Parenting Blog

How a date with your child will improve behavior

Strengthen your relationship with your kids with a planned date. Follow these 3 requirements to make your “date night” successful.

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Full Transcript:

HI – I’m Amy McCready. Welcome to the Positive Parenting Solution of the Week in which I share a nugget of parenting wisdom to make your week go a bit more smoothly.

This week’s topic is DATING – dating your kids that is.

I encourage you to “schedule dates” with your children on a regular basis.

A “date” is defined as a “one-on-one outing between parent and child.”

That’s ONE parent and ONE child.

The benefits to dates with your kids are as follows:

  • one-on-one dates give the child an opportunity to have mom or dad ALL to himself. He doesn’t have to compete with a sibling or your spouse for your time and attention. It’s a HUGE dose of positive attention!
  • The “outing” gets you “out of the house” and away from the distractions/demands of the home and office and allows you to focus on each other.
  • Strengthens the relationship between parent and child
  • Provides memories that the child will remember into adulthood

A date night doesn’t have to be elaborate or cost a lot of money. It can be going to a park or taking a hike.

There are only three “requirements” for your date night/day:
1. planned in advance – gives you and the child something special to talk about and look forward to
2. the location is “out of the house”
3. something the child will enjoy doing

For more strategies for happy families and well-behaved kids, go to

I’m Amy McCready. This has been a Positive Parenting Solution of the Week. Join me again next week here at Ask Amy TV.

Go On, Take the Money and Run

Reina Weiner

If you’ve got a smart phone with Itunes or Google capability, you’ve probably heard Steve Miller sing: “Go on, take the money and run.” I’ve always liked that tune.

So, what on earth does that song have to do with raising kids? Everything – if we want our children to become responsible, generous people and team players, we don’t pay them to help around the house, to take the money and run. Of all the many parents I’ve spoken with, I haven’t yet heard one say that they‘ve been paid to do the dishes, walk the dog, take out the trash or make their bed!

When we were raising our kids, we had a family motto that went something like this: “We’re all part of this group we call a family. In order for us to function efficiently and equitably, we all freely, if not always enthusiastically, participate in family household chores. No one gets paid to keep our family machine rolling along.”

Once you begin paying your kids to do anything besides eat, sleep and play video games, you’ll inadvertently be setting up a hard habit to break. Next, they’ll be asking you to pay them to do their homework. And, if that’s not enough to sound like a problem waiting to happen, give this some thought: 85% of college graduates in 2011 came home to live with their parents. Just picture the potential beer cans strewn across your family room. Well, maybe you’d rather not, but you get the point: Paying your kids to work with you at home undermines qualities we all value – cooperation, commitment and compromise.

Let’s not raise our kids to “take the money and run.” The more we teach our kids to share the workload, the lighter the burden becomes for all of us.
Strong From the Start – Raising Confident and Resilient Kids

When We Get Caught Up in Being “Not that Parent”

notthatparentMy husband and I are both the youngest of four kids and before having kids of our own we had the opportunity to watch and learn from our older siblings on how to parent. We watched and noticed the things they were doing right and watched and learned the things they were doing wrong. Our opinions were rooted in snippets of time from family gatherings and family vacations and not rooted at all in experience or understanding. So by the time I had my first child at the age of thirty, I had definite ideas of the parent I was going to be and ideas of the parent I was most definitely not going to be. I was not going to be the parent that didn’t set a bedtime. I was not going to be the parent who allowed backtalk. I was not going to be the parent who let my kids watch TV. You get the idea.

I was obsessed with doing it right and had a complete fear of messing up my kids because I was doing it wrong. I was so incredibly anxious about “not being that parent.” And until my third child arrived five years later, I pretty much operated from this place.

After Grace, my third daughter, was born I consciously made the decision to relax and worry less. This decision was made in part out of sheer exhaustion because trying to be “not that parent” was really tiring both emotionally and physically. But the main reason I chose to relax and rethink how I was approaching my parenting was that I began to notice how my quest for being “not that parent” was making my two oldest a little up tight. I saw it in their play, in their relationships, and in their behaviors. And it was then that I decided I needed to back off by focusing less on being the parent I thought I needed to be and focus more on being the parent they needed.

Since making this shift in how I parent I have learned a lot and just like every parent have made mistakes along the way. But I will never go back to being “not that parent” because of these three reasons.

