When Violence is a Good Thing + Communication for Changing Families

Tim Larkin, co-author of How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life.
The importance of using violence to defend against violence.
Issues: Antisocial vs. Asocial violence; when to engage; fight or flight; why you must learn to cause major injury; violence as the ultimate survival tool; overcoming the stigma of violence; the difference between competition-based martial arts and what you must do to survive; what to do when you don’t have a choice.

Samantha Rodman, author of How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce.
Healthy, effective communication techniques for your changing family.
Issues: Types of divorcing families; initiating honest conversations where your children can express their thoughts; how emotions work; validate your children’s feelings, making them feel acknowledged and secure; differences between amicable, strained, and hostile divorces; strengthening and deepening your relationship with your kids.

Netflix’s Halloween Scream Team

the 6th sense

the omenDisclaimer: I’m part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, but I’ve been a Netflix power user for years and it would take a lot more than a few free movies to influence my opinions.

I’ve got to admit that Halloween—at least the costume part—has never been my favorite holiday. Oh, I used to get dressed up and take the kids out to Trick-or-Treat, and I’ve been told that I really rock a mini-skirt. But it’s hard to get excited about being someone else when I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

the othersIt’s entirely possible that my parents are responsible for my ho-hum attitude about costumes. When my sisters and I were little, the punishment for any mid-October-or-later infraction was that on Halloween we had to go door to door, not dressed up and asking for candy, but wearing regular clothes and collecting money in a little orange box for Unicef.

teh flyMy kids seem to have inherited my distaste for Halloween. The older two, both of whom are living on their own in New York, don’t do much in the way of late-Octover wardrobe makeovers. And the little has zero interest in anything but the candy.

rosemary's babyOne Halloween-related thing we do, though, is snuggle up together (whoever happens to be in town) and watch movies. We used to have to plan way ahead and rent actual DVDs. But now, we leave it up to Netflix.


the 6th senseSo on Halloween, we’ll turn off every light in the house, put a big bowl of candy on the porch, and start making our way through our list. Here’s what’s on it:




buffy the vampire slayer

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The Fly (the origina, with Vincent Price)
  • The Omen (the 1976 original)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968 original)
  • Scary Movie (the whole series)
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • The Sixth Sense


scary movie 5

What You Need to Know About Stroke

Did you know that stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the leading preventable case of disability in the US? Each year, about 800,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke. Furthermore, someone in the world has a stroke every 2 seconds.
As you may know, World Stroke Day is Thursday, 10/29, so the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the Ad Council are helping to raise awareness about Stroke knowledge, prevention, and what to do in an emergency. Here’s why this work matters.

  • 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 3 Americans cannot name at least one sign of stroke.
  • When you recognize a stroke and immediately call 9-1-1, the person has a greater chance of getting to an appropriate hospital quickly and being assessed for treatment options like a clot-busting drug or clot-busting device.

We hope you’ll support the effort because together, we can end stroke.

It’s important to have the knowledge to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.


How to spot a stroke F.A.S.T. (the warning signs):

  • F – Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A – Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like: “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T- Time to call 9-1-1 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately. www.StrokeAssociation.org/warningsigns

Facts about Strokes:

  • Someone in the world has a stroke every 2 seconds.
  • In the U.S. stroke is the No. 5 cause of death overall, killing nearly 130,000 people a year.
  • Stroke is the No. 1 preventable cause of long-term disability.
  • About 800,000 people have a stroke every year.

Download and share mobile app There’s an app for that and at least one person is glad she had it! www.StrokeAssociation.org/warningsigns

Want to learn more? Join the @American Stroke Twitter Chat! It will be hosted by @iHeartRadio on 10/29 at 12pm CT. The hashtag is #StrokeChat. Hear other people’s F.A.S.T. Songs, share your own, and join us for a great discussion about stroke! There will be giveaways, so stop by and tweet with us.

Spanking Gets Results: But All the Wrong Kinds

mrdad - spanking - wikicommons

mrdad - spanking - wikicommonsDear Mr. Dad: I was over at a friend’s house and was surprised to see her spanking her 4-year old. I’ve never hit any of my kids and don’t have any plans to do so. But after taking an informal poll of other parents I know, I was surprised to find that I’m actually in the minority. Should I rethink my no-spanking policy?

