Single-Parent Sex: Getting Caught with Your Pants Down. Literally.

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a single dad and have been going out with a wonderful woman for quite a while. She sometimes spends the night, but last time, my 8-year-old daughter walked in on us while we were making love. I don’t think she was there very long, but she was crying and seemed frightened by the whole thing, and my girlfriend didn’t take it too well either. What should I do? Did I just scar my daughter for life?

A: Ah, yes, the joys of single-parent dating. Bedtime stories are done, the kids are asleep, you and your lover slowly make your way from your candle-lit dinner to the bedroom for a little adult time—clothing optional. Things are going marvelously, wonderfully, delightfully… Then, out the corner of your eye, you see a teddy bear in your doorway—and it’s attached to your child. What a way to ruin the mood.
Chances are you haven’t done any long-term damage to your daughter. But in situations like these, it’s important to respond right away—even if you’re convinced that she wasn’t watching for very long. Young kids can be confused by entangled, naked bodies and the accompanying sound effects, and may worry that mom or dad (or both) are fighting and are hurting each other. Here’s what you should do:

  • Stay calm. Yelling at a child to “get out of here!” could frighten her even more and convince her that you were doing something bad.
  • Don’t let her go away alone. If she runs away on her own, go after her. If not, take her by the hand and lead her back to her bed. Then, sit with her and reassure her that you weren’t being hurt or hurting anyone else. If you think she’s mature enough to understand, tell her that adults sometimes express their love for each other that way. But don’t be surprised if you get a sarcastic snort. Even very young children have seen a lot more than we had back in the day and they usually know a lot more about things than we give them credit for. If she asks for a more sophisticated explanation, give her one, complete with the proper names for the organs involved. But don’t go overboard.
  • No apologies (unless you screamed at your child). Your child may have gotten the message earlier than you would have liked, but she needs to know that sex is a normal thing that grown-ups sometimes do. If you act embarrassed or ashamed (and you very well may be), your child could end up with the idea that sex is, well, something to be embarrassed and ashamed of. If you want your child to have a health attitude about sex as she gets older, that’s exactly the wrong message.
  • Talk to the other adult involved. Making sure your child is okay comes first. Once that situation is resolved, you need to check in with your girlfriend. If she’s thrown her clothes on and is slipping out the back door, don’t let her go—you guys need to have a chat. Yes, getting caught in the act can be disconcerting, but it shouldn’t affect your relationship. Although it might make her think twice before agreeing to sleep over at your house ever again.
  • Use protection. No, not that kind. Your choice of birth control is your own business. The protection I’m talking about is called a lock: install one or make better use of the one you already have.

The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need

David Vienna, author of Calm the F*ck Down.
Topic:
Could this be the only parenting technique you’ll ever need?
Issues: A variety of scenarious that make parents anxious–and down-to-earth reassurance and guidance on how to relax and enjoy the moment.

New Articles for Military Families

I’ve posted a batch of new articles for military families on my about.com mini site.

Here’s what you’ll find:
Family Care Planning for Single Military Parents
Military Housing: Assessing Whether Living On- or Off Base is Best
Domestic Violence in the Military: Just Because You Don’t See it Doesn’t Mean It’s Not There
Reducing the Military Divorce Rate: Strengthening Relationships and Families
Expanding Your Family Through Adoption: A Guide for Military Families
Preparing for Emergencies, Part 1: Survival Kits
Preparing for Emergencies, Part 2: Water, Water Everywhere
Preparing for Emergencies, Part 3: Everything You Need to Know about Food Storage
Finding Your Passion: Developing a Military Career

Keep Your Family Safe While You’re Away on Business

keep famiily safe when away

keep famiily safe when awayAs the head of household, it’s your responsibility to keep your family safe. From buying the safest cars on the market to encouraging your children to wear helmets when they’re riding their bikes, it’s a father’s job to protect. But there are times when you may find yourself away on business, unable to keep your family out of harm’s way. Here are some simple solutions to keep your family safe while you’re out of town:

Security Camera Systems

If you’re concerned about potential break-ins while you’re gone, consider installing a security camera system, like those made by Lorex Technology. Choose a system that meets your needs. The Family Handyman offers a how-to guide for installing an outdoor security camera system. All you will need to install your new system is a drill and a screwdriver. Be sure to prep before installation and create a diagram of your home so you can determine where the cameras should be placed.