We focus more on being right than being what our children need us to be

When we are preoccupied with “not being that parent” we automatically parent from a place of being right and our relationship with our children becomes one of control rather than understanding and respect. Don’t get me wrong. Children need us to be the parent. They need us to set boundaries, provide structure, and teach them how to live in the world. But children also need understanding, trust and acceptance and balancing the two is never easy. When our relationship with our children is based on control, the chances of rebellion and household turmoil are so much higher.

We understand our children less

Many conflicts can be averted or minimized if we as parents just took the time to really understand our children. Understanding our children is more than just knowing their food preferences and favorite activities. It is about connecting with our kids on a much deeper level to understand their soul. It’s about understanding their fears, dreams, and aspirations. It’s about really understanding what makes them tick.

I have a friend whose six year old son has a vivid imagination and by all accounts would be considered a snazzy dresser. It is not uncommon for him to wear a vibrant blue bow tie or a charming newsboy outfit complete with hat, vest, and knickers. Outfits that he has painstakingly picked out himself and at times will go to battle with his mother over because he wants to wear the outfit every day. It wasn’t until one day when they were doing battle over the outfit that she gained clarity over his persistence in choosing his outfits. The clarity came through one small innocent comment he made about choosing his outfits to match the person he was imagining himself to be for the day. His outfits were a costume for his character. A character he created in his mind and acted out in his play and dress. And it suddenly clicked for her. She suddenly understood why his outfits were so important to him. And if she had been preoccupied with “not being the parent” who let her child wear the same clothes every day and “not being the parent” whose child’s clothes were mismatched, she would have missed it completely. She would have missed that one little opportunity to see inside her child’s soul and really understand him.

We are parenting for ourselves rather than our children

When we as parents get caught up in “not being that parent” it almost always means we are trying to validate our identity and worth through our parenting skills. We view parenting as a job to be judged and rewarded rather than a calling to shape and raise a human being. We get caught up in measuring our success through our children’s behavior, accomplishments, and failures. We worry what other parents, teachers, and friends think of us. When we learn to take the focus off of us we place it where it should be, on validating the child’s identity. We learn how to help them become the person they were meant to be.

My children often ask me if I like being a parent and I always respond by saying that I love being a parent and their mother, but it is the hardest thing I have ever done (it’s funny how this question always seems to come up when I am having a bad day). But what I know for sure is that parenting got so much easier when I stopped worrying about “not being that parent” and just worried about being their mom.

Polly Schlafhauser is Founder and President of Families with Purpose. She knows a little something about family and raising daughters and knows nothing about crafting and raising boys. She lives in Michigan with her husband and four daughters. You can find out more about her and what she does at

All About Allowances

Avoid Tying Chores to Allowance

allowance for kids

You’ve barely entered the store and the whining starts. “Moooooom, why can’t I get the new Lego Star Wars video game?” And back at home when you ask Alex to set the table? “But Moooo-oom…I’m tired!”

Sigh. Maybe it’s time for an allowance. After all, what better way to get Alex to do his chores and let him buy his own video games, right?

If only it were that easy. Our goal is to motivate, but connecting an allowance to household duties does the opposite. By focusing on the payoff for the chore rather than the contribution made to the family, we create – and reinforce – a negative lesson. Rather than encouraging our child doing something for its intrinsic value, we instead teach them to ask, “What’s in it for me?”

Daniel Pink, author of The New York Times best seller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us , tells us that paying kids to do chores “…sends kids a clear (and clearly wrongheaded) message: In the absence of a payment, no self-respecting child would willingly set the table, empty the garbage, or make her own bed. …. It converts a moral and familial obligation into just another commercial transaction—and teaches that the only reason to do a less-than-desirable task for your family is in exchange for payment.”

So what’s a parent to do? Rest assured: we do have a way to take the whine out of taking out the garbage. And an allowance is a great way to teach our kids financial responsibility and money sense. The key is to implement the two separately:

Start by discussing “family contributions” and sweep “chore” right out of your vocabulary. While the word “chore” conjures up images of Cinderella scrubbing the castle floors, the idea of a family contribution will instead remind our kids that they play an important role in helping the household run smoothly. Granted, Emma may not jump for joy when she’s asked to help put laundry away, but her new perception of the task gains her a feeling of personal significance and sense of belonging to the family.

allowance in a jar

Revel in the win-win arrangement that is an allowance; not only will your kids feel grown up to have their own “income,” but it will be a big step in learning real-life skills such as the benefits of good decisions and the consequences of bad ones. The key is that the allowance is not tied to family contributions, or good grades, or winning the big game. Instead, use this opportunity to teach them about saving for things they really want, budgeting for the future, and charitable giving.

