Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

Stop Comparison in Its Tracks: Parenting in the Digital Age

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I’ve written a few times about the ways in which social media has an effect—both positive and negative—on children today, and how we as parents can best help them navigate through it. But the one thing I think we can’t separate from social media is the rise of the problem of comparison in our youth.

Every time they open Instagram, they have the opportunity to see someone who is living a life “cooler” than their own. Your child can come home thrilled about an A on his math test, and then feel crushed moments later when he sees on Facebook that someone else got an A+. With their self-worth tied up in how many likes their newest post gets instead of being the best version of themselves, it can be hard to figure out what to say and how to get children to see that comparing their lives to someone else is a sure path to misery and low self-esteem. (more…)

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Why You Should Attend the Single Parenting Summit

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It’s no secret that I raised my son John as a single parent. What you might not know, however, was how difficult that journey was. Raising children is a huge responsibility that can keep you up at night, wondering if you’re doing everything right—and when you are in the position of raising children without a partner, those anxieties only become harder to manage.

Enter the Single Parenting Summit, put on this year by EverGreen Ministries in Hudsonville, MI. It is the first event aimed at helping single mothers and fathers navigate the challenge of raising children on their own, as well as offers programs for community leaders (like pastors) learn how to support the single parents in their circle. (more…)

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4 Things To Do When Your Kids Are Bored On Spring Break

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It’s that itchy-eyed, sunny day time of year again! Chances are, your kids will soon have an entire week away from school and are counting on having some fun in its place. But how do you keep them excited and having a fun-filled time for seven days straight—especially when your family doesn’t have vacation plans? Read on for my top tips and activities! (more…)

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Book Recommendation Time!: Parenting Edition

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This past Valentine’s Day, a book titled, The Toddler Brain: Nurture the Skills Today That Will Shape Your Child’s Tomorrow, hit bookstore shelves and took over the parenting world. According to its description on Amazon, the book “helps parents recognize the connection that exists between their own parenting behaviors and their child’s ability to acquire valuable twenty-first-century skills.” I don’t know about you, but in that one sentence this book comes across as the answer to the root of every parenting question I hear—how do I raise my child to be a success? (more…)

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Tips to Make You a Storytime Hero!

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Sharing bedtime stories with your child is an important night-time ritual for many parents. In fact, research has shown that children of parents who have bedtime stories show increased brain activity, particularly vocabulary and logic skills. Those skills will serve as the foundation for a better reader for the rest of their life. Bedtime stories also deepen your relationship with your kids and help to establish a bedtime routine (something every parent needs for their child). It’s also a time for both parents and children to wind down for the day. (more…)

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What Science Has to Say About Raising Sons

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This week, an article went up on The Stir called, “Our Baby Boys May Need a Totally Different Kind of Parenting.” In it, the author discussed a study that was published in the Infant Mental Health Journal which suggested that because boys brains mature at a slower rate, they may actually be more sensitive and slower at developing emotion than girls. She notes how this goes against what society has been telling us for years—boys can “tough it out” but girls need to be emotionally supported as children. (more…)

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Fathers, You Don’t Play a Role in Your Child’s Life: You Play Many

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For much of our history, the roles of a father and mother were clearly defined. The father earns income, provides stability, is the protector of the home and people in it. The mother is the caretaker, the loving parent with a home to run. But those roles have been changing for quite a few years now, and we are now at a pivotal point where both fathers and mothers can choose the kind of roles they feel best suits them as parents, and fathers can be much more involved in the raising of their children than they were expected to be in years passed.

In fact, studies have revealed they should be much more involved with their children. A review of multiple studies found that kids who grew up spending time with their fathers were less likely to have behavioral and psychological problems. They were also more likely to be independent, intelligent and have improved social awareness.

So fathers, being in your child’s life as more than a provider and protector, but also as a loving parent can actually improve their life all around! An LA Times article also concluded that “researchers found that the chances of teen pregnancy and other early sexual experiences were lower for daughters who spent more quality time with their dads.” Dads, I think we can all agree that is good news.

This is all good news, actually, considering the fact that more than 200,000 homes in the US have stay-at-home dads, and there are 1.9 million single fathers in the country. Often, it is a concern that a father won’t be able to fulfill a mother’s role, but these studies show that there really is no such thing as a “role” that either parent plays, and children will benefit from having the role filled, regardless of whether a mother or father is filling it.

So what can we do as parents? We can figure out our strengths. We can spend time playing and loving our children as they grow up. We can fill every role there is, and we can fill them whether or not our partner already is filling them. Both partners can be providers. Both can be caretakers.

Be open-minded toward your approach to parenting, and your child will reap the benefits.

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4 Ways to Give Your Kids the Best Summer Break!

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It’s finally here! After we’ve all come back from our Memorial Day weekends, the reality of summer break has finally hit. But as exciting as the prospect of two summer months to fill with fun and relaxation can be for kids, it can be difficult on parents to strike the balance of giving your kids an amazing summer break, while still needing to take care of your other responsibilities. Luckily, there’s a way to do both. Here are some tips on how to do so!

Look into summer camps. When you can’t afford to take a vacation yourself, it can be best to let your kid have a fun getaway on their own with a reputable summer camp! You can choose one according to location, interest (dance camps, band camps, Christian camps, etc.), or based on which camp their friends are attending. This will allow your kids to learn independence being away from their parents, give them a fun vacation in a new area they’ve never explored, and allow them to make new friends! And it also gives you a week or two (however long the camp goes on for) to have a kids-free staycation of your own.

