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Archive for March, 2013

Why Teaching Your Teen to Dress Modestly is Important

Monday, March 25th, 2013

As the parent of a teenager, you’ve undoubtedly seen your share of questionable choices, bad trends and attempts to assert independence that don’t go as planned. Few things are as disconcerting or as upsetting, though, as the realization that your teen is no longer a child, but that the wardrobe choices she’s making are far from age-appropriate. Many teens think that wearing abbreviated clothing is an effective way of establishing their transition into adulthood and a reflection of their personal style, never realizing just how problematic showing too much skin can be. As a parent, your job does not end when your child begins to express her independence, especially if expressions of that independence include clothing that reveals far too much.

Teaching Girls That Their Worth Doesn’t End or Begin With Their Bodies

In a hyper-sexualized culture that celebrates scantily-clad pop stars who are more renowned for their fashion sense than any actual accomplishments, it’s easy for impressionable teenage girls to feel as if their worth is tied up with their skin and how much of it they’re willing to show. Insisting that your teenager dress modestly is important, but it’s also essential that you explain to her that one of the reasons why you want her to dress modestly lies within the message that she’s worth more if she’s wearing less. Having an open, honest discussion about the message society sends to young girls and its detrimental effects may reach your teenager in a way that a simple refusal to allow certain items of clothing never would.

Adhering to Religious Beliefs

Many religions count modesty as a virtue, with some even considering it a non-negotiable aspect of spirituality. If you’re trying to instill the religious beliefs and philosophies of your own spiritual alignment with your children, discouraging immodest dress is essential.

Maintaining School Dress Code Standards

As a parent, few things are as humiliating as being called to pick your teenager up from school because her outfit is too risqué. Most schools have dress codes that are clearly explained in student handbooks and conduct codes, and there’s very little room for interpretation. Regardless of your spiritual or social beliefs, it’s important that your teen understands just how necessary it is to adhere to the dress codes set before her. Even if you don’t personally have a problem with the way your child is dressed, there’s still a chance that the administrators of her school will.

Establishing and Understanding Regarding Appropriate Dress

As your teenager moves into her early twenties, your hands are largely tied when it comes to her wardrobe choices. It’s essential that you instill a basic understanding about dressing appropriately while she still lives with you, rather than simply making rules and requiring her to follow them unquestioningly. Remember that, as a parent, your job is to teach your children how to be successful adults, not to demand that they live by the rules you’ve set regardless of how well they understand them. Your teenager learns nothing about proper dress when you make a habit of vetoing her outfits before she leaves the house without explaining why it isn’t appropriate. She needs to know the difference between clothing you would wear to a party and attire that would work in a professional setting. The end goal of parenting is to give your children the skills they need to make the right decisions for themselves when you’re not there to guide them. Explaining the importance of modest clothing, especially in certain settings, is far more effective than banning certain items of clothing without any explanation.

Because Modesty is Important to Young Men, Too

The focus on clothing choices and modestly rests largely on the bodies of teenage girls, who are sexualized on a societal level in a dismaying assortment of ways. It’s easy to let your son’s education regarding modesty and appropriate clothing fall to the wayside as you focus on teaching your daughter that allowing others to objectify her based on clothing choices is a slippery slope. In reality, teenage boys need to learn about modesty and objectification just as badly. While you’re teaching your son that his pants shouldn’t be hanging around his thighs, you can also take the opportunity to explain all of the reasons why objectification is wrong, regardless of who’s on the receiving end. Boys need to understand that they’re more than their bodies, too. Remember, body image issues go both ways, even if they’re not talked about nearly as much when boys and young men are struggling with them.

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How to Know if Your Child is Ready to Stay Home Alone

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

There comes a time in every parent’s life when it’s necessary to admit that your child is ready to stay at home alone for short periods of time. The idea of leaving your child to his own devices may be terrifying, but it’s a necessary step along the path to an independent adulthood and is likely to become a source of tension between you and your child when he feels that he’s just too old for a babysitter. Figuring out when your child is ready to make that leap isn’t always a simple task, though. If you’re faced with the looming prospect of leaving your child at home unattended, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before making your final decision

Learn the Laws in Your Area

Laws governing when a child is allowed to look after himself vary from state to state, and may be a bit more complicated than you realize. In some areas, your child may be legally allowed to stay home alone for a specified amount of time only if he’s not in charge of caring for any younger children. In others, he may still be too young to stay home without running the risk of serious legal issues. While the maturity level and developmental age of your child are very important pieces of this particular puzzle, they never trump the legal requirements of your state or city.

