How to Raise Happier Kids

July 25th, 2017

Amy Schreiner, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist and Project Director at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, talks about how you can raise happier kids through practicing gratitude daily.

If you’re like most parents, when asked what you want most for your family a single word comes to mind: Happiness. While that can mean different things for different people, research in the field of positive psychology has shown that small actions we take in our day-to-day lives can increase our feelings of happiness and well-being. Happiness is linked to important benefits such as fewer health problems, less depression, better relationships, and doing better at work and school. One way you can increase happiness in your family is through learning to practice gratitude daily together. Gratitude can serve an important role in helping your family stay positive and be more optimistic – key ingredients to increasing happiness and resilience in your children.

Focusing on what you’re grateful for is easier said than done. If you’re like most people, you might only reflect on what you’re grateful for when Thanksgiving rolls around or when someone does something nice for you. While you should be grateful in these moments, it’s also important to teach your kids to be grateful for the small, daily positive experiences and gifts we receive.

There are a number of simple ways you can practice daily gratitude as a family. The key is to set aside time to think back on the day, identify at least one thing that happened that you are grateful for, and then reflect on why you are grateful for it. It can be small or large, things you did, things you witnessed in others, or even something in nature. Find a way to practice gratitude that works for you and for your family and fits into your routine. Here are some examples:

  • At the Dinner Table – When the family is gathered together for dinner, go around the table and have each person share something they are grateful for from their day.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal – Every night, set aside 5 minutes for you and your child to write down what each of you are grateful for and reflect on why.
  • Make a Gratitude Jar – Place a jar along with some slips of paper in a place the whole family will see it daily. Ask everyone to write down things they are grateful for throughout the week and toss them in the jar. Find a time each week to come together and take turns reading aloud what the family has put into the gratitude jar.
  • Put Your Gratitude on Display – Put up a chalkboard or poster in the house where family members can write down things they are grateful for and add to it until it’s full. Find a time to come together as a family and reflect on what has been added.

These simple daily efforts can help your children feel and express gratitude, increase their optimism, and grow up happy and resilient.

Have you seen our Showing and Growing Gratitude activity in our Family Day Activity Kit? Check it out here!

Comments:

  1. Mae W Lane writes:

    To raise happier kids,people have to start being parents again and not playmates and friends. you HAVE to start earlychild hood intervention when they are small you “you can raise a child but you can’t build a broken man.POVERTY is also a factor . I would like to see the author of this article raise a child on minimum wager.or as a single parent .there is no silver bullet to raising a child. This author must be Harriet, from ozzie and harriet. because there is no way the gratitude works when it come to real life.I AM A GREAT-GREAT-GRANDMOTHER.

  2. casafamilyday writes:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Mae. We respect your thoughts on this topic and completely agree. Given your passion, you might be interested in our parent resources that address the issues you raise, including the importance of being a parent, not a pal. As you mentioned, there is no silver bullet when it to comes to raising kids. It takes daily love, attention, and hard work, which must start when kids are young.

    Your family is very lucky to have you!

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5 Ways to Celebrate Dad this Father’s Day

June 15th, 2017

Dads, grandfathers, and father figures have a significant impact on kids. They act as teachers, coaches, counselors, and provide emotional support within their families. Just like mom, their work is never easy and their job is never done! Father’s Day is a perfect opportunity for kids to show dad that he is appreciated and loved.

We hope you’re excited to celebrate dad’s important role this Sunday, and we’re here to help if you haven’t quite figured out what special activity you can do together as a family. Check out 5 ways to celebrate dads and father figures below.

