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Is it Spying or Just Good Parenting?

Is it spying or just good parenting? Monitoring kids and their cell phone activity.
We have all heard a lot about keeping our kids safe on their cell phones – monitor their activities, check out what they are looking at, and keeping tabs on who they are talking to and texting with on their phones.

The question is: When does it cross the line and become a total invasion of their privacy?

I know if my parents had wanted to read every note I wrote to a friend (yes, I am of the generation before cell phones and texting where we used to pass written notes in class and write letters to distant friends) I would have been furious! If they had followed me around to see what I was up to every minute of the day, I would have gone bonkers! If they had listened in on every (or any for that matter) phone conversation I had, I would have blown a gasket for sure. Was I doing anything wrong? No, but that doesn’t mean I wanted my parents to see or hear everything! I am sure there were things that they would have found not appropriate, but that is all part of the growing process for kids.

Why is it that different for our kids and their means of communication? Reading all their texts? Checking their browsing history?

In most ways, it is not. Kids should have some privacy.

Many have concerns that all the technology today has made it a more dangerous place for our kids. The thought is that it has made it easier for them to fall victim to bullying, abuse, or worse because communication tools are at their fingertips at all times and there is little escape. Perhaps there is some truth to this. However, in a lot of ways, technology had made the world safer for our kids.

I remember receiving prank phone calls that were quite upsetting. I was in grade 7. There was no call display, no *69 to call the last number that called you – nothing! It got so bad that we had to involve the police and put a tracer on our phone. The next time this boy called, we left the phone off the hook and a couple of hours later, the police and the phone company were able to trace the call. I’m sure this boy had no idea his call could even be traced. Kids don’t make these kinds of calls now because they would be caught in an instant due to the current technology. Technology has made it harder for those who would bully or harass to remain anonymous.

Talk to your kids
If you are monitoring your kids phones, make sure they know it. If they know you are checking their interactions and activities, they may be less likely to get into mischief – at least on their own phones where they know they are being watched! Some say that letting our kids know you are checking in them may encourage them to be sneaky and just figure out a way around the snooping. But I think it is still better to be honest with your kids than sneaking around and spying on them. Imagine the trust that would be broken if they found out (and eventually, they will find out!).

I think it is better to have conversations well before your child gets a cell phone, and continuing the conversation over time in order to give them the tools they need to help keep themselves safe.

Your kids also need to know they can always come to you with any concerns or problems (and that you would not punish them or take their phone away from them as punishment).

Does your child even need a cell phone?

Maybe the question to ask if you are really worried about your child’s cell phone use is does your child even need a cell phone? Not want, but need?

Ultimately it really depends on the parent, the child, their age and maturity level, and a host of other factors. If you don’t think they can handle having a phone without constant snooping on your part, maybe they are not ready for the responsibility of a cell phone. Do they really need one?

Hopefully you will ensure that your kids will use their technology responsibly and won’t feel the need to spy on them…. Well, not too much anyways. 😉

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Why Victims of Sexual Assault Stay Quiet

Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi (and now Donald Trump)… Why did the victims not come forward sooner?

Warning: Graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi are making the news these days, but not for good reasons. Both are accused of sexual assault and the accusations go back years. This has a lot of people talking, and a lot of people asking the question of why these women didn’t come forward years ago. Some doubt their stories because of this.

I am not going to comment on the guilt (or innocence) of the two accused. What I am going to talk about is why these women may have waited so long to tell their story based on my experience… this is the first time I will tell my story.

My Personal Story

When I was 11 (maybe 12) years old, a work acquaintance of my father’s came over to visit. It was a sunny spring afternoon, and the adults were outside. I was in the living room – I don’t really remember if I was watching TV, reading, or doing homework. What I remember very vividly was this man coming into the room, sitting beside me, talking to me, and then touching me where he had no business touching me. When he went to lift my shirt, I ran and locked myself in the bathroom until I heard him go back outdoors. I never said a word. I was shocked and confused. I didn’t know what to think as I had never heard of anything like this (when I was a kid, no one talked about child molestation). I somehow thought it was my fault or that I would be in trouble. I don’t know.

