Sorry, When It Comes to Parenting, Orange Isn’t the New Black

Dear Mr. Dad: My girlfriend has had a drug problem since I’ve known her. She was clean while pregnant with our daughter, but started up again right after the birth. She was in and out of our daughter’s life for the first two years, disappearing for long stretches of time, and spent the past two years in jail. Because of my ex’s drug problem, I was given sole legal and physical custody. A few weeks ago, she got out of jail and suddenly wants to be super mom. Given her history, I’m skeptical. I’m also torn. On one hand, I think our daughter, who’s now four, and her mother have a right to a relationship with each other and I want to support that. On the other hand, I’m afraid that she’ll start using again and will land back in jail, leaving our daughter disappointed and confused again. I wonder whether making a clean break would be the best thing for everyone. What do you suggest?

If your daughter’s mother is drug-free and doesn’t pose a danger to your daughter or herself, I think that making a clean break would be a big mistake. Your daughter, like most children, sees herself as equal parts you and her mother. And she’s probably worrying that one day she’ll end up like her mom, doing bad things, getting arrested, and spending time in prison. I’m guessing she’s a very frightened little girl. In her mind, it doesn’t matter what her mom has done; she loves her very much. Keeping her from seeing her mom will make things worse.
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Drive Carefully: The Life You Save Could Be Your Own or a Loved One’s

safe drivingAccording to the National Safety Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the period between Christmas and New Year’s typically has one of the highest rates of impaired driving fatalities.

Fatalities related to drunk driving are 100 percent preventable and the spike in buzzed driving around the holidays is especially alarming.

Some stats:

  • In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. These alcohol-impaired fatalities accounted for more 31% of the total motor vehicle traffic facilities in the United States.
  • Alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 37% of traffic fatalities during the Christmas holiday period and 44% of traffic fatalities over New Year’s – making the winter holiday seasons one of the deadliest times to be on the road.
  • Buzzed driving can cost around $10,000 in fines, legal fees and increased insurance rates.

Remind your readers to ring in the New Year safely and plan ahead and designating a sober driver before they go out this year. Here’s how you can help spread the word:

These new PSAs, which were created pro-bono, ask viewers to think about a different set of consequences than previous drunk driving ads: the actual financial cost of being pulled over for driving buzzed. These costs–between fines, rising insurance costs, lawyer fees and more–could total over $10,000.

  • Encourage your readers to visit to sign the pledge to not drive buzzed and learn more about buzzed driving and the dangers that can come with it.
  • Share the attached social graphic or infographic across your social channels and encourage your readers to do the same using the hashtag #BuzzedDriving.

Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving

Tim Hollister, author of Not So Fast.
Parenting your teen through the dangers of driving
Issues: How brain development affects driving; what driver’s ed doesn’t produce safe drivers; how and why to prepare a “flight plan” for each drive before handing over the keys; how an when to say no.

Helping Kids Talk about Death + Avoiding the Dangers of Driving

Joseph Primo, author of What Do We Tell the Children?
Talking to kids about death and dying.
Issues: Learning to help kids deal with the “how” and “why” of death and loss; the importance of honest communication; giving kids coping skills they’ll be able to use throughout their lives.

Tim Hollister, author of Not So Fast.
Parenting your teen through the dangers of driving
Issues: How brain development affects driving; what driver’s ed doesn’t produce safe drivers; how and why to prepare a “flight plan” for each drive before handing over the keys; how an when to say no.

Gaming the New Year

It’s a brand new year, and if one of your resolutions is to spend more time having fun with your family (if it isn’t, you really need to reevaluate your priorities), these great family games will keep you on track—and laughing.

lift itLift It! Deluxe (USAOpoly)
From the Parents@Play Department of New Twists comes, well, a new twist on the recreate-the-structure-on-the-card games that we love so much. The object of the game is pretty basic. But what makes Lift It! especially fun is that you need to get your head in the game—literally. Instead of using your hands to build what’s on the card, you use a crane strapped to your head to pick up, move, and stack the various building components within the allotted time. You can play by yourself, one on one, or team against team. Lift It! is challenging, frustrating (but in a fun way), and a delight to play. Takes about 30 minutes. For 1-8 players, ages 8+.

pictopia star warsPictopia Star Wars Edition (Wonder Forge)
Think you know your Star Wars trivia? Now’s the time to show us what you’ve got. As with most games, there are rules to follow, tokens to move, and goals to accomplish. And we have no doubt that plenty of families will play this games exactly as intended. But we’re betting that just as many will skip the official game and spend their time looking through the 200 trivia-packed cards. Each card has four pictures on one side and five questions on the other. For example, on one card you’ll find pictures of a Jedi Interceptor, an X-wing Starfighter, an ARC 170 Starfighter, and a Y-wing Starfighter. Here are the questions: Which one of these does the Gold Squadron fly in the Battle of Yavin? Which two take part in the Battle of Endor? Which three operate with fewer than three pilots? Which one is typically piloted by clone troopers? If you’re a true Star Wars fan (and who isn’t these days), you may not be able to survive without this game. But whether you’re a Padawan or a Jedi Master, you’ll love it. For 2-6 players, ages 7+.

wonder forge roaring riverRoaring River (Wonder Forge)
Based on the movie “The Good Dinosaur,” this game is a cooperative effort, meaning that the players either win or lose together. The object is to help Arlo, Spot, and their friends outrun the flooding river and get safely home. Players spin a spinner or play tokens and build a path from the waterfall to the mountain range. It’s a fun, easy game that’s perfect for 2-4 players ages 4 and up.


wonder forge snoopy flying aceSnoopy Flying Ace Game (Wonder Forge)
This one’s based on the new “Peanuts Movie,” but you don’t have to have seen the film to enjoy the game. You’ll need about three minutes to set the game up. The most complicated part is the Eiffel Tower and the spinning arm that balances atop it. Snoopy is on one side of the arm, his arch nemesis, the Red Baron, is on the other. One player spins the arm and while the Beagle and his foe battle it out, players flip over cards (each with a picture of one of the main Peanuts characters) and try to match one of theirs with one from another player—before the spinning stops. For 2-4 Peanuts fans (or soon-to-be fans) ages 4+.

usaopoly wonkyWonky (USAOpoly)
In this game, the object is to build towers out of colored blocks. Cards tell you which size and which color to add to the tower. That would be challenge enough with actual cubes, but the blocks here are a little out of whack (hence the name of the game), which ads an element of hilarity. A blast for two or more players, ages 8+.