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Monday, December 3, 2012

Divorce and Fatherhood: Coping With Missing the Kids

Guest Post from Donald Pennington

Divorce is one of the major stressful events in most people's lives. It's been likened to dealing with the death of a close friend or family member – including the usual stages of grief. It might just be my own opinion (but it is an opinion based upon my observations) that we men are actually at a disadvantage during a divorce because, unlike women in general, we don't deal with our feelings well, since our traditional roles rarely allow us to discuss feelings. We often lack a lot of information which would otherwise make the grieving process much easier.

I'm sharing here today to help other men who've found themselves in the same place I once was, struggling with a divorce – especially in the cases where we dads are missing our children. Because - of all the aspects of a divorce - missing the children is perhaps the most painful. I don't have all of the answers to every problem – and believe me when I say I made my own share of mistakes too – but I am here to try and help someone else ease their own pain and hopefully find some measure of relief. My goal is to hopefully bring a fresh perspective to another person's situation as a way of expressing gratitude for those who did the same for me. I hope something here is of some use to someone, somewhere.

It all stems from fear. The biggest portion of the pain we divorced dads feel seems to come from fear. When we see or hear how the kid's hearts are broken by the divorce, we fear their pain and we want to protect them, of course. That's our “job” after all – to be the protector of our offspring. And we fear missing out on the chance to teach and guide our children, to be there for them, to just be their dad, flaws and all. These fears are so powerful and pervasive since, unlike simple anticipated fears, they have a basis in reality. Our children's hearts really are breaking. We really are missing out on being there for them. We truly are missing the milestones of their childhood and it hurts. Occasionally, she ends up with another guy who may not treat them as well as they should. These fears are rational and they hurt like few other things. Face these fears calmly and with a smile. Acknowledge them and
embrace them yourself but never try using them as leverage.

Love is still the answer. We are all unable to control the actions of others. All any of us have (and this includes the ex, their friends, the courts – ANY of us) is the ability to control how we respond to the actions of others. Letting go of some of the need to control things will also release a few of those fears. Acting out of fear often leads to negative consequences. When your actions stem from love you will find good results – and you'll be bolder, calmer and more confident as well. If the only people who you're willing to act from love for is your children, so be it. They deserve to be considered first anyway, right?

Play fair. It's possible that our ex's know keeping us from our children hurts and behave this way as some sort of punishment. Whether the ex-wife, the former in-laws or even the courts seem fair or not - even in situations wherein others are not being fair themselves - we must focus on being fair ourselves, for the children's sakes. It's not about us. It's about them and we are the grown-ups in the room.

To illustrate this point, I'll share with you something my dad and I discussed. I was doing my usual griping and complaining about my ex one day. Looking back, I think I was probably hoping for some sympathy from the old man, seeing that he and my mom had divorced when I was three and he hardly got to see me very often for years himself. I figured he'd understand. Somewhere in the discussion I made a typically self-centered comment of one sort or another and somehow, the words came out sounding like I was thinking of doing something stupid. (I probably was.)

His very loud, somewhat angry response got my attention and has stuck in my mind permanently. He said “Look! You need to watch your dumb a$$ mouth! Don't act like this in front of them! You and her went into the marriage with your eyes wide open but those kids didn't ask to be born!” He was right again. We must play fair, for their sake, whether anyone else does or not. That's even if we “lose” temporarily. The goal is to scar their young minds as little as possible.

Extend the olive branch. It might sound very difficult – and depending on the level of emotions it might even actually be difficult – but you will want to be the first one to extend an olive branch. I'd recommend a simple, hand-written letter to your ex, not “certified” as that will just cause their guard to go up, which reads something to the effect of, “You're perfectly welcome to say anything you want to about me. Just please don't say it to the children.” Be polite, courteous and leave all other commentary out of this letter. In my case, I had to also call her and tell her that I was “done with being an a$$hole about this.” A little bit of humility is powerful stuff. My personal situation might be a little bit different than yours. But I'll bet you dollars to donuts you'll find expressing the willingness to be peaceful effective. *One side-note: Once you make this offer, stick with it. We guys are infamous for saying one thing and doing another. Keeping this arrangement will gain you much ground and might even completely adjust her behavior.

Time factors in too. Right now it might seem hard to believe but eventually, you will adjust. A day will come when you one day look back and realize this was a difficult, painful time – but it wasn't the end. A guy in Florida was talking with me during a particularly difficult day and said, “When I first got divorced, I cried myself to sleep every night because I lost my wife. Now I cry myself to sleep every night because I'm afraid she might someday want me back.” You'll reach this point eventually, too. Just make sure not to screw up permanently because of temporary emotions along the way.