  • Make Breakfast in Bed – Even if it’s just toast, let your kids make dad breakfast that morning and bring it to him before he gets out of bed. It’s a fun surprise and a simple way for kids to connect with dad early in the day.
  • Plan a Family Activity that Focuses on Dad’s Likes/Hobbies – Does dad like baseball or playing golf? Plan a family activity that revolves around something he enjoys doing in his leisure time. For example, try a few rounds of mini golf together or attend a local minor league baseball game.
  • Write Dad a Letter or Draw a Picture – Instead of the usual Father’s Day card encourage your kids to write Dad a letter about why he’s so special or ask them to draw a picture of their favorite memory with him.
  • Take time to Relax – Even if you plan an activity for dad, take some time that day to just relax. Maybe take a walk with dad or sit outside and chat. You could ask dad to tell some stories from his childhood or share something that happened to him that week.
  • Give Dad a Hug! – The simplest and easiest way for kids to show dad they appreciate him is just by saying “thank you” and giving dad a hug. Sometimes, a small gesture can go a long way!

Is there anything we missed? Let us know what your Father’s Day traditions are or some activities you do with dad on his special day in the comments below. We hope you have a great Father’s Day!

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How to Have a Successful Family Dinner With Teens

May 23rd, 2017

With families pulled in all different directions, sitting down to dinner together can be a challenge — especially when there are teens involved. From scheduling to technology to conversation, as kids get older, there are more distractions that can get in the way of family dinners. 

This month we’re delighted to have Lynn Barendsen, Executive Director of The Family Dinner Project, as our guest blogger. We invited Lynn to share her candid take on dinner time in her household as a parent of two teenage boys.

Plan Ahead (and Break the Plan if Necessary)

Families are busy, especially with older kids and teens who have priorities, activities and sometimes jobs of their own. We’re no exception, but we always make time for dinner. People ask us how, and I’m afraid the answer is really that we just do it. There’s no magic wand!

Planning ahead helps. On Sundays we look ahead to the week: who’s home every night, and when? Then I think about menus: what’s easy, what are we sick of, what can be made ahead? Then the shopping list. So we plan it all out, knowing full well that it’ll probably shift once the week gets started.

I think that’s the most important part of planning: building in flexibility and forgiveness. For example, last night, we all got home later than expected and we were starving. The meat wasn’t defrosted and it was pouring rain, which meant our plans for grilling went out the window — and our dishwasher wasn’t working, either. We opted for takeout. That’s rare in our house, but it meant we could eat sooner, have fewer dishes and get the evening back on track. The dinner plan was negotiable; what wasn’t negotiable was that we were all going to have dinner together.

Be realistic with timing.

When our boys were younger, we would wait until they were done with their homework to sit down to eat. Now that our oldest is a junior in high school, that’s just not going to happen — he’s regularly doing homework until 10 or 11 p.m. Truth be told, my husband, John, and I can also get caught up in working late. So we make sure to hit the pause button during the evening and gather everyone for dinner. It’s a much-needed break. If we didn’t eat together and catch up, we would miss one another like crazy. It’s our “us time.”

Get everyone involved.

For us it’s not just about dinnertime, it’s about the cooking and cleaning up as well. Our sons might rather have the time for other preferred activities, but just like we insist that they help with other household tasks, we insist on their help in the kitchen. Fortunately the lure of food does help to get them in there — whenever I make crispy shallots, a favorite salad topping, I know to make extras because while my back is turned they’ll disappear.

Over the years, they’ve each learned some solid skills in the kitchen: My son, Luca, makes a mean tomato sauce, and my other son, Tano, is a great baker. They’ve got the hang of basics like measuring flour vs. brown sugar or seasoning meat. We try to make cooking time enjoyable for everyone. We talk and play music while we cook. John and I will often end up telling stories about where the recipes came from. Our time in the kitchen together is time to learn more about each other, how to work together and how to compromise.

Make a technology policy that works.

At The Family Dinner Project, we are very quick to say we’re not the technology police, and we really do believe that families should figure out what works best for them. In our family, we’ve found that a flat policy of no phones at the table is easiest – otherwise negotiations become the norm and that can be exhausting. Phones mean too many distractions during a time that is really set aside for tuning in to each other. We also carry this type of tech policy over to other areas of our home — no phones in the bedroom, for example — so it’s consistent and works well for all of us.

