by Jennifer Shakeel

beautiful blended family photoI had to sit and decide the best way to approach this article. Did I want to give tips to the immediate family or to the extended family? See I know how families can be. I know how our own family members can react, the things that they can say thinking they are funny. I also know how society reacts, even in the 2009. Granted it isn’t like it was in the 80’s… or even before that… but we aren’t that far away from the stereotypes, the remarks, the attitudes, the looks that I don’t need to mention them. I am talking from personal experience; we are an interracial, multicultural family. Our families… well, let’s just say that as a couple we have accepted the way our families are and we have made decisions to protect our relationship and our children.
I believe that the strongest bond you should have when you decide to get married and have kids is the bond that you and your spouse share. See you can’t chose your parents, so you can’t chose the family you are born into, but you can chose the person you marry. Which means that when you chose to marry a person you need to put the bond you have with the person first. I don’t care if you are an interracial couple or not, but it is especially important when you are. I want to believe that your families would be happy and supportive of you because you are loved by another person and because you are happy. But I know that is not always the case. So what I am going to do is start with tips for the couple and their children and then move to the extended family.READ More on Tips for Blended Families (Part One)

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mother and teenage daughter having an early morning talkYounger kids love to talk, but once kids hit those teen years they seem to clam up. It can be frustrating when you try to get your teen to share what is going on in their life. Sometimes it's just hard to get them talking. Keeping in touch with your teen is definitely important, but if you can't get them to talk, it makes it difficult. There are some things that you can do to get your teen talking. Here are some of the top ways that you can start getting your teen to open up and talk to you.
Idea #1 – Make Sure You Are Available to Your Teen – If you want your teen to talk to you, you actually have to make sure that you are available to your teen. After all, if you are too busy to ever have time to talk, they aren't going to talk to you. Kids know when you are busy and when you are too busy, you are more likely to brush them off. When you take time out for the kids and make yourself available to your teen, they will be more likely to come to you for a talk.
Idea #2 – Don't Try Too Hard – Many parents make the mistake of trying to hard to get their kids to talk to them. This often makes them resist talking even more. Take away the pressure and relax. When you stop pushing and pressuring them, more than likely they will realize this and will be more likely to talk to you.
Idea #3 – Get Involved in Activities Together – Another way that you can get your teen to talk is to get involved in activities together. Do activities that they enjoy. It doesn't matter whether it is a physical activity or something creative. Both have a way of opening up your teen. Teens tend to start talking when they are doing things.READ More on Ideas to Help Get Your Teen Talking to You

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great-grandma-and-grandson.jpgGrandmas love surprises, and there is nothing more special than a homemade gift that comes from the heart, even if they don’t have a use for the gift. They know just how to fawn over present given in love. Here are a few ideas Mom and Grandchildren can work on together to make Mothers Day extra special:

  1. Potpourri pies are popular in gift stores. Here’s how your little one can create a similar experience. Create this pie with a disposable pie shell. Make a bottom pie crust out of flour/salt dough. Add a potpourri that smells like your grandmother’s favorite scent, and then create a lattice pattern out of the dough. Cover the potpourri and allow the dough to harden overnight. To enjoy the potpourri, “bake” the pie in a warm oven. READ More on Mothers Day for Grandmas – Gifts She Will Love

mother with her two teenage daughtersAs you kids grow up and become teenagers, one day you're going to look at them and wonder who these kids are living in your home. The teen years can be difficult. If you have teens of your own you know that they seem to change into different people during their teen years. You'll see a glimpse of maturity and suddenly they are rebellious and childish once again.

Sometimes it can be difficult to stay connected to your teen during these tumultuous years. However, there are some things you can do to stay more connected with your teen. Even though there is an age and generation gap there, here are some important tips that can help you to stay connected with your teen as they go through the years approaching adulthood.

Listening is as Important as Talking

As parents sometimes we talk too much. Sure, there is a time for talking. However, with a teenager you'll find that listening to them is as important as talking. Why? Well, when you listen to your child you are opening up lines of communication, letting them know that they can talk to you when they need to. You'll also find out a lot of important information from your teen if you take the time to listen to them. Make sure you keep your heart open. When you listen to them they get an opportunity to express themselves, which is important for their development.