For more from Donald, please visit Expertspages by clicking the link. You can also find Donald on Yahoo Voices, and you can buy his book, Winging It; 21 Ways to Earn Money Without a Job, by clicking the links.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homeschooling Tips for Single Parents

by Lyn Lomasi

Homeschooling is a challenging educational choice. When I became a single parent and decided to go back to homeschooling two of my four kids at the same time, many wondered if it was the right choice. Sure, schooling the kids at home can be challenging  -- especially for single parents. But I knew it was the right choice for my kids, so I made it work. 

Relax. This is crucial to remember. If you are calm, things go much smoother. When you stress, so do the kids -- and that isn’t a conducive learning or teaching environment. We like to do yoga together before starting the day. This helps clear the mind for better focus and is also extremely relaxing and energizing at the same time.

Scheduling should make sense. Remember that if you homeschool, you do not have to teach and learn in a strict time period. Just be sure that your child is learning at least the required number of hours in your area. Check with your local educational department for homeschooling regulations. Single parents generally have a work schedule and other things to work around. Keep that in mind when making time for learning. 

Don't forget the fun! We like to take frequent field trips, use games for teaching, and go hiking on the trails with the dogs. Most local venues can double as fun and education. For instance, on a tour in a food factory, children may have fun tasting. But they will also learn how that food was made, which could enhance current lessons. These fun trips can help relieve the stress of doing the school thing on your own. We sometimes meet other homeschooling families, which helps as well. 

Work remotely when possible. If you can, find a job that allows you to work from home. If this isn’t possible in your field, check with your boss to see if there are certain tasks you can do at home to cut down on the hours you need to be at the office. Some parents may not be able to do this. However, working at home has helped me immensely with homeschooling as a single parent. It is much easier to make arrangements the rare times when I do need to go to the office than to do so every day. I somehow feel more comforted knowing that even if I have a large workload, I can still supervise my children with their lessons because we are all in the same place. 

Split up schooling times. If you have other kids who are not homeschooling (like me) or have a job outside the home, this may be the best way to handle things. For instance, if you work a traditional 9-5 job and your child needs 6 hours of school per day, you can teach from 6 a.m. - 8 a.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. During the day when you are at work, if the kids are younger, they could attend day camps. If they are older, they could do the same or attend extracurricular classes, such as photography, art, dance, or music. They can also study some of that time if there are things they can do without your assistance. 

Have more than one teacher. Is the other parent available to teach some of the classes? What about a grandparent, nanny, tutor, or daycare provider? Before setting this up, be sure the homeschooling laws in your state allow for this, as some only allow the legal guardian to be the teacher. If you are able to split schooling time with another responsible adult, this can help get around some common scheduling issues single homeschool parents face. 


Author Blurb

Lyn Lomasi is the Community Advocate at Yahoo! Contributor Network. She's also a freelance web journalist and founder of Write W.A.V.E. Media, parent company to and several others. From parenting techniques, to energy usage, to humane animal treatment, homeless aid, reducing waste and more, Lyn is committed to saving the Earth as a whole. For this self-made momtrepreneur, green living and sustainability is not about a few small product choices. It s a way of life and a labor of love. She is currently raising her kids and pets in Colorado.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Prevention Through Proactive Parenting

Children sometimes have meltdowns that could have been prevented if parents and caregivers had noticed the signs before explosive temper tantrums erupted.

Proactive Parenting helps parents understand their child's moods and needs. Please click the link to read about how you can proactively parent your child.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Little Boys Love Their Urinators

If this blog sounds familiar, I apologize. You see, I have been warned by Google – again – that by mentioning the male anatomy, I have violated the terms of Adsense, so in a repeat (twice – because the url of the blog didn't change after I changed the title and the name of the male anatomy) of the blog I originally published on July 5, 2010, which Google demanded I delete, I am now complying once again with the Adsense rules by changing the name of the male anatomy from what it is actually called anatomically to what I hope will appeal to Google's terms – for the sake of this blog, the official name of the male anatomy is now called a urinator. Phew! That was one looooong sentence.

And now back to the original blog (with changes) for the blog which is now called, Little Boys Love Their Urinators:
Already I hear women applauding everywhere, because as everybody knows, from the time they discover their "private parts" in the earliest year of their lives, little boys can't stop playing with them and they can't stop showing them off.

