Volunteering: It’s Not Just About You Anymore

via flickr
via flickr

via flickr

Dear Mr. Dad: I have to admit that my wife and I have been a bit self-centered in our adult lives, focusing on our work, earning money, and supporting the family. We’ve done quite well financially and we’ve both decided that we should start giving something back to our community. We want to get our kids involved too, but they’re pretty young—only 5 and 7. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Are the kids too young? And what’s the best way get going?

A: Your kids are definitely not too young to volunteer in their community. In fact, there’s no such thing as too young. Plenty of people bring babies to visit nursing-home residents or shut-ins, and preschoolers and early elementary school kids often go on field trips to the same places to sing holiday songs , put on a play, or just draw pictures. Bringing a smile to the face of people who don’t have a lot of joy in their lives is a wonderful gift. Middle schoolers can volunteer to read to a blind person or tutor kids their own age in reading and math. Teens can coach inner-city sports teams or build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Ideally, volunteering is a selfless act—you do it to help someone else, not because you’ll profit from it. But thinking way into the future, volunteer work looks very good on college and job applications.

Doing things as simple as serving meals at a local homeless shelter (or, when the kids are older, delivering meals on wheels) shows your children that you’re walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. Of course volunteering often gives kids some insight into just how lucky they are. It can also provide opportunities for them to learn about problem solving and cooperation, hone new skills, and discover talents, interests, and skills they never know they had. Perhaps most importantly, it teaches them to be more tolerant of people they might never come in contact otherwise—people from different cultures, ethnicities, education levels, and socio-economic status. At the end of a day (or even just a few hours) of volunteering, you’ll discover that your family has benefitted as much as your community has—though in very different ways.

As you consider which of the millions of opportunities to get your family involved in, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

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Healthy Eating Tips for Every Age and Stage of Development

mrdad - good eating habits

mrdad - good eating habits

Dads, listen up: Child obesity is out of control. Don’t let your child fall victim to this epidemic that affects nearly one in three children in America. What your children put in their bodies aids their mental and physical development. Begin feeding your kids nutritious food from day one and adjust to their needs during different life stages. Here are some healthy eating tips to implement in every stage of your child’s life.

Newborns

Breast milk is the best food for babies. It provides all the beneficial nutrients, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, which recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months and a combination of breast milk and iron-rich complementary foods thereafter.

Not only does breastfeeding promote a deeper connection with between mom and baby, breast milk aids in protection from respiratory illnesses, infections, stomach problems, skin irritations and allergies.

New fathers can build their bond with baby by feeding breast milk from a bottle after mom’s milk supply is established (at about two to four weeks). Here’s the best approach:

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Mr. Dad Seal of Approval: Father’s Day 2015 Submissions Open!

Mr. Dad Seal of ApprovalOakland, CA: May 22, 2015 — Do you know of a great product or service that encourages dads and their children to spend more time together?

If so, the MrDad.com team wants to hear about it!

As one of the leading websites promoting positive parenting for dads, we’re pleased to announce that submissions are still open for the Father’s Day 2015 Mr. Dad Seal of Approval.

But hurry. As you can imagine, Father’s Day is kind of like our Christmas (although we have Christmas awards too), and we’re already receiving lots of entries. The deadline for submissions is June 9, 2015. We’ll announce the winners the week of June 14. You can find out more and get the application process started here.

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#Men’sHealthMonday: Essential Cancer Prevention Tips

Cancer. Just the name sparks fear in the hearts of men all around the world. Whether you’re talking about lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, or any of the other numerous forms, cancer is frightening and too often deadly. However, it doesn’t have to get you. While genetic predisposition certainly plays a role in whether you develop cancer or not, there are numerous of cancer prevention strategies you can employ to reduce your risk.

  1. Stop Using Tobacco

If there is one absolutely must-do cancer preventon step you can take, it’s kicking tobacco out of your life. Tobacco in any form (including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco) is a cancer causing substance. Lung, throat, and mouth cancer are just for starters. If you can’t quit smoking, consider switching to an electronic cigarette or other smoking substitute (although be aware: e-cigs have plenty of health risks too). It’s not the nicotine that will kill you. It’s the tobacco.

  1. Take Steps to Prevent Cancer-Contributing Infections

Cancer doesn’t come only from radiation and smoking. In fact, a number of infections can actually contribute to the likelihood that you’ll develop cancer. HIV, hepatitis, and HPV are just three of the viruses that may increase your chances of also developing cancer.

  1. Watch What You Eat

What you eat is important for energy, health, and weight considerations, but it’s also important for cancer prevention. A number of foods can make you more susceptible to cancer, including grilled meats, red meat, and salty foods. By extension, anything that adds pounds to your frame could also be considered a cancer encourager, since being obese also increases your cancer risk. If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to shed those pounds now.

Read the rest of this article–including more cancer prevention tips–here.

Inside the Teenage Brain

Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain.
Topic:
A Neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults.
Issues: How the teenage brain is under construction; the vulnerabilities and strengths of the teenage brain; the importance of sleep and the circadian rhythms; the damage done to the teen brain by risk taking, smoking, alcohol, and drugs,

More Summertime Toys and Reviews

 

usta youth tennis inintiativeYouth Tennis Initiatives (United States Tennis Association)

Tennis can be a frustrating game for children. Adult racquets are tough to handle, standard tennis balls move too quickly, and all that frustration often has kids quitting before they have a chance to see how fun the sport can be. In an effort to overcome all this, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has launched a variety of Youth Tennis Initiatives around the country, and even redesigning tennis courts to be more kid-friendly. But the best part of these initiatives is the all-new gear, scaled to children’s age, sizes, and ability. Racquets, for example, now come in four sizes, ranging from 19” (about the size of a racquetball racket) up to 25” (adult racquets typically run 27” to 29”.) Even the tennis balls come in different sizes and bounceability, color coded for easy identification. The USTA’s goal is to get more kids interested—and involved—in tennis and they’ve just served up an ace, not only engaging kids, but making it possible for adults and children to play together. Ages 6 and up. https://www.youthtennis.com/

bunch o balloonsBunch O Balloons (Zuru)

Water balloon fights are almost synonymous with summer. But one of the most annoying things about them is that it takes nearly forever to fill and tie them up. Bunch O Balloons makes that a thing of the past, letting you fill and tie 30 balloons at once, in seconds. If you move quickly, you might be able to fill 100 in under a minute. If that doesn’t blow your opponents out of the water, nothing will. Just connect Bunch O Balloons to your water source (a standard hose connection is ideal), then stand back and watch the balloons expand and tie themselves. Yep, tie themselves. It’s a brilliant idea. Ages 7 and up. $12.99. http://bunchoballoons.com/