Being a Better Parent, Raising Teenagers

“Spending Quality Time With A Teen” is Not an Oxymoron– When You’re Volunteering Together

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When my kids were much younger, I was asked by a friend if I’d like to
join The Junior League in our suburban town. I was flattered she would consider me, but after looking at the membership requirements (i.e. time commitment)  I almost laughed in her face.
Going crazy trying to squeeze in freelance writing work and keep my house managed with two kids under the age of six, I couldn’t imagine also having the pressure of performing  a certain
amount of required service hours and getting kicked out if I didn’t. How did my friend do it with two young children herself? (Um, on second thought, I think having a nanny and housekeeper
probably helped her a lot…)

Fast forward about eight years, and another friend is asking if Allison and I might want to join her
chapter of the National Charities League Inc., a nationwide …

Being a Better Parent, Kids and Money

A Scary Lesson in Door-to-Door Sales

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NO SOLICITORS. Those are two words my Girl Scout troop doesn’t like to see when they go door-to-door selling cookies, but I’m finally going to
print them out on my label maker and post them by my own doorbell today, and hope that in the future, the football players, Scouts, Campfire Girls and other well-meaning kids will simply
email me, as some already do, when they want to sell me something. Because there’s just been too many not-so-well meaning door-to-door salespeople in our area lately, and I’ve had

You’d think I’d have had enough long ago, since I’ve hung up on probably thousands of telemarketers (or fought with them– remember the Gay Marriage telemarketer?) and I’ve had every nut in the candy dish knock
on my door since I’ve been a work-at-home mom for almost 15 years. One memorable snaggle-toothed saleswoman slurped her bottle of miracle cleaning product …

Raising Teenagers, Travel With Kids

A College (Re)Visit

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This past weekend, we took  Allison (and Emmie) on our first “official college
visit” as a family. Allison had already been on another, with her aunt, but this was the first “taking a child to see a college in which they’re interested” for the rest of us.  I thought I
would feel really old but at first it didn’t seem like that—a lot of things brought back memories of our own college days for Andy and me and it really did seem like it was yesterday. It was
fun remembering and answering the questions both girls peppered us with as we walked from point to point on our group tour. But we were reminded several times that it really wasn’t yesterday,
and I’m surprised the girls would even consider us as a source of reliable college information.

For example, when Emmie asked me, “What do students do about …

Kids and school, Movies

“Race to Nowhere” Revisited: Two Innovative Approaches to Homework

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So glad that the film, “Race to Nowhere”, is still in wide circulation and that it came to our town three times in the last week, twice at our
high school and once at a local church. The documentary, which I’ve written about before, touches
on all kinds of things that are very relevant to today’s parents– over-stressed kids; restrictive teach-to-the-test teaching methods that don’t teach kids to be problem-solvers; an unrealistic
approach in America toward “college readiness”; in-school cheating; and teen suicide, among other topics. Love the film or hate it, it definitely gets discussion going about things that
definitely need to be discussed. When I saw the film again last week, many parents stayed for a panel discussion that followed and probably wished that part of the program could have lasted
longer. …

Appreciating Mommy, Domestic Engineering, Great Parenting Tools, Raising Teenagers

WAHM on the Run: My New Approach to Ending Arguments and Getting Older Kids to Be More Responsible

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Moms (or Dads) of teens (and other kids that
try their patience) need a place they can retreat to, at a moment’s notice, to get away from them. To think before flying too far off the handle. To de-escalate a situation, eliminate whining
and cut the exchange of words short, with the promise of discussion at a calmer time. To be alone in order to come up with really good consequences for certain behavior rather than
“grounding them from everything for life” in the heat of the moment. In other words, when the kids are too old to “go to their rooms” for a time out, you need to go to yours. Or take a walk
outside. Just get away… only, sometimes that’s not so fun to go to …

Overscheduled Kids, Raising Teenagers

Wake Me When This Trend Is Over: Teens in Sleepwear

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Have you noticed the latest sign that our great nation is taking yet another step toward being an
“idocracy”? Teens wearing sleepwear. All day, instead of “regular” clothes. I first noticed it last month while shopping at Target—a couple checkout aisles over, a girl and her mom were talking
loudly and getting ready to empty their cart onto the checkout stand. I think the girl had forgotten to get something and was wanting to go back out into the store. She was dressed in full flannel
pajamas, pants and top, with slippers on her feet, and wearing a short winter coat. At first I felt sorry for her. ‘I wonder if she just got checked out of a teen psychiatric ward of a hospital,’
I thought. (Seriously, that’s what I thought!)  But then I remembered the fuzzy slipper craze from a few years ago, when kids were wearing that kind of …

Overscheduled Kids, Raising Teenagers

Empty Promises: Are We Failing Our Kids By Telling Them They Can “Do It All”?

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In January and February, it’s “roll out the red carpet” time here in North Texas for area middle
schools, junior highs and high schools. Which means if you’re entering one of those illustrious institutions next fall, you get to attend a welcome night at said school, and if you
already attend one of those schools and are involved in any extracurricular activity that can “show off” in three minutes or less, you are invited, sometimes required, to be
a part of this welcome. And if you’re a parent of a kid in one of these categories, you attend, too, to sit on gym bleachers and either learn (“Umm, is that a beard and
sideburns I see on that senior?”) or watch your child perform (“Should I wear my photo button?”). Over the past six years that I’ve been attending these dog

Being a Better Parent, Dealing With Back Talk, Kids and Media

Potty (Mouth) Training Revisited

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I watched with interest all the hoopla last week about the little girl on the ABC-TV show “Modern Family”, who was depicted as cursing on last week’s episode (or is it “cussing”?). See, “using swear words” had already been a “hot topic” around our house this month. In the wake of the episode, which was entitled “Little Bo Bleep”, I found lots of online psycho-babble by professors and other experts chiming in about how swearing is, among other things, a natural part of early language development, cathartic, and helps people tolerate pain. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think most people already know that. And we also know something else the experts were saying, that, just like in the Modern Family episode, little kids use swear words without really knowing what they mean, and get a kick out of adults’ reactions when they use them, and so they’ll say them again. “Modern Family” was just art imitating real life. (Does that mean the Parents Television Council, the group who first caused a stink about the show, is not made up of real parents? Sometimes I wonder…) But what I really wanted to know amidst last week’s jaw flapping was how real parents deal with swearing by children and teens.

Random Thoughts

Shared passwords: the new “friendship ring” among kids?

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Just when you thought you knew everything you needed to know on what to warn/teach your kids about using Facebook and the Internet…have you
heard that kids/teens/20-somethings share their passwords with each other, for everything from email accounts, Facebook and other services? According to a recent New York Times
article, it’s a widespread practice among young Internet users, even among young couples who are dating. Apparently, it’s a sign of trust– i.e. “if I’m your only love, prove it with
an all-access pass to your Internet accounts.”  Gee, nothing says “love” quite like mistrusting someone, huh? And I guess nothing says “I’m a stupid risk taker” quite like
that either, since of course breakups can be messy, and BFF’s can become BFN’s (Best Friends Never) faster than Justin Bieber can swoosh his hair. Who wants to risk being kicked off a sports