I will not embarrass any one of my grandsons in this blog (I can already hear the older ones sighing relief), nor will I embarrass my own son (HUGE sigh of relief), but I have to blog about this new situation. 

Before I begin, let me explain something – having never been a boy, I can only imagine what it must feel like to find something hanging from my body that had previously been hidden inside a diaper.

Little boys LOVE their "urinators" and they LOVE what they can do with them. The love, praise, admiration, and excitement for anything "urinator" related is a genetically male birthright. From the time they first discover theirs, they flaunt it and show it to everybody they know (and to everybody they don't know).

"Look what I can do! Look what I can do!"

You will find little boys watering the lawn, spraying the entire bathroom, targeting diamond shapes on the shower curtains, and even building puddles on the rugs.

Their entire lives, beginning when they are very young, they hear the words, "Keep it in your pants."

Just this morning, one of my (nameless) grandsons was walking around holding his "urinator" as a weapon, daring to pee on anybody within spray range.

"That is your private part and you are supposed to keep it in your pants," one of my nameless children told him.

My grandson wasn't even slightly upset about the admonition, because he rolled his eyes and remarked, "It's not my pirate part" as he continued to "psssshhhhh psssshhhhh," his way around the house.

Of course, eventually, he placed his multi-tasking machine back into his pants. And, who knows, maybe when he pulls out his "pirate part" again, he'll be able to hoist a ship with it. "Ahoy, Maties! Look what I can do!"

Want to read more from this author? Please check the sidebar and THANK YOU for visiting!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hold a Rock Festival for an Important Cause

Back in 1969, one of the most memorable rook concerts of all time took place in Woodstock. No more than 50,000 attendees were expected to participate in the 3-day festival, and neither promoters nor financiers were prepared for the estimated 350,000-400,000 people who showed up to hear Santana, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, and numerous other outstanding performers. Held on Max Yasgur's 600-acre farm in White Lake, New York, the "3 Days of Peace & Music" was a resounding success. 

But it had some problems. Music festivals, whether they are held outside or inside, must address the needs of all attendees – security, washroom facilities, food, drink, lighting, seating, electrical engineers, sound engineers, promoters, financing, weather preparedness, event supplies and concession machines – and more. When they are held in a comfortable environment, music festivals are a great way to raise awareness for important causes.

If you are looking for an innovative way to raise money for an issue that affects you or your loved ones, and you know people who will finance and promote your event (or if you can finance and promote it yourself), consider setting up a music festival. How much to charge? What to expect? Check out the graphic below.

Music Festivals Infographic
Infographic Provided by EquipSupply

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Special Dog Helps You Recognize Your Child's Strengths

Children want their parents to be proud of them and when kids feel they don't live up to their parents' expectations, they feel miserably about themselves. 

As parents, we want what's best for our kids, but we sometimes hinder their progress because our perceptions of what is "best" for our children is sometimes not at all in line with what our kids think is best for themselves. We can guide them down the paths we have paved for them, but we have to understand that at some point, maybe long before they were born, their own inner spirit created a path for them that we have neglected to notice.

To find out about how one dog could change your mind about your own expectations of your child, please read, Are You Proud of Your Child - a Dog Helps You Answer that Question: Inspiring Video of a Dog Teaches Us How to Appreciate the Differences in Our Children.

Want to read more from this author? Please see the sidebar and THANK YOU for visiting.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Human Spirit of Little Girl Lauren and Why We Need to Speak Up Against Abuse

When Dr. Phil aired a program on February 6, 2012, about the horrific abuse of a little girl who was kept in a closet when she wasn't being tortured and raped, my heart went out to that little girl (now 18). To have suffered so much torture from the time she was 2 – repeat – SO MUCH TORTURE, her vagina and rectum had to be reconstructed because they had been abused so badly, I couldn't help but wonder how she held on for so many years.

Could any of us have suffered that kind of extreme torment and come out as anything but violent ourselves? I'd like to think angels were watching over her. The story of Footprints in the Sand comes to mind, and I'd like to think God was carrying Laura through that period, lifting her out of her body so she didn't have to experience it.

Laura's stepfather and mother brought men home to abuse her while they watched. She was raped repeatedly by pimps and their clients. She was a little girl, made to sleep in a closet filled with lice, urine, and feces.

When she was discovered at the age of 8, after years of extreme abuse, she looked more like a 3-year-old (see above photo).

