Q: My husband was married to someone before he was married to me. He was very young and soon realized that the marriage was a mistake. Fortunately there were no children involved in the resulting divorce. Several years after his divorce we married and we now have three children, who know nothing about his first marriage. I want to protect our children, but now that our children are older should we tell them about their father’s first marriage or should we continue to keep it a secret?
A: It is human nature to want to protect our children. We want to shelter them from anything that might harm or hurt them, but in doing so we sometimes miss an opportunity to help them learn from our mistakes.
Secrets are best-reserved for- items under the holiday tree or surprise visits from a grandparent. But even these types of secrets are eventually revealed. Keeping a first marriage a secret may lead to an unpleasant reveal and ultimately hurt the very people you are trying to protect. Continue reading
Talk it over with you husband, but it sounds like your children have reached an age to appreciate that their parents are human and in fact may have made poor choices in their past. Maybe now is the time talk with your children- honestly and openly. At an opportune time, simply state the information and answer any questions with honesty. “Now that you are old enough to understand…” No need to give the first marriage more value than your own by being overly dramatic about the relationship. Open and honest, but don’t drag out the sharing of information.
If your “secret” is revealed before you have the opportunity to control the reveal, you risk losing the trust of your children. Admitting that you are human is not a flaw. It is setting an example for your children- how to move forward happily and successfully after discovering you’ve made a mistake.
Being human is good parenting.
Q: My husband and I have both worn glasses for most of our lives. We now have a young daughter and are concerned that she too will need glasses. Aside from taking her to the eye doctor what are some of the signs for which we should watch?
A: It sounds like the genetic odds are in favor of your daughter needing glasses one day. Annual visits to the eye doctor are a great idea and so is watching for signs that your daughter may need some extra vision support.
You can not depend on children to let you know they have a vision need. Children may not even be aware that they have blurry vision, for example. They may not know any differently!
When assessing your daughter’s vision needs, pay attention to two major groups of signs: physical signs and accommodating signs.
Your daughter may give physical clues that she has a vision challenge.
- Headaches: Does your daughter complain about her head hurting at the end of the day or after a long period of concentration? If her eyes are struggling with blurry vision, then her head might truly hurt!
- Eye rubbing: Has your daughter developed what appears to be an eye rubbing habit? Young children often rub their eyes when they are tired- because their eyes are tired too! After working hard to focus visually, eyes are tired and may be soothed by rubbing.
- Clumsy (tripping): What may be written off as just being a bit clumsy, may actually be a sign of poor vision. It is difficult to avoid something if you can’t see it clearly!
Without anyone instructing them to do so, children naturally develop accommodations, which aid in their visual focus.
- Squinting/closing one eye: Does your daughter squint her eyes when trying to visually focus? This accommodation may actually help the eyes to focus, but it can be a sign that additional support is needed.
- Tilting head when visually concentrating: Just like squinting, the tilting of the head is an attempt to bring visual clarity. This accommodation can easily be excused as a quirky personality trait, but it actually may be a sign of a vision issue.
- Preferring to have face close to book, tv, monitor, etc: Does your daughter like to hold a book very close to her face? This may be because she can only see it when it is close!
Your daughter may beat the genetic odds and live her entire life never needing corrective lenses, but then again annual eye doctor visits and watching for challenged vision might not be a bad idea- just in case.
It seems like I’m always looking for ways to increase the protein in my family’s diet. A little greek yogurt here, a little whey powder there, an extra egg here and there! And you must be too! I often get questions about how to increase a child’s protein in take.
Here is an incredibly easy protein (and iron and calcium) rich recipe adapted from my childhood. Continue reading
I make these “protein truffles” often for lunch boxes and snacking. They tend to disappear very quickly. I’ve experimented with various sizes, but it hardly slows the consumption down! The main ingredient is peanut butter, but any seed or nut butter could be substituted. (We used to be a peanut free house, but not anymore.
1 ½ cups of non sweetened peanut butter (sub: nut or seed butter)
1/3 cup of blackstrap molasses
2/3 cup of powdered milk
finely chopped peanuts (sub: seeds, nuts, or oats)
Mix peanut butter, molasses, and powdered milk together until it is a mold-able mixture. (Too runny? Add more powdered milk. Too crumbly? Add more molasses or peanut butter.) Form mixture into balls. Roll balls in chopped peanuts. Refrigerate in sealed container for at least one hour. Store uneaten truffles in fridge.
Q: For the past five summers my son has gone to summer camp. He has loved it, but this year my young teen son says instead of going to camp this summer he would like to get a job. I’m not sure he is ready for a job. I’m not even sure why he doesn’t want o go back to camp again this summer! What do you think?
A: If nothing else, it sounds like your son is ready for a change. The teenage years are all about changes- physical, mental, emotional, experiential, etc. And guess what- seeking change is perfectly healthy and normal!
Five years at even the most wonderful summer camp might be enough for your son. Savor the memories of past summer camps experiences, but allow your child to move on to new adventures: a summer job.
Is he ready? He certainly thinks he is! You may not be able to know how ready he is until he tries a job out. Remember he is not signing up for a lifelong career commitment. He is seeking an opportunity to earn some spending money, feel independent, and learn some job skills- and for just three months! Knowing that it is just for a short period of time makes it easier to “try it out”.
And rest assured an employer will not offer your son an opportunity if she doesn’t think he is ready. No employer wants an employee who is in over their head!
Teenagers want to be independent. They want to change (also known as grow up). A no-school-summer provides a perfect opportunity for teens to explore independence. Support your son’s efforts to find (and keep) a summer job.
And a busy teenager often means a safe teenager.
Q: My middle school aged child has been invited to take the SAT. The organization that invited her said it was a great opportunity to increase her odds at acceptance to the college of her choice. It seems kind of young to me. What do you think?
A: It sounds like your child is very bright. That is wonderful and hopefully your child’s school provides the appropriate level of academic stimulation for your child. It is very important that all children be appropriately challenged in academic settings. Continue reading
For some children taking a standardized test can be anxiety inducing. If that sounds like your child, then your child might benefit from taking the SAT when there is no college admission stress attached. But there is no reason to push. There will be plenty of time during the high school years to take the SAT. (Your child can take it as many times as desired!)
And did you know, some colleges do not even require the SAT as part of the admission process? Instead of placing a disproportionate weight on a standardized test score, many colleges look at the whole child- solid grades in challenging classes, involvement in extra curricular actives, commitment to community service, etc. Some colleges even require a recommendation from a peer! The SAT score, while taken into consideration, does not hold the same importance it once did.
If your child would like to take the SAT as a non-pressured learning experience then: fine. But steer clear of pushing your child into an unnecessary stressful setting. There will be plenty of time later for testing.
Instead, your energies might be better spent helping your middle schooler find a volunteer opportunity they enjoy. Years of consistent community involvement may speak more clearly to colleges, give a truer picture of your child, and increases the chance of admissions to the college of their choice.