Archives for February 2010

Fun Friday Photo — February 26, 2010

Nikolas is enjoying an icicle while playing outside in the snow!


 Thanks to DeAnn L. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

Source of Encouragement

We hope that you find each issue of ParentLife as well as the blog to be a great source of encouragement amidst the adventures of parenting! We wanted to let you know about another place you can go for even more advice and inspiration. has a "Famiy" section that includes lots of previous articles from ParentLife, HomeLife, and Living With Teenagers as well as original content. Be sure to check it out! Here is a list of just a few of the helpful articles you will find there today.


"Simple Family Activities" by Rachel Blacketter

"Building a ‘Yes" Home" by Rodney and Selma Wilson

"7 Steps to Keep From Yelling at Your Kids" by Shawn R. Lilly

"Cold Weather Activities for Kids" by Linda Mintle, Ph.D.

"Get a Parenting Makeover" by Shelley Leith and Katie Brazelton

Are there other Web sites you use to find parenting encouragement and support? What are your favorite Web sites?


Making Moving Fun

No matter how you look at it, moving is stressful, and including kids in the equation only adds to the chaos. With many many families looking into buying or selling a home due to the recent tax credit extension, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC sent ParentLife the following tips for making moving fun for the entire family.

  • 118_moving.jpgInclude your kids in the decision-making process. While obviously many of the major decisions should be left to the adults, allow your children to make smaller decisions, such as what color to paint their new bedroom. If they feel included, they’ll be more excited about the big move.
  • Take them on a field trip. Bring your kids to the local playground or ice cream store and let them see the fun side of their new neighborhood.
  • Pre-plan a new home soirée. Saying goodbye to friends can be difficult for parents and their children. Before the moving day, plan a gathering at your new home with pals from the old neighborhood. Having a date set in advance will help your child to see that just because the family is leaving behind a particular home does not mean they are leaving behind friends.  It will also motivate you to get your new home set up so that it’s ready to host company! 
  • Make a family wish list. Write a list of all of the things your child wants to do once the family is settled in the new home to give him or her activities to look forward to, and then check them off one by one.
  • Pack a treasure box. Give your children their own packing boxes to decorate however they would like and fill with their favorite things. Keep the box close by throughout the move. This way your child can be sure precious items will not be left behind.

Have you made a move with children? What helpful tips to you have to share with others?

Important Safety Information

Every month in our "Today’s Life" department, Joy Fisher does her best to bring you some of the best, practical, fun product ideas for children and parents.


One of the product ideas in the February 2010 issue of ParentLife is Mag-Tagz™, a line of magnetic necklaces! After the February issue went to the printer, we discovered that Mag-Tagz were not an age-appropriate choice for the children of our audience.

The following disclaimer can be found on the Mag-Tagz™ Web site:

Warning: Mag-tagz Magnetic Beads are not a toy and not intended for children under the age of 13. This jewelry product contains magnets or magnetic components. Magnets sticking together or becoming attached to a metallic object inside the human body can cause serious or fatal injury. Seek immediate medical help if magnets are swallowed or inhaled. Do not use as a nose ring as this would increase the chances of accidental inhalation.

The ParentLife staff apologizes for not catching this sooner!

Free Pancakes! For a Good Cause


Tuesday is National Pancake Day! From 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, IHOP restaurants nationwide will offer their guests a free short stack (3) of IHOP’s signature buttermilk pancakes! In return, IHOP asks guests to donate what they would have paid for the pancakes, or more, to their local children’s hospital or another designated local charity.


IHOP has just set a goal to raise $1.75 million for Children’s Miracle Network and other local charities during its celebration of National Pancake Day! So enjoy some pancakes together as a family … and for a good cause!

Let us know if you go! Post and tell us what you thought and what charity you will support!

For more information about IHOP’s National Pancake Day, or to learn more about Children’s Miracle Network and make an online donation, visit

Fun Friday Photo — February 19, 2010

"Can we get a tractor, Mom?" says James.