What kind of parent allows her child to live that way? What kind of mother or father allows men to rape a child, a baby? Barbara and Kenneth Atkinson are the types of parents who not only allow that type of torture but condone it. Barbara was the name of her abusive mother and Kenneth was her abusive stepfather. They are both now serving a mere 13 years in a penitentiary. 

The photos of Lauren were borrowed from the Dr. Phil website. If you missed that emotionally raw program, I invite you to click HERE to find out more about Lauren's experience.

And I would like to invite you to get You Are The Boss of Your Body, a free guide to preventing child sexual abuse. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teaching Children Acceptance

As a mother of four and grandmother of many more, I am always trying to infuse in my children and grandchildren, not only tolerance for people of different races, cultures, religions, etc., but also acceptance.

Now I have more reason to believe that we truly are all ONE! Please read the following blog to find out why:

Science Proves that We Are All Descended from Adam

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Help Children Cope with Divorce – Maturely

Reports indicate that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have decided, for the sake of their daughter, Suri, to handle their divorce maturely. 

If only more parents were so wise.

In 2001 a Minnesota Judge (Michael Haas), wrote, "Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is your problem and your fault.

No matter what you think of the other party – or what your family thinks of the other party – these children are one-half of each of you. Remember that, because every time you tell your children what an 'idiot' his father is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of him is bad.

That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is NOT (emphasis mine) love. That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions." (Thank you, Vicki, for posting that information.)

Judge Haas expresses the feelings of many people who observe divorced couples doing exactly the opposite of what Judge Haas advocates. Divorce is hard enough on adults, but it traumatizes children. While you, as the custodial parent, are supposed to be available to your children to help them through this difficult time in their lives, you often find that you are so consumed with your own anger/grief/exasperation that you have little to no time for them. 

You either stay home and hibernate in your room, effectively shutting them out of your life, or you sign them up for all kinds of activities to occupy their time – after they spend half the day in school, and bury yourself in activities that exclude your children. When it comes to time they could be spending with you, for example, you spend that time either texting, working on your laptop, reading books, watching TV, or finding a myriad of other distractions to prevent you from being emotionally available to your kids.

Learn to listen for cues (and clues) from your children. What do they need from you? Usually the answer to that question is time. Give it to them.

Be Present For Your Children

Spending time with your children doesn't mean sitting next to them absorbed in thoughts about everything other than your children. You CAN and SHOULD be present for – and available to – them. Your children NEED you, not 24/7, but throughout the day (they will let you know when they need you). Unless you have a child who talks incessantly, allow your children to interrupt what you are doing so that you can BE THERE for them (with the understanding that if you work out of your home, sometimes you have to devote specific hours to your work – explain to them ahead of time exactly which hours you need for work). 

Also – news flash – they NEED the other parent too. 

Too many parents try to convince their children that the noncustodial parent (NP) doesn't love them as much as the custodial parent (CP) does. I was one of those people. I used to believe that nobody could love a child more than a mother does. And then I met some amazing fathers who proved me wrong. 

Fathers love their children just as much as do the mothers who carried them. Don't deceive yourself into believing that nobody loves your child as much as you do. It would be in your child's best interest if you understood that others will love your child just as much as you love your child. You should hope that when your children decide to marry (if they marry) they choose someone who will love them as unconditionally as you do. Your child needs to know that he or she is worthy of being loved by more people than just you.

And make sure your children know you love them. Don't deceive yourself into believing that your children know you love them, just because you think you have met their needs. Your perceptions of your love for your child may differ from your child's perceptions. You have to show your children you love them in the way they need to receive love. One child may need you to play with her or spend time with her while another will need you to hug him and still another will need to hear the words, "I love you" often. Get to know your children. Understand their needs. Meet – even better – exceed their expectations.

Don't Manipulate Your Children

Please allow me to save you from years of grief. At some point your little 3 or 4 year old will become an adult. Long before he or she becomes an adult, this child will recognize the manipulative ways of the parent who prevented him or her from truly getting to know the noncustodial parent. Even at the age of 7, a child is fully capable of detecting lies. And when those lies build up year after year, your children will seek out their other parent if for no other reason than to prove you wrong. Many CPs have lost their children because they deceived them into believing lies they told their children about the NP. One surefire way of losing the respect of your children is to lie to them.