[Read more…]

Tales from Mother Runners + Ridiculous Pursuit of the Perfect Marriage + Calm the F*** Down

Sarah Bowen Shea, co-editor of Tales from another Mother Runner.
Topic:
Triumphs, trials, tips and tricks from the road.
Issues: The many ways mother runners experience running: ownership, perspective, support, joy, strength, ambition, persistence.

Mark Hurst, author of Pairfection.
Topic:
A look at the ridiculous pursuit of a “perfect” marriage.
Issues: HOw to stop chasing after perfection and focus on purusing each other’s happiness; trust your relationship instincts; have open discussions and work through differences; keep your marriage from becoming stale; look forward to your future together.

David Vienna, author of Calm the F*ck Down.
Topic:
Could this be the only parenting technique you’ll ever need?
Issues: A variety of scenarious that make parents anxious–and down-to-earth reassurance and guidance on how to relax and enjoy the moment.

Family Fitness: Strike a Pose and Get Ready to Sweat

We all know how great exercise is for us—it’s been shown to have positive effects in almost every area of our life, whether that’s reducing disease risks, combatting depression, or just improving overall wellbeing. But exercising together as a family has some additional benefits. Of course, there’s the bonding part. But besides that, family exercise provides some built-in motivation, encouragement, and can add an element of (hopefully) friendly competition. If you and/or your family are relatively new to exercise, here are a few ways to help you take those first steps towards lifelong fitness. But please, before you start any kind of exercise routine—especially if you haven’t worked out in a while—check with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s appropriate for you and your unique circumstances.

lazy lizards yoga mat and dvdLazy Lizards Yoga mat and DVD (Lazy Lizards)
If one or more of your kids is wiggly and impatient, yoga is a great way to redirect some of that surplus energy. A tremendous amount of research has been done on kids and yoga and there are many documented benefits, including increased strength and flexibility, better ability to manage stress, lower obesity risk, improved balance and agility, fewer sports injuries, and better on-field performance. Some studies even suggest that yoga may encourage creativity, improve memory, and boost academic performance. Yoga, of course, can be done alone, but it’s also a wonderful family activity. The Lazy Lizards yoga mat is the perfect size for children, and has 12 kid-friendly poses printed right on it. There’s even an empty space where kids can draw their own pose. These mats are eco-friendly (meaning they’re made from phthalate-free materials and are recyclable) and come in four colors. Kids can do their own yoga practice by following the illustrations on the mat, or you can pick up the Lazy Lizards yoga DVD, which includes a more structured workout, which includes the little-known pizza pose. The mat is $32, the DVD is $17.95, or you can get a combo for $44.95, all at http://www.lazylizardsyoga.com/ and other retailers.

doyogawithmeDoYogaWithMe
If you’ve got older kids, DoYogaWithMe is a great resource. The website has dozens of free yoga videos that range from 15 minutes to more than an hour. There are three levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and 17 styles to choose from. The instructors are uniformly excellent and the workouts are just as good as you’d find at your local yoga studio. http://www.doyogawithme.com/

sears fitstudioSears FitStudio (Sears)
Sears’s newly re-launched FitStudio is a free, one-stop site that offers a variety of workouts (complete with short video demos of each exercise), a large library of articles on fitness and nutrition, and reviews of dozens of fitness-related products. Once you register (it’s quick and free) FitStudio helps keep you motivated by giving you rewards for incorporating movement into your daily life. If you have a fitness tracker or other similar device, you can connect it to your FitStudio account. You can earn points for walking two miles, burning 1,500 calories, or achieving some other fitness goal you’ve established. You can redeem those points for discounts on merchandise from Sears, sears.com, or kmart.com. Find out more at https://www.fitstudio.com/

sportline sync watchSportline Sync Heart Rate Watch
We’ll be reviewing advanced fitness trackers and fitness-enabled smart watches in future columns, but if you’re looking for a good quality, inexpensive tracker with a lot of features, you can’t go wrong with this one. Besides telling time (you’d be amazed at how many fitness trackers don’t), the Sportline Sync Heart Rate Watch measures steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and heart rate. About $50 at Sears and other retailers.