Archives for February 2011

Three Things Dads Can Learn from Janet Jackson by Rebecca Ingram Powell

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }Iconic recording artist Janet Jackson is now an author. Her book, True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself, details Jackson’s personal struggle with self-esteem. In it, the superstar portrays herself as a sort of everywoman who was never satisfied with her looks, weight, or relationships.

In an interview with Meredith Vieira on February 13’s "Dateline," Jackson was candid about her relationship with her father. “My father was never there the way that I wanted a father to be,” she shared. “I would see my friends interact with their dads and I would say to myself, ‘Now that’s what I want to do. I want to be able to sit on his lap. I want to be able to call him Dad.’ ”

She was not allowed to call him “Dad”; the elder Jackson insisted on being called by his first name. This kept his daughter at arm’s length, and it dismissed any chance of a meaningful, healthy relationship between them. When it comes to self-esteem and personal identity, a girl’s relationship with her father affects how she sees herself — big time. There are three things dads can do right now to help stem the tide of insecurity that threatens to wipe out the heart of their growing girls.


Be an Available Dad. Always listen when she wants to talk. As girls grow, that means staying up late sometimes. It means providing your undivided attention when you’re with her, shutting down the laptop and turning off the cell phone. It also means setting aside time that is just for her.

Be an Around Dad. With today’s limitless technology, dads can be “around” when they send simple text messages (Try: How’s your day? You are special! or Want to watch a movie later?) or even “like” a status on Facebook. Do you attend her games, recitals, and school events? Don’t leave all the scrapbooking to Mom. You took lots of pictures when she was little — don’t stop once she hits those awkward years!

Be an Always Dad. Often when a growing middle school-aged daughter begins to develop, dads have a tendency to back away. While it is a bit unnerving to see Daddy’s little girl looking more like a woman, you need to realize that everything in her life is changing, and well, you don’t have that option. You need to be the same dad you’ve always been. You still need to hug her and tell her how pretty she is. She may not look like your little girl anymore, but she can always feel like she is. She needs to know that even when she is not so accepting of herself, you fully accept her — bad skin, mood swings, and figure development notwithstanding.

What happens when a father is available, around, and always? He gives his daughter an accurate depiction of a loving Heavenly Father. He makes it easy for her to understand the Father’s unconditional love because he showed it to her in everyday life. A daddy’s love gives his daughter worth and value, paving the way for her to understand her true identity in God’s eyes.

Rebecca Ingram Powell is the author of Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose. She blogs daily at

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.

Fun Friday Photo — February 25, 2011

Sweet baby Philip turned 1 this month!

96_FunFridayPhoto_Feb25.jpgThanks to Amy 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!


A Heartfelt Thank You

In January of 2003, Rebecca Ingram Powell’s first "A Mother’s Heart" article appeard in ParentLife. For over 8 years, Rebecca has blessed readers with her inspiring words and practical insight into the life of every mom! Through multiple redesigns, column name changes, and even editors, Rebecca has worked hard to bring a special mom’s touch to each issue of ParentLife.
RebeccaPowell.jpgWe are forever grateful that way back in the spring of 2002, Rebecca agreed to take on this monthly column. She has become an irreplaceable part of the ParentLife team. But change, I’m afraid, is a fact of life. Starting next month, we will have a new "Mom’s Life" columnist … who will have big shoes to fill. Rebecca has set the bar high!

On a personal level, Rebecca is a joy to work with and has become a very dear friend! I treasure each or our conversations and interactions. Thank you, Rebecca, for all you’ve done for ParentLife! We love you!

If you love Rebecca’s writing, don’t worry. You’ll see plenty more of her writing in ParentLife and here on the blog. (Don’t miss her guest post on Monday!) But you can read more from Rebecca every day on her blog, Mom Seriously … not to mention the following great resources.

To read about Rebecca’s journey with ParentLife from her perspective, don’t miss this month’s "Mom’s Life" article.

If Rebecca has touched your heart in some way, we’d love to hear from you. Leave her a comment and let her know how much you appreciate her!

Thinking Ahead: Packing for Camp

Is it really already time to start thinking about summer camp? If you are like my family — and many others in the current economy — it might be. Not only may it be time to begin putting away funds for that camp experience, it couldn’t hurt to start stockpiling those little camp necessities when you find them on a great sale!

Budget-helping blogs like Southern Savers and Money Saving Mom are all over the web, alerting you to great deals when they come along. Keep a list of items you know your child will need for camp (or for that family vacation, birthdays, or even Christmas!) by your computer. When you see those items at amazing prices, go ahead and buy now, thus avoiding a huge payout the day before your child leaves for camp (or vacation, etc, etc).


