All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

My Daughter Is Growing Up: Double Digits and Crop Tops

February 8th, 2016 - By MommyNoire Editor
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More than ten years ago, when a home pregnancy test schooled me to the direction of my next life chapter, I made a few promises to myself and my unborn. First, I would always have her back. Always. Second, we would build our own special relationship — there was a bit of a generational and cultural gap with my own parents and I’d always felt like I wanted to avoid those with my kids. And lastly, she would forever be fresh, as long as her manners and grades were in order. She came along and I’ve kept my promises — to an extent.

My oldest daughter is smart, beautiful and a pleasure to be around. Her teachers leave that last one as a comment on her report card every single year. Speaking of report cards, not a semester passes without that one on the honor roll. I’m beyond proud of her but I say all that to say this:

Regardless of the floor plans of stores at the mall, I will not be putting my 10-year-old in crop top tees. Absolutely not.

I mean, as the mother, even a young mother, you have to draw the line somewhere. My daughter is tall for her age. She’s slim with long legs and a stomach that pokes out in the cutest way only after eating dinner. So it’s not that she couldn’t pull a crop top off…but is it appropriate?

As previously stated, I’ve taken pride in keeping her presentable since birth without putting her in hokey outfits with obnoxious amounts of glitter and frills. Never will she wear a tee that says, ‘I’m too pretty for math homework’ or a crop top that reads ‘I’m the lead singer.’ No, those grades and her mild-mannered behavior deserve crisp, smart, classic (and sometimes funky) wears and dope sneakers that fit her age group but still keep her looking good. It’s a task I take pride in — buying her clothes. And I recognize the blessing. We don’t spend a ton, but we do look for deals that make sense.

As my stomach grew bigger back in 2005, her dad and I would revisit memories of our own time in elementary school — his in Atlanta and my own in NYC. The things that stuck out about certain kids was universal. Spoiled kids were bullies. They tended to be rude to adults and failing every class but got by on their looks. Dumb as rocks, but fresh to death.

Then there were the kids at the opposite end of the spectrum, in old, worn-out sneakers and ill-fitting clothes that were clear knockoffs of the brands that were ‘in.’ Those kids were either really smart and unconcerned with fashion anyway, or really smart but lacking self-esteem, so you’d never know of their brilliance — ‘Maybe if I don’t draw attention to myself today, no one will make fun of my shoes.’ It’s a sad situation, either way. So he and I made a pact after talking — she’ll be able to focus on her work while at school, not what she has on.

And of course, as with anything, that plan can go either way. Sometimes, the fly kid in class will be so caught up in their wardrobe, they’ll forget about their classwork. We had something for that too: Nothing fly until the grades/behavior improves. So far, it’s worked for us. She’s never even made us have to apply that ‘punishment.’ Our girl is just now understanding what labels are and that’s only because of what her classmates tell her. Her grades are still amazing, so on and so forth.

But here’s the issue at the heart of things currently.

I don’t want to stagnate my daughter. That’s a real fear for me. I don’t want to baby her beyond her age. The day she turned 10, I hugged and kissed on her every half-hour. That weekend, at her birthday party, I loved on her even more — in full view of her friends. Then her dad and I sat and stared at each other, breaking the silence once every few minutes with, ‘Can’t believe she’s already 10. What the hell man…?’

I know that fashion changes with every generation, I get that. But sometimes, it feels like my favorite new stores for my budding tween, they’re all making me move too fast. I’m not ready. I’m not prepared for my first baby to be in stylish jogging pants and tees with snooty quotes. And crop tops. I can’t deal. It’s not that I don’t want her to grow up, but maybe, just maybe she could stay right here for just a little while longer in a full-length tee.

Is your daughter wanting to dress like a teen?

Serious Question: Is It Inappropriate To Wear Pajamas To Drop Your Kid Off At School?