Fast forward to when I was 18. A cute boy that a lot of girls liked cornered me alone at my house. Several friends were in the other room. He pushed me down, and then got on top of me. He put his hands around my throat and was choking me. I slapped at him, kicked at him, and told him to stop. Thankfully, he did. Again, I never said a word about this to anyone.

I can’t imagine the horrors that so many have gone through…

Point is, I never ‘went public’ until now. Even at that, I am not naming names. Why? I think the first man is likely long dead. I have had to forgive myself for not telling anyone because I wonder how many little girls didn’t get up and run away. I don’t even remember his name (just a last name) as he was only at our home once.

The second man is married now with two children. I see him around town, we have a friendly rapport (you may think that is very strange, and I suppose it is!)and I wonder if he even remembers that afternoon. Maybe my experience was an isolated incident, but I doubt it. No one has said otherwise though. If they did, I am not even sure I would come forward now. I guess I won’t know unless it happens.

Courage or Cowardice?

Am I a coward for not coming forward? Maybe. I am being very honest with you about my feelings – right or wrong, it is how I feel at this point. Maybe someday my feelings will change. But if I do come forward, will be believed or scorned and ridiculed?

Time to COme forward

Why don’t women (and girls) come forward immediately after an assault?  The reasons are varied. Fear of not being believed. Fear that they were somehow to blame. Self doubt. Fear that people will look at them differently.

So, why do women come forward many years after an assault? Their reasons are as individual as they are. It takes a lot of courage. Sometimes, things happens that makes them want to speak out.  However, I suspect that when one woman bravely comes forward, it gives others the courage to come forward and say it happened to them too.

Talk to Your Kids

Talk to your kids. Let them know that it is OK to tell! Let them know that there is no shame to them for having been mistreated or assaulted. If you have been assaulted in any way, talk to someone – anyone – about it. You are not alone and it is not your fault. This was something that took me a while to learn.

 

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Learn to Love Your Body

Twenty-four percent of women and 17 percent of men say they would give up more than three years of life to be thinner. That’s according to a poll conducted by Psychology Today magazine.

At the same time, studies show that half of American women overestimate the size of their bodies.

Sociologists who study the western-world phenomenon of poor body image attribute the problem to a variety of factors, including media and cultural influences, as well as parental and peer messages.

The advertising industry ties the already complex issue of body image with materialism. A slender body is associated with wealth, health, and attractiveness. A heavier body is associated with sloth, indulgence, and a lack of self-control.

Psychological factors can add to the effect of media and culture. Girls who experienced sexual abuse or an emotionally difficult puberty are more prone to body dissatisfaction as adults. So are women who feel they have little control over their lives.

Women who have felt the most brutal blows from poor body image say it is not a single factor acting in isolation. Jenifer Tracy, who battled bulimia for nine years, says a combination of factors, such as a non-supportive family environment and a poor self-image, snowballed in the presence of cultural influences.

“If I had love for myself or love from my family,” Tracy says, “it would not matter what a model looked like, and it would not affect my personal self-esteem.”

The Dangers of Body Dissatisfaction
When we realize that it is a combination of influences that lead to body dissatisfaction, we empower ourselves to solve the problem. We can seize power by breaking the chain of these influences wherever we can.

Carolyn Strauss is a top plus-size model, author of Specialty Modeling, and a nationally recognized expert on body image issues, from fashion to self-esteem. Her accomplishments now include her own clothing collection featured on the Home Shopping Network. Through it all, she helps other women move toward a more positive body image. Strauss says the biggest danger of a negative body image lies in the power it gives away.

“When someone has a poor body image, she will try to find validation from outside to make her feel better. The next diet, the next fashion fad, the next boyfriend, anything but where she is now. Instead of living in the moment, she may find herself living for ‘when I look better,” Strauss says. “Remember, the goal of most advertising it to make you ‘not OK’ so that, upon using that product, you will become OK. I say, start OK and then you’ll only buy what you choose to have for yourself.”

Most of us can think of a time when we thought a new haircut, diet, or lipstick would turn everything around for us. But that mindset can lead to a lot of wasted time and money. Constant self-monitoring can also drain your energy, and it can even lead to depression and hostility.

A University of Toronto study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, found that women who were interviewed after seeing magazine ads that featured female models showed a significant and immediate decrease in self-esteem.