Assuming that both parents are not physically, psychologically, or emotionally abusive (some parents exaggerate here so please be honest), that your kids miss the noncustodial parent, and that they are upset by the separation of their parents, know this: Children don't need one parent – or both parents – to help them feel worse about this devastating upset in their lives. I have seen too many children damaged by the divorce of parents who force their children, whether overtly or covertly, to take sides. The divorce is between you and your spouse. Don't drag your children through your divorce. 

If you truly love your children, you can stop the damaging effects that divorce has on them in so many ways. Here are more ways to help your children cope with the trauma of divorce.

Do NOT Belittle the Noncustodial Parent

Children love both of you. And don't think they can't hear you when you sneak in your snide remarks about the other parent. You and I both know they are listening. You may be patting yourself on the back for coming up with some snappy little stab-in-the-back comments, but that knife is going straight through the hearts of your children. In other words, you HURT them every time you belittle the NP.

Children need you to understand that they still love the other parent.

Do NOT Lie to Your Children

When you lie to your kids and tell them not to tell the other parent something you know you shouldn't have done or said, you put your children in a precarious situation. Lying places a heavy burden on their shoulders when they feel they have to protect the lie (you) and then betray the other parent. Be a GOOD example. If your children see lying as acceptable, don't get upset with them for trying it on you!

Do Not Include Children in Adult Issues

Kids don't need to know that Mom or Dad couldn't afford to pay the electric bill because the NP is a horrible person. They don't need to know the information in your divorce decree. Don't share personal information about the divorce with your children. The divorce is not their burden to carry.

However, children need to know that both parents are responsible for raising the kids. And if one parent is shirking his or her financial responsibilities and the lack of money is preventing your child from getting school supplies, say, "I didn't get the child support check in time," or "The child support was less than it was supposed to be," instead of, "that stupid idiot of a father of yours didn't give me the money he was supposed to." Bash the situation – not the parent. Kids know who pays the child support and will eventually understand who is to blame for their embarrassment when they show up at school without supplies.

An interesting aside here about child support – child support is supposed to go for the raising of the child – if children see the CP buying lots of clothes, shoes, electronic equipment, etc. for him- or herself, and he or she complains about lack of money for what was supposed to have gone for the children, don't use child support as an excuse. I've seen parents bash the ex for lack of money and then fill the home with costly items and miscellaneous unnecessary expenses that could have paid for food, living expenses, and clothing for the children.

Recognize that You are NOT the Only Person Who Loves Your Children

As mentioned earlier, you are NOT the only person who loves your children. Much as you would like to believe that the other parent is no longer part of your children's lives, you have to understand that the other parent IS the other parent. When the noncustodial parent calls to speak to the children, allow – no, encourage – your children to speak to their other parent! Some day, when they become old enough to recognize the deceitful ways you used to prevent them from talking to their parent, everything will backfire and you'll wish you could go back in time to change things. 

Take this as a warning: if you don't want your children abandoning you in the future, don't set up a situation where you are promoting abandonment of the other parent now.

Do not take them away from extended family that belongs to the NP either. Don't deny them the love they should be receiving from other family members. You should want your children to feel love from as many people as possible. It will enhance their self esteem, and they will feel loved, nurtured, and wanted.

Promote Connection With the Other Parent

Sometimes kids truly are too busy to talk to the NP, especially if they are in the middle of basketball practice. However, when EVERY TIME the NP calls to speak to the children, you come up with an excuse, the pleasure you derive from knowing you have successfully prevented communication with the other parent is an attitude you should work hard to control. Deriving pleasure from your children's pain is immature and foolish.

When the noncustodial parent calls to speak to his or her children, do you answer your phone? Or do you ignore the call, because you have placed your children in so many after-school activities, you have made it nearly impossible for the noncustodial parent to connect with his or her children. Do you smile, knowing you have hurt the NP? When weekends come, do you fill their Saturdays and Sundays with so many activities, the weekend passes with no time for the NP? Are you thinking, Oh, well, the NP got what he or she deserved? 

You ignore phone calls the NP makes to your kids. Another week goes by that you have deprived your children time with their noncustodial father or mother. You can't think of a better way to punish the NP, because after all the pain the NP caused you, he deserves to feel some of that pain. Right?

Wrong! Your ex is not the only person you are hurting. You are also hurting YOUR children. Deliberately.

