How to Find the Good Guys

When I was ten years old, the Wild West could be found in our living room.  Actually, you could find it in practically anyone’s living room given that there were more than 100 TV Westerns made between 1954 and 1969.  In each one it was pretty easy to tell the good guys from the bad.  So, I was not at all afraid when one day I went to the local police station with my dad to pick up his paycheck.  I not only knew what a bad guy looked like but I had “the law” with me. I was safe.

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How to Mend a Broken Heart

“What’s ‘unrequited love’ mean?”  That’s the opening line from my son when I picked him up from school earlier today.

As any experienced parent knows, this is the type of question that doesn’t deserve an immediate answer.  It deserves another question. So I say, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, this girl at school said that she had ‘unrequited love’ for me.  I don’t know what she’s talking about.”

It sounds to me as if this girl may not only be more mature than my son but she also has a better vocabulary.

I start thinking about how to best answer his question and my mind veers onto the nostalgia road where I recall a few personal “unrequited love” stories from my tween/teen years. [Read more…]

How to Do the Homework Hokey Pokey

No animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Those are the last words I recall before falling asleep. I stayed up way past my bedtime while watching a DVD of the cult classic: The Doberman Gang. And, that was after completing an impressive heap of homework—not mine—my son’s.teens_homework

Motherly worries made it difficult to sleep after what felt like a tag-team wrestling match over homework. How can we have a child who will do everything in his power to avoid doing homework when both his father and I were the type of kids who had near panic attacks if we slipped up on just one assignment? [Read more…]

How to Handle with Care: Good Grief

When we go to visit father’s grave my husband and children stand by my side. None of them knew my dad; they are there for me. I always cry a bit; I get hugs all around. On the way home from our last visit my youngest asked, “Why do we come if it makes you cry every time?” I say, “I really feel fine. It’s hard to explain.” grievingI wish I had a better answer. I’m surprised that he wonders why I would cry every time. I’m not sobbing; I just “puddle up.” I wonder how my children will manage grief when it affects them. I wonder how I might help them through it. So, when I get home, I call Lucy.

Lucy Nile is a bereavement facilitator who conducts support groups for schools and family support organizations including Annie’s Hope. [Read more…]

How to Make the Most of New Year’s Resolutions

When I was in elementary school, most of my friends’ New Year’s resolutions were along the lines of “I will study more, be nicer, eat more vegetables.”  When I became a teenager, common resolutions were “I will save more/spend less” or “I will not argue with my parents/sister/brother.” new_yearIn college, the statements of good intentions took the form of “I will stop insert-a-bad-habit-here.”  Many of the resolutions were not kept but they were remembered.  On December 31— instead of finding an improved version of yourself – you’d only found more guilt. [Read more…]

How to Think Outside the (Art) Box

Where’d you get that?

Are you asking because you like it?
— Because you think it is hideous?
— Because it is unique?

I tend to over think my response to this question because this artwork is personal. It’s a collaborative work by my family.

The 4 x 2 canvas came from a local art store —along with a calligraphy marker and some gold paint. We used leftover house paint for the tan, red and beige. First, my husband painted the background off-white (no dribbles, every inch covered; he’s thorough). Next, we took turns dribbling paint á la Jackson Pollock. [Read more…]

How to Get Bound with a Book

My dad died a long time ago,  long before I had children. Yet, among other things, we are still bound by a book. It’s a hardcover edition of Mark Twain’s short stories. My dad bought it when I was a toddler and gave it to me the night before I got married, telling me that Twain’s humor and wisdom would come in handy in the years ahead. It did, and it still does.

book_boundWhen you share a book with someone it’s as if you’re saying “I value what’s in this book enough to want to share it with you because I value you too.” Simple sentiments become more powerful when accompanied by a book.

Parents of small children know how important “book/cuddle time” is to raising a reader and making essential connections. Parents of preteens and teens can continue to build a special closeness through books: [Read more…]

How To Talk About Sex & Stay Sane

I never thought to tell my toddlers not to put a big magnet against the TV screen. The green and purple spot on the TV screen is a permanent reminder of the warning that I never gave. beesThey are now 11, 12 and 13 years old. The harm they could do or have happen to them has ramped up remarkably. I feel that I’ve entered an awkward stage right along with them.  I’m fretting about how to continue to talk with them about puberty and sex.

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How Do You Discipline a Teenager?

Keep_CalmI’ve always been one to watch for a sign that might help me deal with whatever might be churning in my head.  That’s because whatever is churning in my head is also likely to make my stomach churn if it stays there too long.  Today, I saw just what I needed: keep calm and carry on.  And, it was literally on a poster. I couldn’t have asked for anything clearer.

The British Ministry of Information originated the encouraging slogan in 1939, but it was never used. It’s certainly been put to good use 70 years later. I’ve since learned that this slogan is available on almost everything from a postcard to a tea towel. You think I would have seen it at least once before now. But, then again, maybe I didn’t need to see it so much until now.

Today, I am thinking about how I cope with growing children and the growing complexity of problems that can come with the territory. This is because Bonni brought up the subject of disciplining children as they get older.
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How to Connect with Your Teen, in the Kitchen

Food for Thought — The Kitchen Connection

teen_boysIn our house there are two females: the dog and me.  My husband and I have three sons, ages 13, 12 and “almost 11.” I was ecstatic with the arrival of each of our sons.  But that didn’t keep me from being a bit disappointed as I imagined a future that would not include:

  • Barbie anything.  I was right.  I did not miss the tiny shoes that I heard were a threat to young siblings, new vacuums and barefoot parents.  However, we did experience similar situations arising due to stray pieces from Lego Space, Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones. [Read more…]