Here are some items the American Camp Association recommends packing for your child’s camp experience:

  • Headgear — This includes items like scarves, bandannas, baseball caps, eyeglasses, sunglasses, and swimming goggles.
  • Clothing — T-shirts/tank tops, shorts, long pants, a jacket, a swim suit, pajamas and robe, and of course, underwear should be included.
  • Footwear — Consider items such as boots, tennis shoes, sandals, dress shoes, and socks.
  • Bed and Bath — towels, as well as a blanket, pillow, pillow cases, sheets, sleeping bag, laundry bag, and mattress pad.
  • Bathroom Kit — a brush and comb, shampoo, soap and soap container, toothbrush and holder, toothpaste, deodorant, insect repellent, feminine products, sun block, shaving gear, and lip balm with sun block in it.
  • Other items — books and magazines, flashlights and batteries, frisbees or other toys, a water bottle, and writing materials. When considering electronics, musical instruments, and other special gear, check with the camp about policies.

Do your kids go to a summer camp? What’s the one item they always forget to pack?

Registration is open for all of our summer 2011 CentriKid camps (for kids who have finished 3rd-6th grades). The theme of this year’s camps is "Shipwreck Island: Where God Provides."

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.

A Labor of Love

182654_10150090209327635_603497634_6305272_145736_n.jpgRemember the story of Jacob from Genesis 29? Jacob worked seven years to marry his love, Rachel, but was tricked by his uncle and married her older sister, Leah, instead. Jacob was not deterred and promised to work seven more years for Rachel. Talk about a true labor of love!

I don’t why exactly, but this story kept bubbling into my conscious thoughts as I pondered my youngest son, Christopher, turning 7 last week. It must be the 7 year time frame that made me think about it. Seven years is a long time but has gone by so quickly in many other ways. We celebrated at a Belmont basketball game (guess which masked Bruin in the photo is Christopher), some pizza, a trip to the circus over the weekend, and by watching the first two days of Christopher’s life on DVD (this puts a different spin on what "labor of love" means).

And we’ll be the first to tell you that parenting is not easy day in and day out. There are many difficult stretches that involve a different type of labor: sickness, mistakes, disobedience, the hard times of parenting. But those times of trial quickly melt away in retrospect.

Christopher was enthralled watching the video of the hours after his birth. The pure joy on everyone’s face was so evident: Mommy, Daddy, big brother, grandparents, nurses. What a joyous event! I could tell that watching the video of his first two days was a special moment for him. What a cute, special little baby that has grown into our little boy in 7 short years. We love you, Christopher, and are so proud to be your parents!


Preventing Tooth Decay for Kids

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease, highlighting the need for thorough oral care and regular dental visits. The ideal time for a child to visit the dentist is six months after the child’s first teeth erupt. During this initial visit, a dentist will be able to examine the development of the child’s mouth.

baby blues

“Parents are surprised when I tell them that their infants can develop tooth decay and cavities soon after their teeth first appear,” says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Steven A. Ghareeb, DDS, FAGD. “We usually call this baby bottle tooth decay, which is caused by the long-term exposure to liquids containing sugars like milk, formula, and fruit juice.”

In addition to tooth decay, other dental problems, such as teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb or pacifier sucking, often start early. The sooner the child visits a dentist, the better.

There are many things that parents can do with their child at home to maintain good oral health:

  • Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth twice a day.
  • Ask your dentist when you may begin to rub a tiny dab of toothpaste on your child’s gums. Doing so will help your child become accustomed to the flavor of toothpaste.
  • As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Help a young child brush at night, which is the most important time to brush, due to lower salivary flow during sleep and higher susceptibility to cavities and plaque.
  • By approximately age 5, your child can learn to brush his or her teeth with proper parental instruction and supervision.

“The best way to teach a child how to brush is to lead by your good example,” says Dr. Ghareeb. “Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.”

Children, like adults, should see the dentist every six months. Some dentists may schedule interim visits for every three months when the child is very young to build the child’s comfort and confidence levels or for treatment needs.

For more tips to ensure a child has good oral health, visit This video from BabyCenter shows some dentists’ opinions on when you should take babies to the dentist as well as methods for cleaning the teeth of small children.

Have you taken your children to the dentist? If so, how early did they start going?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.

Events and Happenings: February and March

The Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program launched its 11th year on February 1st. Nominations will be taken at until March 15. The scholarships honor young volunteers who have made an impact in their community. Scholarships range from $50 Kohl’s gift cards to $10,000 for college.

On the Clorox Facebook page, you can submit a picture of you and your child(ren) cooking together for a chance to win trips to NYC or Vermont, a private baking party, or a prize pack with money to throw a baking soiree of your own! You can submit pictures until March 29.

The Women’s Missionary Union hosts Children’s Ministry Day this Saturday, February 19. It’s not too late to look into the projects being done … or think up one of your own! This year’s theme is "neighbor to neighbor." Encourage your kids to think about how they could minister to their friends, neighbors, church family, or anyone you needs a little help.

March 14 is "Pi Day" since the date is 3/14. Your kids might enjoy making individual pies in jars or trying to break the record for the world’s longest pi chain!

What fun things are going on in your neck of the woods?

From One to Two: Adventures in Plural Parenting by Jessie Weaver

You know how everyone will tell you that going from one child to two is hard?

They aren’t kidding!


I was prepared for it to be hard to juggle two kids around. I dreaded getting them in and out of car seats, trying to go to the grocery store, and never being able to sleep.

What I wish someone would have told me is that the difficulty is not all in technicalties and physicality.