Your children deserve to speak to the other parent. When the roles are reversed and the NP has the children for a long period of time, wouldn't you become incensed if they didn't speak to you? Children who don't want to speak to the NP because they are in the middle of something fun might tell you, "Not now," but they also say the same thing when the NP asks his or her kids if they want to talk to you. So when Mom or Dad calls to speak to his or her children, encourage your children to speak to their other parent whether you are the NP or the CP.

Understand – Your Kids Have a Choice

One day your children will discover that they have a choice about where they can live. If you manipulate them with exaggerations and lies about the NP, they will eventually resent you and will want to make up for lost time. Pressuring them into loving you more than the other parent by instilling guilt into their little psyches will come back to haunt you some day. 

Your kids want and NEED to have a relationship with BOTH of you. You would be amazed at how easily children recognize manipulation. And when they become old enough, they will spend as much time as possible to build their relationship with the NP if you lied to them.

Yes, you are upset, and yes, you are angry. And perhaps you have every right to be. But if you allow your anger to filter through your children, you couldn't drive them to your ex-spouse's home faster than if you dropped them off the NP's house yourself.

Be An Adult

I've seen so many "adults" become "Jerry Springer guest wannabes" that I am astounded by the level of idiocy to which some parents descend. The hardest part about dealing with an ex is to ACT LIKE AN ADULT. Childish antics, like not allowing your kids to speak to the ex, or yelling at the ex in front of the kids, or disparaging the ex in front of the kids, are all immature and inappropriate ways to handle yourself, especially in front of your children. You look foolish, even to them. 

Grow up! Be the adult your children expect you to be. Help your children make the transition of being a child with two parents to a child of divorce by acting friendly to your ex-spouse FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN. When you lose control in front of your children, you lose respect from them. 

When you decided to have children, you chose to raise them. Children raising children never works. Put aside your desire to destroy your ex-spouse. Your children don't need to see you rage at the other parent. 

And if you find yourself incapable of acting maturely in front of your children, ask yourself if what you are doing or saying is what's best for your children or if what you are doing or saying is what's best for you – at the expense of your children. Are you saying hurtful things about THEIR mom or dad because you think it makes you look better in their eyes. Open yours – it doesn't!

Keep Your Child – Not Your Anger – Uppermost in Your Mind

Pretend you're a figure you admire (Ghandi, Jesus, for example) – would the person you admire act the way you do? Say the things you say? Look into the eyes of your child after you bash the other parent. What do you see? Are you so filled with rage you didn't notice the pain in their eyes – that YOU caused? 

Some day your children will grow up. You had better decide now if you want them in your life when they become adults. Better to have your adult children visit you because they love you and want to spend time with you than to have them drag themselves to your home out of a sense of pressured obligation.

Do what's best for your child(ren). It's never too late. And if you have already damaged your relationship with your children because your behavior drove a wedge between you and them, now is the time to apologize. Now is the time to act like a mature adult.

Some children, when they grow up, decide to distance themselves from the parent who prevented them from having a relationship with the NP. When so much deceit builds year after year, the child no longer trusts the CP. It may take years, if ever, to earn back the trust your children lost. But if you truly love your children, never give up. And if you are in the throes of a divorce now, work proactively to prevent situations like the ones mentioned above from occurring.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fun Ways to Spend Time with your Kids

Guest Post written by JoEllen Krauss

BIO: JoEllen Krauss is a mother of two boys and a housewife to an army man. She balances her time between taking care of the house and having quality time with her family. In her spare time she writes freelance for 1800WheelChair.Com. In this guest post she shares with us fun ways to spend time with our kids.

Fun Ways to Spend Time with your Kids

Spending time with your kids is so important to family cohesion. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time you think you need, but there are many simple ways to spend time with your kids, even if you work and free time is limited. From reading together, going on a nature hike, or even cleaning and organizing as a group, basic tasks can be turned into fun family activities.

Cleaning and Errands

Families who are very busy during the week usually end up spending the majority of their weekends doing chores and running errands. Instead of making this a difficult task to get through begrudgingly, you can involve your child in your errands and chores to turn them into fun family activities. Let your kids help organize how things are done. Make a list of all the errands you need to run and let your child cross them off as they are completed, or let them order the tasks that get done first. You can also make each child their own shopping list and let them put the groceries that are on their list into the cart. By involving your children in your errands you’ll have quality time together and be teaching your children great skills as well.

Make cleaning into a game. One idea is to set a timer for one minute and see who can put away the most toys or clothes before the timer goes off. You can also give your children safe cleaning products such as a mixture of vinegar, baking soda and water in a spray bottle and let them wipe the table and counters. It is best to start playing cleaning games early in your child's life, before they consider cleaning the house to be a chore that they’d rather avoid.

