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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Responsible teens are happy teensParents always hope for the best when bringing a child into the world. When my son was born and I held him for the first time, I could not stop the tears. I wanted my him to be happy and knew that I would do whatever I could for my child and that I would do anything to help him achieve and reach his lifes goals.

The first step in this quest is teaching our kids about responsibility. This starts the moment the child is able to understand and do simple things to the time they reache the teenage years.

Here are some things that will help teach the teens about responsibility.

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by Stacey Schifferdecker

But I Don’t Know What to Say!
In my childhood years, I don’t young boy crying at his Dads gravesideremember being touched by death. I don’t remember any classmates dieing or any of their parents dieing. Was I oblivious or were we just lucky? I guess I’ll never know the answer to that question. But I can walk through the halls of my children’s schools and see children from five different families whose fathers have died during their school years. When I take my daughter to cheerleading practice, we see a little girl whose mother recently died. And when we go to church, we see two girls whose father died a few years ago, and we see a mom whose ten-year-old son died last November. 
What this means is that my kids have had to learn what to say to people who are grieving. I admit I do not excel in this area. I want to say something comforting, I want to be helpful, but I often find myself tongue-tied and feeling useless. I am trying to be a better role model, though, and teach my children toREAD More on Parenting, Death, and Grieving

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kids enjoying the day at a local petting zooLocal Activities For Kids 

Not every family can travel during spring break. And how many of us have truely explored our own local community. We live in Chattanooga, TN, and were amazed of all the local activities we could get involved in when we moved into the area. In Chattanooga we have great parks, a sea Aquarium, a small zoo, camping, and great views, especially from Lookout Mountain.

Like us, many parents may not be able to get the week off of work, or there just might not be enough money in the budget for a trip. But that doesn't mean that your family can't have some spring break fun. There are plenty of things that you can do locally as a family. These include:

READ More on Getting The Most From Spring Break For Kids

by Stacey Schifferdecker
should your teenager have a job?Should Your Teen Get A Job? I was surprised to recently learn that when my oldest son turns 14 in a few months, he can legally get a job. I always thought you had to be 16 to get a job, but 14- and 15-year-olds can work as long as they work no more than three hours a day and 18 hours a week during the school year. They also can’t work past 7:00 p.m. during the school year.
I don’t think Kegan is going to run out and start looking for a job when he turns 14, but it did start me thinking. In a couple years, he may want to get a job – should I let him? And if he doesn’t want one, should I make him get one anyway (if only to help pay for the increased car insurance costs when he turns 16)?READ More on The Pros and Cons of Teen Jobs

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