by Shannon Serpette

Helping Kids Cope with Fears

When I was in seventh grade, I spent two weeks terrified about a satanic ritual that was rumored to be scheduled for Halloween night in my hometown. Normally I couldn’t wait for Halloween, but that year was different. I dreaded its arrival, and with every passing day, my fears increased. I lost sleep worrying about it because I was so concerned for my safety on Halloween. I was also worried for my friends and family. And I was horrified for the poor victim who was going to be sacrificed that night.

Like most fears, this one never materialized. It was founded on rumors, and like most rumors, had spread like wildfire and had taken on a life of its own, becoming increasingly more horrific with each retelling.

When Halloween was over, I sighed with relief and tried to take away a lesson from the drama and worry. My lesson was to not let my imagination run wild, which was difficult for a budding writer.

It’s a lesson I try to teach my kids today.

Keeping up with current events is encouraged at their school and even required in some classes. And in fourth and sixth grades, their current grades, those headlines can be pretty terrifying.

They see violence from around the world, and sometimes, it hits uncomfortably close to home. They’ve heard about school shootings and have done drills to rehearse what they’ll do if there’s a shooter in their school. That’s heartbreaking as a parent.

Parents want their children to feel safe, loved and secure. But the world can be a terrible place at times, and knowing that can help you prepare for when things go wrong. While I want my kids to be able to handle difficult or dangerous situations, I don’t want them to carry year round my 12-year-old Halloween-level fears.

I’ve tried to come up with a strategy on how to handle these big discussions in my family, and I’ve found some methods that work for us. If you’re looking for a way to have these important talks with your kids, I hope these tips can help.

  • Teach them the difference between founded and unfounded fears: I wish my parents would have employed this tactic when I was younger. Someone simply reminding me there had never been a satanic ritual in the decades we had lived in the area would have gone a long way toward making me feel better.

READ More on Creating a Bubble to Help Your Kids Cope

by Ivy Locke

In an age that seems to be marked by extreme situations and unforeseen circumstances, the uncertain nature of these times leaves most parents feeling a bit uneasy. Moreover, these feelings are typically magnified in the case of being either a single parent or a family facing financial difficulties. Indeed, given the dismal projections in regards to the job market as well as the general value of the American dollar, many are looking to cut corners every way possible. Although I may not be able to tell you how to save money on your mortgage (though, I am working on it) I can certainly tell you how to cut costs as far as clothing your family is concerned. Fortunately, given my extensive background in fashion and retail (I worked and shopped extensively all throughout college and several subsequent years), I am more than qualified to tell you how to look fab on a budget. That said, the following is an overview of some tips to help you keep your family looking super fabulous, even on the smallest budget.

Thrift Shopping

Taking a page out of the book of Macklemore, thrift shopping has officially been introduced to the youth of the world. Honestly speaking, I was never much of a thrift shopper until recent years. I never had the patience to sift through those large piles of clothes, and I would hardly find anything worth buying. Times change! As I continue to mature, I have realized that thrifting is literally what you make it. For instance, you may spot a crazy looking top and think, “Now, who would wear that?!”, but if you try it on, you might realize that you are exactly the type of person to wear it! If you have trouble with thrift shopping, odds are, it’s because you don’t know what to look for. The purpose of thrifting is to find things that stand out rather than blend in. In other words, you will likely not find a lot of trendy new joggers at your local thrift shop, but you may find lots of jackets, suits, button down blouses, t-shirts, and the like. Thrift shopping is all about finding your personal style.

Estate Sales

In addition to that, estate sells are an excellent way to keep your family looking great on a budget. For those who are yet unfamiliar, the terms “estate sale” refers to a massive sale of belongings that typically takes place at one’s home. Depending on the composition of the family, you could potentially find some nice duds for your entire family. Moreover, given that estate sales often take place at massive homes in which a family is moving, splitting apart, or has some other force driving them to sell as many things as possible, you can often purchase designer labels for pennies on the dollar. If you are interested in going to estate sales in your area, simply do a Google search for “estate sales in my area”. In addition to that, estate sales.net is an excellent resource which sends notifications detailing local estate sales, directly to your email.