January 29th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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If your mama ever dropped you off to school wearing her house robe and slippers, you know the teasing that ensued once your friends got a glimpse of Mrs. So and So looking like Madea personified could last for days. As kids, embarrassment was all we really thought about when our mothers were too tired to put on a real pair of pants and a shirt to send us on our way, but one headmaster at Skerne Park Academy in Darlington, U.K., says this pajama trend among parents is more than embarrassing; it’s inappropriate. Below is the letter Kate Chisholm sent home with parents of kids at her school on January 20 which has many debating whether this is an issue that goes beyond fashion choice:

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In an interview with the Daily Mail, Chisholm said pajamas slowly expanded from being a trend seen among parents in the morning to an increasing number of moms and dads picking their kids up from school in the afternoon in PJs as well, plus “some parents turned up in pajamas to see their children in the Christmas performances and even for parents evening,” she said.

“If we’re to raise standards it’s not too much to ask parents to have a wash and get dressed.”

Excellent point, particularly when you’re talking about kids who may be wearing school uniforms or at least have to adhere to some sort of clothing policy. How can they receive the message that appearance and first impressions matter if their own parents are the walking, talking anti-thesis of that. Further, I can’t imagine children get the impression their parent is invested in their scholastic efforts if they show up to their performances and parent-teacher meetings in the same attire they wear to bed. I get a late morning PJ run every now and then — slippers excluded because that’s just nasty — but walking your child into school in obvious sleepwear is inappropriate anyway you look at it. At least stay in the car if you couldn’t manage to brush your teeth and change out of your onesie before ushering your little one to class. What do you say?

My Mommy Standards: 12 Things I’ll Never Do As A Mom

January 29th, 2016 - By Tasha Brown
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They say never say never but there are just some things I cannot and will not do. But let’s face it – in life there’s always something we won’t do. So mommyhood is no different. So there’s nothing wrong with having some non-negotiables. As a mom, you’re in a new league of high regard and expectation, and I intend to carry the title well.   And trust me – I’ve given this list a lot of thought, and it’s all out of respect for my son and my own desire to keep life simple without the extra chaos.

So here’s my list of things I’ll never do as a mom:

  1. Breastfeed past 12 months. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days that my boobs return to me (They’ve been my son’s for the past 11 months). I’m so ready to get my body (and boobs) back. Don’t get me wrong, a nursing mom and her child share a special bond and I’m forever grateful for it but let’s be honest – your body changes. So my goal was always to nurse for a year, and nothing more. Besides, doctors agree that there’s no true benefit to breastfeeding past a year. And I won’t EVEN mention the fact that my son has two teeth with two more on the way.
  2. Use baby talk. In my household, there’s no use of “baba” or “binkie.” Honestly, hearing baby talk makes me cringe. It’s so unnecessary.
  3. Dress my son in any outfits with monkeys. Call me an extremist when it comes to being Pro-Black, but I cringe when I see little Black babies wearing clothes with monkeys in the same way I cringe when I see Black men shine shoes at the airport. It bothers me.
  4. Tell my son to stop crying. Adults do this – tell kids not to cry – not realizing the damage their potentially causing. I’m a strong believer in the power of words. So if you tell a child enough times to disregard his/her emotional expression, his/her emotional issue will eventually become psychological, which will ultimately impact his adulthood, stunting his/her emotional growth.
  5. Deem him as “bad” when he gets rambunctious. Again, it’s all in the power of words. So I’m not a fan of the “B-word.” Kids will be kids. Speak light into them.
  6. Allow him to be pushed in a stroller past age three. C’mon, let’s be real. This has more to do with the parent, and less to do with the child who doesn’t want to walk.
  7. Put him on a leash, literally or figuratively. “The Leash” is all about boundaries, or the lack thereof.  So apparently, the literal device was intended for parents to keep an eye (and hold) on their child in public places. For me the device is just as irrelevant as “time out” – just not my thing. Besides, it looks really weird (and humiliating for the child). Figuratively, I will not put him on a leash. Instead, I’ll encourage boundless possibilities. I want him to be his own person, and create his own norm.  Everything else is already taken, and boring.
  8. Avoid the sex talk. It’s one of those things I’ll just have to do. The day I have the talk with him will be the day that confirms my baby is growing up. There will be more than one “talk” and more than “one day,” but he’ll know it’s all coming from a trusted place.
  9. Wear a scarf/bonnet or pajamas to his school. I represent him as he represents me. We will not go out like that. Ever.
  10. Give money for every A he gets on his report card. I never grew up like that. Despite graduating with honors (and on honor roll as a child), my parents never gave money for A’s as reimbursement. Their logic: You go to school to get good grades. Why “pay” you for something you’re already expected to do? This logic also applied to chores. Their response was why pay you to do certain tasks in the house when you should want to live in a clean, well-kept home. Granted, I was indirectly rewarded in other ways, yet monetary was never the expectation.
  11. Let his girlfriend spend the night. Seriously! Do I really need to explain this one?! Trust – I will be/am one cool mama, but I’ll never be that cool. I will always be his mother first, and friend second. And because of that, he’ll know better and won’t even dare ask.
  12. Let a day pass without telling, and showing, him that I love him. May he never doubt my love for him.

