by Jennifer Shakeel

happy young teenage girl enjoying the dayThere are children that are born that are just naturally independent, and there are other children that are less independent. As children grow we as parents need to encourage them to be independent. We want to know that when they are grown and on their own that they will be able to take care of themselves. Regardless of how old or young your child is, it is never to early or too late to encourage them to do things on their own.

Idea One: Don’t Give Answers Provide Direction

This applies more to school age children who are coming home with homework. I think it is natural for all children to ask for help with their homework… but to a good chunk of children help means they want you to give them the answers. Part of this is because we as parents want to make things easier for our kids so that they don’t get discouraged. In doing so though, we are taking away their independence.
This doesn’t mean you can’t help them. But only help, provide them direction and don’t give them the answer. For example, “How do you spell _____?” We don’t spell the word for our children. Instead we ask, “How do you think you spell it?”

Idea Two: Encourage Them to Try it On Their Own

Some kids will demand the chance to do things on their own. “Let me do it!” I am sure is something that we have all heard at one time or another. When they want to do it on their own, let them. For example the first time they want to dress themselves for school… or for the day, let them… and then let them wear what they put on. Hopefully it matches, and if it doesn’t then say, “Honey, that doesn’t really match are you sure you want to wear it?” Their answer is going to be yes, and they are going to tell you how it matches… let them wear it. Trust when I tell you that as they get older, you will say more than once to them, “Really, that is what you are wearing today?” I call it the hazards of teenagers and their taste in clothes.

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kids having fun laying in grass in a parkIf you have more than one child, you know that each own has a temperament all their own. There are those kids that are very verbal and interact with others whenever they get together. On the other hand, you have those that are quiet and more reserved, and just want to play by themselves. Even though your child may be born with a preference to be social or not, much of a person’s social ability to interact appropriately with others is based on what they are taught. You, as their parent, have a wonderful opportunity to help your child thrive in social situations. Helping them to succeed socially will give them confidence and the ability to adapt to situations all throughout their lives.
When teaching your child social skills in life, it is important to remember that these skills include many facets. Not only are social skills based on behavior, but also on the child emotions, intellect and ethics. These are all areas that will need to be strengthened as our child grows, so that they will have the ability to interact with others and achieve the goals they set for themselves.
Tip 1: Encourage Emotions
Emotions are a part of every day living, and in experiencing these emotions, children will have to learn what is appropriate and what is not. Some emotions are naturally easier to express than others. Most children can express themselves just fine when they are happy and excited. Once a child gets angry, hurt or rejected, they may not be able to express those emotions in a proper manner. These are times when a parent must reaffirm to the child that these feelings are normal, but there is an appropriate way to handle them. If you teach your child the skills they need to cope with these feelings and emotions, they will be able to be resilient and able to handle the hurts they will encounter in life.READ More on Weekly Parenting Tips – Encouraging Social Interaction

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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.

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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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