“Gently Used” Stores

Furthermore, second-hand stores are an excellent way to clothe your family. In recent years, there has been a second-hand store revolution of sorts in which they have begun catering to the younger generations. Certainly, not your local thrift store, the new age second-hand stores carry nothing but popular designers and they only accept things that are up to a certain standard. For instance, in my town, we have a store known as Plato’s Closet that carries a lot of brands such as Pink, Forever 21, Abercrombie, and much more. Moreover, although the store more so caters to women, there is a decent-sized department for young males as well. In addition to that, there is also a store called “Once Upon a Child” which sells gently used clothing for babies and younger kids (up to size Y-20). Odds are, you have similar stores in your area. Simply do a search for “gently-used clothing stores” and see what pops up!

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by Shannon Serpette

Nothing is perfect in my house, or when it comes to my parenting skills. According to the experts, I just might be an abysmal failure at parenting.

Here’s my dirty parenting secret – I feed my kids junk food sometimes and I don’t do a great job at limiting their screen time on the computer and television.

I’m not worried that my kids will watch too many episodes of Doc McStuffins or that their bodies will be irreparably damaged if they eat an Egg McMuffin.

I’ve always been a bit suspicious of sweeping generalizations.

When I was a kid, I was told too much television was bad for my eyes. I always wondered how much was too much. I kept watching and watching anyway.

I was just waiting for the day when I would wake up unable to see clearly – the day when all the adults would finally score a giant victory against a sassy kid who insisted she would watch television despite the warnings from people with superior intellect. I’m still waiting for that day to happen. I’m now in my 40s and despite decades of heavy television usage, I still have perfect vision.

People give generalized rules like this all the time. And I always feel a compulsion to test the limits. The television warning for me ranked right up there with, “If you swallow your gum, it will stay in your belly for seven years,” and “Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.”

Well, I swallowed a lot of gum in my day. There were times food shouldn’t have fit in my stomach if all the gum I had swallowed in the past seven years still remained in my system. As for knuckle cracking, I’ve cracked my knuckles almost daily for decades and I don’t have even a bit of arthritis.

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“Mom, why are the banks and post office closed today?”

“Because it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

“Who’s Martin Luther King Jr.?”

This conversation may be heard throughout the USA on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Teaching our children about the vital history which includes one of the most influential men of our history is very important. Martin Luther King Jr. paved the way for social justice and equal rights in the twentieth century.  It was during his life that “coloreds” were separated from “whites” causing great divisions to humanity.

What’s so special about Dr. King anyway? The man had a dream in his famous speech, and then the man was assassinated, ironically while he was making a speech about non-violence and social justice. But he indeed swayed the world to be more accepting of humans, regardless of their skin color. The man single-handedly started the civil right movements. He had such passion that he spoke over a couple of thousand times about it. The man lived for serving others, from being a preacher to being a community organizer. He loved his family having four children with his wife Coretta Scott King.

While civil rights were his main message he also spoke passionately about non-violent principals. He was an advocate for those in poverty, especially for those suffering from urban inequality. He found ways to talk about racism and in tearing down the walls that kept people divided.

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Filed under Holidays by  #

by Matthew J. Elliott

Parenting is a very powerful experience and it can teach us many wonderful life lessons that help mold us into the people we were meant to be. As parents of three children 4 and under, our lives can get pretty crazy. Each and every day there is something new we are learning about our children. Whether it be how to listen to them when they struggle through their words or how to go to the potty like the big kids do. It’s a life full of excitement, love, stress, and overall, happiness. While we do not claim to be experts by any means, we have learned a few things along the way.

Parenting is not an easy thing, it’s a life long journey for everyone involved in the family. As Christians, we receive guidance from the Bible and try to focus our parenting endeavors on teaching our children love, kindness, patience, understanding, and compassion. There are days when we don’t succeed, but we strive all the more the next day to instill these things within our children. As we grow into the parents our children can be proud of, we will cherish each new day that comes.

