home. I think we all have great intentions. We like to buy the printable. 

We think we’re going to download it. We think we will change it every week and things like that. But just having a book where you have to flip the page every week. It’s empowering to parents, too, for them to know I can do this. 

And it easily sits on my shelf or my kitchen table or my breakfast nook, or, there’s a lot of people that put it in the bathroom, my kid is going to see it when they’re brushing their teeth, going in the bathroom, where it can work anywhere, for any family and, and at a price point that’s super affordable. 

It was really important to me that we wouldn’t exclude anyone from having access to ways to make our kids feel and live more successfully.

SHERYL:    Yeah, I love it. So you have an Instagram account, and you have how many followers? You have a huge following on Instagram.

BROOKE:    Yeah, there’s about 120,000 of us. And it’s just an incredible community full of supportive, curious, deliberate parents who are phenomenal. I love being a part of it.

SHERYL:    Yeah, it’s an amazing community. And you’re all about connection, which I love the book. It brings connection and focus, not just on the manners but also on something you’re doing as a family. And you also have activities to connect with, so hearing the United States, we’re both in the US. We have a lot of listeners that aren’t. 

But we have Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of weeks. And we’re all about gratitude. All of us out there can always use some more gratitude. So, what are some ideas to bring connection not only to Thanksgiving but also around Christmas and the holidays? I’d love to pick your brain around some ideas.

BROOKE:    Well, one of the things that I love to do with teenagers around Thanksgiving, and even on the day of Thanksgiving, is challenge our kids to text three people who have made a difference in their lives. And it’s really simple, it’s doable. 

But it has been so rewarding because there are so many studies on gratitude as they do this, right? So, as they’re doing it, they’re feeling grateful. They feel blessed about these people who have influenced their lives for good. 

Then, the texts back have been really sweet. Because they also see what an impact their gratitude expression can have on someone. So that’s just a simple: you can do it the day of Thanksgiving, you can do it the Monday or the Sunday before Thanksgiving, whenever you have time, or even do it the evening of Thanksgiving as they sit and reflect. 

So that’s something, as kids, we did a thing called a grateful pig. And that was fun, where we a little like a piggy bank and put the things we were grateful for on little paper. And then, on Thanksgiving, we opened up the pig and read through everything we were grateful for. As my kids have gotten older, doing a one-and-done has been easier. I love the idea. 

I have a friend who she gets just like a poster board. Then, she has her family come together and write everything they love about that year. Sometimes, it’s a little overwhelming at the end of the year, but like on Thanksgiving, just write all the best things about that year. And then they just have this poster board that they can hang up through the holidays to remind them of all the good happening. 

Sometimes, in the holidays, there’s a lot of good going on, but maybe you feel like you aren’t getting enough or you’re not gonna get what you want. But that just really helped them focus on everything they already have. So I love all three ideas, depending on what works for your family.

SHERYL:    Oh, and it’s – What do I like about it too? Is it not? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just being intentional. And even for me, I’d love to text three people and tell them I’m grateful for them and why.

BROOKE:    I love it, too. I do it, too, every year. And it’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions, just as on a personal note, for how it makes me feel.

SHERYL:    And the grateful pig is so fun.

BROOKE:    Isn’t it cute? I know I was like, I’m not a crafty person. So I can cut out slips of paper. And we already had a cute piggy bank. And that was such a simple thing for our family to do. Yeah,

SHERYL:    It’s cute. So how about Christmas time? How about the holiday time? What do you do to create memories during that time?

BROOKE:    Well, one of the things that I think is so important, especially as your kids get older, is that it can be hard for moms to let go of some of the traditions of their youth. And it sometimes doesn’t feel like the same holiday. And I think we all fight that for a little bit. 

But one of the things that has been awesome for me is usually around the beginning of November, or sometimes just right before Thanksgiving, we’ll sit down together as a family. And we will eat and share the one thing that makes Christmas go like Christmas to us. 

So, each child will say Christmas is not Christmas without x, y, and z. And then I think it’s really important as a parent that we get those same things. So I let my kids know, okay, Christmas is not Christmas without going to the nursing home and singing carols on Christmas Eve. That’s something I love. 