Why I Make Spanking A Last Resort

January 29th, 2016 - By Clarissa Joan
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Lately, I have been feeling really guilty about having to discipline our two-year old. At this age, where the ability to mobilize curiosity is coupled with a lack of understanding about how the world works, it has become a painful challenge. There’s a delicate balancing act to support our child’s maturation process juxtaposed with the tasks of keeping her safe and us sane.

For me parenting is about love, but more importantly about love that services the coming-of-age journey of children into responsible adults whom positively co-exist with other human beings. This requires nurture, and it requires teaching, and it requires discipline.

When is comes to discipline I have been in a state of daze and confusion. No loving parent wants to hit their child, but you also want to course correct your child and help them develop the ability to make decisions that produce outcomes in service of their well-being.

Today’s question is, to spank or not to spank?

Reuben Hill, a 20th century social scientist, conducted a study on thousands of parents in Minnesota that produced the following outline in regards to parenting styles and discipline. In his study, Reuben outlines four types of parenting styles:

1. The Permissive Parent: a parent who loves and coddles their child but is afraid to discipline. This parent creates a friendship with a child who becomes very insecure and lacking confidence in life while relying on the parent for everything.

2. The Neglectful Parent:  a parent who fails to give their child attention, affection, and discipline. These children mature into deeply wounded adults unable to cope with life.

3. The Authoritarian Parent: a parent who disciplines a lot, but lacks empathy, vulnerability, and emotional intelligence in regards to comforting care. These children grow up obedient, resentful, and rebellious.

4. The Authoritative Parent: One who loves just a much as they discipline. A parent who compassionately course corrects their child. The balancing act of love and discipline produces a self-assured child who is confident and able to aptly tackle life’s challenges.

Growing up, I did not get many “butt whippings” that I remember. Maybe two, I recall. I do recall being popped every now and then, but not an abundance of beatings. Overall, I was a very good child, with good grades, who “talked back” a lot. I can honestly say that my obedience was impacted more by communication of disappointment than it was by physical punishment.

My caretakers reared me as authoritative. They loved me a lot, but they were also very strict! I know that this works, because I am a product of it. However, it is still emotionally taxing for me to discipline my daughter. I just really want to enjoy her presence and be her friend.

This friendship gets really hard when trying to explain to my two-year old why she cannot unplug and re-plug the bedroom lamp. Or why putting q-tips from the wastebasket in you ear is dangerous. She is only imitating what she sees us do, and she has no sensibility as to why it is dangerous for her until she hurts herself. Pain is the greatest teacher second to wisdom.

Wisdom, however, is hard to pass down without full brevity of language. Who is to say that I was not popped or beat more often than I remember while I was a growing toddler? I don’t recall. For little children and/or big children with parents who lack capacity to implement alternative measures of understanding, spanking comes in handy.

I have been there. I have spanked my child before. It was hard on me, as it was for her, but her safety and the safety of her infant younger sister demanded it. It was not really a spanking rather a pat on the butt, but to her it was the end of her world.

At the time, she could not understand why her behavior, playfully biting her sister without knowing her strength, was unacceptable and/or dangerous. Instilling fear from such behavior via a spanking seemed to be the only option of prevention. This was after numerous failed attempts to communicate the inappropriate nature of biting.

She eventually bit her in a way that made an impression and the talking stopped. Her pat on the butt worked, but I cannot and will not physically reprimand her for every little thing. What she does not understand far outweighs what she does and this type of continuous response would become abusive and traumatic.

So we have implemented alternatives such as time out, repetitive coaching until she understands, and occupation via focused activity. When she is occupied via an activity or engagement, she is less likely to get into trouble. But we cannot abandon adulthood 24/7 to keep her from endangering herself. She too must learn how to explore her independence without requiring helicopter parenting or spankings to make wise choices. This is an on-going matter. For now, as an authoritative parent, I will say to spank as a last resort I guess.

Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her Husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.

Pop Mom: Are We Raising A Generation Of Crybabies? Why We Need More Shake It Off Parenting

January 27th, 2016 - By Erickka Sy Savane
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So the other day I came across an article by a psychotherapist and author who discussed the hidden dangers of ‘shake it off’ parenting. She uses the term to describe parents who tell kids to shake it off when they get hurt, and describes an incident that happened when her six-year-old son got hit in the head with a soccer ball during a game. When the boy came over to her in tears, another mom screamed, “Shake it off! We need you back out there.”

Now, the mom of the boy was pissed that this woman would ‘publicly humiliate’ her son, and goes on to talk about the dangers of shake it off parenting. She believes that telling kids to shake it off when they are hurt sends the message that they’re not enough- be stronger. She also believes it doesn’t teach kids kindness and empathy towards others when they aren’t getting that type of comfort at home.

As a mom two little girls, a six and three-year-old, I had to think about that. While I can totally understand that the other mom was way out-of-place for screaming at the boy and basically telling another mom how to raise her kid, I do agree with the ‘shake it off’ mindset. Obviously, no one is saying that it’s never okay to comfort a hurt kid, but teaching them to ‘suck it up,’ or ‘shake it off’ sometimes is not going to kill them. In fact, it’s going to help them in the long run.

Frankly, I see it all the time in kids who barely get nicked while playing and lose their minds. They cry and whine to the point that everyone has to stop playing to cater to them, and it’s not fair to the other kids. So if by the psychotherapist’s logic, we’re letting our kids cry it out whenever they get hurt because we want to make sure they learn empathy towards others, it’s not a good trade. The result is we end up raising a crybaby.

And think about it, crying kids turn into crying adults. How many of us run from friends who feel like the world needs to stop turning whenever they’re going through something? If she’s struggling with her man, you’re going to hear it. If he has back pain, you’re going to feel it too. They expect us to indulge them while they suffer. They even feel entitled to our complete attention because I’ll bet that’s what they learned as kids. Sorry Boo-Boo, ain’t nobody got time for that. Sometimes your own husband or wife won’t even deal with it. That’s just life.

So in a way, the psychotherapist is right, shake it off parents are sending kids the message that they need to be stronger, and as a result, they might lose some empathy along the way. It might even make them a little less likeable, but in my opinion it’s a good trade. As long as they don’t disrespect or tease anyone I’m okay. Steve Jobs wasn’t known for being liked and neither was Michael Jordan. They expected a lot from themselves and from the people around them. Michael Jordan became the 1997 NBA finals MVP due in large part to his incredible flu game.

No one can forget how he led his team to victory while battling a devastating flu, showing us all what champions are made of. They don’t expect to be coddled in the face of pain, they overcome it, and I bet he learned that as a kid. I want my kids to be like Mike. Heck, I want to be like him.

But it’s learned.

Check out Erickka Sy Savané’s column, Pop Mom, right here on Madamenoire. Before Erickka became a writer/editor, she was a model, actress, and MTV VJ. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Jersey City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Date Night Reinvented: Tips From Valeisha Butterfield Jones

January 26th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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Valeisha Butterfield Jones is definitely a force to be reckoned with. From working with Russell Simmons as the director of the Hip Hop Summit Network to working with the Obama administration as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for international trade, she’s had a vast range of professional experiences that  have shaped her. She is also one of the founders of WEEN (Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network), the owner of The Butterfield Group Consulting Form, and now an author. But she realizes that having it all means putting her family first. She shared her tips on what keeps her marriage flowing and healthy.

How long have you been married and how old is your son?
Valeisha: I’ve been married to my husband, Dahntay Jones, for a little over four years and our son, DJ, is now three-years-old.

Have you found that it’s hard to spend a lot of quality time together now that you have a child?
Valeisha: Yes, it can be very challenging to spend quality time with your husband, especially with a young child. From the moment I became pregnant and gave birth, my life changed and I had to continue to make my marriage a priority. When DJ was just a few months old, I realized that all of my time was split between caring for him and work. The day I stopped to realize that my priorities were off, I immediately changed. While being a mom and a businesswoman is important, you must keep the spice in your marriage. We now have mandatory date nights once a week. Not only do I call my mother-in-law or hire a sitter, I make sure it’s an overnight situation!! We can stay out as late as we like and we can even sleep in the next day.