Objectively Evaluate Your Child’s Level of Responsibility

Before your child stays home alone, he needs to demonstrate to you that he’s responsible enough to be trusted with the task. Even if he’s far beyond the legal minimum age to stay home unsupervised in your area, you may want to think twice before you leave an unruly child who isn’t capable of managing even basic tasks for himself alone. Can your child prepare a meal or snack for himself safely? Can he be trusted to complete his homework and adhere to house rules while there’s no one there to make sure that he behaves? There are a series of questions you should ask yourself about your child’s maturity and responsibility level before you decide to let him stay home alone for the first time.

Consider Your Child’s Ability to Manage an Emergency

Whether you want to think about it or not, there’s a chance that your child will be faced with an unforeseen situation while you’re not there to manage it for him. He may even be thrust into an emergency situation, so it’s absolutely imperative that he has the capability to handle basic emergency preparedness. Kids who don’t deal well with stress or are very dependent upon an adult to manage everyday life may not be ideal candidates for staying home alone.

Keep the Duration of His Stay in Mind

When you’re attempting to determine whether or not your child is prepared to handle staying home without adult supervision, it’s important to take the expected duration of his stay into consideration. A child who’s more than capable of handling a few hours after school as a latchkey kid may not be prepared for spending an entire day and evening alone on a snow day or during summer vacation. The longer your child is left alone, the higher his chances of encountering a situation he’s not prepared for. Make sure that you give careful thought to the amount of time he’ll be spending on his own, because it can make quite a difference in terms of his readiness.

Make a Trial Run or Two

If you’re considering a continuing arrangement in which your child will be left unattended for a specified amount of time each day, it’s wise to make a few trial runs before the big decision is made. Consider leaving your child behind while you make a quick trip to the grocery store or down the street to run an errand. As long as you’re easily reached and can return home at a moment’s notice to manage unforeseen events, you can give your child a taste of independence while observing his ability to deal with the added responsibility without placing him in real danger.

At the end of the day, no one knows as well as you do whether or not your child is prepared to take care of himself for a few hours. Making sure that you’re in compliance with all local laws and that you follow your own instincts is important, especially if you feel that you’re being pressured into leaving your child alone, but aren’t quite convinced that he’s up to the challenge yet.

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How to Help Siblings Play More and Fight Less

Monday, March 18th, 2013

When you have more than one child, you naturally entertain fantasies of your little ones growing up to be the very best of friends. It can be distressing to realize that, as they grow older, arguments can become more common than peaceful playtime. While there’s only so much you can do as a parent to facilitate a strong and affectionate relationship between two people that may have diametrically opposed interests and ideas, there are ways you can help create a more peaceful environment for your brood.

Don’t Draw Comparisons

Expressing your disappointment or confusion regarding a child’s behavior by asking him why he can’t be more like his sister or pointing out that his brother never behaves in such a manner may not seem like a catalyst for sibling skirmishes, but it absolutely is. When one child feels as if he’s constantly being compared to a sibling and is always coming up short, it’s not you that will bear the brunt of his anger. The sibling that he feels like he’s competing with is likely to be seen as competition not only for your love and affection, but also for your acceptance. Regardless of how much you may genuinely want to know why he acts the way he does, avoid framing the question as a comparison to another sibling.

Avoid Situations Conducive to Battle

Every parent knows that a tired, hungry or anxious child is usually a cranky child. When you put two cranky kids in close quarters, it’s just not reasonable to expect good behavior. Rather than placing your children in the pressure cooker that is close proximity to one another when everyone is feeling irritable, look for ways to stop conflict before it starts. Keep hungry or sleepy kids away from one another, don’t insist that they play together and make every effort to meet their physical needs as soon as possible.

Allow Plenty of Personal Space

No matter how much you want your children to spend all of their time together in blissful play, it’s important to be realistic. Children, just like adults, will need a measure of personal space from time to time. This especially holds true for older siblings that are continually followed around by adoring brothers and sisters. Make sure that you give each child plenty of time to play on their own; when they’re not being forced to play together, you may find that they voluntarily seek one another out.

