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 Internet Plans.

To kick things up a notch, take the party outside and throw the movie up on a big screen. You will need a projector for this. Is it an investment? Yup. Will it be fun? Are you kidding? You remember how much fun the drive in was when you were a kid? You can bring that experience home. Your kids will love it.


Choose Unusual Activities

When the usual stuff gets boring, and it eventually will, it’s time to kick things up a notch. A few ideas include:


Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is becoming more popular and, if you’ve never tried it as a family before, you should take your kids. Maybe they’ve been with their friends, but there’s no reason why this can’t also be a family activity.

Is it unusual? Maybe. But, you will also build team and trust skills, spotting each other as you climb to the top.


Go-Kart Competitions

How many families do you actually see go-karting together. Not many. And, that’s precisely why you should try it. Go-karting is fun and you can kick things up a notch by racing against each other and keeping score.

The way you would likely have to do this is by racing for time. At least one family member would have to sit out each round and time the others. Rotate drivers so that everyone races the same number of times. At the end of the night, add up the times and the lowest total time gets a prize – maybe a free drink or a sundae or something else (and if you win, yes your kids should totally pay for it!).


Have a Sing-A-Long

It might sound cheesy, but it’s not if you put some time into it to make it special. First, you need the right setting. Dedicate a room in the house for family games. If you’re going to do family karaoke, you had better nail it or it’s going to be torture for everyone.

A lot of people like karaoke because it’s silly, you can goof off, and no one actually expects you to sing well. But, what would happen if you flipped this game on its ear, took singing lessons, and held a family competition?

That’s exactly what you should do.

Buy your family a good microphone from a company like Blue Microphones, and get a shock mount with a pop filter. Now, take some singing lessons as a family. Think of this as training for the competition.

When you feel you’re ready, pick songs and pit family members against each other. Everyone votes for their favorite singer. You could even get extended family in on the action if you needed impartial judges. It might be unusual, but at the end you will have accomplished two things: you will have learned a very good skill (singing) and you will have brought your family closer and shown your appreciation for their new talents.

And, that’s not strange. Matter of fact, that’s what family should be about – coming together.


Harry Vincent is a family therapist. He likes to share his insights on family living. His articles can be found mainly on lifestyle and family websites.

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?

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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.

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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. [Read more…]

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.
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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.
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