And then my husband will say something that he loves. And then, as we look at our schedule because as kids get older, sports don’t stop in December. Tests don’t stop in December. Concerts don’t stop in December, and jobs don’t let you take all of December off. So, the month gets hectic and busy. 

And so what I found as a parent of older kids is that if all six of us make sure that we plan for the thing that makes Christmas feel like Christmas, then I can consider it a success. Even if I didn’t get to a and even if I didn’t get to B or C or D. We did the things that made Christmas feel like Christmas for our family. And then that allows me to kind of let go of the rest and be able to enjoy the holiday.

SHERYL:    Yeah, just asking that. That question. Christmas is not Christmas without what?

BROOKE:    That’s been helpful. And then also as our kids have gotten older, What we’ve found that we like to do is, we love having music at Christmas, we want to do something musical. But we don’t have to do the same musical thing every year if their tastes have changed; we can go to a different concert. We like to do something with the arts, and we love to either go to the Nutcracker or a play. My boys don’t love the Nutcracker. 

So I went to that with some friends and watched their girls perform. And I can still really enjoy that tradition for myself. And then together, we will go to Alpha this year, the play. So that feels more up their alley, and it’s something that we can all enjoy. So we permit ourselves for our holidays to change and for us to still be able to love them.

SHERYL:    Yeah, yeah, to be flexible, but intentional. And what does that look like as our kids get older? I remember when my kids, I was an empty nester and decorating the Christmas tree the first year, or even when they became teenagers, they weren’t as into it. 

And so what do you do with that? Then, it would be lonely decorating the tree by myself. Then, I had friends come over, and we had a tree-decorating party. And I am just trying to be creative. But intentionally, like you go to the Nutcracker with your friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things with your kids.

BROOKE:    Yes, and I love that you said that where we don’t have to, we don’t have to necessarily be sad that things are changing. That’s just part of life. But we can find ways to ensure we hold on to the important things, and then you have grandkids. 

Maybe they want to come over and decorate the tree, or if you have a cute girl next door who has never been to the Nutcracker, you can take her. We can still make the holiday enjoyable in many ways, even if there’s some change.

SHERYL:    So you have great gift guides. And I would love for you to share some of your top gifts for this season. And they can check that out on your Instagram, too. And believe me, when you hear them too, you’ll love them. They don’t only look great. They sound great. It’s like, I want to shop now, all the Christmas music, and lots of great ideas. What are the top ones this year? 

BROOKE:    It’s fun. I love doing gift guides because I love helping simplify this season for parents so they have more time to be present. And so that’s my motivation for creating these gift guides. 

When I had four boys, I found that, as a girl, I had no idea what they liked. I was just throwing darts at a dartboard, hoping something would work. And as I talked to moms of boys, I got great ideas, and I had a home run for each year. 

So some of the things that have just been kind of those tried and true gifts, the over-the-door basketball hoop that is strong enough for you to kind of bend the rim. It’s a skill brand that has been popular for little boys and teenage boys. So, that’s been a fun gift over the last few years. 

One of the more interesting gifts. I love some quirky gifts, too. Those are at the bottom of my list. But there is a coin-collecting map and a quarter-collecting map. 

My inlaws gave this to my boys one year, and they loved it because every time they would get quarters, they couldn’t wait to see what state it was in. So you plug the state the quarter into the state. It was a fun interactive gift because their grandparents could send them like rolls of quarters. 

And they were so excited when they found what they didn’t have. So I liked that gift that was fun. For those that love money, I gave my son a cash box. And he thought it was the greatest gift ever. We put some cash in there to get him started. And he thought that was so fun. So creative. We have a few games that we love as a family. 

There are a few outdoor games like Kan Jam for the older teen boys. It’s a frisbee game where you try to hit it into this kind of rubber tube. And that’s been fun for our family. There have been a couple of other games like Kubb, which our whole family loves to play together. I love it. Yeah, it’s called Kubb. 