Poor body image can lead to crash dieting and excessive exercise, which can, in turn, lead to poor nutrition, injuries, and depression. In it’s most dangerous form, a negative body image may fuel an eating disorder or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

When you are continually distracted with physical appearance, the energy of your mind, body, and spirit is diverted from more salient endeavors.

Solutions
Seek help.

If you feel that your body image has become a pre-occupation, don’t hesitate to talk to a counselor or therapist. Amoreena Brewton, a mother with a background in sociology and counseling, has conducted research on women and body image. She says, “Some people are too deeply entrenched in their body issues to resolve them on their own. Often, there are personal or familial issues at play when a person has an eating disorder, so seeking professional help is highly recommended.”

Tracy agrees. “In the end, my success came from the deep desire to stop, which had been inside of me for years, and then getting into serious therapy with an eating disorder specialist. Having someone who focuses on just that area was a true lifesaver.”

Make small changes.
A global change in cultural and economic structures would, no doubt, help us all achieve a more positive body image. But there will likely always be supermodels, paid endorsements, and the unstoppable “quest for the best” bandwagon.

Instead, enforce changes on a smaller scale. Brewton suggests we stop allowing those negative forces into our lives. “Don’t buy Cosmo, buy Redbook,” she says. “Look at really powerful, intelligent successful women whom you admire as often as possible. For example: Oprah, Rosie, Hillary, Martha, your mom, your grandmother, your daughter.”

Use positive affirmations.
When you catch yourself commiserating over tight blue jeans, don’t let your mind get stuck in the negativity. When that negative voice does emerge, follow it with 10 positive thoughts.

Tracy says repetition is key. “It begins with re-recording the negative messages in your own mind, which are so painful,” she says. “I have probably re-recorded that message over 500,000 times, and I keep losing it. But it’s easier to find for the next time.”

There are tools to help you re-program the thoughts you direct at yourself. One successful example is the “Think Right Now” series of audiotapes and software programs:
http://www.bestselfhelp.com/toprated/thinkrightnow.htm

Once you navigate yourself out of the negativity rut, you’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll better understand your power to create and maintain a healthier mind, body, and spirit.

Remember your spiritual connection.
“The first thing to remember is that the Universe does not make mistakes,” Strauss says. You are where you are for a reason. Acknowledge this and then choose how to proceed with the next minute, hour, day, of your life.”

For the religious and spiritual among us, body image may instantly improve with the simple reminder that God gave you the body you have for a reason. He didn’t make you to look like Cindy Crawford because you aren’t Cindy Crawford. He wants you to be healthy enough to do your life’s work. To live and work at an optimum level. So, accept His creation,
and nurture it.

Surround yourself with supportive friends.
“As I began to recover little by little from bulimia,” Tracy says. “I did not surround myself with people who were as concerned about body size. I put myself among beautiful, strong, and intelligent women who really put little emphasis on looks.”

Brewton also recommends surrounding yourself with friends whose focus is not on exteriors. “Other women can make the biggest difference in our lives by being mentors and leading by example,” Brewton says. She suggests we find a group of women to meet with regularly to discuss issues important to our lives, but, she says, don’t focus solely on body issues. “Obsessing as a group is no better than obsessing as an individual,” she says.

Find a group of supportive women, either in your neighborhood or online. Then use this safe, non-critical environment to empower one another.

Focus on health.
Change your relationship with food. Food is fuel for active living. Strive not for a number on the scale but for a weight at which you feel strong and energetic. Ask yourself if your diet contributes – or takes away from – your health and energy levels.

When we stop focusing on our bodies, and begin to focus on our health, our bodies have an easier time finding our optimal weight. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that people who start a weight-loss program when they feel happiest about their body are more than twice as likely to lose weight as people who are less satisfied.

Tracy proves that we can control how much power food has over us. “One of the most important factors in my success has been to eat everything and anything I want, whenever. I do not diet, restrict, or make rules for myself in any way. This sets my life up so that I don’t ever feel restricted and needy for food. It has taken a lot of the importance out of food for me,” Tracy says. “Since I quit my bulimic behaviors, I have lost 15 pounds, my face and cheeks are not swollen, and I feel really good.”

