Evil Stepmother Speaks + 52 New Foods Challenge

Barbara Goldberg, author of The Evil Stepmother Speaks.
A guide for stepfamilies who want to love and laugh
Issues: Why doesn’t anyone in the stepfamily listen to me? Why doesn’t the biological parents see what I see? Why am I so frustrated? And many other questions stepmothers ask.

Jennifer Tyler Lee, author of The 52 New Foods Challenge.
A family cooking adventure for each week of the year.
Issues: Creative ways to get your children to eat healthy, balanced meals; practical tips to change the way your family eats—one new food at a time; bringing back the joy of mealtimes; exploring new foods and bust boredom at your family table.

Building a Family That Thrives + Networking for Nerds

Elly Taylor, author of Becoming Us.
Growing a family that thrives.
Issues: How to prepare for parenthood before actually becoming a parent; build a nest; managing expectations; knowing and understanding your family’s needs; expand your emotional intelligence; connecting and reconnecting with your partner through intimacy.

Alaina G. Levine, author of Networking for Nerds.
Find, access, and land hidden game-changing career opportunities everywhere
Issues: How and why we should connect with others; overcoming shyness (our own—and helping our kids overcome theirs, too); how to start—and end—conversations with others (and how to give our kids the skills to do the same).

When Mom and Dad are the Problem + Labeled Kids + Surviving Deployment

[amazon asin=1937134180&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest: 1: Vicki Hoefle, author of Duct Tape Parenting.
Topic: A less-is-more approach to raising respectful, responsible, resilient kids.
Issues: Why helicopter mothers and fathers are bad for kids; why it’s important for moms and dads to sit on their hands and stay on the sidelines so that children can step up, solve their own problems, and develop life-long confidence.

[amazon asin=030739543X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Barbara Probst, author of When the Labels Don’t Fit/
Topic: A new approach to raising a challenging child.
Issues: Discovering your child’s essential nature and temperament; respecting your child’s inner world; changing the way you think, talk, and respond; knowing when and how to help; taking care of yourself.

[amazon asin=0965748375&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Karen Pavlicin, author of Life After Deployment.
Topic: How military families prepare for, cope with, and survive deployment.
Issues: Types of deployment; emotional and psychological stages of deployment; ways to keep in touch across time and distance; the effects of deployment on the soldier, spouse, and children; keeping reasonable expectations when coming home.

How single fathers navigate the delicate balance between their kids and their love lives

Nice Chicago Tribune article on the ins and outs of dating for single dads, featuring some quotes from me:

… Single fathers have a tendency, more than single moms, to “feel incomplete” without a partner in the house, so they risk rushing into a new relationship that may not be right, said single dad Armin Brott, author of several books on fatherhood including “The Single Father: A Dad’s Guide to Parenting Without a Partner” (Abbeville)…

[Read more…]

Balancing Being a Step Mom and a New Mom

I’m a new mom—and the step-mother of a 6-year old from my husband’s previous marriage. I try to pay as much attention to my step-daughter as I can, but the minute I turn to my newborn son, she runs off in a fit.  I don’t want to hurt my step-daughter’s feelings, but I want to feel free to enjoy my baby as well. What can I do?

Dealing with a stepchild’s jealousy may seem like it should be the same as dealing with any jealous older sibling, but there are other issues–particularly if the child doesn’t live in your house all the time. In cases like that, the stepchild may feel very upset that the new baby gets to be with you and daddy all the time while she can see her dad only part of the time. She may also be worried that her dad won’t love her as much as the new baby. After all, people are always fussing and cooing over infants and tend to ignore bigger kids.
[Read more…]

Ruining Childhood—Before It Even Begins

Dear Mr. Dad. My 9-month old daughter is happy and healthy in every respect (her pediatrician concurs). But all our friends are talking about the things they do to help their children grow, develop, learn, and so on. Is any of that really necessary? Will our daughter be okay if we just let her develop on her own?

A: I have no idea how it started, but somewhere along the line, a lot of parents got the idea that happy, healthy babies weren’t enough and that normal intellectual and physical development were happening too slowly. Babies, it seems, had to be constantly entertained and educated. Low-tech toys were replaced by electronic ones that light up, make funny noises, count, say the names of letters, colors and shapes, or conjugate irregular Latin verbs. And instead of learning to crawl, walk, and run on their own, babies needed personal trainers. What ever happened to letting kids be kids?

The short answer to your question is that, assuming your daughter’s pediatrician is right and your baby is, indeed, healthy, she’ll achieve her developmental milestones, gasp, without outside intervention.

That said, physically playing with your baby is wonderful for her—and for you. At the very least, you’ll feel more confident and competent as a parent, and your daughter will learn that she can count on you to always be there for her. A strong relationship with mom and dad is, hands down, the best gift you can give your child.

So here are a few ideas for fun ways of interacting with your baby. They’ll also stimulate her brain and body—but that’s not the primary goal.

For major muscle groups:

  • Put some toys near her feet and encourage her to kick them.
  • Roll a ball far enough out of her reach so she has to crawl to get it.
  • Supervised stair climbing is great. But stay nearby and be extremely careful. This is a good time to start teaching your baby to come down stairs backward. But be prepared to demonstrate yourself and to physically turn your baby around a few dozen times a day.
  • Chasing games: you chase her; she chases you. Reward her with a big hug and—if she doesn’t protest—a little wrestling. Besides being fun, these kinds of games teach your baby a valuable lesson: when you go away, you always come back. Plus, kids who wrestle with dad grow up with more highly developed social skills than kids who don’t get as much physical play.

Hand-eye coordination:

  • Puzzles. The best for this age wooden, have a separate hole for each piece, and a peg for easy lifting.
  • Nesting, stacking, measuring, and pouring toys. Also things to crush, tear, or crinkle—the noisier the better.
  • Weave some string between baby’s fingers or tape two of her fingers together. Can she “free” herself?
  • Hand-clapping games.

Consequences. The idea that different actions produce different effects can’t be reinforced often enough.

  • Jack-in-the-boxes—especially the kind with four or five doors, each opened by a push, twist, poke, or some other action. Be cautious the first few times, though; some babies may be frightened.
  • Pots, pans, xylophones, or anything else the baby can bang on. She’ll learn that different things make different noises when smacked and that hitting something hard sounds different from hitting something soft.
  • Doors (and anything else with a hinge, including books)—provided you’re there to make sure no one gets pinched.

But remember: Your only agenda is to have fun.