Look into day camps. If it isn’t financially feasible for you to send your kids to overnight camps, day camp is a great option! A lot of times local churches, YMCAs, or other community organizations will host day camps throughout the summer where kids can stay entertained and make new friends while you have to spend a day working, or running errands. Save them some boredom, and you some time!

Plan local day trips on weekends. And let your kids help choose the location! Maybe you go to a local park for a picnic and games, or to the next town over for your favorite lunch spot. If you live by water parks or the beach, pick a day to take a trip over there. Whatever you decide to do, it will give your kids something to look forward to during the slower weeks at home when you have responsibilities to take care of.

Make sure they spend some time OFF of their screens! It’s so easy to let your kids plop down in front of the television or their video games when you need them to be entertained, but those memories aren’t going to last all their lives. Try to get them to spend an hour outside in the sun, whether they walk the dog around your neighborhood or play in the sprinklers in your yard. And make sure to remind them that reading is always a great way to stay entertained when they complain about being bored!

What are some of the things you remember doing during your summer breaks as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

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How Much is Too Much When it Comes to Encouraging Your Children?

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I never thought that title was something I would have to write—nevermind something I would actually have to question. But with different articles coming out against what one author refers to as “shake it off” parenting (read here) in which parents dismiss their children’s losses, pain, and embarrassments, I think we have entered a time where the balance between teaching our children to be independent and coddling them is becoming more difficult to find.

The main complaint people have about millennials is that they are entitled from too many years of their parents coddling them. Whether or not this is true, I can see how that would happen. Children do need to learn to work, to pick themselves up when they’ve been taken down, and to eventually be independent from their parents.

In the article linked above, the writer uses the example of dangerous “shake it off” parenting as when a child gets hurt on the soccer field, and instead of being allowed to come be reassured by his mother, he’s yelled at to get back out there—to “shake it off.” While I agree that a hurt six-year-old shouldn’t have to endure the embarrassment of believing his pain doesn’t matter, what if the child was repeatedly allowed to step off the field for reassurance each time he got a scrape on the knee? This could eventually lead to a destructive pattern that stops him from learning how to care and reassure himself as he grows older.

The problem with all of this is, as far as I can see it, that to be the most effective parents we can be we need to employ pieces of both empathetic and “shake it off” parenting styles.

Where I think the writer hits her best point is when she states, “‘Shake it off’ parenting seems to be gaining steam as parents try every trick in the book to avoid being labeled the dreaded ‘helicopter parent.’ No one wants to be depicted as the neurotic hovering parent who refuses to let the child fail, so they pull a razor sharp U-turn and throw empathy to the wind, even when their kids need it.”

The trick we parents need to learn is the difference between our kids needing our reassurance and encouragement, versus giving it every single time something less than rosy happens to them.

So how much is too much encouragement? I don’t think there needs to be a limit. What we can do instead of coldly yelling at them to “shake it off,” is gently remind our kids how capable they are of picking themselves back up.

What are your thoughts on “shake it off” parenting? Let me know in the comments below!

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Is Stress Getting in the Way of You Being the Best Parent You Can Be? Not With These Tips!

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I’m not the first, and won’t be the last, to say this, but I think any of us who have gone through the extremely rewarding process of growing our children into happy adults can be very, very difficult. Whether you’re going through it with a partner or you’re raising your children on your own, parenting is a taxing occupation that reaps the greatest rewards.

But despite the challenges you might face—stressful days, nanny’s who cancel at the wrong times, tantrums, you name it—there are some ways to turn a difficult parenting day into a happy one. Here are some tips I’ve found that work:

Make time to connect with your child. Often, when our children are acting out, they are doing so to attract your attention. An easy way to avoid this is to give them enough attention in the first place. Wake yourself and them up a little earlier to have a sit-down breakfast together. Eat around a table at night instead of in front of a TV. Keep up a conversation with them during carpool. The more your child feels content with your attention on them, the less they’ll feel the need to stress you out by acting out for it.

Stop yourself from yelling. Yes, there are times when it feels like the only way to get through to your children. Yes, you have days when you’re just really frustrated and stressed. No, yelling will not solve the problem. By finding other ways to communicate your disapproval with your child, you’ll not only have a calmer environment in your home, but you’ll also teach your children more appropriate ways to handle their emotions with others.

Prioritize your commitments. You are not Super-Parent. Nobody is Super-Parent. While you might want to volunteer in your child’s class, bake cupcakes for the bake sale, be the carpool every day, and coach their sports team, you can only do so much. It is important to spend time with your children, not to smother them with your presence. It is important to spend time with your children, not to the extent of burning yourself out.

Take care of yourself—without the guilt. Sometimes you need to go for that massage, go out to dinner, see your friends, or go on that date night. It does not make you a bad or neglectful parent to need some time to invest in and rejuvenate yourself. In fact, it’s going to make you a better parent to your children overall. When you’re not stressed out and you’re taken care of, you’ll be in a better position to take care of them.

What do you do when stress gets the best of you? Do you have any tips to add for not letting stress affect the happiness of your children? Let me know in the comments!

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Children's Museum of Alamance County
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