51_FunFridayPhoto_Feb19.jpgThanks to Jennifer P. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

For Single Parents

Have you noticed our monthly "Single Parent Life" department in ParentLife lately? This month we had part one of an article on single parents and dating. Now we are continuing the article on our blog. Check out these tips for single parents considering dating again from Tammy G. Bennett, The Coparenting Coach.

You’re a “package deal.”  Please always remember that your kids come first right now. Unfortunately, sometimes lonely parents think more about their desire to date than to care for their children. I had one friend tell me her single mom always told her new boyfriends that “We are a package deal” and it helped her feel sure her mom would never forget her, even when she had a new boyfriend. Never make your new dating partner the priority over your children.

117_Single-Dating.jpgWhen to introduce the kids? Children of divorce have already experienced multiple losses, don’t allow your desire for companionship to overshadow the wisdom that experts give on this topic. No, it might not be convenient or easy to keep the kids from meeting your new friend; however, unless it is a very serious relationship, it is not fair to bring the children into the relationship because the last thing they need is another person to come and go from their world. Avoid the “revolving door” by not introducing kids until at least six months have passed.

Be intentional about affection. What are your boundaries? Decide ahead of time what you feel is appropriate. Don’t wait until you begin your first kiss to decide “how far is too far.” My suggestion – no sex until marriage; I truly believe God’s design is the best! Be clear with anyone you are dating (in the beginning) where you stand on the issue of purity.

Make purity a priority.
Talk about purity upfront, don’t wait until you’re in the moment to try and say where the boundaries are. If you value your own purity make it known. If the other person does not want to continue dating for that reason, be thankful! Your heart will thank you and though your body may feel frustration, remember there is so much more at stake now than ever before! The old saying, “True love waits” is completely true! If someone loves you, they will wait. Trust God while you wait.

Have you healed? Has he/she healed? Is the person you are considering dating healed? If you are a few years past your divorce and the other person is just fresh from their own, it is not a good idea to take that on. If God wants you two together, He will keep you both until the time is right. Protect yourself and your children from someone else’s baggage so that, ideally, you will both be at a stable and healthy place before you dive into a relationship. The first year is important for healing, not dating.

What is their coparenting relationship with their former spouse? When you date someone with children be wise and look at the bigger picture, not just who the person is when they are with you, but who are they in relation to their former spouse? What does the person say about their former spouse in front of their children? Are they still stuck in unresolved anger or do they put their kids in the middle? (These would all be red flags because those issues will become a huge part if you were to marry this person.) If you marry someone with children, you marry into the equation, including their ex.

Group date. Explore the idea of group dating as a way to get to know each other around others. At least once a month intentionally plan a group date or double date.

Date at least 2 years. The first seven months to a year is considered the ‘honeymoon phase’ and if you can keep the relationship alive and growing for two years it will have the potential to be a fulfilling life mate.

Take pre-engagement classes Make the investment of time and resources to attend a seminar or series of counseling sessions to discuss issues before getting engaged. Since the divorce rate is so high for second marriages, do everything you can to counter act that statistic. The counseling resource “PREPARE” is an excellent series that is only eight classes long. Attending these eight sessions before getting engaged is an ideal way to process the idea of remarriage. Waiting to do this one month before the wedding is not ideal since most people will decide to ignore red flags once the news is out and the dress is bought. Better to take extensive measures now to avoid more pain later. (See for books, CDs, DVDs and more!)

Know when to end a relationship. Just because you have some things in common, if you get to the place of knowing it’s not the right fit, end it. The more prolonged the relationship, the more difficult it will be on yourself and especially the children.

Overall, may you find your First Love in Christ and a new love when the time is right. In the meantime, enjoy your children, hug them close, don’t ever take one minute with them for granted. Remember, you are still a family with your children and more than a new stepparent they need you to be the very best parent!

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make straight your paths.”

Tammy G. Bennett, The Coparenting Coach, is the founder of Christian CoParenting. She and her daughter, Angelia, live in Nashville, TN. For free e-newletters and resources, see

Please let us know other single parenting and stepparenting topics you would like to see us cover in ParentLife.