Nature Hikes

Enjoying the outdoors together is a wonderful way to relax after a busy morning of cleaning and running errands. No matter where you live, the great outdoors is all around you. Whether that be sidewalks through the city, developed parks, beaches or nature preserves there is always somewhere nearby that you can walk in. Hiking is great exercise and it gives you the opportunity to spend time with your child without the distractions of chores, televisions, or interruptions. Exploring your surroundings and observing what you see on your walk may spark some very interesting discussions and there is little to distract you from the conversation. It is best to hike with children who are at least six years old because they have more stamina than toddlers and will probably be able to hike for several miles without growing tired.


Your children will probably be tired after a hike, so reading is a great family activity when it's time to wind down. Reading together is one of the best things you can do for your kids. You can begin reading to them as soon as they are born and take turns reading with them when they are able to read on their own. You can choose books that you read as a kid, but it is also a good idea to let your kids choose the books. Going to the library together is a wonderful family activity that allows you to borrow almost any books you like for free.

Play Games

If it's raining outside or you are too tired for a hike, playing board games is another good way to interact with your children. Games teach children important skills such as taking turns and playing by the rules. They also learn how to win or lose graciously. Most board games cost around $10-$20 new, but you can buy games at thrift stores for less than half of the original prices. There are also many games you can teach them to play using a simple deck of cards. Children as young as two or three can play simple board games, and most older children love to play games against adults.

Spending fun time with your kids doesn’t require advanced planning, pre-purchased packages, or lots of money and time. Instead, find ways to incorporate fun times into your every day life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Clone Blog II

Health issues necessitate me writing another one of my clone blogs. Those issues are numerous. Final diagnoses: Pneumonitis; multiple right lung nodules, likely benign, but with no comparison cannot exclude neoplasm; left kidney upper pole low-attenuation exophytic lesion, likely a hyperdense cyst. Must follow up with CT scan in 3 months to compare.

So here I am, at home. Completely exhausted. Everything I do tires me. But I still suffer from insomnia (some things never change), so the night before last while I was awake for several hours, I had a bowl of cereal and watched a movie. The following morning I awoke at 8 a.m. (very late for me), made myself a breakfast smoothie, then became so overwhelmingly tired, I had to rest on the couch where I fell into a coma for several minutes.

I have to admit, I'm a little overwhelmed by what has been happening lately. I think I handled the breast cancer problem quite well. I've always said that nothing scares me more than not breathing. But while still dealing with the lung problem and continuing to take all my asthma and cancer meds, I've had to assimilate what occurred at my oncologist's office the day before yesterday.

During a routine mammogram, something "suspicious" showed up on the breast where I didn't have breast cancer. Whoa! Really? I decided right there that if I have breast cancer again, I'm NOT going through chemo and radiation again. The surgeon who cut out my tumor left a gigantic scar that deformed my right breast. If I have to go through that again, I'm having a double mastectomy.

And the CAT scan I had on my lungs while I was hospitalized showed some sort of growth on my kidneys. My kidneys? Are you serious? And then I remembered this lump that had been on my lower back for the past couple of years. I had asked a doctor what she thought about it, and she thought nothing of it, so I let it go. But now I know that the lump is probably the growth that showed up on the CAT scan. 

So all of these new conditions were found quite by accident but they require me to get another mammogram next week and a CAT scan on my kidneys next week too. 

In addition to those visits, I'm supposed to return to my new GP (who started this whole thing rolling by admitting me – thank you, Dr. Gowda – I'm not being sarcastic – if not for his quick appraisal of my breathing problems, I don't know how quickly my condition would have deteriorated). As a result of all of those tests and doctor visits, I think I'll hold off on seeing the pulmonary doctor again until after I return from Virginia the beginning of July.

If you know me, you will know this is killing me. I can't write for long periods of time, I can't crochet for long periods of time, and I can't do anything that requires physical effort without becoming completely exhausted. I suffer from dizziness and lightheadedness, which, I've discovered may be a result of my persistent low potassium count. The infection still rages in my lungs and if I could just get rid of that one thing, I know I would feel so much better.

So yes, to save myself from even more exhaustion, I have cloned this blog, which appears in all of the following blogs:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Raising Children to Resist Violence

Has our society become more violent or is our perception that our society – or even our world – has become more violent? 