READ More on Staying Connected with Your Teen

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Being a dad who is not a very good cook, I wanted to find something fun and nice I can do for the kids. This is what I found:

Just for Mom Fruit Salad – here is a recipe that Dad and kids can easily make for Mom and have fun doing it together.  

1 can prepared lemon pie filling
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 – 15 oz. can tropical fruit salad, drained
1 – 15 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 – 11 oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups fresh strawberries


Mix lemon pie filling and whipped topping together in a large bowl. Add fruit to mixture and chill in refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight. When ready to serve, top with fresh strawberries or fruit of your choice and whipped topping. Servings: 8

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family time is so importantPeople may wonder if kids have gotten off track these days. You hear it all the time from the older generations. They think that kids these days simply aren’t as disciplined and respectful like kids used to be. You may have even noticed a change in your own child’s behavior and have wondered what the problem is.

Before we get too analytical about your child’s behavior—whether bad or indifferent—we have to take a quick peek at our own lifestyle. Lets ask a few questions. Do we work a lot? Do we work too much? How often are we home? How many times have we engaged our child this week?

Everyone's circumstances are different. One thing I am not trying to do is point the finger at anyone by saying its all parents fault that we don't spend more time with out kids. In some cases it may be, but we have to be realistic too. In this economy our bosses are placing more of a demand on us and many parents have to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet. One thing to remember, in times of stress, our kids need us more than ever and we should try everything possible to help keep the connection.

So, do we spend enough time with your kids?
Well, of course there are plenty of great kids in this world, but the world has become a busier place. Everyone works so much that it is hard to just let go, clock out, and get your butt home so that you can spend some quality time with the kids. Sometimes our busy, hectic world reflects in our children. Kids who are listless, have no interests, or who do poorly in school likely have parents who don’t spend much time with them.

It is important to understand that half the battle of winning our kids over and helping them progress through life is just being there for them. They need to see our strengths, see our weaknesses and how we handle different situations. Our kids’ eyes are always on us, and it is up to us as parents, to lead them until they are able to do so themselves.

Here are some great habits to get into when trying in order to help spend more time with our children. READ More on Weekly Parenting Tips: How to Spend More Time with Our Kids

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Tamar Chansky, Ph.D.
boy playing baseballIt’s after April 15, the taxes are in the mail, and now it’s time to tackle the real challenge of spring — little league. Well, not exactly, but all over the country, kids of all ages are gearing up for the new season of sports from little tikes, to varsity players. Parents are approaching this rite of childhood with a combination of excitement and dread as they ponder the impending vicissitudes: the thrill of success, and the agony of defeat—not the euphemism, the real deal— registering in every fiber of their child’s being and right there for everyone to see.
Kids may start out with the best intentions and grip on their emotions picture— the Norman Rockwell crack of the bat, roar of the crowds— but with the first error (or perceived error) things degenerate quickly and it’s Jackson Pollock on a bad day. There’s the pre-game freak out, the post-game melt down, the throwing down of the glove, bat, or whatever the case may be, followed by the “I hate everything, everything stinks, I quit” self-recrimination rant that occurs once the doors auto-shut on the mini-van. 
Why is it that some kids can’t lose? Is it the parents, über focused on getting them on a Division One team in college, whose pressure makes it impossible for kids to accept anything else but beyond the best? While there is no doubt that those success-crazed parents gone wild don’t help and need to be benched themselves, usually they only broadcast in stereo the message going through a child’s own mind: winning is everything; losing is the end of the world as we know it.
It’s also clear that our culture is out of whack, witness the 5:00 am sports practices, travel tournaments for 2nd graders, and cut-throat competition for all. While rectifying these variables will certainly improve the outcome, it will not eliminate the problem of kids who fall apart in the face of defeat. Especially since many of these kids fall apart even with just the anticipation of defeat. So losing isn’t the real disaster for these kids, their relationship to losing, is the disaster.READ More on Kids and Sports: Eight Strategies to Teach Kids How to Handle Disappointment and Lose like a Winner