What does your date night typically consist of?
Valeisha: Our date nights are usually very casual. Because of the nature of our careers (he’s a professional athlete and I am an author currently on a national book tour), we have very little downtime. So, our date nights normally consist of jeans, sneakers, a good movie, dinner and a nice bottle of wine.

Can you give me three at home date night ideas and how would you plan/prepare for each one?
Valeisha:

1. Dim the house with candles burning and soft music playing, dinner already prepared and a massage table set-up and on display in the living room. You can give each other massages and set the mood. If you’re intimidated by giving him a massage, you can hire a massage therapist to come into the home and do the work for you.
2. Turn your backyard into a sanctuary. Get a nice blanket, a good bottle of wine, your favorite movie (my favorite is the 1970 film Love Story) playing on your iPad and a candle. Make it an outdoors moment.
3. Draw a nice warm bath, burn your favorite candles, play your favorite playlist and read to each other. Reading to each other excerpts from your favorite book can be very, very romantic. Slow dancing is nice too.

Is there anything specific that you would do like cook his favorite meal or have it be a theme that he likes or have something there that is sentimental to the two of you?
Valeisha: The most important component of an at-home date-night is to put in the effort. If you’re not a great cook, hire someone or get some of your friends to come over and help (and leave before he gets home).

Do you think it’s important to try and stay fit and sexy during a marriage? And how can someone do that?
Valeisha: Not only do you look better when you workout, you feel better. Staying or in some cases getting fit in your marriage is definitely important. It increases your energy and shows your spouse that you not only care about him/her, but you care about yourself. If mom is healthy, it sets the tone for the entire family.

What are the pros and cons of being married to an NBA player?
Valeisha: Being an NBA player is an occupation and not the definition of who he is as a man. When we were dating, we made sure to establish that upfront. Too often, we buy into our occupations as being a part of our lifestyle, when we shouldn’t. Occupations come and go, but our true character remains. A friend of mine, Dr. Alex Ellis, told me recently “You can’t be a success on the road and a failure at home.” That really stuck with me. Of course, I enjoy going to the games, traveling and meeting new people, but it’s also a very time-consuming occupation. Having a two-year old, it can be challenging to relocate so often and travel so much, but it comes with the territory.

What’s the best marriage advice anyone has given you?
Valeisha: The best advice I ever received is “the days are long, but the years are short.” I interpreted that to mean that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and to not define the happiness of your marriage by small disagreements. When you marry someone, you become family and it’s important to keep that in perspective.

What Would You Do If A Sales Clerk Told Your Daughter She Needs Spanx?

January 26th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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A Kansas mother’s open letter to a store clerk at a Dillard’s location in Wichita has gone viral based on the sheer disgust many feel as a result of the sale’s associate’s actions. While many women are fans of Spanx — the shapewear sent from on high making body con dress dreams a reality for all body types — most would balk at the idea of someone suggesting we wear one, and even more so if that unsolicited suggestion was handed to our teen daughter right in front of our face.

That’s exactly what happened to Megan Naramore Harris and her 13 yer old as they were shopping for dresses for a school formal. Harris was so upset by the experience, she told her entire Facebook community about the ordeal in a letter to the saleswoman:

Dear sales lady at Dillard’s Towne East Mall,

This is my teenage daughter who wanted to try on dresses for an upcoming formal. I found this dress and asked her to try it on. She told me this was not her style, but tried it on for me. I told her how grown up it made her look and she smiled, and told me this made her look too old but still, she let me take a picture. Right after that, you entered and told my daughter she needed to wear SPANX if she wanted to wear this dress. I told my daughter to go change. I told you that she was just fine without SPANX. You continued to argue with me. We left soon after. I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging. Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them. If they feel good in a dress, that is all that should matter. My daughter is tall, she swims, runs, dances and does yoga. She’s fit. She’s beautiful. She did not need you telling her that she is not perfect. I hope this is shared and gets back to you so that you should not say something like that to a girl ever again. You never know what negative or positive thoughts they are thinking about themselves.

