By Julie Baumgardner

parents holding hand of newborn babyOnce the decision was made to start a family, John and Susan went from living in a loft and having people over all the time to living in a house in a quiet neighborhood with friends coming over significantly less often. “It was definitely a dramatic change for us,” said Susan. “It was hard to give up our two-seater convertible, but we knew it wasn’t a family car. We had hoped we could keep it and add a family car, but since we couldn’t predict our expenses after Caroline’s birth, we traded it in.”  Caroline arrived in October of 2005. Even though she has a great temperament and her parents describe her as an “easy” baby, she still rocked their world.

READ More on Bringing Baby Home – Parenting 101

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a little girl and her pet dogDogs have long been known as “man’s best friend”; they are social animals who see the humans around them as their pack and they become strongly attached to those humans.  One of the things about a family pet is that they can help teach responsibility. A dog can be a lot of fun and a great addition to your family, but a dog can also be a lot of work, and there is always the chance the child might tire of the pet and leave the chores for Mom and Dad. Thats when your parenting skills come in to empasize how important it is and how much it means to your pet when your kids help out with them. One tip is to make the chores fun, help the child out if they need it and make it a routine.
Now, if you have decided on a pet dog, here are some things to think about:READ More on Dogs Can Make A Great Family Pet

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by Stephanie Partridge
child screaming at step momMore and more families are becoming blended families which means that parents are remarrying and children and gaining new step parents.  This can also mean some rocky roads ahead.  Blended families rarely mesh together easily and seamlessly, there is usually a great deal of adjustment and often a lot of conflict.  Step children may be resentful to the new parent, feeling that the step parent wants to take the biological parent's place.  Children can become surly, depressed and combative.  They may act out at home or at school causing their parents a great deal of stress and worry.  This is normal, but that knowledge does not make the transition any easier.  These tips, however, might.
Don't expect to bond overnight.
I can take a blended family years to bond.  Don't rush it and don't push the child to accept you.  If you are having trouble with your step child not accepting you, take a step back and allow them to guide the relationship.  Once they see that you will be there no matter what, they will be much more likely to accept you and warm up to you.  The key, though, is that you don't try to rush the relationship.  Allow it to grow, nurture it and take it easy.
Understand the difference between the blended family and the first family.READ More on Parenting Tips When Your Step Child Does Not Accept You

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What will you be doing with your kids this Earth Day?Earth Day and kids go hand in hand. This is a special day set aside to bring awareness to conservation efforts and help educate people on how to be more earth friendly.  Parents can use April 22nd to teach their kids how to respect the earth and what they can do to make a difference.

One thing that most people do anyway is to recycle.  If you don't, contact your trash service and request recycling pick up.  Most trash companies will do this for free, but you may need to use their special recycling bin.  Kids can learn to recycle in several different ways.  First, teach them how to identify whether an item is able to be recycled or not.  The easiest way to check this is to look for the recycling symbol on the item.  Things like plastic bottles and newspapers are almost always recyclable.

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by Pam Smith 

quality family time builds strong familiesBuilding a relationship with step kids may not always be an easy task. This can be especially true if you are dealing with older kids. Many step kids live with the notion that their parents will one day get back together. After all, they were once in love, why can’t they be again. Therefore, in their minds they only have enough room in their hearts for one mom and one dad. However, there are a variety of different steps you can take, in order to make your transition into step parenting a smoother, more enjoyable one.

One of the first steps to keep in mind is that you are not there to replace their biological parent. It is important that you understand your role as their step parent and share that with your step kids. In most instances, a step kid will be more receptive if they understand you are not trying to replace their mom or dad. Therefore, start your relationship off as merely their friend.

When you first begin your role as a step parent, it is important that you start slowly. Don’t jump into the situation head first. Instead, gradually work to build a relationship. The more time you take getting to know your step kids, the better your relationship will be. If you are the lucky step parent of younger children, come down to their level. Spend time playing games with them or going to the local park. Older kids may enjoy a shopping trip to the mall or a long bike ride.READ More on Building Relationships with Step Kids

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teenager writing in her diaryParenting is much more than just teaching your kids right and wrong, good or bad, or health and fitness. It is also about “respect”. I'm not talking about your kids or teens necessarily  
respecting you, it is about you having respect for them, particularly for their privacy. By respecting your children, they will be more open and respect you.
As kids hit adolescence they invariably begin to separate from their parents as a natural part of growing up. Ironically, it's also a time when parents (and very legitimately) have concerns about their son or daughter's safety as they venture out more into the world on their own.
This is quite a difficult time for most parents. It is a time of change, a time of testing. On one hand you are frustrated because your child isn't as close as they once were, and on the other you keep pushing and pushing to know more about what going on in their life. It's a catch-22 scenario; you cannot be close, yet you need to be close to keep them safe. READ More on Respecting And Giving Kids Their Privacy

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girls enjoying campfireSummer is coming, and for many kids, that means a trip to camp. If this is your child’s first trip to camp, you may both be nervous about how things will go. A little advance preparation can make everyone feel more comfortable.
Get ready — choose the right camp!
Your preparation begins with choosing the right camp. You want a camp that is your child will enjoy, especially as a first camping experience. Talk to your child about what kind of camp sounds fun. Some questions to consider include 
  • Day camp or overnight
  • Type of camp – religious, sports, academic, Scouts, etc.
  • Length of the camp (how many days, how many hours each day if it is a Day Camp)
  • Whether any friends will be attending the same camp
  • Transportation 
Of course, in addition to being fun, you want a camp that is safe. Once you and your child narrow down your camping choices, you will want to research a few camps to find out about their safety procedures, such as READ More on Tips To Help Prepare For Summer Camp

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