World War I, the Columbine shooting, domestic violence, and all kinds of other violent acts occur around us all the time. We read about them in the newspapers and we watch horrors unfold on our television sets. Our movies and games are saturated with blood, shooting, and inflicting pain.

If you are a parent who is trying to envelop your child in only a positive environment, unless you keep the child around you at all times, chances are he or she will be exposed to some sort of violence. How do you prepare your child for that inevitable day, whether the exposure is through a friend's video game, an unintentional look at a TV screen or computer monitor, or a photo in a magazine?

More importantly, how do you teach your child to resist violence if the occasion should arise where your child is confronted with a choice to fight back? What if your child is being bullied and comes to a point where he or she can no longer take it? Will the choice be that of the choice made by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the Columbine students who killed their classmates as a result of being bullied?

The American Psychological Association has put together a web site that helps parents teach their children how to respond to emotional issues without resorting to violence. It also teaches them what steps they can take to reduce or minimize violence. Some of their helpful advice, along with my commentary, follows.

First and foremost, make sure your child feels safe in his or her home. Encouraging, supportive, and loving parents can form the basis of a strong relationship between parent and child. Some children are difficult, and parents may need help themselves in dealing with special needs children and those with behavior problems. The American Psychological Association offers parents information to help them raise emotionally healthy children who will know how to resist violence.

Supervise your child. If your teenage slaps the laptop shut every time you enter the room, be suspicious, confront your child, and then examine the laptop by looking through the history. Invite friends into your home, so you can get a sense of the types of people your child chooses as friends. If you allow your child to spend the night at a friend's house, introduce yourself to the parents, get to know them, and ask questions to determine whether or not your child will be safe with them.

BE the kind of person you want your children to emulate. If you confront difficult issues with violence, they will mimic you. How you respond to trauma and problems will likely be the way they will respond to difficult situations.

Be consistent with your parenting. Allowing children to do something one day, and then punishing them for doing the same thing the next day confuses your children. When you make a rule, consistently enforce the rule, or don't make one at all. Better yet, include your children when making decisions that affect them, even for something as simple as bedtime.

For instance, if you are discussing bedtimes, find a reputable web site that lists the number of hours of sleep children need at a specific age. lists approximately how much sleep a child needs at a certain age. Pay attention to your child's regular sleep patterns during the summer. If 10 hours works during the summer, use that number of hours to help your child determine bedtime during school. Engaging children in the process of making their own decisions increases the likelihood of them enforcing their own rules. 

If you want to raise loving children, keep violence out of the home. Don't encourage children to watch violent movies or play violent games. When you consider the number of hours your child is awake and factor in the number of hours your child exposes him- or herself to violence, you can understand the percentage of hours your child is bombarded with violence. 

For more in-depth information on how to raise loving and responsible children who will know how to resist violence, visit the American Psychological Association by clicking the link.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Breakfast Smoothie For Kids Who Hate Breakfast

Most parents rush through mornings as if they are running some kind of marathon. With little time to get themselves and everyone else ready, the only perceived option is to throw a bowl of cereal at the kids. What doesn't help is that a lot of kids hate breakfast, and sometimes getting them to eat anything nutritious is difficult if not downright impossible. These same kids may also hate lunch and dinner. 
So how do you get nutrients into their bodies if all they do is hold a fork over their plates or a spoon over their bowls and stare at their food as if it is crawling with leaches? If you care about their health and you don't want to feed them a diet of cookies, cakes, candies, or sugar-laden cereals, even though their little eyes would light up and you might find yourself saying, "Well, at least they're eating SOMETHING," know that you do have other options.

Most kids love milkshakes. Call this smoothie a milkshake if you have to, but this one is filled with actual nutrients AND it tastes sensational (even for adults – it's what I have for breakfast most days). Small children might find this drink too large for their little tummies, so you might have to share it with them. It makes a great mid-afternoon snack in the summer too:

Yummy Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup yogurt (any flavor – I use Activia)
1 pkg. Carnation Instant Breakfast (chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla)
1 banana (or equivalent size of frozen fruit, such as frozen bananas and strawberries*)
1 cup milk or Silk
1 handful of ice (several ice cubes)
1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter**

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add all kinds of boosters, too, like protein powder, flaxseed, wheat germ, or honey (do not use honey for babies). 

*If you use frozen fruit, you won't need ice cubes.

**This yummy breakfast smoothie tastes great without peanut butter so if your child is allergic to peanuts, add some protein powder instead.

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