Say This, Not That by Ilana Kukoff and Jessica Huddy

Super Sweet 16

Dear Ilana and Jess: My daughter, Larissa, wants a super sweet 16 and expectations are high. There’re limits to what my husband and I can afford, but we don’t want to disappoint our daughter. How do we make this work?

Dear Pam: As your daughter reaches the peak of her teen years, it’s more important than ever to prepare her for adulthood. Teaching values – including fiscal responsibility – is a part of that. Now is not the time to mask reality to meet unrealistic expectations. Gratitude is much more valuable than a memorable birthday party.

First, tell Larissa truthfully what you can and cannot afford. Boundaries are healthy and, in this case, (as in many) necessary. If you imply or behave as though Larissa is owed an over-the-top party, she will internalize this message. This is something you don’t want to teach. Once you set the limits, stick to them. If you acquiesce, you’ll breed entitlement.

Second, have Larissa contribute to the party fund. It’s important that she understands the value of a dollar and the process of earning what she wants. If Larissa is responsible for contributing to the party payments, she’ll better appreciate what she gets. At the same time, she’ll learn that she’s responsible for putting in the work.

Say This: “We want you to have a wonderful party, but we need to be realistic. We are willing to contribute ____ dollars. This should cover ______. Anything else you’d like to have, you’ll need to pay for.”

Not That: “Whatever you want, we’ll make it happen!”

Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: