Interfaith Marriages: There Is Hope

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and I are in a religiously mixed marriage. Before we had kids, it wasn’t an issue and we usually just did our own thing. But ever since our daughter was born, everything seems a lot more complicated. Each of us is committed to our own religion and to our marriage. How are we supposed to raise our children?

Well, there’s good news and bad. The good news is that you’re not alone. Before getting married, fewer than half of interfaith couples discuss the religious upbringing they plan to give their kids, and 80 percent say that having “the same values” is more important than having the same religion, according to Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America.” Interfaith marriages are getting more and more common. Back in the 1960s, only 19% of marriages were interfaith, according to a new Pew Research Center report. But among couples who married since 2010, 39% say their spouse is of a different religion (and 49% of cohabiting couples are in interfaith relationships).

The bad news is that, according to Schaefer Riley, interfaith couples are significantly less satisfied than same-faith couples, and that the more religiously active spouse is usually the unhappiest one.

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Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World

Amy McCready, author of The Me, Me, Me Epidemic.
A guide to raising capable, grateful kids in an over-entitled world
Issues: Signs that you may have an entitlement problem in your home; how to hand over age-appropriate decision making; how to cut back on giving in; offering real-life support to your kids; and much more.

10 Days to a Less-Defiant Child + The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic

Jeffrey Bernstein, author of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child.
The breakthrough program for overcoming your child’s difficult behavior.
Issues: Grasping why your child acts defiantly; understanding your defiant child; avoiding the yelling trap; rising above power struggles; reinforcing positive Changes in your child; discipline without desperation; and much more.

Amy McCready, author of The Me, Me, Me Epidemic.
A guide to raising capable, grateful kids in an over-entitled world
Issues: Signs that you may have an entitlement problem in your home; how to hand over age-appropriate decision making; how to cut back on giving in; offering real-life support to your kids; and much more.

Project MC2: Smart is the New Cool

Project mc2 logo

Project mc2 logoDisclosure: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team and occasionally receive access and goodies from Netflix to facilitate my posts. But everything I write is my own.


Project MC² is a new live-action Netflix original aimed at tweens (mostly girls). Season 1, which consists of only three episodes, introduces us to super-smart teenage spy McKeyla McAlister and three equally super-smart, science-loving girls she reluctantly brings into an all-woman spy organization, NOV8 (Innovate), which just happens to be run by Mc2’s mother.

When I sat down to watch the show with my very own super-smart tween girl, I was a little skeptical. I’d lost a few bets with her and she’d forced me to watch episodes of a number of other shows aimed at teens (again, mostly girls). I can’t remember (or subconsciously blocked out) the names of those shows, but what I do remember is that they were horrid, filled with ditzy, stereotyped characters, poor writing, and horrid acting. So you can imagine my delight….

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We’re Baaaaack—in School

Back to school is a crazy time of year, and not many parents relish all the last-minute shopping for supplies. But no matter what your kids need for school this year, they’ll definitely need a backpack to haul it around in. Here are some fun and functional choices for your students.


bixby backpackBixbee

Got a little one entering Pre-K or Kindergarten this year? He or she will love Bixbee, and so will you. These packs are adorable and come in a variety of great patterns and styles. Some have wings, some have animal faces and ears, heck, there are even shark fins. Bixbee also has a line of more typical backpacks and tamer color palettes for bigger kids. These backpacks are well-made, PVC-, BPA-, phthalate-, and lead free, and come in several sizes, which is more important than you think: The American Occupational Association says that to help your child avoid chronic pain, backpacks should rest “in the curve of the lower back” and never more than four inches below the child’s waistline. Not content to simply combine style and safety, Bixbee also donates a schoolbag with supplies to a needy child for every backpack purchased. For more info, visit


wildkins backpackWildkin

Wildkin’s matching backpacks and lunch bags are great for kids who like all their things to match (or for parents who find it easier to grab everything when it all looks the same). Besides backpacks and lunchboxes, there are also matching nap mats, sports bags, duffels, pencil cases, big-kid bedding sets, and more. The patterns are delightful. The only drawback is that they aren’t quite as sturdy as some others, so if your child is tough on his or her gear, you may not be able to use this year’s pack next year. Prices vary.


chooze backpackChooze

Chooze bags and coordinated lunch boxes are really durable (meaning that they can stand up to being used by adults) and come in great patterns. They also have padded straps (those packs will get heavier and heavier as the year progresses), plenty of pockets and pouches, and zippers that stay zipped and don’t catch, As an added bonus, they’re completely reversible—just turn it inside out and you’ve got a whole new look without you having to buy a new pack. $25-$44 at


noosa yoghurtNoosa Yoghurt

Looking for something delicious to stick into lunchboxes this year? Noosa’s great taste and flavor combinations, along with the fact that it’s produced in small batches on a family farm, make this unlike any other yogurt on the market today. Made with all natural whole milk, fresh fruit purees, and honey, it’s also all natural, gluten-free, and probiotic, so it’s good for the whole family. Comes in lunchbox- and grown-up sizes in unique flavors like Cranberry Apple, Pumpkin, Honey, and Strawberry Rhubarb, and more traditional ones like Vanilla and Blueberry.  Find a store that sells Noosa near you at


simply7 sea saltSimply 7

Another easy lunchbox ingredient is chips. No, not all are very health, but Simply 7’s are. Chips come in Quinoi, Lentil, and Hummus (unusual sounding but incredibly tasty) and are vegetarian, non-GMO, kosher, gluten free, and have up to 50% less fat than regular potato chips. Flavors include sea salt, spicy chili pepper, roasted red peppers, creamy dill, and jalapeno, BBQ, cheddar, and bruschetta. Best of all, the ingredients are simple and pronounceable (except possibly bruschetta). Available at many large and small retailers. To find one near you, visit


Pre-game Rituals: What They Are and Why We Need Them

Credit: Flickr/majorvols

pregame ritualBy nature, humans are pretty superstitious and we do all sorts of things to bring us good luck (rub a rabbit’s foot, pick a four-leaf clover, pull wishbones apart, hang horseshoes with the open end up) or prevent bad luck (try not to break a mirror, don’t open an umbrella indoors, throw salt over your left shoulder, skip the 13th floor in tall buildings, and on and on). Nearly every group of people has its own luck-related superstitions (many Catholics cross themselves, many Jews don’t name their children after living relatives, actors say “break a leg” instead of “good luck” and refer Shakespeare’s Macbeth as “The Scottish Play,” musicians have theirs, construction workers have theirs, and so on.)

One of the most superstitious groups is athletes. Lebron James used to toss chalk; Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs wrote the Hebrew word for “life” in the dirt every time he came up to the plate and ate chicken (presumably kosher) before every game; former pro football player Ray Lewis did his squirrel dace for the fans; French soccer player Lauren Blanc used to kiss the top of his goalie’s bald head. There are team rituals too: some have a team meal the day before each game, some kneel in prayer before games, some slap the top of the dugout before running on to the field, and others just have a rousing “get-out-there-and-win-win-win!” cheer.

We often hear that sports involves much more than physical performance. Many experts agree that the mental part of any game is just as important. (Baseball philosopher Yogi Berra did the math a little differently when he said that “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”)

Credit: Flickr/majorvols

Credit: Flickr/majorvols

Just as pre-game stretching and warm ups prepare the body, the kind of pre-game rituals I’ve described here prepare the mind. They’re designed to build the individual’s or the team’s confidence, reduce anxiety, make players feel that they control the outcome, and help them stay focused. Do they work? (Would Wade Boggs be in the Hall of Fame if he were a vegetarian? Would he have played even better if he’d eaten carrots instead?). It’s impossible to say for sure, but I’m fairly certain that the answer is Yes, they do. If the coach’s or a teammate’s pep talk revs up the players and makes the team feel like an unstoppable force, they’re going to play harder and support each other more than if they just showed up 10 minutes before the game. And if you’re nervous before games and meditating, painting your toenails, or wearing a pair of socks you haven’t washed all season calms you, you’re going to play better. How could you not? As long as they’re positive, supportive, and healthy, pregame rituals are must-haves for any team or individual.

This summer, I’ve been partnering with Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes on their “Show Your Stripes” campaign, which is all about encouraging dads and kids to play sports with a sense of passion, sportsmanship, and team spirit. You can view an amazing video highlighting these themes on Frosted Flakes’ YouTube page, featuring the famous speech given last year by Coach David Belisle at the Little League World Series after his team lost:


A lot of that passion, sportsmanship, and team spirit starts before the game, with a ritual of some kind. Kellogg’s has a fun video about pre-game rituals here:

Did you or your teammates have any rituals when you were young? Does your child’s team have one? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Tweet it using #showyourstripes and help other dads and kids show theirs.