Tag Archives: family

Teen Independence: 5 Vital Skills She’ll Need in the Real World


Cute teenage girl smiling while holding piggy bank

How much easier life in general would be if the you right now could go back and advise the “teen-aged” you. Although there is no going back for adults, you can do your part to make life’s road a little smoother for your teen by encouraging her to be independent. In your eyes, she might still be your baby girl, but in a few short years she’ll no longer be a minor. Helping her develop essential skills to live and get along with the other humans in the world will save you both some heartache and teach your teen to have some Teen Independence.

In Case of Emergency

You’ve always been there to take charge and pick up the pieces during crises, but your teen needs to learn how to cope with emergencies on her own. The Washington Post advises parents to provide teenagers with a list of things they’ll have to provide the other driver if they’re in an automobile accident, such as name, address, driver’s and license plate numbers and contact and insurance information. The Post also recommends walking your teen through the insurance portion of her next doctor’s visit, so she understands billing procedures and co-payments as well as what insurance information the doctor’s billing department requires.

Keep it Clean

Keeping her room clean is a good start on housekeeping skills, but when your teenager is out on her own and looking for apartments for rent, she’ll need to know more than how to change the sheets on her bed. Moms Everyday (2) says to stop cleaning up after your teen and show her how to do her own laundry as well as keep things tidy and organized. A teenager is capable of housekeeping on her own and should be doing those things for herself in preparation for life on her own.

Use Your Words

Communication skills are vital but, as All Parenting points out, texting has taken the place of interpersonal communicating. Your teen will be the one who has to contact her landlord, doctor and other business professionals when she no longer lives at home. You should help her develop the skills necessary to schedule appointments, gather information and resolve issues before that responsibility is all on her plate. Guide your teenager through calling her dentist to ask for information and to schedule her next appointment. Steer her through etiquette and courteously inquiring about information.

Fiscal Responsibility

Involve your teen in the day-to-day aspects of your household budget. Make her aware of all the expenses she’ll have to fit her paycheck around. Have her sit with you when you pay the utility bills, the mortgage and insurance. Let her make up a grocery list and then accompany you to do the shopping. Encourage her to open a checking account and help her balance it the first month or two before letting her go it on her own. Help her master fiscal responsibility before she actually has to be fiscally responsible.

Self Management

If your teen relies on you to be the snooze alarm, she needs some work in the time management department. When she’s on her own, she’ll have to get to work on time, pay her rent on time and will have deadlines for college course work or projects for her job. Make sure she learns how to be responsible for managing and organizing her time.


5 Tips to Reduce the Amount of TV Your Kids Watch


Young family watching TV at home

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports kids ages 8-18 watch more than seven hours of TV a day. This is well above the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation, which state kids older than two should watch only one to two hours of quality TV every day. The AAP recommendation helps ensure kids spend plenty of time developing physically, socially and intellectually, thereby reducing childhood obesity and limiting exposure to televised violence, racism and risky behavior. Here are five tips to reduce the amount of TV your kids watch:

No TV in Bedrooms

Remove the TV from their bedroom. All that access to TV could make their homework, sleep and social life suffer, and they’ll see shows that depict violence, sexual promiscuity and other risky and inappropriate behavior. Put the TV in a common area of your home where you can monitor the shows your child watches.

Watch as a Family

Nielsen studies reveal the average home includes three television sets, and that’s not taking into account second screens such as mobile devices and laptop computers that stream TV shows. It’s common for parents to watch adult shows, while kids hang out with cartoons. Watching TV together, though, gives you a chance to discuss what you see. You can talk to your kids about what the media portrays in commercials and change the channel when a risky scene starts.

Use Parental Controls

Every show receives a rating that ranges from Youth (Y) to Mature Audience (MA). These ratings tell viewers what age group the show is designed for, and you can find them in your newspaper, cable or satellite’s TV guide or on the screen as a show starts. New 13-inch and larger TVs must include a V-chip (as per the Federal Trade Commission), which is a parental control that gives you the ability to block certain ratings, specific shows or entire channels. Setting it is easy; check out instructions at GetDirectTV.org or follow the guidelines in your TV’s instruction manual.

Focus on the Shows They Can Watch

Being a parent is filled with saying “no” to stuff that’s harmful to your kids, including riding a bike without a helmet and eating sugar all day. TV shows such as “Jersey Shore” and “Family Guy” would also land on the harmful list, but don’t focus on the shows your kids can’t watch. Instead, preview the shows they want to watch, and make a list of shows that are OK. Everything else is off-limits, which eliminates confusion over what your kids can watch.

Make TV Time Intentional

Matthew Lapierre, communications studies assistant professor at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, found a majority of families leave the TV on as background noise. If you do that, your kids may not be actively watching the set, but they are listening to adult content. Eliminate this harmful habit when you intentionally set designated TV viewing times. Gather your kids on Sunday, look over the TV guide and write a viewing schedule for the week. With this tip, your kids still get to see their favorite approved shows, and they also have time for school, friends, exercise and activities—because the TV isn’t on all the time.


Dads Balance Work and Home


As a dad we get so caught up in doing for our family.  Work, work, work.  We have to make money so our family can survive and if we make enough we can have some extra money so our kids can do things or have things that they really want.   It’s on my mind all the time.  I want my kids to be happy and have the things that they want, but in doing so I’m away from them a lot of the time.  I want to spend more time with them and enjoy them and be there for them.  It’s so hard to balance work and home.  Making money for the family or spending time with the family.   I came across a post on a website called mydaddycool.com and it made me start to think what is really important.  You can Join the discussion at MyDaddyCool and read the post that got me thinking about it by clicking the link.