Children Need to Know You Care

From the Christian point of view, it is important to us to remind our children daily that we care about something bigger than all of us. We believe that our children need to know that there is more to life than simply living. In everything we do from the time they get up in the morning until the time they finally get to sleep at night, we remind them that we love them and that our savior loves them too. This view carries over into how we teach them to care for each other and for those around them. It becomes a part of the foundation we intend to build our family upon.

In the Bible there is a passage in the book of Galatians that teaches about something called ‘the fruits of the spirit.’ Basically what this passage does is sum up nine attributes of what a Christian’s life should be about, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” While we do not talk to our children about these nine attributes every day, we do try to be an example of them in every way we can. While they may not understand it all right now, our hope is that if we make it a part of their lives today, it will be a part of their lives when they are older as well.

Children Need to Know You’re There for Them

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It’s fairly normal to worry about our teens when it comes to alcohol and drugs. As most of us parents know, many teens end up experimenting with such substances sooner or later. We may hear about the two million teens who are struggling with substance abuse addiction and wonder if our teen will somehow become part of that number. We may see them hanging out with a friend who we think is shady, so we worry that he/she will be a bad influence.

In other words, we tend to worry more than we’d like. But how can we stop worrying about our teens? Is it possible? Well, it may not be possible to be at peace 100 percent of the time, but there are things we can do in order to keep the anxiety manageable. Read through the following tips on how you can minimize worry when it comes to your teens, alcohol, and drugs.

  1. Educate your child about alcohol and drugs

You can take opportunities throughout your child’s life to educate him or her about alcohol and drugs. Begin open and honest conversations during grade school about the negative effects of drinking and drugging. Let your child ask you questions. Point out examples of irresponsible drinking or negative consequences of drug use.

For example, if cousin Tim got arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, tell your child the truth. Don’t sweep it under the carpet, as children need to know how irresponsible drinking habits can affect people in negative ways. You can take opportunities while watching the news, seeing people out partying, and so on. You can also read your child books about the topic, and as they get older you can look at resources online when it comes to alcohol and drug abuse. The point is to regularly have a discussion about the topic so that you will know that your child understands how dangerous abusing substances can be.

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by Ivy Locke

As a single mom everything is a bit harder. It’s no secret, most kids hate to go to bed. No matter if they are wide awake or have been up and running around all day and seem to be all tuckered out, they almost never just settle down and go directly to sleep. Nevertheless, there are times in which they need to. Being a child is hard work and receiving adequate rest is a must for a young, developing mind and body. Moreover, our sleep patterns as children are largely the sleep patterns we end up sticking with as adults. Moreover, bedtime struggles are often magnified when you are a single mother. While your kids certainly think of you as superwoman, they may or may not respect mommy’s position as an authoritarian. In addition to that, having two parents in the household can make it easier to put children to sleep as one parent can be the primary and the other can serve as reinforcement. Therefore, if you allow your children to have unhealthy sleeping habits now, they will likely carry on well into adulthood. We can't have that! The following is an overview of some excellent tips to help you get your kids to bed on time.

Bathing

In addition to the fact that bathing is a highly soothing action that promotes relaxation and helps them become settled, studies have shown that having a night routine, in general, is one of the best ways to get your kids to bed in a timely fashion. This is due to the fact that as humans, we are all subject to becoming comfortable with routine. By teaching your kids to get to bed on time and to always get enough rest early in life, you are setting them up for a lifelong of positive sleeping habits.

Cool Night Lights/ Sound Machines

For those of us who like to try things that are a bit more unconventional, buying your kids a fancy nightlight can be a great way to get them to sleep on time. For instance, there are some night lights displays that project pictures of stars and constellations and some even provide narration, so your kids can explore space as they drift off into dream world. There are also light displays that play nature sounds, soothing music, and much more. On the flip side, there are also radios and other sound machines that can allow your child to listen to soothing sounds and/or music as they drift off to sleep. A great way to distract your kids as they meet Mr. Sandman, purchase a night light that is in line with your child’s interests and they may actually begin to get excited for bed time (a mom can dream, can’t she?).

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