Talk About Boundaries and Privacy

Older kids can feel as if they have no time to themselves, no privacy and that they’re always competing with younger kids for parental attention. Making absolutely sure that your younger children have a clear understanding about boundaries and privacy can help stave off some arguments and facilitate a better relationship between your children. On the same token, it’s important for older kids to understand that their younger siblings require space from time to time, and that taunting and teasing only leads to more trouble.

Only Get Involved When It’s Necessary

It’s tempting to intervene in an argument just to get some peace in your house, but doing so too soon will not only force you to choose sides in a dispute, it will also rob your children of an opportunity to work on their own conflict management skills. Your kids need to know how to handle conflict on their own, how to diffuse an argument and how to communicate effectively. When you jump in at the first sign of trouble to mete out justice, they never get the chance to put those skills into practice.

Give Siblings Collaborative Tasks

Asking two warring siblings to work together on a project may be the last thing you want to do, but it can help them sort out their differences. When your kids have a common goal, they’re forced to look past their disparities and find a way to overcome them. Not only will you be helping them develop their own set of valuable social skills, but you’ll also be creating an environment where they learn to set aside a disagreement in order to affect positive change. Before you dole out punishments, consider putting your kids to work together for a while.

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28 Blogs with Easy Breakfast in Bed Ideas Kids Can Make on Mother’s Day

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Moms are known for spending their time and energy taking care of the needs of her family on a daily basis.  Many moms do the cooking, the cleaning, the meal preparing, the lunch making, the dog feeding, the laundry and the list goes on and on.  On Mother’s Day, the kids can do something special for mom by making her breakfast in bed.  It doesn’t have to be difficult, and the last thing you want to do is leave mom with a huge mess to clean up in the kitchen.  If the kids are little, make sure that there are easy things to gather up and put on a breakfast tray.  Pick up some bagels, croissants or sweet rolls the day before, just in case.  Have some fresh fruit already cleaned and in a bowl in the refrigerator.  As the kids get older, they will be better able to prepare a real breakfast for mom.  These 28 blog entries have laid out a bunch of ideas for breakfast in bed; you might want to check them out to gather ideas.

Breakfast Ideas

What kind of things do you think mom would like for her breakfast on Mother’s Day?  What does she eat on a normal day?  What does she eat on the weekend when she has more time?  Think about what she orders when she goes out for breakfast.  Combine these three things and come up with a breakfast plan to WOW your mom.  These seven blogs will give you some helpful hints for preparing a tasty breakfast.

How-To Steps

If you want to prepare breakfast for your mom and you are a little unsure how to go about it, you may want to take a look at these seven blog posts.  The how-to portion will help you make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.  These ideas will give you the steps you need to follow to create a breakfast your mom won’t forget.

Recipes to Choose From

Do you want to break away from the everyday breakfast fare and fix a special dish for mom?  If so, you might find a delicious new recipe on one of these seven blog articles.  From blueberry ricotta dippers to French toast, these recipes are sure to please.

Dad’s Help

While these ideas are simple enough for the kids to do the lion’s share of the work, there may be a step or two that Dad could help out with.  Any time there is cooking involved an adult should help out.  So if Dad is around to help, you might want to try some of these ideas for a special breakfast in bed.

Breakfast in bed is a special way to honor mom for Mother’s Day, but you can surprise mom any day of the year with breakfast in bed to let her know that you love her and appreciate everything she does for you.

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10 Things to Include in a Parent and Teen Contract

Monday, March 11th, 2013

While teens may initially balk at the idea of agreeing to implement a contract with their parents, getting all of your mutual rights, responsibilities and expectations on paper can make a big difference in the way that you communicate with one another. The effectiveness of a well-written contract is one of the many reasons why written agreements dictate so much in terms of professional behavior, a concept that can be applied directly to you and your teen. These are 10 of the things that you should include in your own parent-teen contract, so that there are no disputes borne of misunderstanding or miscommunication.