One member of the site was quoted as saying,

“In 2013 it is so incredibly hard to focus. We are being pulled in a million different directions by a multitude of forces. There are distractions everywhere. One way I have been able to live in the moment and improve my focus is by meditating and practicing yoga. Buy a yoga mat, ear plugs and candles. Tune out of the world for at least fifteen minutes every single day and perform yoga techniques as well as meditating.”

While this might not work for every dad, it is a great example of thinking outside the box and it works for him.

As dads, it’s so hard to balance work and home.  We all want what’s best for our family, but how do we go about it?  What is the right mix for work and home?  Comment and tell us what works best for you and your family.  Share your stories and help other dads out.


5 Frighteningly Healthy Halloween Treats For School-Age Kids


There’s no better way to ruin your healthy kick than with a series of sugar-laden Halloween festivities. This is a dangerous time indeed, and not just in terms of ghosts and ghouls! With all the sweet treats floating around, the maintenance of good oral health is more difficult than ever. As the experts from Kool Smiles point out, brushing those teeth is not enough to maintain a healthy and attractive smile; a healthy diet is also a necessity. But depriving your kids of Halloween treats can wind up backfiring, as they’re likely to get their hands on candy one way or another. Dressing up healthy alternatives in a creative and spooky manner can encourage kids to keep their Halloween festivities frighteningly healthy. So take a look at these 5 Healthy Halloween Treats for children.

Apple Lantern

Image by kellinahandbasket via Flickr.

If you’re on the hunt for an easy way to add interest to your child’s pre-Halloween school lunch, all you need is an apple and a knife. Instead of simply chucking the apple into the lunch bag, use your knife to etch the iconic triangle eyes an evil grin of a jack-o’-lantern. Older children can also participate in this food decoration project.

Hat Sand-Witches

Round out that Halloween school lunch by spicing up that traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. All you need are the usual sandwich ingredients, plus a knife for cutting the sandwich into the shape of a witch hat. For a delicious at-home alternative, make a grilled cheese sandwich and then complete the same wizardry with your bread knife.

Fruity Eyeballs

This simple eyeball recipe checks all the necessary boxes for a good Halloween snack; it’s easy to prepare, incredibly nutritious and tasty to boot! All you need is a banana or two, plus dried apricots and raisins. Cut up the banana into small, round pieces and then have your kids place dried apricots on top of these slices. The pupils of the eyeballs can be formed from raisins, which are then placed on top of the apricots.

Healthy Popcorn Balls

Here’s a classic Halloween treat that not only can you prepare with your kids’ assistance, you can also pass them out to ensure that trick-or-treaters also get their dose of healthy food. Use an air popper to ensure that your snack is low on calories. And instead of the usual corn syrup, healthy eating experts from the Organic Authority suggest heating up half a cup of honey, one stick of butter, a pinch of cinnamon and two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Next, coat the popcorn and shape into balls with your hands. For a unique twist, throw in raisins, dried cranberries or peanut butter.

Spider Web Pita Pizza

If you’ve ever fallen for the temptation of skipping the meal preparation process and tossing a Lunchable box in a backpack, you’ve likely laid eyes on the highly-acclaimed (among kids, that is) Lunchable pizza. But with minimal effort, you can put together your own healthy and Halloween-themed version of this school lunch classic. Use a round pita pocket as the base, and then spread tomato sauce on top. Take strips of string cheese and place on the pita in a radial pattern to create the web. You can either leave as is or pop it in the oven for a minute or two in order to melt the cheese ever so slightly.


How an Unsecured Wireless Network Endangers Your Home

Happy kids playing laptop at home

As much as parents like to that think their children are safe and sound at home, the home can actually be a dangerous place. As a parent, you may blindly be exposing your child’s personal information, including contact information, school and home address, birth date, and Social Security number, by using an unsecured wireless Internet network.

Unsecured Network Risks

Every time you or your kids log onto an unsecured Internet network, you’re opening up your home to hacking, theft and other cyber crimes. Tech-savvy criminals are experts at pulling your personal information off of your unsecured home network. They don’t even have to use a password for access. Your bank account information if you bank online, your credit card numbers if you shop online, your home address, and your Social Security number all become vulnerable.

Children are particularly vulnerable to online attacks because cyber thieves can take their names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and home addresses in order to assume their identities and open credit cards in their names. Identity theft can ruin your child’s credit and financial future for years without any knowledge. Hackers and thieves can also install programs onto your unsecured network and record every time you press a key on your keyboard. Then when you enter your bank account number or email password into your computer, a hacker instantly has that information.

What else is at stake? Predators can find out email addresses, cell phone numbers, where your children live, the school they attend, where they like to hang out, and what social media networks they use — all over an unsecured home network. Why take the chance?

Secure Network Safety

If you can access your Wi-Fi network at home without punching in a password, you have an unsecured network. Protect your Internet router’s security by setting the router up with a login and password, preferably a WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access). It’s more secure than the old WEP key that used to be the standard for router security. Using a WPA2 requires that you set up a random pattern of letters and numbers as your password, which makes it nearly impossible for potential hackers to break into your network.

Setting up a WPA2 key requires a firmware update. Internet Providers shares an excellent tutorial on firmware updates on their website www.internetproviders.com. You can also change your router settings so that your Service Set Identifier (SSID) is no longer publicly broadcasted. If your kids want to access the Internet, they will have to get the SSID from you on a case-by-case basis. Not only will this help keep them safe, but it will give you more control for when your children go online. Your job is to keep your children safe and help them make smart decisions, whether they’re at home, in school, with their friends, or online.