I should say though, that usually a couple of nights a week we’ll have dinner in front of the TV, especially if we’ve had time together cooking and talking. It’s fun to relax in front of something we all enjoy. It’s not the same as meeting around the table, but it can be a nice change.

Keep the lines of communication open.

Talking and connecting at dinner is really important, but of course with teens it’s not always easy! Keeping the lines of communication open can be tricky when kids (or adults) feel pressured in any way, so I try really hard not to ask the boys about anything that I know will really annoy them. We do ask specific questions about school, such as what experiments they enjoyed in their science classes, but we steer clear of anything that feels like we’re checking up on them (Did you hand in that form? Did you have that conversation with your teacher?).

Our favorite topics of conversation usually involve something totally off the wall. For example, we love planning vacations – most of which will never happen except in our imaginations. One night John mentioned that he’s always wanted to race the Mille Miglia – a race in Italy that involves beautiful old sports cars, amazing scenery and fantastic food. We lingered over our empty plates that night while we planned where we would stay, what we would eat, the car we’d drive and even the outfits of our racing team – complete with logo. Okay, so our outfits were more like superheros than a racing team, but hey, in our minds at least we looked amazing.

Remember the goal.

Our boys are at such an exciting point in their lives, and when I look at them I’m still shocked that they’re young adults. When everything else is changing and shifting, I believe our home and our table should be constants. The ritual of good food, good conversation and laughter is centering for all of us, and I firmly believe it’s a habit they’ll both take with them for the rest of their lives.

I hope they’ll cook for their friends when they leave the house. I hope they’ll trade stories with their own children about their Oma’s habit of buttering speculaas cookies, or their Grandpa Vito’s tomato sauce and colorful language. I hope they’ll remember falling asleep with a full belly in a bean bag in front of the fireplace. In the end, I want our family dinners to have an impact that lasts far beyond the day-to-day routine of sitting down together to eat.

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A Military Spouse’s Mother’s Day

May 10th, 2017

This month we’re delighted to have MJ Boice, a Staff Writer at National Military Family Association, as our guest blogger. In honor of Mother’s Day we’ve invited her to discuss how an army spouse, Lori Galloway, celebrates this special holiday with her kids.

Most moms celebrate Mother’s Day by waking up to breakfast in bed after having slept in until (dare I say) 9:00 a.m. Typically this amazing breakfast is made by the kids while the other parent ‘supervises’ so that mom can catch a few extra Zzzzs. Usually this might be followed up with gifts and cards or flowers and dinner out with the family. And of course there’s the unwritten rule of ‘no chores on Mother’s Day’.

For Army spouse Lori Galloway, Mother’s Day is anything but typical. She will still wake up at the crack of dawn, and she will still have the housework to do. You see, Lori’s husband is on the 4th month of a 12 month deployment overseas. This year she’s flying solo on Mother’s Day with her 9, 7 and 5 year old, as well as her 3 year old twins. That’s five children total, and there’s never a dull moment in the Galloway house!

Having five children on your own is no doubt tough, and the prospect of enjoying Mother’s Day the ‘traditional’ way might seem impossible for some. But not for moms like Lori who are married to a service member. While military life can have unique challenges specific to this niche demographic, military spouses have a resiliency that forces them to get creative.

For example, ‘free time’ is a relative term in the Galloway household, at least while their soldier is deployed. Lori considers a trip to the bathroom a vacation, and those few moments of silence during the twin’s 30 minute nap is her “refueling time”; where she sips her coffee and waits for the other children to return home from school.

So what is a woman like Lori to do on Mother’s Day? “My husband ‘thought’ he had it all planned out,” she said. “Last week he had a gift certificate sent to me for a spa day and he even wrote my 9 year old and gave her the recipe for my favorite muffins to make on Mother’s Day.”

