Author: Guest Contributor

Quality Time: Family Night Fun With Teenagers

A guest post by Harry Vincent   When the kids are tiny they’re easy to please. When they grow up, things get much harder. Here are some fun ideas for a more mature family that doesn’t want to give up family time.   Cook a Large Meal Together Cooking is usually something reserved for the parents, but teens should learn this valuable life skill sooner rather than later. If your teenager doesn’t have any real cooking skills, then family cooking can teach them everything they need to know (or at least the basics) while simultaneously giving you more family time. Everyone wins. Start with simple things like cooking pasta or baking lasagna. Then, over several weeks, you can work up to more challenging cooking feats like baked goods and soufflés. If you’re feeling especially daring, brew some beer or some other alcohol at home (though they might feel that it’s unfair if they can’t drink anything). fermented beverages that aren’t alcoholic is also an option and will teach them a lot about how their favorite store-bought foods are made (think pickles, sauerkraut and the ever-popular kombucha).   Have an Upgraded Movie Night Instead of renting a DVD, start off by streaming a new movie from iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play. If you’re one of those families who still doesn’t have high speed Internet, look at these Time Warner Cable...

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Mythical Childhood Characters: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Truth

Spoiler alert: Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real.  However, millions of children the world over take delight in believing such things.  When is the right time to align their beliefs with the truth?  Such is a tough question for moms and dads who are joyful about seeing their children excited yet feel guilty about fibbing to their kids, especially while teaching them that telling lies is bad. When is the right time to tell them and how should you break the news? Early Enough to Believe Babies, despite moms and dads dressing them in Christmas costumes and other outfits appropriate for separate holidays, have no idea what day it is aside from pondering the reality of Santa or the Tooth Fairy.  As they get older and form concrete thoughts and ideas, children take delight in believing in Santa and other magical characters.  Believing is not a bad thing or mean that a child is gullible; it means they take delight in creativity and fantasy, which is essential for interacting with others and engaging in advanced thinking. There will come a time when children will have enough practical sense to question how a chubby man in a suit can gain access to every child’s house in the world in one night in addition to knowing exactly what to leave them.  It’s likely that it is sad to parents because...

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For Kids of All Ages: Visiting the World Famous San Diego Zoo

A guest post from Fiona Moriarty   To get the most out your visit to a world famous attraction like the San Diego Zoo, you need to plan ahead and put together a must-see list. To help you enjoy a fantastic, action-packed day at this iconic zoo, here is a look at what’s available and how to see as many of the attractions as possible.   Save Money before You Get There There are a number of approaches that could help you land your zoo tickets at less than full price. Once you have found your ideal San Diego hotel through a website line Hipmunk, check with the hotel to see whether they can get you discounted tickets, which you can then pick up after you have checked in. You might also be able to save by taking advantage of one of the bundle deals available through the zoo’s website. There are also a number of online resources that maintain lists of available discounts and offers. And if you plan to go in October, San Diego Zoo has been offering free entry to kids aged between 3-11 years, as long as they are with a paying adult. Early Is Good for the Pandas A lot of visitors want to get a good look at the pandas, who are one of the zoo’s most popular exhibits. Since there are only...

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Why Don’t Men Seek Therapy? Masculinity.

By Dr. Christopher Kilmartin Scene one: an 8 year old child comes home from school and says, “The other kids are picking on me.” The parent responds with, “I’m so sorry, honey. Does it make you feel sad?” Scene two: another 8 year old child comes home from school and says, “The other kids are picking on me.” The parent responds with, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” You might have guessed that the child in the first scene is a girl; the second a boy. Parents and other adults tend to socialize girls to take the inward journey – to spend time thinking about how they feel. Boys are socialized toward the world of action—to solve the problem. In the extreme, both can be problematic. The tendency for women to “ruminate”—to dwell on feelings passively, is thought to be responsible for doubling their risk of depression compared with men. Men, however, have at least double the risk for substance abuse and four times the risk for suicide. So mental health demands both healthy expression of feelings and an action-oriented understanding of the problem. Complicating things for men are the continual messages we get from the culture that doing anything–running, dancing, acting, talking, or looking–“like a girl” is to be avoided at all costs. Children are remarkably sophisticated pattern-seeking organisms, and so boys learn that talking about...

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Gynecomastia: The Truth about “Man Boobs”

Gynecomastia is the benign enlargement of the mammary gland in men. This affliction is characterized by enlarged mammary tissue which gives these men what is colloquially referred to as “man boobs.” Contrary to popular assumptions, true gynecomastia often has little to do with being overweight. Rather, it is the enlargement of the actual mammary gland that causes the swelling. With an incidence of 32% to 65% in the general population, gynecomastia is a problem that plagues a large chunk of the male population. It is also rarely discussed. The stigmatization of this type of surgery for men is different than it is for women undergoing a similar procedure. While female breast enhancement surgery is common and usually well accepted, surgical breast alterations for men are still highly stigmatized. The boys and men who suffer from gynecomastia often do so in silence. Some men who discuss their problem with their primary physician are told to lose weight or, if they are children, told that it is “baby fat” that it will disappear with age. Other men are ashamed because they think it detracts from their masculinity. But this is changing. The most recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that while the rate of cosmetic surgeries increased only 1% from 2013 to 2014, breast reduction in men increased 14% from 2013 to 2014. According to Dr. Mordcai...