Change your relationship with exercise.
Regular exercise creates power and endurance, which can help you enjoy more activities. Can you hike as far as you like? Would you like to try kayaking? Do you know the joys of a “runner’s high”?

Find an exercise you enjoy. If you hate aerobic dance, don’t join an aerobics class. If you hate the gym, don’t spend your time there. Instead, experiment with exercises you’ve never tried before. Is there an exercise that makes you feel physically empowered? Do that one.

Motivate yourself to exercise by reminding yourself about the burst of energy that inevitably follows a workout.

Change your relationship with your body.
When food becomes a tool for active living, and exercise becomes a tool for increased strength, your body becomes a tool for your mind. Suddenly, your body has the endurance and power to do what the mind wills.

“Our bodies are miracles, walking around in skin,” Brewton says. You will never come across a finer work of art or machinery.”

Befriend your body, and ask yourself how you want to spend your life energy. “Imagine for a moment that you took all that time you spend thinking about appearance and focused on how much you love your ability to communicate well, or what a great mom you are, or ways to solve the issue of homelessness,” Brewton says. “If you took that negative energy and used it for good, not only would your life improve, but the world would improve, as well.”

 

About the Author
Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of several books for women and founder of the award-winning Momscape.com, a website designed to help busy women find balance. Visit http://www.momscape.com today and get Susie’s *free* course-by-email “6 Days to Less Stress.”

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Taking a Road Trip with Your Baby

To Grandmother’s house we go! And you’ll be in the car for five whole hours – how can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?

Learn about it
There’s no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done – and yes, it can even be fun!

Planning the trip
In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:

  • Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it’s a special occasion.
  • Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the carseat, the more likely he’ll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind.
  • When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen.
  • Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant?
    Items like:
    -Window shades to protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing atmosphere.
    -A cooler for cold drinks; a bottle warmer if needed.
    -Plenty of toys that are new or forgotten favorites saved just for the trip.
    -Baby-friendly music on tape or CD.
    -A rear-view baby mirror to keep on eye on baby (unless a second person will be sitting with your little one)
    -Books to read to your baby.

Preparing the car
Take plenty of time to get the car ready for your trip. If two adults are traveling, consider yourself lucky and arrange for one person to sit in the backseat next to the baby. If you are traveling alone with your little one, you’ll need to be more creative in setting up the car, and you’ll need to plan for more frequent stops along the way.

Here are a few tips for making the car a traveling entertainment center for your baby:

  • Use ribbon or yarn and safety pins or tape to hang an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling of the car to hang over your baby. An alternative is to string a line from one side of the car to the other with an array of toys attached by ribbons. Bring along an assortment of new toys that can be exchanged when you stop the car for a rest. Just be sure to use small toys and keep them out of the driver’s line of view.
  • Tape brightly colored pictures of toys on the back of the seat that your baby will be facing.
  • If no one will be sitting next to your baby and your child is old enough to reach for toys, set up an upside-down box next to the car seat with a shallow box or a tray with ledges on top of it. Fill this with toys that your baby can reach for by himself. You might also shop around for a baby activity center that attaches directly to the carseat.
  • If you plan to have someone sitting next to baby, then provide that person with a gigantic box of toys with which to entertain the little one – distraction works wonders to keep a baby happy in the car. One of the best activities for long car rides is book reading. Check your library’s early reading section; it typically features a large collection of baby-pleasing titles in paperback that are easier to tote along than board books.
  • Bring along an assortment of snacks and drinks for your older baby who’s regularly eating solids, and remember to bring food for yourself, too. Even if you plan to stop for meals, you may decide to drive on through if your baby is sleeping or content – saving the stops for fussy times.
  • Bring books on tape or quiet music for the adults for times when your baby is sleeping. The voice on tape may help keep your baby relaxed, and it will be something you can enjoy.
  • If you’ll be traveling in the dark, bring along a battery-operated nightlight or flashlight.
  • Car travel checklist
    Well-stocked diaper bag
    Baby’s blanket
    Carseat pillow or head support
    Window shades (sun screens)
    Change of clothes for your baby
    Enormous box of toys and books
    Music or books on tape or CDs
    Baby food, snacks, and drinks for your baby
    Sipper cups
    Snacks and drinks for the adults
    Cooler
    Wet washcloths in bags, or moist towelettes
    Empty plastic bags for leftovers and trash
    Bottle warmer
    Cell phone
    Baby’s regular sleep music or white noise (if needed, bring extra batteries)
    First aid kit/prescriptions/medications
    Jumper cables
    Money/wallet/purse/ID
    Medical and insurance information/emergency phone numbers
    Maps/driving directions
    Baby carrier/sling/stroller
    Camera and film
    Suitcases