I was almost thrilled when I confirmed with my girlfriends that it was NORMAL I was resenting my older child for being so needy. (Not forgetting that she is only 2. She IS needy!) I feel that most of my days now are spent scolding and disciplining her as she uses any method she can think of to procure my attention.

David is a pretty needy baby – he rarely slept in his bed until he was 4 weeks old – and dealing with his physical needs trumps playing on the floor with Libbie … which results in her emotional meltdowns, tantrums, and acting out.

There are not many of the sweet bonding times I experienced with my daughter. No whole afternoons spent cuddling on the couch. It disappoints me that my relationship with each child is not living up to my expectations or desires.

My friend Mary says I make a good case for her to not have any more children.

I think one of the major problems with American Christianity is that we live in a culture of independence. The Christians in Acts gave freely to one another, giving help where it was needed. I’ve told many a friend that I can now understand why people lived in villages. It would be nice to be able to let Libbie run outside or to a neighbor’s without worrying about her.

I’m so appreciative of those who have stepped in to watch the kids, bring a meal, or just come and talk. I’m especially thankful for a sweet friend who came to hold David for an hour so I could take Libbie out and have that one-on-one time she craves.

Don’t let Americanism trump the life of community God’s called you to. Ask for help if you need it, receive it with a humble spirit, and give it when you can.

And maybe give someone fair warning if they ask for advice on having a second child!


What do you wish someone would have told you about parenting?

Along with being the resident ParentLife blogger, Jessie has been blogging for nearly five years at Vanderbilt Wife. She is mother to 2-year-old Libbie and 8-week-old David. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader.

Win a Free Week at Art Camp – Design a BounceU T-Shirt

BounceU has launched a nationwide search for their new 2011 Create and Bounce Graphic Artist. The company invites children age 13 and under to design the official Create and Bounce t-shirt, which will be used at the summer camp of the same name.

BounceU’s Create and Bounce art camp is one the of most popular program offerings at BounceU; sessions are offered at participating locations throughout the summer, spring, and winter breaks.

“Create and Bounce is truly an unforgettable camp experience where children create art projects, lessons, games, bounce time and even often enjoy special guest appearances,” said Joe Kendra, Vice President of Marketing for BounceU. “Our art camp has been so successful that it was only natural for us to honor these talented young artists by launching a national contest for campers to design our next 2011 Create and Bounce T-shirt.”

Parents can download the printable coloring sheet for children to color in their submission from BounceU’s Facebook page or, they can pick up their entry form at a BounceU location.

Three finalists will each receive a free Create and Bounce T-shirt and a 5-punch Open Bounce pass that can be redeemed at a local BounceU near them. The Grand Prize winner will be determined by public voting. The designer who receives the most “likes” from voters will be deemed the winner, and their design will be made into the official 2011 Create and Bounce camp shirt. The winning T-shirt designer will also receive a free week of Create and Bounce Summer 2011 art camp at a location near them.

This contest is running from now until March 26, 2011.

Do your kids enjoy entering contests like this? Is it helpful for us to tell you about them?

Autism Do’s and Don’ts by Jennifer Holt

It was Thursday afternoon, and I was checking last-minute e-mails before taking Sam over to a friend’s neighborhood pool. Always the water bug, my little guy was so excited about the chance to swim at a new pool, with two adoring older girls who treat him like a prince.

Kirby in the pool

As I opened Jenna’s last-minute reminders, she noted, “You may want to prepare Sam that the lifeguards take a 10-minute break every hour. The whistle will blow, and everyone will have to exit the pool.”

As I read her message, I knew she had just saved me a lot of headaches for the afternoon. My son, Sam, has autism. He has difficulty with transitions, needs to know what to expect, and hates loud, shrill noises. Her casual e-mail helped me prepare Sam for the experience, so we could all enjoy the trip to the pool.

If you know a child with autism, here is a list of do’s and don’t’s to show you how you can help:


  • Give him a heads up on anything out of the sensory “norm”: loud noises, something particular he might have to wear, etc.
  • Let him know the schedule ahead of time, especially if there are big transitions. My son uses a visual schedule with pictures that show him what is coming next and what his choices are. These are invaluable in new situations.
  • Be very specific in your instructions and give positive feedback when the child does a good job.
  • Provide two choices: “Do you want to swing or slide?” Too many options can be confusing.
  • Use simple language. Be direct without using too many words.


  • Expect him to read your facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language — many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can not.
  • Speak loudly like you’re talking to a deaf person. Volume does not increase understanding!
  • Change plans mid-stream. Children with autism often are resistant to change in routine and expectations.
  • Underestimate their ability to be social, have a great time, and play hard!
  • Exempt him from the rules of sharing, caring, and treating others with respect. As a parent, I want my son to learn those things as well. Practicing in social situations is the only way he will learn that.

Jennifer J. Holt and her husband, Brian, are walking through each day, casting their cares on the Lord, and praying for strength and wisdom as they raise their hilarious, musical, artistic, outdoorsy, miraculous son, Sam, who is now four years old.

Don’t miss Jennifer’s article "A Hope and a Future" in the February 2011 issue of ParentLife, as well as her previous guest post, "Encouragement for the Weary."

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.