Tips for Long Road Trips from Dr. Mom

Sometimes time spent in the car with children can be stressful. In her February 2010 "Dr. Mom" article, Dr. Marianne Neifert gives parents practical tips for making time spent in the car less stressful. But what about those long road trips? Is there a way to minimize stress and make the trip enjoyable for the whole family? Try these extra tips from Dr. Mom!

  • 116_car_trip.jpgPlan ahead. Figure how far you realistically can travel in one day, based on your children’s ages. Schedule regular bathroom and meal breaks, excursions at a park, or fun sightseeing activities.
  • Promote comfortable sleep. Purchase a car seat travel pillow, child travel neck pillow, and/or car nap pillow. Bring a cozy blanket for each child too.
  • Be prepared. In addition to your staple supplies of juice, snacks, extra clothing, and moist wipes, consider bringing convenience items, such as a portable cooler or a portable potty. A first-aid kit is also a good idea.
  • Keep your children entertained. Pack a fun and interesting travel kit (a backpack on wheels or a plastic box with a lid) for each child. Along the trip, bring out small surprises for each child: new small toys, books, crayons, coloring books, stickers, or games. Consider purchasing a car seat travel tray or lap desk to give your child a handy place to hold his drink cup, snacks, small toys, or books.
  • Invest in “sanity savers.” Countless parents will attest that a portable DVD player can make a long road trip go far more smoothly.
  • Divide your parental responsibilities. If at all possible, the driver should not attempt to console, discipline, or entertain the children. An adult passenger, if available, should assume responsibility for the children’s needs. Alternate your roles, if desired.
  • Create a children’s road map. Show your home, your final destination, and key land marks on your journey to help your children gain a sense of how their trip is progressing.
  • Periodically reward your children for behaving well. Surprise them with a special treat or activity, such as a picnic at a scenic spot or swimming in a hotel pool.

Do you have more ideas for making long trips in the car fun? Share them with us and other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment!

Giveaway Reminder

Post a comment on our blog during the month of February and be entered to win one of two different books we are giving away!

Closer.jpgIn honor of Valentine’s Day, we are giving away five copies of Closer: Devotions to Draw Couples Together by Jim & Cathy Burns (Bethany House, 2009). This is a collection of 52 devotions to help couples draw closer through faith conversations even in the midst of today’s busy schedules.SmartStepmom.jpg

Have you found yourself in a complicated stepfamily situation? ParentLife writer Ron Deal can help! The Smart Stepmom: Practical Steps to Help You Thrive! by Ron L. Deal and Laura Petherbridge (Bethany House, 2009) offers hope, encouragement, and practical information for the stepmom journey.

Everyone* who posts a comment on our blog during the month of February will be entered to win one of these books. We have five of each book to give away … 10 winners total!

*LifeWay employees are not eligible for this giveaway. Multiple comments do not increase chances of winning.

Make Brushing Teeth Fun!

I just recently committed to making brushing my 19-month-old Jack’s teeth an essential part of his daily routine, which is often much easier said than done. I’m hoping that establishing the habit now will mean less battles as he gets older.

brushingteeth.jpgGetting children to brush regularly, and correctly, can be a real challenge. So in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, try these easy ideas to encourage brushing!

  • Trade places. Tired of prying your way in whenever it’s time to brush those little teeth? Why not reverse roles and let the child brush your teeth? It’s fun for them and shows them the right way to brush. Just remember, do not share a toothbrush. According to the American Dental Association, sharing a toothbrush may result in an exchange of microorganisms and an increased risk of infections.
  • Take turns. Set a timer and have the child brush their teeth for 30 seconds. Then you brush their teeth for 30 seconds. Repeat this at least twice.
  • Call in reinforcements. If children stubbornly neglect to brush or floss, maybe it’s time to change the messenger. Call the dental office before the next checkup and let them know what’s going on. The same motivational message might be heeded if it comes from a third party, especially the dentist.

For more information about children’s oral health care, visit or Healthy Smiles Healthy Children.