During the journey
If you’ve carefully planned your trip and prepared your vehicle, you’ve already started out on the right foot. Now keep these things in mind as you make your way down the road:

  • Be flexible. When traveling with a baby, even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes, and go with the flow.
  • Stop when you need to. Trying to push “just a little farther” with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous, as you’re distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby.
  • Put safety first. Make sure that you keep your baby in his carseat. Many nursing mothers breastfeed their babies during trips. This can be dangerous in a moving car, even if you are both securely belted: You can’t foresee an accident, and your body could slam forcefully into your baby. Instead, pull over and nurse your baby while he’s still in his carseat. That way, when he falls asleep, you won’t wake him up moving him back into his seat.
  • Remember: Never, ever leave your baby alone in the car – not even for a minute.

On the way home
You may be so relieved that you lived through your trip that you sort of forget the other trip ahead of you: the trip home. You’ll need to organize the trip home as well as you did the trip out. A few days in advance, make certain that all your supplies are refilled and ready to go. Think about the best time to leave, and plan accordingly. In addition, think about what you learned on the trip to your destination that might make the trip home even easier. Is there something you wish you would have had but didn’t? Something you felt you could have done differently? Did you find yourself saying, “I wish we would have…”? Now’s the time to make any adjustments to your original travel plan so that your trip back home is pleasant and relaxed.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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Bullying – When the Teacher is the Bully

There is a lot of talk about bullying these days — and thank goodness there is! I have been heading up our local Pink T-Shirt Day campaign (www.pinktshirtday.ca) for the past several years in an effort to get people talking about bullying and to teach kids skills for helping to deal with things when they encounter bullying. I will be sure to talk about some of these skills in other posts as they are so very important.

One of the things we tell our children is to talk to a teacher when they feel they are being bullied or see someone else being bullied at school. But what do you do when the bully is one of the teachers?

When the Bully is the Teacher

Now, before anyone gets too excited, I do know that the majority of teachers are wonderful and have the best interests of their students at heart. However, a new friend of mine was relaying a story about when she was is school, and I realized as the story progressed that her teacher had bullied her. This really got me thinking! Looking back, I can also remember several times in my school days when kids were bullied by teachers. I really remember one boy in my class who really went through so much one year in school because our teacher really picked on him. I was young, naive, and it never would have occurred to me to tell my parents or another teacher what was happening. I doubt this little boy did either.

I know kids will often complain about their teachers, but there is a big difference between a teacher being firm, expecting the kids to pay attention, and insisting that there work be done and handed in on time, and a teacher who ridicules, taunts, or continually chastises a child. We need to be sure we really understand what is behind the complaints.

Understanding Bullying

As parents, we can help our children by letting them know that it is not ok for anyone to treat them or anyone else in a manner that feels like bullying. Make sure they know that bullying can be a combination of many different things. According to www.bullying.org, bullying is doing, saying or acting in a way that hurts someone else or makes him or her feel bad on purpose. Make sure they understand that it is not ok for a teacher or any adult to call them names, tell them they are stupid, or push them around. Make sure your kids know that they can tell you or another adult they trust if they feel their teacher is a bully.

Dealing with Bullies

So, what do we do if our child comes to us and we realize that the bully is one of their teachers? I would suggest (after you’ve had some time to calm down — I know my initial reaction would be to freak out and want to slap someone up side the head, but this would be neither appropriate or productive) talk to a few of the other parents you know and see if they have heard similar complaints from their child. Call the school and set up a meeting with the principal (and ask other parents to join you if they have the same concern) and possibly the teacher in question. Calmly and objectively tell them what your child has told you. If the principal doesn’t want take any action, or you are not satisfied with their suggested resolution, you may wish to take your concerns to the school board.