But Lori already had plans for Mother’s Day. “When I was little, my mom used to volunteer at an assisted living facility. She used to tell me about all of the elderly there whose family never visited them. Not even on Mother’s Day. That made me really sad, so when I was about 9 years old, I asked my mom if we could visit them on Mother’s Day. That began a tradition that I never realized would make such an impact on my life. This year, my oldest is 9 years old and we’re going to wrangle the rest of the crew into the van and continue that tradition by taking a trip to the nursing home in our town and visit with some of the residents.”

Military spouses might be known for their volunteer ethic, however most usually try to lighten their load during a deployment. For Lori, visiting the nursing home with her kids is much more than giving back to her community. “There aren’t a whole lot of things we can count on in military life. We move all the time, my husband is gone a lot and things change all the time. Change is the only constant. By creating a tradition that can travel with us, we can count on the ability to have that one thing that will always stay the same. For us, that’s making other mothers feel as loved on Mother’s Day as I get to feel loved by my kids EVERY day.”

So is she giving up on the spa day? “Heck no!” She laughed loudly. “I love my kiddos and I can’t wait to continue this Mother’s Day tradition with them, but I already booked a sitter next week! I WILL be having my spa day!

Who says a mom can’t do it all!

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Parents, Where do we Draw the Wine?

April 24th, 2017

This month we’re delighted to have Peggy Sapp, the Founder, President and CEO of Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership, as our guest blogger. Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership is a Florida-based non-profit organization with state and national outreach to families, schools and communities, whose mission is helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free. She is also the Volunteer President of the National Family Partnership. Mrs. Sapp has served on the Advisory Councils of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Florida Governor’s Office of Drug Control. Mrs. Sapp received the US Department of Health and Human Services 2004 National Visionary Leader Award, was chosen as the 2007 “Citizen of the Year” by the Miami-Dade Medical Association and received a Concern Award from the Health Foundation of South Florida. As the volunteer President of the National Family Partnership, Peggy Sapp worked to develop Red Ribbon Week® into an annual national event and campaign that is a major force in raising awareness and mobilizing communities in the fight against drugs, reaching an estimated 80 million people nationwide. More recently, Sapp developed the Lock Your Meds® campaign, a response to the prescription drug abuse epidemic. Peggy attended the University of Maryland, is an honors graduate of Barry University and received a certificate from Harvard Business School in Non Profit Strategic Planning.  She is the widow of Captain Neil C. Sapp, the mother of two daughters, Erin and Kerrie, the mother in law to Dan Beldy and Jeff Lunsford and the grandmother to seven grandchildren. In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month we’ve invited her to discuss the difficulties parents face when addressing alcohol with their children.

Seeing the Current Cultural Codes that are driving addiction and understanding what codes you are sending to your children.

Heroin. Meth. Cocaine. Ecstasy. While dangerous and scary, these are not the most popular drugs among our children. So what drugs are the most widely abused?

Drum roll please…the most widely abused drug is Alcohol, a legal drug.

Kids use drugs based on their perception of harm and the availability of the drug. So certainly alcohol is the most available and surely it won’t harm you; the government has legalized it!

Scare tactics and logic don’t prevent kids from drinking or using drugs.  But they are influenced by expectations and social norms, which is why parents need to help their children acknowledge and reject the cultural code that is pushing unhealthy behaviors.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, data from a national survey of high school students shows that teens who receive a message from their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens who receive other messages.

So why is it so hard for us to address alcohol with our children?

  • It’s legal.
  • The media makes us think that everyone does it and it’s 100% normal. For goodness sake, have you watched Kathy Lee & Hoda drinking wine at 9am?
  • We drink too.
  • Some of us were underage drinkers – and survived it. 
  • We want to be cool parents and liked by our children.
  • We are scared and think if we control their first experience(s) with alcohol, it will lead to better judgment. We mistakenly think that by teaching our children to drink moderately, they won’t go overboard. Continuous alcohol messaging studies were reconfirmed by the latest study which showed that youth who sipped alcohol by sixth grade have significantly greater odds of consuming a full drink, getting drunk, and drinking heavily by ninth grade than nonsippers. Don’t forget that kids who drink before 15 are 5 times more likely to become alcoholics!

