Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan of Grown & Flown
Parenting never ends, thankfully, but it definitely does change!
The issues that took center stage when your kids were little look completely different than those that confront parents during the high school years, into the college years, and beyond.
For those of us who have kids who are between 15-25 years old, run, don’t walk, to Grown and Flown an online community (comprised of more than 450,000 parents) and website that features a trove of amazing articles, personal stories, tips, and actionable advice to help parents navigate that next frontier. Spend just a few minutes on the site, and you will quickly understand why People magazine included co-founders, Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan, in their list of 25 Women Changing the World in 2017.
Six and a half years ago, Mary Dell and Lisa recognized there was a huge gap in resources for parenting kids during the high school and college years. With long and impressive CV’s, they brought their strong business acumen, storied careers in business and entertainment, and impressive writing resumes to the table and decided they were going to create something to fill the void. Together, they launched Grown and Flown. And we are so glad they did!
Helen Jon sat down and talked with Mary Dell and Lisa to learn more about what they do and why they do it.
What kinds of articles and stories can people expect to find on your site?
We offer so many different kinds of articles and stories on our site. Grown and Flown is more than just a “blog for moms of older kids.” We steer the conversation away from diapers and sleep deprivation and instead ponder the teen years, college admissions and when to cut your kids off the family payroll.
A sampling of the content that is on our homepage includes: great gift ideas for high school graduates; social media apps you might want to know more about; a list of six great tv shows to binge watch with your teen; and a college shopping list that includes 20 Do’s and Don’ts that will make you smile.
Here are three direct links to some of our most highly-viewed posts, including an article on the teenage brain, a helpful story on the difficulties associated with college admissions, and a piece outlining tips to help your kid “adult”.
These are the kinds of things you will find on Grown and Flown. We have a terrific group of contributors who help keep the content fresh, the voices varied, and the information relatable and usable. More than just a blog for “old Moms,” Grown and Flown is a trusted resource – and more than that – a true community for parents to come together and support one another during the trials, tribulations – and, yes, definitely the joys too – of parenting during these post-adolescent years.
We have heard there is a Facebook group for Grown and Flown parents. Tell us more about this.
Yes, we do. Grown and Flown Parents is a community for parents of 15-25 year-olds. It is a place to openly discuss matters involving parenting teens, college kids, and young adults. It is a judgement-free zone, in which we encourage (and occasionally enforce) kind and respectful discussion. In order to become a member of this group, each person is required to sign and accept our Rules of Participation to ensure that it remains somewhere people can come together to find support, friendship, answers, and even a laugh or two.
When we created this group, we had no idea the impact it would have. There are over 76,000 members now. It has become a safe place for parents to ask anonymous questions that are concerning them. The questions range from very serious ones (addiction, anxiety, abuse), the kinds of issues that keep you up at night, to the more fun and silly that fall into the “Adulting 101” range. Regardless of the weightiness of the issue, each question, every post is treated with respect by the others in the group.
Parenting is not always a two-person job, and neither is running a business. Partnerships can offer tremendous benefits, but also challenges. Tell us, how do you two keep your partnership vital?
We talk to each other at least three times a day, and we always come back to this basic truth: How could we have ever done this without each other?
One key element to success for us is that our goals are aligned. We understand how important it is to be honest about goals and clear about expectations on what everyone contributes. This is not a side-activity for either of us; it is our job (and we love it!). Not to be underestimated, collaboration is an important technique to master to get the best product. Simply put, we have better ideas together! We listen to one another (and to our team), and we compromise.
We knew we were at a good life-stage to take on a project such as this, and we knew each other well before we launched. Never underestimate the power of PTA and volunteering to get a sense of the kinds of people you might like to partner with. We chose well.
As your readership and your connections with your audience grows, what do you think might come next for Grown and Flown and the two of you?
We have entertained the idea of starting a podcast, which we think could be a lot of fun. We are also in the process of writing a book. What we have found is that there is no shortage of salient questions, ideas, and issues that arise, and the answers are as varied as our kids.
Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
Yes, we have a philanthropy project that has captured our hearts that we would love to tell your readers about. Last year, Grown and Flown raised the money to buy dorm supplies for 225 first gen freshmen at University of Texas Austin and this year we are looking to help even more students. You can read about it here.
And as a thought for Father's Day, if you make a donation of $25 or more, we will send a gorgeous card with a note to your father (or friend or other special person in your life) indicating that a donation has been made in their name. How great is that? You get to help a group of students who need it, and the recipient will get a wonderful memento of your generosity.
Here is how it works:
- Make a donation of $25 or more via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Include your name, the name and mailing address of the recipient in your Paypal order.
- Spread the joy with this gift to help kids move into college with a little extra love and good karma from you.
- No Paypal? Send a check made out to Grown and Flown to: PO Box 810, Katonah, NY 10536
Thank you, Mary Dell and Lisa. We love what you are doing!