That’s my opinion, anyway. What would you do? Let me know

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Happy Holidays with Teens

There is no doubt that children “make” the holidays. There is nothing like the smile on a child’s face, as they see all the Christmas lights lit up as you drive around your town – or the look of awe on their face Christmas morning, when they wake up to presents under the tree. But as our children move into the teen years, the Christmas season loses some of its awe and wonder…..if we let it!

It is true that we cannot turn back the clock, and we cannot stop our kids from outgrowing some of our holiday traditions. Let’s face it, it would look pretty funny seeing your 16 year-old sitting on Santa’s lap in the local mall. But with some planning, we can still make the Holiday Season special.

Every year, from the time my children were toddlers, in November I get out all my Advent materials, old Christmas calendars, and “idea” books for the Christmas season. I take a day and pour through them and pick out the activities that will suit my family for the coming holiday season. While you can keep some old traditions, you will find you need to give some up and add new ones that your teens will find enjoyable.

Below are some ideas to help you get started.

Deck the Halls
While your teens may not be as excited about getting the house decorated for the holidays as they used to be, this family tradition can still be a time to make memories and share a common bond.

Turn on the Christmas Music and decorate the house and tree together.
Even though they might not seem interested, insist that they be there for this one. This will set the mood for the whole holiday season. Do your best to find a time that everyone can be there and help with the “Hanging of the Greens”.

If you have a tradition of using an Advent Wreath and/or an Advent Calendar, I suggest you keep using it.
Even though they may seem a bit old, especially for the calendar, you’d be surprised how Teens will still enjoy it. In our family, I have a homemade Advent Calendar with pouches on each date to hold a special question regarding Christmas. The first one down to the breakfast table in the morning gets to read the message in the calendar for the day. You’d be surprised how my teens still compete to be the first one at the table!

Have your own Decoration Contest.
Have each teen decorate their room for the holidays, and then take a vote to see whose is the most creative.

Have your teens change the answering machine message to a holiday message of their choice.

Holiday Events
Teens may be too busy, or not very interested, in attending holiday events with the family. Here are some things that will likely strike their fancy – and remember to include their friends.

Christmas Shopping Trip to the Mall.
What teenager doesn’t like the mall? Take a car-load of teens to the mall for a Christmas Shopping Extravaganza. Be prepared for some silliness, and for letting them go off on their own for a while. Meet together in the food court for dinner before heading home.

Church Christmas Parties.
Again, encourage your teen to bring friends to these events.
Local Christmas Pageants/Programs. Support community Christmas programs. You will find many things of interest, but remember, your time with teenagers is limited. Choose the events that will be most enjoyable to everyone.

Gifts
Coming up with exciting gifts for teenagers that don’t break the bank can be a real problem.

Set a budget and stick with it. Explain to your teens just what you will be spending and ask for lists that stay within the pre-set budget. They might only want one item that uses the whole amount of money set aside for them, but they will like it much more than a lot of little things that they don’t want.

Brain-storm with them for ideas for presents for their friends. This expense can eat up a lot of their own funds, so encourage them to be creative and bargain shoppers.

Open one present each on Christmas Eve.

Misc.
As we move into the Holiday Season, let us remember the TRUE reason for Christmas, and let’s make sure our teens remember it also. It is not the gifts, or the lights, or tree. It’s not even family getting together or sharing our abundance with those less fortunate. While these have become an important part of our holiday tradition in America, we need to make sure we remember WHY we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s precious gift to us. According to John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave us His son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus is the real reason for the Season; let’s make sure we and our families honor Him this holiday season.

Set up a manger scene in the front yard.
Start a collection of manger scenes that can be given to your teenagers when they become adults, and move out on their own.

Attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church services together.
Listen to Christmas Carols and Christmas Hymns together in the house and in the car.
Make sure to read the Christmas Story in the Book of Luke.

Patricia Chadwick is a a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnitst in several online publications as well as editor of two email newsletters. Parents & Teens is a twice monthly newsletter geared to help parents connect with their teens. Subscribe at www.parentsandteens.com or by sending a blank email to: subscribe-parent-teen@xc.org. History’s Women is weekly online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women. Subscribe at www.historyswomen.com/subscribe.html or by sending a blank email to: subscribe-h-w@xc.org.