Set boundaries that encompass the weekly allowance amount, and what it can be spent on. The amount you give should be age appropriate, and not entirely comfortable. If Alex can buy every video game he sees, you’re not teaching him anything. Instead, choose an amount that can reasonably cover the expenses you expect him to take on –iTunes and app purchases, entertainment, and toys – and that gives him the option to save for the special game he really wants. He’ll also learn the invaluable concept of delayed gratification.

As kids get older, consider giving them a larger amount each week or month for allowance, but increase the items that he’ll be expected to cover. A tween or teen can learn important life lessons by budgeting her monthly allowance to cover lunch money, entertainment, clothes, iTunes downloads, etc. If she blows all of her money in the first week, she’ll experience the natural consequences of poor budgeting and will likely do better next month.

By separating – but still implementing – family contributions and allowance, we are able to teach far more valuable lessons than the two could ever hope to achieve when combined. And who would have thought that intrinsic motivation and financial responsibility could start with a few loads of laundry and $10 a week?

The Difference Between Chores and Contributions

chores versus contributions

Do you know the difference between a chore and a family contribution? Your kids do.

Watch the video below and you’ll learn how to be a little more successful in getting your kids to do their chores.

Read More

This Earth Day, Ditch the Green Guilt and Enjoy Big Savings

big green purse

Are you one of those parents who suffers from green guilt? You’re not alone. A new survey by and iVillage found that 94 percent of moms think they could – and should — do more to help the environment. But almost half of moms think “going green” is too expensive, while twenty percent say either they don’t have enough time or that it’s just too inconvenient.

Happily, you can easily have a more earth-friendly lifestyle that’s convenient and will save you a lot of money. Plus the changes are so easy, the whole family can follow suit. How? Shift to affordable and easily-available eco products that you can find in any supermarket or hardware store. Here are five that you can switch to in time for Earth Day, April 22.

  1. Reusable sponge. A sponge lasts 17 times as long as throwaway paper towels and will save you $30 or more over the lifetime of the sponge. Buy a few sponges in different sizes – small for wiping off dishes before you load them in the dishwasher, larger for wiping up spills. Extend the life of the sponge by running it through the dishwasher, then zap the clean, damp sponge for 30 seconds in the microwave or set it outside in the bright sun to dry out.
  2. Reusable water bottle (notice a trend in “reusables” here?). Ounce for ounce you could be paying as much as 10,000 times more for bottled water than tap. Why? Because in addition to the water , you’re paying for the bottle, the bottle cap, the bottle label, the energy used to make and transport the bottles, and water that’s wasted during the bottling process. For less than $20, you can buy a reusable water bottle and enjoy tap water whenever you need it. You’ll have money left over to buy a filter for your tap if you want, or to buy a bottle that comes with its own changeable filter.
  3. Lunch box. People waste hundreds of dollars a year buying carry-out at lunch time. The food may be delicious, but all the wrapping needed to package it up is expensive – and a real waste of resources. For less than $10 or $15, buy a reusable lunch box or bag, and take food from home in reusable containers. You’ll save hundreds of dollars and create a lot less trash, too.
  4. Energy-efficient light bulb. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 66% less energy than a regular incandescent and last ten times as long, saving time as well as money. You may not have liked the original CFLs because the light was a bit harsh. Today, you can get CFLs in many hues, for indoor as well as outdoor application. Just one CFL can save you $5 – $10 a year in energy costs, $100 over the life of the bulb.
  5. Reusable shopping bag. Nothing could be cheaper to buy or more convenient to use than a reusable grocery bag. Most supermarkets sell them for as little as ninety-nine cents. Buy five at once, and you’ll have as many as you need for your weekly shopping. Can’t remember to take them with you to the store? Whenever I unpack my groceries, I put my bags together right next to my car keys. The next time I get in my car, I take the bags with me and put them in the trunk. I’m almost never without my shopping bags.

You can find more money-saving green living tips at Don’t miss our helpful Earth Day tips here. Sign up for our free Green Purse Alerts! and receive a free copy of 13 Nagging Environmental Questions Finally Answered.
Happy Earth Day!

Diane MacEachernDiane MacEachern is the founder of and the author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.

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