Meet the Moms Behind Grown & Flown | Pittsburgh Moms Network
When you first become a mom, you think the newborn stage is the hardest—and then suddenly you have a toddler and while maybe you’re getting a little bit more sleep, you’re more tired than ever. Fast forward to the tween, teen and beyond years, and most parents quickly realize where the phrase “bigger kids, bigger problems” comes from. The funny part? While there are a million pregnancy and baby parenting apps, there aren’t nearly as many resources for parents of older kids. If you’re in that latter stage and are looking for an amazing resource to guide you, you need to check out Grown & Flown. We love their funny and insightful social media outlets, and when we dove deeper, found they have fascinating contributors to their website as well as a huge online community (almost a quart of a million followers and counting). For this week’s Meet a Mom interview, we spoke to Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington, the two moms behind Grown & Flown whose own kids are, well grown and flown (college age and young adults!).
 
 
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Lisa: We are Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan. At the moment, Mary Dell lives in Westchester, New York and Lisa is moving to New York City. Our kids are all young adults and live in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
 
Why did you choose those areas to live in and raise your family?
Mary Dell: We moved to Westchester Country 3 months before we had our first baby. Neither my husband nor I are from the northeast so we moved to where we had a small friend network and where the commute into NYC was fairly easy as we were both working full-time in the city.
Mary Dell Harrington & family
 
 
What are your professional backgrounds?
Mary Dell: I worked in media – NBC, Discover, Lifetime
Lisa: I worked on Wall Street and am the author of four books, including a New York Times Bestseller
 
How did Grown & Flown come to be? 
Lisa: As our kids started college and our younger kids were still in high school we looked around and realized that there were no websites and online communities for parents with teens and college students. We knew we were in some of the most challenging, and consequential years of parenting, and we needed expertise, shared experiences and most importantly community. One day, one of our kids put up a website and Grown and Flown was born!
 
For anyone who is not yet familiar, how do you describe Grown & Flown and what does it encompass?
Lisa: Grown and Flown is a website that millions of parents with older kids visit every month. We have over 700 writers who are parents, teachers, doctors, and psychologists.  We have an online community Grown and Flown Parents, with over 240,000 members. We also have a college admissions membership.
 
What do you think most parents don’t realize about raising older kids and/or empty nesting?
Lisa: This is the longest relationship you are going to have with your children. Being adults together will, hopefully, last for decades and be an important, loving and supportive part of both of your lives. The issues about parenting teens and young adults are highly complex and life changing. There is a myth that parenting is a 18 year long adventure. The truth is Parenting Never Ends.
Lisa Heffernan and her family
 
 
What would you tell your younger self – when your kids were babies/toddlers and then school age, that you wish you knew then?
Mary Dell: I would try to let my children be more independent and push them to be a little more self-reliant. When I stopped working and became a SAHM for a decade, they were in 5th and Kindergarten and I did so much more for them than I needed to because I had the time I never had before.
Why is it important to still be “all in” as a parent, even when your kids seem to need you less?
Mary Dell: The high school and college years are some of the most consequential years in parenting and the ones where we gradually move from telling our children what to do to acting more as a coach or mentor. They really don’t need us less, they need us in different, hugely important ways.
 
How has parenting older kids/young adults changed since we were that age?
Mary Dell: Research shows that our older kids/young adults come to their parents for advice on careers, finances, relationships and that is different than when we were their age. We were more likely to ask a friend than our parents.
 
What’s next for Grown & Flown?
One of the biggest issues facing parents of teens is the college admissions process and paying for college. It is the second biggest expense for most families after their homes. Most college counselors have a heavy load of students and families turn to the internet where there is much speculation and misinformation. We have created College Admissions: Grown and Flown to help parents with access to some of the best known admissions experts and former admissions officers in the US. It has been an exciting project for us and families have found it invaluable.
 
Anything else you’d like to share?
We are always looking for incredible parenting stories, or parenting experts to share. The Grown and Flown website is very much a collaboration of over 700 people dedicated to making sure parents feel seen and have access to high quality in formation. We love meeting new writers and experts and sharing their insights!
 
We love to support local businesses. What are your favorite places in your area to:
 
Get coffee: Bradley’s Desserts in Larchmont (also our go-to for birthday cakes)
Go for girl’s night:
Go for date night: Le Provencal Bistro in Mamaroneck
Go for dinner as a family: Kira Sushi in Armonk
Get your hair done: Elegance Salon in Rye
Get your nails done: Belle Visage in Mt. Kisco
Have fun as a family: At home!

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