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Leading by Example: Fun Ways to Get Kids to Ditch the Electronics for Exercise

By Jereme Thomas Kids these days. They spend way too much time indoors playing on their Xboxes, Nintendos, and iPads. How do you get them outside to rediscover the joys of kiddom? You have to make the experience exciting and relevant for the child. Here’s how. Giving children a place to play is one of the most important things you can do to encourage them to move their activity outside (or get more movement in their day). Companies, like Totally Swing Sets, create an “instant park” in your back yard, eliminating excuses children often have for not going outside (“there’s nothing to do”). If you live in a cramped area or don’t have much yard space, even a smaller swing set can help. Alternatively, take your child to the park. Play Yard Games With Them Bocci ball might seem dated to you, but your children have never experienced it before. Play with them. You could also teach them Croquet. These old-school games are fun, simple to learn and play, and children often love them because they require skill and focus – something kids inherently struggle with, but implicitly love practicing, if given the opportunity. Yard games also get you outside moving around with your child. Who knows? You might rediscover your own childhood. Go On Adventures Go on an adventure. This is what biomechanist Katy Bowman does with her...

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Is There More to Life Than Just Taxes?

No matter what anyone says, part of being a dad—for most of us—involves providing for our family. I have yet to speak to another father who doesn’t spend at least some time thinking about money—whether he’s the sole provider or shares that responsibility with his partner. So even though we’d much rather just spend quality time with our families, we’re often distracted by trying to figure out how to bring in more money. I’ve written a lot about the heavy toll that financial stress takes on us. Besides causing all sorts of health problems, going through a personal financial crisis or just worrying about money can lead to drug or alcohol abuse, and can definitely strain our relationships. It can also muddle our thinking, cause depression, and negatively impact our performance at work. That, of course, could lead to losing the job, which would make the already-bad financial situation even worse. So how do we get a handle on the situation and keep financial worries at bay? Put a Plan in Place When it comes to money problems, short of winning the lottery or inheriting a bunch of money, there’s usually never a quick way out. , no magic pill that will make all the symptoms disappear. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and your first step should be to put together a plan. You can sign up with...

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Parenting During the Holidays after Divorce: Naughty or Nice?

A guest post from Angie Hallier The holidays can be a rough time for divorced families. Traditions that were established for the family during the marriage inevitably change. One parent may be without the children for a part or all of the holidays, and there may be less money to go around than there was when the family lived in one household. But the last thing you want is for your children to have bad holiday memories to grow up with – memories of fighting, anxiety, stress, and guilt. Believe me, bad holiday memories will stay with children into their adulthood. I recently met a successful TV talk show anchor who told me he never had a happy Christmas until after he was married. His childhood was filled with horrible memories of divorced parents ruining Christmas by fighting every year over who would have the children, and then acting so poorly the children felt horribly guilty going to the other parent’s house. He said he and his siblings actually had to split up once so each parent could have “some” of them. It is unimaginable that parents would want to put their children through this emotional turmoil. Yet they do it all the time. Usually adults have very fond childhood holiday memories of their own, which is why it becomes so important to them to recreate those memories with...

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What Happened To Sports? In 2014, Technology May Have Taken Its Place

A guest post from Amy Willliams “Hey Sam, you want to play catch?” “No thanks, Mom.” He didn’t even look up from his device. While saddened, I wasn’t shocked. This scenario is happening far too often in my family, and in our current technological world, as kids become engrossed in games on their phones and tablets start taking place of physical activity. Image Courtesy of Shutterstock What happened to sports? It’s as if America’s favorite pastime has fallen to the wayside, unable to compete with the intense, addicting graphics thrust into the hands of these young, impressionable minds. It is not only a mere pitfall of the digital onslaught, it seems as if it’s becoming an epidemic. The Good Old Days Just twenty years ago, kids were still hopping on their bicycles and peddling to the nearest baseball field to get into a scrappy game with the locals. Play areas were filled with sweaty, mud-covered children playing football, baseball, heck, kill-the- guy-with-the-ball, returning home only when necessary to fuel up for lunch. Then, it was back out again until the sun went down and dinner was being served. The only problem parents encountered was trying to stop dirty sneakers from mucking up the house. We Fell Into It Eventually, an interesting thing began to happen. Small advancements in play technology started appearing. First it was TV pong, then handheld...

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How to Teach Your Child to Live a Disciplined Life

By Shefali Tsabary, PhD It’s been said that the only things we really learn are the things we learn for ourselves. That’s because only when we learn it for ourselves does it become intrinsic to us. We just naturally do it, without having to be coaxed or disciplined. The key to raising a self-disciplined child is for them to learn for themselves—a process we undercut when we impose the lesson on them. As a clinical psychologist working with families, I’ve found that children learn best from consequences, whereas punishment generates resentment. A child who is punished may fall in line, but their heart isn’t in it. They don’t learn to be self-disciplined—which is why so many of our kids have a traumatic time in their teens. Perhaps you’ve imagined that punishment—often referred to as discipline—is the same as consequences. I hear parents saying all the time, “I need to give you a consequence for what you did.” Give a consequence? That’s a non sequitur. Consequences and discipline are opposites. Consequences flow spontaneously from the situation, without requiring us to “think up” something that will “teach” our child. Consequences have to do with cause and effect, which are a natural process by which an action brings an automatic result. With consequences, the situation itself, not the parent, becomes the teacher. In this way children learn for themselves. The parent is...

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