It’s kind of like a Viking game. And you throw this stick and try to knock over other sticks. You can have two teams. So that’s been fun. We love things that feel a little bit more interactive and connective. My favorite gift guide that I do is stocking stuffers. I love it when I surprise my kids with something they’re excited about in their stockings. 

So, I have many great ideas, especially for teen boys. I’m kind of tricky with that. But I have come up with many great things they’re excited about. So those are some of my favorites, usually throughout the year. 

I think last year, my most popular gift was a book called How to Draw Cute Stuff. And I think it’s like $7. But it’s kind of like a how-to-draw book. 

And it just was wildly popular for boys and girls. And it’s one of those nice gifts that keep your kids busy and engaged without a screen. So, I love offering things that don’t involve a screen or electronics for Christmas.

SHERYL:    Wow, that’s great. How to draw cute stuff. I’m taking notes.

BROOKE:    Yeah, yeah, it’s really fun.

SHERYL:    Can you think of two good stocking stuffers for boys, for, like, teen boys? 

BROOKE:    So, one that I love to gift is a thread wallet. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them.

SHERYL:    I just saw them. I went to a mom’s conference. And they had threads there, and I love it.

BROOKE:    Yeah, good. So it’s small. It’s like, I think it’s like $16. So I feel like that’s a perfect, fun thing to go in the stocking.

SHERYL:    Yeah. 

BROOKE:    And then another thing I love, like my boys love good socks. So, a good pair of Stance Socks is always a win. And they’re too expensive for me to buy as their regular socks. But getting them like the Stance Socks and Nike socks or whatever they’re hoping for. 

I love there’s like a hedgehog stress ball that my boys love. That’s just good; I think it’s like $6. It’s great for you for a stocking stuffer. And then we usually throw, there’s a cologne sampler. And what I love to do is buy that, and then I can divvy up the Cologne and put these little samples in their stocking. And what’s fun about that is they get to try out different clones. 

But then, if you have a kid who wants to throw one in their backpack, or they have gym class, or they play on the basketball team or whatever, it’s a really good portable size for them to just have a little sprint. So those are some fun stocking stuffers that won’t break the bank but are fun to find in a stocking on Christmas morning.

SHERYL:    Oh, that’s so yeah, we are so much fun. What was the thread? What animal? 

BROOKE:    Just like a little hedgehog one.

SHERYL:    So cute. 

BROOKE:    It’s cute. And probably not overly useful. But everybody thought it was fun when they opened that up.

SHERYL:    Well, it just creates that connection and humor. And playfulness. And fun is so great we can be so serious all the time. I think it’s moms and, we feel like, oh, you gotta get this Christmas this list on and, and just having it be fun and bring a smile. I agree. Yeah, it’s great. 

Well, Brook. I’ve loved connecting with you. I cannot wait to get your book. I’m gonna buy it from my grandkids, too. And have it now that they’re next door. I’m gonna have it sitting there because I just think it’s, yeah, just, I’m excited. Yeah, we have something to create connection, be intentional, and teach our kids these things. So tell everybody where to find you.

BROOKE:    I am on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/brookeromneywrites/; as I said, I am an active community. They’re all up at https://brookeromney.com/ if you want my gift list. You can scroll through, find your needs, and finish your Christmas shopping. 

And then I just love to be able to connect with new friends and new faces. So I would love for you to join me there. 

And then my books are all on Amazon. It’s really easy to ship within a day or two. And I think they make great teacher gifts. They make great if you’re buying for grandkids or siblings. I have one. My newest one is 52 Modern Manners for kids ages four to 12. So we have some for ages four to 12 and then some for 12 minutes. 

SHERYL:    Great. Do you have a new book that you’re planning on writing in the works at all?

BROOKE:    Well, people want one for adults. So, I am going to be working on that next. 

SHERYL:    I’d love it. I know I was going to ask you that question. Do you feel like you’ve learned from it? 

BROOKE:    100% Yes. And every time we flip to a new one, even though I know the manner, it’s a good reminder to be more intentional in practicing the manner.

SHERYL:    Yeah. Wonderful. Well, thank you. 

SHERYL:    Again, thank you for all you’re doing to support moms and their kids. And thank you for coming on the show today.

BROOKE:    Thank you

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