  1. Driving Privileges – Driving is a rite of passage, an undeniable sign to both your teen and yourself that she’s starting to grow up. Handing over those keys doesn’t mean that you’re giving her free reign to do as she pleases, though. Making sure that your teen understands driving her car is a privilege that can be taken away, rather than an unassailable right, can motivate her to behave accordingly. Outlining things like curfew, safe driving responsibilities and the financial responsibilities of driving can help your teen understand just how big of a step driving really is.
  2. Cell Phone Use – Today’s cell phone plans are a bit more flexible than the exorbitant fee charges for any calls made during peak times a decade ago, but they can still be quite expensive. In an era that sees every teen with a cell phone, laying a strong foundation regarding the proper etiquette of cell phone use, the importance of never using a cell phone as a tool for bullying and the repercussions of texting and driving is important.
  3. Staying Home Alone – Your teen will inevitably decide that she’s too old for childcare or babysitters during the period between her return from school and your arrival from work. Covering what is and is not considered acceptable behavior when she’s home alone in a section of the parent-teen contract clearly communicates these things to her.
  4. Unsupervised Visits with Friends – No matter how much you’d like to be watching over your teen every moment of the day, the truth is that you just can’t. When it’s time to trust her with unsupervised outings with her friends, knowing that you’ve discussed the matter at length and covered it in your contract can help give you some peace of mind.
  5. Dating – Few things strike fear in the heart of a parent like the idea of their teen dating. Unfortunately, it’s also an unavoidable fact of life as a parent. Making sure that your child knows what’s expected of her when she’s dating in terms of curfew, supervision and the likes can make the transition a bit easier for everyone involved.
  6. Computer and Internet Usage – The Internet is a powerful learning and research tool for teens, but it can also be a very dangerous place for them. Making sure that your teen knows how to avoid online predators, bullies and other dangers is important, but so is limiting the amount of time she spends connected to a screen. Working out a reasonable Internet and computer usage policy can help to maintain peace in your home, as well as discourage constant connectivity.
  7. Television Use – Limiting screen time is as important for teens as it is for younger children, even if it is more challenging to enforce. Encouraging active pursuits and hobbies that get your teen moving will not only impact her physical wellbeing, but also help instill good habits in terms of television use as an adult.
  8. Earning and Spending – Teens have expensive taste, a fact that parents know all too well. Outlining how your teen will earn spending money, how much of her income should be set aside for expenses and different saving methods are all important parts of teaching financial responsibility.
  9. Chores – Making your teen responsible for helping with the daily running of the household can give her an idea of just how much work goes into keeping up a home and the importance of contributing fairly. Covering those chores in the parenting contract can also prevent arguments later, as it serves as a black-and-white reference when disputes arise.
  10. House Rules – Every household has its own rules to follow, and they should be spelled out clearly for your teen in her contract. When she knows exactly what’s expected of her and what isn’t allowed, she’ll be better able to navigate the area between them with confidence.

Working on the contract together will not only give your teens a sense of ownership over the agreement, but also the chance to make sure that their interests are protected. The most effective parent-teen contracts allow teens to have a voice in terms of their own rights and expectations. Try not to draw up a contract that gives your teen a laundry list of rules and no rights of her own. A contract that simply imposes rules and stifles your kids is one that they’re not likely to accept without rebellion, whereas one that outlines the needs of all involved parties is something they might be able to respect.

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Where to Shop for Coordinating Outfits for Siblings

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

While you may not want to make an everyday habit of dressing your children in coordinating outfits, it can be the perfect way to pull everyone together for a family portrait or special occasion. However, unless you’re handy with a sewing machine and have the time to devote to part-time fashion design, you’ll have to find stores that offer coordinating outfits. If you want to make a fashion statement with your brood without dressing them in identical outfits in their respective sizes, these websites are great places to shop for outfits that complement one another, rather than matching perfectly.