When I think about the future,  I have great concerns for your children and my grandchildren because we are making light of alcohol and other drugs. Our current cultural code is so strong it has overridden our common sense.

Check out the latest University of Michigan Survey on Marijuana. The headline is “Most Americans say medical marijuana shouldn’t be used by kids or in front of kids, legal or not.” Does anyone see a mixed message there? Remember, our children pick up behavior cues from our cultural code, not just our words.

I think we need to think about our own health and the behaviors we are modeling. Let’s not close our eyes to the science. Recently, I saw a sign at a bar in the DC area which said, “Warning: Alcohol can be dangerous to unborn babies and increases risk of cancer.” I was very impressed and pleased that this message is finally getting out to the public. It has been in the research for 20 years.

Together, we can change the cultural codes that work against our health and keep us repeating self-defeating behaviors!

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PowerTalk 21 is coming. Are you ready?

April 17th, 2017

 

This month we’re delighted to have Kim Morris, National Director of Programs of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as our guest blogger. In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month we’ve invited her to discuss PowerTalk 21 day—the national day dedicated to inspiring conversations between parents and their kids about alcohol.

Conversations with teens can save lives. Teen alcohol use kills 4,300 youths each year, which is more than all illegal drugs combined. Did you know that teens who don’t drink alcohol until they are 21 are 85% less likely to be involved in an alcohol related crash than those who drink before age 14?

Research shows that in families where there is good communication and clear boundaries are set around alcohol and other drug use, kids are safer and are far less likely to break family rules (such as no drinking under 21).

Every year on April 21, MADD, as part of the Power of Parents® program, encourages parents to have critical, potentially life-saving conversations with their teens about the dangers of underage drinking and other drugs. MADD and Nationwide join hands annually around PowerTalk21 to empower parents.

What better time than April? Proms, graduation, spring and summer breaks are all fast approaching, where alcohol might be readily accessible to teens. April is also Alcohol Awareness Month.

This year, MADD is releasing new and easy-to-use tools to help parents have conversations about alcohol with their teens in the form of five new topical guides, thanks to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). These topical guides are bite-sized informational tools, each focused on a specific topic and derived from the larger, more extensive and research based, Power of Parents Handbook. We encourage our supporters and partners to download and share the guides.

Throughout the month of April, MADD is determined to help parents have critical conversation with kids and teens about the dangers of drinking. MADD will host a national press conference, which will be broadcasted via Facebook Live, and workshops will be held in schools and communities throughout the country.

Education is the first line of defense in keeping teens from drinking and putting themselves and others in harm’s way. Parents know best how to relate to their children – and MADD wants to support them and ultimately help keep youth safe.

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Help Make Great Childhoods Happen During Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 4th, 2017

This month we’re delighted to have Prevent Child Abuse America as our guest blogger. In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month we’ve invited them to discuss how you can make a difference this April by supporting children and families in your community.

At Prevent Child Abuse America, we believe that we all have a role to play in the healthy development of children. This April during Child Abuse Prevention month, we are encouraging everyone to find a role to play in your community by taking one of three simple steps: mentor, advocate or donate.

MENTOR: A great way to get involved is to mentor a child or parent. According to research, the presence of a stable, caring adult in a child’s life is a key component to overcoming childhood trauma. By volunteering your time, such as by being a coach for an after-school sports or academic team, you can be the stable, caring adult to a child in need.

Parents, too, need mentors. Two major risk factors for child abuse and neglect are parental stress and social isolation. By being there for a struggling single parent or family and doing something small like bringing over a home-cooked meal or volunteering to babysit for an evening, you can help reduce these risk factors and make a difference for children and families in your community. For more information on the power of mentors, see our website.

