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5 Gifts to Give Your Kid for Their 16th Birthday!

How does this…

triplet-sons-driving-16

Turn into this… in a few blinks of an eye.

I’m not sure how we’re already at this stage in our family, but I have to say these guys are way more fun now than they ever were 16 years ago!

The big question I’m asked is did we buy them three cars for their milestone birthday?

Not a chance.

If there was no car with a bow, no epic party or promised iPhone X, then what did we give our 16-year-olds besides a little cash?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what material item to buy or what Pinterest worthy event to throw, that we forget what’s really important to give our kids- the gift of lifelong values.

gifts-for-16th-birthday

1. The Gift of Desire

All my sons desired for their birthday was to get their drivers’ licenses and hit the open road. They wanted the gift of freedom as they turned 16, and that’s what we gave them- a ride to the DMV.

There was no party, no promise of the latest electronic or a new car. We had simply instilled in our boys the desire to set up their own appointments online to take the driving test the minute they could on their birthday. I wasn’t even aware that you could do that. Good for them.

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Parents-Need-Self-Control-This-Back-to-School-Season-Students
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One Thing Good Parents Need This Back to School Season

We know it’s our kids’ work to do, but we remind them constantly of what needs to be accomplished before school starts back up.

We see no hope for our child to get their reading and math work done if we don’t help them along.

Helpful, not helpful.

Our high schoolers just picked up their freshman and sophomore schedules this week. Some classes and teachers make them happy, while others make them cringe.

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Parents-Should-Not-Pay-University-Laundry-To-do-Task-For-College-Students
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One Thing You Should Not Pay Someone To Do For Your Child

Teach your kids how to sort, separate and put their dirty clothes in the wash now.

Show your children how to treat stains, measure detergent and explain the importance of removing lint from the dryer vent after every cycle.

Don’t turn your son’s sports socks right side out, since you aren’t the one who took them off like that.

Parents should teach their kids how to do their own laundry instead of paying someone to handle the task for them.

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How to Strengthen Your Kid and Your Entire Family

There’s nothing I love more than the week after my kids get home from sleep away summer camp. Our kids hang around home reminiscing about their few weeks away in the Missouri humidity while we tend to their bug bites, bumps, and bruises.

One is nursing a painful ingrown toenail; one is peeling profusely from his sunburn while healing a sprained ankle; another has strained and cut up knees from who knows what and one has no idea how he got the open wounds all up his arm.

Proof of time away at summer camp.

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One Sure Way To Strengthen Your Child This Summer

In a few days our kids will shut down their technology. All Snapchat streaks must come to an end.

They will bid farewell to their normally scheduled academic and athletic programming and head to the woods.

Our four teenagers will go live amongst strangers and bugs and humidity and uncomfortable beds. I’m going to assume they brush their teeth, put on deodorant and apply sunscreen on some of the days.

What I know for sure is that these few weeks at summer camp will be some of the most important days spent in their childhood.

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Save Your Sanity with a Summer Screen Time Strategy!

If witnessing your kids laying around on devices after school and on weekends is making you crazy now, how are you going to feel this summer when the time off beckons constant screen usage?

Become your child’s media mentor and make a plan to intentionally decrease screen use in your family this summer.

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Look Beyond your Monday Mess and Find Meaning today!

What if we really looked around our homes and saw the precious moments and memories inside of the clutter.

What if we really looked for blessings disguised as chaos.

What if we really looked beyond the mess and saw meaning instead.

I walked around decluttering on a quiet school day and This caught my eye and I am grateful.

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Could your family adopt from foster care?

You are raising your kids and you think your family is complete. But, there are many children living in foster care who need you.

These kids have no stable place to lay their heads at night and are living in the midst of uncertainty.

There are many older children waiting and wondering if they will ever have a loving family to call their own before they age out of the system at 18 years old.

May is National Foster Care Month and over 400,000 kids are in foster care here in the United States at no fault of their own. No child should have to grow up without a family to care for them.

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Parents Are You Properly Pushing Your Kid?

Parents we need to be properly pushing our kids.

Your son doesn’t want to do it, so he doesn’t have to do it.

Whatever he wants.

Your daughter doesn’t feel like doing something, so she doesn’t have to.

Whatever she wants.

Heaven forbid our children ever feel disappointed, afraid, unhappy or uncomfortable. We wouldn’t want that now, would we? Or are we doing our kids a disservice by allowing only what makes them feel safe, happy and comfortable?

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4 Books To Help Parent Your Tech Addicted Kids

Parents are scrambling for advice on how to handle digital devices in their homes.

We are losing our kids to technology, but what can we as Mom and Dad do about it?

We must acquire wisdom from knowledgeable sources and implement boundaries and rules based on what we learn. When we know better, we do better.

The following four books were given to me to review and are each beneficial in the i-parenting journey. With five kids on screens, I’m open to any positive advice I can get right now on how to best handle technology in our family.

Disconnected-Book-How-to-Reconnect-Our-Digitally-Distracted-Kids

1. Disconnected- How to Reconnect Our Digitally Distracted Kids is a call to action because we (adults and children) do not have control over electronic devices and screens; they instead have control over us.

The author Thomas Kersting is a rock star parent because he has no intention of getting his 14 year old son and subsequent daughter cell phones. I’m sure what he witnesses as a public school counselor by day and private practice therapist at night helps him in that decision. Kersting consistently sees firsthand the problems that kids are facing due to technology overuse.

I love that this book is a quick, informative read with less than 100 pages and is broken into three parts- the impact of electronic devices on kids’ brains; technology’s effect on social, emotional and family growth and what parents can do- tips, techniques and solutions.

Kersting lists warning signs and how to tell when your child is spending too much time using any form of electronic media, including television, video games, handheld devices and computers/tablets. He states ways to help your children (and yourself) cut down on electronic media consumption and he also states when is the right age to get your child a smartphone. I wish I would’ve read this one line alone before handing over phones to my kids.

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2. Unplug- Raising Kids in a Technology Addicted World is another self published short read by psychologists Dr. Lisa Strohman and Dr. Melissa Westendorf.

The book dives into the difference between technology addiction  and overuse as well as states guidelines that can be established around using technology. The authors’ candid approach helps parents sort through the pros and cons of technology use and helps parents better understand the effects it can have on children.

Unplug helps you determine how to better manage raising children with technology and to provide insight and practical tools for the challenges and choices our children are facing. I really enjoyed the call to action To Do lists at the end of every chapter and the idea of designing a Technology Use Log.

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3. A Parent’s Guide to iPhone and iPad is a must have read for any parent of kids who own an i-device. My kids have had iPhones for nearly two years and I had no idea many of the tips and tricks that I learned in this book. I wish At&t would’ve given me this book when we purchased the kids phones.

This book reminds me of a smaller, updated version of something from the “for Dummies” series. There are easy to follow instructions and visual photos to help guide you through the process.

The Andrew duo crafted this book for the parent, not the tech wizard. Think of it like a cookbook for your device with detailed step-by-step recipes on everything you can do and control on the iPhone and iPad. The tutorials are detailed and simple to follow. Your child’s future will be increasingly connected online, and you owe it to them to understand the tools they will use and how to protect them.

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4. I was part of the launch team back in 2014 for the book Growing Up Social- Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. My kids didn’t even own cell phones at that time so it was a great book to read to help us proactively create boundaries and limits on screen time before they actually owned the devices. You can read my original review here.

Parents, don’t be afraid to be in the know and set boundaries according to your family values and beliefs. Our kids are depending on us to lead them well.

FYI- I will receive a few pennies if you purchase any of the books with the Amazon links provided in this post.