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Life Lessons at the Grocery Store

Life Lessons at the Grocery Store

Taking kids down the cereal aisle at the grocery store is like being part of your own private Black Friday: the pushing, the crying, the fistfights. And there’s more marketing packed into that stretch of big box real estate than in all of Times Square. I’m not just talking about the cereal manufacturers; I’m talking [...]

Confessions of a Quitter

Confessions of a Quitter

Over the years, my mother let me quit a few things. After several failed attempts at sewing lessons, she accepted that the one and only thing I ever produced was a bath towel wrap with a piece of Velcro sloppily stitched to it. And after a lot of whiny persuasion, she also let me quit [...]

Growing Up Online: How Texting Can Strengthen Relationships

By now, parents of kids with cell phones understand that texting has created new possibilities—and problems. Although research is sparse, a few preliminary studies suggest that, like other forms of communication, texting has the power to bring people closer. Depending on how it is used, it can also create and exacerbate conflict. In one recent, highly publicized [...]

Valentine’s Treats to Make Your Kids’ Day Special

It’s that time of year again when sweet treats abound, and celebrating Valentine’s Day seems to be all about eating chocolate. February is also American Heart Month, designated by the American Heart Association as the time to develop healthy habits for your heart health. Kids, of course, won’t be thinking about their heart health, and, [...]

Born Second, Born Free

Born Second, Born Free

When our first child, Marie, was born, she instantly became the center of our universe. Three years later when Sally came along, she found a much easier job. At 20 months of age, Sally’s life was a carefree whirl. She sang. She danced. She would put a colander on her head and wear it like [...]

The Great Debate

The Great Debate

There’s a lot of Santa speculation around our house this season. The kids are now 11, 8, and 6, and they’re asking much more specific questions about the man in red. I’m both thankful and surprised it hasn’t happened before now. Our goal has always been to extend the mystery as long as possible, especially [...]

Kids Who Curse

Kids Who Curse

My oldest daughter Marie was about 4 when she said her first dirty word. She’d come in from playing with the neighbor kids and said, “Daddy, Heather called Billy an ____.” It was a vulgar term for a well-known bodily orifice. Long ago, a kid who said a word like that would have her mouth [...]

How to Be in the Bee

How to Be in the Bee

There are a few things my oldest boy inherited from me that he’s not crazy about—the smattering of freckles across his nose, pale skin that sunburns when we walk past a running microwave, and feet that stay at subzero temperature. The gene pool can be cruel at times. But perhaps I made up for it [...]

In Defense of the Shy Kids: The Benefits of Raising a Shy Child

In Defense of the Shy Kids: The Benefits of Raising a Shy Child

My nephew can stick 12 French fries up his nose. My daughter’s friend regularly hangs up the phone on her mother, and my son’s buddy refuses to play if he doesn’t win at Mario Kart. But my children seem to raise the most eyebrows. Their issue? They are shy. I have raised four (formerly) shy [...]

Grief: Helping Children Cope

Grief: Helping Children Cope

Thirteen-year-old Ashley Nedrebo was sleeping in her room with her dog, Cody, when he starting whining and woke her up. She got up to let him out, and when she opened the door, she saw her mom and sister and several of her aunts all standing in the hallway crying. “Oh, crap,” she thought to [...]

12 Tips for Handling Toddler Tantrums

12 Tips for Handling Toddler Tantrums

While I was growing up, the pastor of our local congregation went by the title of “Bishop.” One day in church, a little boy about 3 years old started acting up and raising a fuss. The more his parents tried to calm him the louder he got, until his father finally lifted him up and [...]

Vamps With School Spirit

Vamps With School Spirit

They fly through the air at night, they have superhuman strength and agility, they put the bite on you time after time, and they can completely take over your life. Vampires? I wish! I’m talking about cheerleaders. My 16-year-old daughter Wendy is on the junior varsity squad at Good Times Regional High School. She is [...]

I Can’t Wait to Get Homework!

I Can’t Wait to Get Homework!

It was my son’s favorite question, and he was asked it frequently by kind friends, neighbors, and grocery store clerks: “So, are you excited about being in kindergarten?” “Yeah! I can’t wait to get homework!” was his standard reply. And why not? At 5, “getting homework”—reading a poem to his parents, drawing a picture of [...]

Defining Dads: What It Really Means to be a Father

Defining Dads: What It Really Means to be a Father

Ward Cleaver. Archie Bunker. Al Bundy. When you think of the American fathering experience, these iconic television characters might spring to mind—for all the wrong reasons. Cleaver was a typical 1950s suburban dad portrayed on “Leave it to Beaver.” He came home from work every day expecting a hot meal from his housewife. At the [...]

Smart Fathers Were Perfect Boys

Smart Fathers Were Perfect Boys

“Dad,” said my 16-year-old daughter Wendy, “can Mary and Jessica sleep over tonight?” “Mary the Thief?” Wendy replied angrily, “That was a long time ago.” Wendy’s circle of “frenemies” rotates swiftly, and when she is on the outs with them, she tells us about their wickedness. And Mary had been the central figure in a [...]

Summer Break’s Three Little Words

Summer Break’s Three Little Words

There’s a countdown underway. My boys announce it each morning as they bound down the stairs to leave for school. “Seven more days of school, Mom!” Jack called out happily as he slung his backpack over his shoulder. They’re even coordinating their clothes around the countdown. Yesterday Adam wore a t-shirt with the number eight [...]

Autism: 8 Things Everyone Should Know

Autism: 8 Things Everyone Should Know

I recently found out the active little bundle I’ve been carrying in my womb for nearly six months is a boy. And he appears healthy. He has two legs and two arms. All his organs are developing well and his spine looks fantastic. Most people would be elated by this news. However, because of the number [...]

Roles Models (and the young people they inspire)

Every decade has its icons: Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, The Beatles in the 1960s, John Travolta and Farrah Fawcett in the 1970s. Today’s top celebrities include Jimmie Johnson, Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez, and Robert Pattinson. You may recognize their faces on television, read their headlines at the newsstand, and overhear their names in conversation. [...]

Misconceptions: Theirs, Mine, Yours

Misconceptions: Theirs, Mine, Yours

When I was little, I believed that if you peed behind a tree in the park, the squirrels would follow you and pollute YOUR home for revenge. My mom told me that. I also believed there were three sure ways to die. Listed with information sources, they are: touch a light switch with wet hands [...]

Feeding the Beast

Feeding the Beast

There’s a monster in the house. His name is Gimme—as in “Gimme more.” His attempt to take over the children’s minds is frustrating. Just a few short months after Santa’s generosity, the Gimme Monster still can’t stop clamoring for more. But we understand how this ogre works because the Gimme Monster has been around for [...]