ADVOCATE: Another way to take action this April is to advocate for policies that support families and help children thrive. Connect with your local Prevent Child Abuse America state chapter to find out what policies have the biggest impact in your state.

DONATE: If you don’t have the time to mentor or advocate, support child abuse prevention by donating to youth-serving organizations or charities that support families. Good examples include your local food bank, daycare center, or your Prevent Child Abuse America state chapter.

Together, we can all make a difference during Child Abuse Prevention month. Join us this April and help create the great childhoods all children deserve.

About Prevent Child Abuse America

Founded in 1972, Prevent Child Abuse America is a national organization with chapters in all 50 states and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visitation sites. We lay the groundwork to deliver the great childhoods that all children deserve and we promote services that improve child well-being and develop programs that help to prevent all types of abuse and neglect.  Ninety-two cents of every dollar donated goes directly into programs and services, which is why we are rated as “one of the two best charities for children in the nation” by Consumer Reports, and ranked “Top-Rated Nonprofit” by a variety of charity watchdog organizations, including: Charity Navigator, GreatNonprofits and GuideStar.  To learn more about what we’re doing to prevent child abuse and neglect and how you can help, visit us at preventchildabuse.org.

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How A Gifted Son Has Inspired the Importance of Literacy In My Work

March 20th, 2017

This month we’re delighted to have Kenneth Braswell, Sr., Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated and Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, as our guest blogger. We invited him to talk about his new community engagement program, Real Dads Read.

About a year and a half ago I found myself in Baltimore, Maryland during the Freddie Gray indictments. On that day while I was attending community meetings, my son and wife were watching the events unfold on CNN. My son, being a curious six-year-old African American boy, wanted to know why his father was as he described, “with all those police.”

When I came home I had to explain to him what he saw. As a result of that conversation I wrote a book about it entitled; “Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside.” Fast forward, the book is teaching grade school aged children around the country the nuances of community unrest and protest. It is having an impact on children as a result of my son’s curiosity. As I look at my work today, I wonder where the direction of my work would be if he wasn’t interested in the world around him.

Why is this important? Well, since that time I have written two other books on subject matters that parents find trouble discussing with their young children. At the same time, my eight-year-old son continues to bring home straight A’s and was recently tested to assess if he is academically gifted. A few nights ago I was looking over his latest progress report, in addition to his reading and math scores, he is excelling in all of his subjects.

His thirst for learning and academics has ignited my drive to want to see other dads engage in the educational lives of their children.

We are now implementing a new community engagement program, Real Dads Read. Real Dads Read (RDR) is aimed at elementary and middle school aged children (K-8) and their fathers/male caregivers with the goals of 1) encouraging children to develop a love of reading, 2) improving children’s literacy skills and educational outcomes, and 3) strengthening bonds between fathers/caregivers and their children.

Real Dads Read (RDR) is a two-generation approach to engaging and improving outcomes for both men and the children for which they are responsible. The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) recently released research showing that two-generation programs like RDR can improve student achievement, increase parent engagement, improve adult reading behaviors and literacy, and prepare parents to help their children with school.[1]

Reading is a fundamental skill. A child’s ability to read proficiently by third grade is the most significant predictor of his or her school success, high school completion, and future economic stability. However, approximately 80 percent of low-income children will not achieve this crucial milestone.[2] Reading to children is a clear and beneficial way for fathers to spend quality time with their children. Fathers who participate in reading programs with their children are more involved in their children’s education, feel like better parents, and report a better relationship with their child than before they participated in the program.[3] Fathers, however, are often an overlooked resource when it comes to their children’s education.

We have to do better with father engagement in human service programs. Research is just as clear about both the negative and positive aspects of fatherhood. For instance we know that when fathers are absent in the lives of their children they are more apt to engage in behaviors that involve drugs and other substances.[4] This means we also know that when fathers are engaged in a healthy way our children are less apt to engage in harmful behaviors.