Sincerely,
Mother of a beautiful girl

Even more sad than the exchange this woman had with the saleswoman– which I partially can’t even comprehend because there’s never an excuse for a store clerk to argue with a customer, especially about what she does with her own child — is the statement Dillards released on the altercation.

“At Dillard’s, our mission is to help people feel good about themselves by enhancing the natural beauty found in all of us. We train our sales associates with the goal of creating a completely positive experience with each visit. It is certainly never our intent to offend our customers. We have reached out to this customer and her daughter, and we appreciate the outreach of so many of our followers and customers to bring this issue to our attention.”

In other words, this worker was just doing her job by trying to play off of insecurities to up-sell. Nice.

“Do you need help?” or “Is there anything else I can get you?” is about the extent of assistance I expect and desire from a sales associate when I’m trying on clothes. Unless I ask, “Does this look OK?” or “Do you think this is too tight?” At no point in time do I want to hear the word Spanx uttered. And if I’m with my child and someone has the gall to think she needs such an undergarment, they better whisper a question about it to me in my ear and not say a word to her because I’m the one responsible for the purse strings and my impressionable child’s self-esteem. As a woman, it’s sad this sales lady didn’t understand the magnitude of her actions and the lasting impression it could have on a teen girl. Thankfully, her mom knows exactly how to counter such negativity.

What would you do in this situation?

Go 007 On Them: How To Spy On Your Kids

January 25th, 2016 - By MommyNoire Editor
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by Lynn Cooper

Growing up, these words: ‘I’ve Got Eyes In the Back of My Head’ would utter from my mother’s mouth instilling the illusion that she was always watching and it was in my best interest to be on my P’s & Q’s. However this was long before the days of the internet where our children have access to more than two billion people around the world at any given moment.

That’s why as parents, we have to not only prepare and protect our children in the real world, we must prepare them for life online–you need to go 007 and spy on your kids. Below are six easy methods for you to implement to safeguard you and your children

Get Techie
Children are sponges and they have the ability to gain mastery of technology so quickly it can make your head spin. Nonetheless It is every parent’s responsibility to know exactly which key features are included in the gadgets our children are using. So take a few minutes before purchasing that next gadget, visiting a social networking site or downloading an app to conduct a quick investigation to ensure you understand how it works and what your child(ren) will be exposed to.

Find Your Center
It’s much easier to keep tabs on any online activity when the devices are located or used in a high-traffic area versus your child is using in the privacy of their room or bathroom. Insist that laptops, mobile phones or tablets are used in central location like your family room so that everything is out in the open. It’s also a good idea to take mobile devices from them at night and store in your bedroom to ensure they are not using it overnight without your supervision.

Use Filtering Software
There are various software programs that you can buy to monitor your child’s online usage; many of these products enable you to view the words that were typed, how long they were online and what websites were visited. Popular programs such as Net Nanny allow you to monitor social media sites, block chats, filter content and more. You can even monitor your cell phone activity with My Mobile Watchdog.

Check Privacy Settings
Ensure that your privacy settings for the Internet and social media sites are set to the highest levels. Depending on which browser (IE, Chrome, etc) you are using,settings can be modified via the options tab.

Go Undercover
Some children are more tech savvy than others when it comes to hiding their online activities to include using fake names and blocking parents known email addresses on Facebook so they cannot see their pages. In order to get around this, you have to be very sneaky. One tactic is to create a fake profile page using a newly created email address unbeknownst to your child(ren) of someone in their age group and request to become their friend.

Be a Great Example
If you constantly tweeting and taking selfies to post to Instagram then you’re setting a poor precedent for social media usage that your child will surely mimic. Always remember to ask yourself if you’re setting a good example and demonstrating proper tech etiquette as well.

How To Plan An At-Home Date Night

January 22nd, 2016 - By Dani Faust
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We’ve all heard the advice that to keep relationships flowing smoothly we need to incorporate date nights into our lives. Date nights are standing dates that you have with your partner no matter what else goes on in your schedules. For many couples date nights are an in-home affair, whether due to multiple young children, tight finances or packed schedules. At-home date nights are practical chunks of together time with your significant other that require no travel and no spending on a babysitter. After a while, your weekly at-home date night can start to become a bit stale and the usual “netflix and chill” may become a snore.