  • Wooden Soldier – This New Hampshire-based children’s boutique offers an array of fashion-forward special-occasion wear, from Communion to Easter outfits. There’s also a sizable selection of brother/sister outfits and sibling ensembles available. Many of the pieces on WoodenSoldier.com are exclusive designs that you won’t see anywhere else, ensuring that your kids are unique and fashionable at every party and in every photo.
  • Etsy – A collective of artisans and crafters, Etsy is an online one-stop-shop for one-of-a-kind fashions. The sheer number of merchants specializing in children’s apparel is staggering, and most of the artists and creators who sell their goods on Etsy will accept custom orders. Not only will your kids’ outfits coordinate, you’ll be able to take an active role in the design. If you have special colors, fabrics or other requirements that would be best met by a custom design, Etsy may be your best bet.
  • Lilabee Clothing – From Big Sister/Big Brother sets to coordinating outfits for multiples, Lilabee has it all. The Siblings line is touted as clothing “made by twins for twins and multiples.” The personalized onesies are an especially adorable touch for identical twins.
  • CWDkids – Not only does Cute Well-Dressed Kids stock a full line of coordinating sibling outfits, but also a line of parent/child clothing. If you want to make sure that everyone in a family portrait is wearing complementing outfits, CWDkids is the place to go. Sibling sets run the gamut from pajamas to beachwear, so there’s definitely something for every occasion. If you live in the Richmond, Virginia area, you can also visit CWDkids’s brick-and-mortar store for a more hands-on shopping experience.
  • Just Multiples – Created by a twin, JustMultiples.com is a clearinghouse for all things sibling. From birth announcements to matching clothing, this site is absolutely a one-stop-shop. There’s also a line for preemies, which is particularly thoughtful for parents of newborn, premature multiples. In addition to clothing for the smallest members of the family, JustMultiples.com stocks plenty of novelty tees for the rest of the household.
  • AddieKat Boutique – The proprietor of AddieKat Boutique named her online store after her own two children, and is the sole designer/creator behind the label. Every item and sibling set is custom made in high-end boutique style. Holiday outfits, birthday outfits for twins and a variety of coordinating separates for every occasion are available through AddieKat, all at reasonable prices. AddieKat also offers a selection of awareness-ribbon outfits for kids that want to show their support of a particular cause. Because each item or set is custom made, don’t expect your purchases to ship out overnight.
  • Children’s Cottage – A mother-daughter team owns and operates Children’s Cottage, a high-end boutique for the smaller set. In addition to national brands, proprietors Barbara Ward and Donna Ward Black also design their own line, Caroline Bradlee. Monogrammed and personalized clothing is also available, along with a variety of accessories, shoes and hats.

These are only a small sampling of the online boutiques with coordinating sibling lines, but they’re wonderful places to start. Keep an eye out for complementary outfits scattered in other categories of the sites, as well. Sometimes certain colors or elements are popular enough to be repeated in some way across sizing and styles, making it possible to mix and match your own coordinating set within a particular clothing line.

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25 Blogs that Will Help Your Tween Become the Ultimate Fashionista

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

The tween years are typically the time when many young girls begin to become more interested in current trends and dressing fashionably. Some may just want to look fashionable at school and impress their peers, but others may have high hopes of someday becoming a fashion designer or a stylist for magazines. Becoming a fashionista isn’t just about putting together clothes; your tween will also need to research current trends in clothing, hair, skincare and shoes.  You can find some help in these 25 blog entries.  Make sure you check out the tips and tricks section, because there’s a lot of good advice for your budding fashionista in there.

Clothes

Clothing trends are always changing.  To become a fashionista, it’s important to be up to date on all of the latest trends.  Look to tween role models and see what they are wearing.  Check out magazines like Teen Vogue and others to scope out the latest fashions.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match things when you see them in the store.  These five blog posts will provide a look at what is hot in tween fashion.

Hair

There are a multitude of ways that tweens can wear their hair, so be sure to take a look at how tweens are wearing their hair on TV shows, in magazine shoots and more.  People generally believe that long hair provides you with more versatility when styling your hair, but there are actually plenty of fun ways to style short hair as well.  Make sure that whatever you choose, the look is flattering for your face shape.  Read through these five blog articles to find out more on what’s trending in hair.

Skin Care and Makeup

Tweens typically want to start dabbling in make-up, but it’s definitely something to discuss before letting her use it because you don’t want her to overdo it.  Many moms allow their tween to wear just a touch of make-up to enhance her natural beauty.  These skin and make-up tips for tweens will help your tween understand how to take care of her skin and learn some make-up trends.

Shoes

A fashionable pair of shoes can make regular jeans and a T-shirt look fashion forward, while a pair of dirty tennis shoes can make the same look seem sloppy.  Take a look at the shoes that are in by checking out these five blog posts.  It’s important that the shoes fit properly for your tween so that there’s no damage to her still growing feet.  See what’s hot right now in tween shoes.

Tips & Tricks

Some tweens have already started their own fashion blogs, so don’t let age stop your tween from exploring and sharing her love for fashion.  These blog posts will share suggestions on where your tween should start if she wants to become a fashionista.  Maybe you have a budding fashion designer or stylist; you’ll find tips for them as well.

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