Fathers Incorporated is confident that education is one area of work in which we can have a significant impact on the life outcomes of our children.


[2] Allison Hyra and Stacey Bouchet (2013). Strengthening Literacy and Father-Child Relationships through Reading.

[3] Green. S.  (2003).  Involving fathers in family literacy: Outcomes and insights from the Fathers Reading Every Day program.  Family Literacy Forum & Literacy Harvest, 2(2): 34-40.

[4] Mandara, J., & Murray, C. B. (2006). Father’s absence and African American adolescent drug use. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46, 1-12.

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While the Blarneystone May Work for Some Things, Don’t Leave Whether Your Kids will Experiment with Alcohol and Other Drugs Up to Chance. Talk it Out.

March 10th, 2017

This month we’re delighted to have Kim Morris, National Director of Programs, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as our guest blogger. We invited her to talk about having the conversation with your kids about underage drinking, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Did you know that research shows that teens (even high schoolers) say they base their decisions around what they will do in regards to alcohol on what their parents say?

Saying no to alcohol underage is the right choice for so many reasons…let me give you a few to get you started.

  • Underage drinking kills 4,700 people every year.
  • Teens who drink or drug are 5 times more likely to drop out of school or think good grades are not important.
  • Teens who drink are at greater risk (5xs more!) of becoming addicted.
  • Car Crashes: teens who start drinking are much more likely to be in an alcohol related crash today or sometime in their lives…7xs more likely.

Parents help write the story, it is not luck. Take time today and often to talk to your kids about alcohol. Help them think about a plan…what will they do if they find themselves in a difficult situation…can they call you? A neighbor? An aunt/uncle? Do your kids know that you are NOT ok with them deciding to take a ride from anyone who has been drinking? There is one way to find out, start the conversation. Need help or more information, check out MADD’s awesome resources, Power of Parents at www.madd.org/powerofparents.

Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish, get the tools you need for success now!

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5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day as a Family

February 9th, 2017

This month we’re delighted to have Family Day Mom Blogger, Jen Frost, discuss some ways she celebrates Valentine’s Day with her family. Jen is a quilter and crafter who shares her faith through fabric. She’s a pattern writer, quilt designer, and book author. When she’s not in front of her sewing machine, she can be found at the beach with her husband and son, toes happily buried in the sand. She writes and quilts each week at Faith and Fabric.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! February 14th is a day known for celebrating romance between couples, but it’s also a wonderful day to celebrate and share that love with your entire family.

Did you know that showing unconditional love for your children is good not only emotionally but physically as well? A 2013 study by UCLA showed that a loving relationship with a parent can help protect children from health problems linked to toxic stress such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and other health risks. It also helps their brain development – school age children who grow up in a loving, nurturing, and stable environment have better brain development than their peers.

Here are a few fun (and even educational!) ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family…and share a little love along the way:

1. Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast of heart-shaped whole grain pancakes and fresh strawberries. The protein and fiber in the pancakes will keep their tummies feeling full longer, and the red strawberries bring a bit of the Valentine’s Day feel as well as a ton of antioxidants. No time to make pancakes in the morning? Cut a piece of toast into a shape of a heart and cover with red jam.

2. Write them a love note and stick it in their lunch box. They’ll love getting a surprise note from their parents in an unexpected place!

3. Help them write a note to someone special in a really special – and sweet – way! Those candy hearts, so popular every year, not only taste great, but can be used to create candy love notes. Write one to your kids, and help them (depending on their age) write one for their mom or dad. It’s a lot of fun to read the notes with silly phrases from the candy hearts!

4. Pull out your wedding pictures (or photos of their grandparents’ wedding…or both!) and share. Children love hearing stories about how their parents met and seeing photos of their parents on their big day!

5. Give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. Actions can be just as strong as words, and nothing is as strong as a loving hug and hearing mom or dad telling you how much you’re loved!

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