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Monica Ruffo
Well Told Health

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07: Interview with Mary Dell Harrington

This interview had my name written all over it! As I'm in this exact stage of life, and I have a daughter leaving for college in the fall, these women have hit the nail on the head! I spoke with co-founder, Mary Dell Harrington, about her blog, Grown & Flown. Mary Dell and her partner, Lisa Heffernan, were parent volunteers together for years. But when it was time to send their eldest children to college, they had access to very little information. So what did they do? They started a fabulous community for parents with children ages 15-25 addressing any issue you can imagine. If your children are in high school, there is a plethora of information for you. If you have children leaving for college, or are already in college, there is fantastic information for your to pour through. And the best part is their Facebook group, Grown and Flown parents. You can throw out a question and a group of 55,000 moms will read it and give you advice from their personal POV. What a wealth of information and resource for us moms! Please visit them at https://grownandflown.com/

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Highlights

“Grown and Flown is our website. We are the moms of 5 children between our two families. We are PTA moms and have worked in the trenches on many volunteer projects. We met when our youngest were in 3rd grade and now they are seniors in college."

"We realized that nobody was really writing about parenting older kids – kids in HS and college."

"Teens and college kids are some of the most consequential times of parenting. We decided we would write a blog and provide content."

"Lisa and I both have our MBA’s – we had careers in Wall Street and in the media. We both took time off to be home with our kids. Lisa wrote 3 business books. At this point we connected and we started working on projects together but this is where we brought together our plan. Everything you do in the past influences future projects."

"The site is for the parents. We write for parents who have kids aged 15-25. We put up new content every single day. For writers with a great story to tell, we are always looking for new voices."

"We have a community of this insanely active facebook group. It’s a closed group and now have over 54k members in the group. People can share this life stage. All of the “What next” questions."

"We offer people an opportunity to ask questions, talk, have moments of excitement or simply ask how people deal with their kid driving."

"We are very mom-centric. Most of our engagement is with moms. We have many experts – therapists who are educators and life coaches. We have content from moms and experts who can help us be the best parents we want to be. We try to offer this content, but also provide this community where people can share and experience this stage together."

"Mark Zuckerberg picked Facebook groups to come to Chicago for a summit and we were asked to participate. His new mission statement is bringing the world together– our group does that – and the variety was crazy. Of our 54k and growing membership – groups are getting together all over the country. These are moms who feel that maybe they need to reboot their friend group – or they want to know other moms having the same experience. They are so much fun."

"If you have a student with mental health issues, going off to college – the hand off to the support services at school are important. The fall semester is really challenging for almost every kid. There’s home sickness. There’s this feeling, an “Instagram reality” and feeling like you are missing out. It takes time to get into the groove and find friends. You’ve just left everything in your life that you love and know – so it’s understandable that it’s not that easy. Home sickness is a reality for almost every college kid."

"Normal is only going to be normal for every individual family. Group texts with your family is a great thing to set up if you don’t already have that. That’s a fun thing for your daughter to snap a picture and send a group text. A great thing to do is to send pictures of the pet in the group thread. They definitely will want to see their dog."

"Who better than moms of high school and college age kids for world domination? Just joking, but we can help each other, we’re creative. We’d like to continue to grow our site and our group. We want to create the best site out there. 40 plus women are an under- served group and we want to be a destination for women with older kids."

 

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