ready for video gaming?


Q: For many years my husband and I have told our son “no” to first person shooter video games. Now that he is turning 13 we thought he might be old enough to handle this type of video game. Do you think 13 is a good age to allow these types of games?

A: As a parent it is sometimes easier to say “yes” to your child than to say “no”. But one of our parental tasks is to help our children make good choices and develop into healthy adults. Difficult though it may be, sometimes saying “no” (and dealing with any fall out) is what is best for our children.


Chances are whatever your reasons for saying “no” to the first person shooter games in the past still apply! Why should you question your convictions, just because your child is a year older?

You shouldn’t.

I recently read a terrifying and eye opening book Glow Kids by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. While the author’s main focus is the addicting qualities of electronic devices for children, he does discuss the impact of role playing games or RPG (such as first person shooter video games). Without a doubt a glance at the RPG discussion in Glow Kids, will renew your wavering convictions.

It is more than okay to stand by your convictions, even it means saying “no”. Not only might you be keeping your child safe, you are setting an example: standing by your convictions.

Wanting to do what is best and safest for your child doesn’t have to change with the calendar.

juice weaning

juice cubes

Q: My children spent a few weeks at their grandparents house this summer and they are now practically addicted to juice! At home we encourage our children to drink water instead of juices. Now, after time with grandparents my children are begging for juice! How do I wean them from their grandparent induced juice addition? We don’t mind having juice available on occasion, but not all the time!

A: Having the opportunity to spend time with grandparents is incredible! Hopefully, the bonds your children created with their grandparents far outweigh the inconvenience of breaking a “juice addiction”.

It is important to note that not all juices are the same. Many products labeled “juice” actually have very little or even any juice at all! Hopefully the beloved grandparents served pure juice to your children.

In hopes of keeping the peace, here is an idea that just may satisfy your children, you, and maybe even inspire the grandparents: (more…)

Remember that ice cube tray you used for a tasting tray when your children were toddlers? Fill the ice cube tray with the 100% juice, leaving expansion space in each section. Allow juice to freeze. Once frozen, use the juice cubes to make a glass of water (or seltzer) more appealing. As the cubes melt the juice mixes with the water, creating a nice compromise beverage. Plus it looks quite fancy!

note: the photo above is water with watermelon and cucumber juice cubes, topped with fresh basil

too old for camps, too young for jobs

too old for camps, too young for jobs

Q: I have two young teenagers. We were so excited to be out of school for the summer. They are great kids, but half way through the summer break- we are driving each other crazy! They are too old for camps, but too young for jobs. I need to think of something to keep them busy that is well suited for their ages. Any suggestions?

A: Students need a break to recharge and renew- especially teens. They need “down time” to “just be”. And for young teens this down time can be tricky. Many businesses won’t even consider hiring anyone under 16. And most camps are geared for elementary school aged children. This can mean lots of hanging out time for young teens, but too much unstructured time can be an invitation for a less than ideal break.

Finding a balance is key– structured time and unstructured time. (more…)

It sounds like your teens have the unstructured time all figured out (most teens do). They just need the balance…

In addition to conquering the not so very popular summer assignments, summer is a great time for a teen to explore some volunteer options. Many organizations need the additional help during the summer months and usually welcome young teens! (Some require that an adult tag along.)

Your teens could volunteer at a couple of different organizations. If they find an organization isn’t a good match for them, then the volunteering ends with the summer.  But perhaps they will find an organization with which they connect enough to want to continue during the school year. Many high schools require students to perform community service hours- your teens would have a head start!

Summer break should be fun and recharging! Finding a balance helps to make it all possible.

summer sleep away camp

summer sleep away camp

Q: My 10 year old is going to sleep away camp next month for the first time. He is very excited, but I am very nervous! He will be at camp for 3 weeks and during that time we will have no contact with him, other than letter writing (which I doubt he will do!) How will I know if he is having a good time and how can I stop being so nervous?

A: Going to sleep away camp is a big deal! Your son has every right to be excited! Camp can be a wonderful place. I spent most of my childhood summers at a phenomenal camp in the NC mountains. I made some lifelong friends (my best friend- I met there!), created incredible memories, but I can assure you I didn’t write many letters home. I was too busy doing!

Many years later I was on the other side of the camp adventure. My children were headed off and I was the one with the nervous feeling! (more…)

My children were the third generation in my family to go to this camp and I was still nervous! Why? Because I want the very best for my children and the outcome of their camp experience was out of my control- for the most part. I wrote them letters (and received a few hastily scribbled lines) and was excited for their adventures!

Many camps have daily blogs and post daily photos on their websites. (These photos should not be public. You should get a private access code.) But don’t spend too much time analyzing photos of your child. (Didn’t he wear that shirt yesterday? He is wearing a sweatshirt, maybe he is getting sick.) Just enjoy the tiny glimpse at your son’s adventure. Also, don’t panic if you don’t see a photo of your child EVERY day. He is still having fun, but it is an almost insurmountable task to get a photo of EVERY child EVERY day.

If you have reached your wits end and really must have reassurance that your son is doing well, call the camp. Not your child- the camp. You can leave a message and the appropriate staff member should give you a call back. Unless it is a true emergency, do not expect to speak with your child. Let the camp staff member handle the communication. It is their job and speaking with your child might trigger homesickness- even in a child who isn’t homesick before the phone call!

I’m sure you have done your research before selecting your son’s camp. Feel confident in your selection! Tuck your nervousness aside and feel confident. Your confidence is contagious. And so is your son’s enthusiasm! Get excited! Sleep away camp may be some of your son’s favorite childhood memories!

child safe cleaner

child safe cleaner

Q: My children are old enough to help out at home with some of the daily chores. They share a bathroom so I thought this would be a good place for them to start. It would really help out, but I don’t want them to inhale all those harsh chemicals. Do you know of any cleaning products, which are safe for children to use?

A: You are absolutely correct; helping with household chores should be everyone’s responsibility! If every member of the family does a fair share, it helps daily life run more smoothly (and maybe eliminate some stress too).

It sounds like the children’s bathroom is a great and logical starting place for your children’s’ involvement. And by having them accept cleaning responsibility for a space they use, you may even see them decide to take better care of their surroundings. It is easier to clean a bathroom counter if it isn’t piled high with cosmetics! (more…)

Here is a fantastic, harsh chemical free cleaning product that is safe for your children to use. And it really cleans!

Child Safe Cleaner
1 cup of hot water
1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap
4 Tablespoons of white vinegar

Mix all ingredients in spray bottle. Spray mixture on bathroom surfaces (shower, tub, sink, counter, toilet, etc) to be cleaned (if cleaning a mirror or glass, skip the dish soap). Let sprayed mixture sit on surfaces for a few minutes then wipe clean.

Involving the whole family in taking care of the home helps to make it even more of a home.

Spray bottles for everyone!

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