 A: Please don’t. There’s some debate about whether an actual majority of parents spank their children. For example, one study found that while 62 percent of parents in the South admit to having spanked their children, only 41 percent of parents in the rest of the country have. And according to a recent study done by researchers at Columbia University, 57 percent of moms and 40 percent of dads engaged in spanking when their children were three years old, and 52 percent of moms and 33 percent of dads were still spanking when their kids were five. But let’s not quibble over semantics. The point is that way, way too many parents are hitting their children—and it needs to stop.

I know I’m going to hear from a lot of readers who will swear up and down that spanking works. And they’re right. Spanking definitely gets the child’s attention and will usually get him or her to immediately do what you say. That’s great in the moment, but what about future moments?

[Read more…]

HomeTeam: Keeping Families Connected

hometeam dan and son

hometeam Grandparents2Life can get pretty crazy around here. Typical weekdays start at about six with me rolling out of bed and giving my 12-year old daughter a gentle wakeup nudge. I take the dog for a walk, and 20 minutes later, it’s time for a second nudge—this one somewhat less gentle. Then it’s down to the kitchen where I make breakfast and lunch. At this point, my daughter swoops in, wolfs down a waffle or some eggs, mutters an unintelligible complaint about the lunch menu, and spends a few minutes scrambling around trying to find her shoes and homework, and brush her teeth. Then we slip into the car and it’s off to school. During the ride she’s either frantically trying to finish an assignment that’s due in an hour or snoozing. By the time I drop her off, we’ve probably exchanged 15 words.

Afternoons aren’t much chattier, between picking her up, schlepping her to the extracurricular du jour, driving home (although at least 10 minutes of dad-daughter conversation is mandatory during these after-school rides), and trying to pull something together for dinner while she goes to her room to do her homework. Next thing I know, it’s off to bed.

I know that what I’m describing is pretty typical for today’s busy families—especially the part about the challenge of finding quality (let along quantity) family time. And if it’s this hard to stay connected to kids you see every day, imagine how hard it is to stay connected to children when you’re a parent on a business trip, a military servicemember on deployment, or a grandparent who lives hundreds of miles away.

Having done a lot of work with military families and hearing firsthand how painful it is to be separated from the folks back home for months at a time, I was thrilled when the folks at Panasonic asked me to explore their new HomeTeam app, which is designed to keep families connected across time and distance. In a word, it’s wonderful.

hometeam dan and sonHomeTeam, which was developed by Panasonic Health & Wellness Solutions, gives families three ways to connect, the most obvious being video chat. But anyone who’s ever tried to have an actual conversation with a young child on Skype or some other platform will tell you that the phrase “awkward silence” is more appropriate than “chat.” That’s where HomeTeam’s other features really shine.

With HomeTeam, the kids and mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, or anyone else can read stories or play games together—and by together I actually mean together. (It’s possible for people in up to five locations to be online at the same time.) The HomeTeam app includes nearly 2,000 classic and new digital books, including a number of recently added ones from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel. Books are sorted by age group or category (adventure, animals, biography, fiction, non-fiction, folk tales, sports, and more). Pick a story, figure out who’s doing the reading, and you’re off.

hometeam gamesThere are also more than a dozen interactive games, again, sorted by age or category. These include matching games, puzzles, classics like Go Fish and chess, and even educational selections that focus on word play, math, and science.

Whether reading a story or playing a game, kids and adults are doing it together, with the game or book on part of the screen, and the smiling faces on another part. Of course, there’s nothing like snuggling up on the couch together and reading or playing a game while sitting at the same table. But when that’s not possible, HomeTeam gets you about as close as possible.

The service is aimed at kids 3-12, and the interface is sleek, attractive, and extremely easy to use. You can download HomeTeam in the App Store, Google Play, or at MyHomeTeam.com. Give it a whirl for 30 days for free (you don’t even need a credit card to get started). After that, HomeTeam costs $8.99 per month and can be shared with up to five family members.

You can connect with Panasonic on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.

Disclosure: I received an extended trial and some compensation to facilitate this review. However, it would take a lot more that that to make me give something a thumbs up that I don’t honestly believe it deserves.

Stuff No One Tells You About Toddlers

Dawn Dais, The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers.
A guide to surviving the toddler years
Issues: Restaurants are battle zones: don’t even bother trying to feed a toddler; potty training; taking the fun out of vacations; when you’re not the favorite parent.