Here are some ways to ensure that your at-home date night stays fresh and special:

Dress up for it
It’s easy to show up for your at-home date night in the leggings and T shirt you changed into after work. I am guilty of this at times. I urge you to switch that messy bun to a cute hair style, and put on a sexy outfit and makeup. Dressing up for your date, even if it’s just in the living room, shows that it’s an event that you are excited about and take seriously. Even if you’re doing the same thing you did last week, dress beautifully for it and it will feel more special.

Try something new
Is your date night on autopilot? Do you make the same meal or order takeout from the same handful of restaurants? Venture out into new territory. Pick a restaurant you’ve never tried and order dinner there. Pick a netflix movie you’d normally never consider. If your date nights usually consist of ordering in, perhaps try cooking a meal together. If you normally use music or candles to set the mood, try a different scent or style of music. Keeping things fresh helps them stay special.

Do it on a different night
Sometimes shaking things up is as easy as planning your date night for Saturday vs Thursday. You’re in a different frame of mind on different days of the week. Make your monday night something special to look forward to by scheduling your date night for right after the kids are in bed. See what new day works well with both of your schedules and plan for something special.

Take turns taking the lead on it
Whoever usually plans out date nights needs to take a step back and let the other party lead for a while. Then, take turns planning out your at-home date nights and make it even more special by building in some surprises for your partner. Don’t let your partner know what you have planned and with the “secret” aspect, it’ll be even more special for you both.

Build anticipation during the week/day
Just like you look forward to friday after a long week, or an upcoming vacation, you can look forward to your at-home date night. Build it up into something to celebrate. Make it fun…or naughty. Call your partner at work and remind them about something date-related. My husband and I will text throughout the day about what’s in store for date night.

Whatever you do, don’t let your at-home date nights get stale. The goal of date nights is to stay connected to your partner on a regular basis. It’s easy to let them become routine week after week, but if you mix things up to keep it fresh, they will continue to be special.

What do you do to keep your at-home date night special?

Danielle Faust is the founder of FitNoire.com, a wellness site by and for Black women. She is also the voice behind the parenting/lifestyle blog OKDani.com. The married mom of two is a certified life and wellness coach based in south Florida.

Am I Wrong For Telling My Kid We Aren’t Friends?

January 22nd, 2016 - By Chuck Creekmur
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A few days ago, my daughter comes up to me and says, “You’re my best friend!” I was startled at the statement. My mental knee jerked and I responded, “I’m not your friend. I’m your father.” I could immediately see her energy deflate a bit. It got me thinking: “Did I make a mistake?”

So, let me explain a few things.

As a parent, I am part new-school and part old-school. The old-school part clearly comes from my father and mother, who were traditionalists. I heard things like, “Don’t talk back,” “Get a switch,” and communication was mostly a one-way street. I’m a bit different. I am still into my hip-hop, love comic books and movies, and can even dap. My daughter and I talk about everything from Kanye West as a Kardashian to Marcus Garvey’s theories to binge watching the Star Wars saga. At times, we dance in the house until we are out of breath. Shoot, we recently pulled up some instrumentals on Spotify and freestyled after dinner. Then I told her to go finish her homework.

Now, I know there has to be a clear line between parent and so-called “friend,” but I’m still pondering.

Best friends tend to be honest with each other. They communicate. They work out their issues. They have fun and they laugh a lot.  Parents can be bummers.  They make you clean your room and do the dishes. Kids, as they ease into adulthood, tend to lie to their parents. They hide a lot. They fumble through their teen years with their peers a accomplices. Furthermore, I have noticed that the mother/daughter dynamic often results in a closer relationship. (This has a lot to do with the “Black don’t crack theory.)

I have to conclude that we can be a hybrid, but we cannot truly be friends. I cannot tell my daughter my true feelings about certain family members. I certainly didn’t realize such and such was was a bum until I was older. My daughter does not make the decisions in the house. We often talk about how we move, but ultimately I make the decisions. Pulling rank is particularly important with matters of money (LOL!). Parents and friends see life much differently. I’m getting my daughter ready for the world, and that’s not going to happen being a friend.

A wise person once said, “You aren’t a good parent if you child never says ‘I hate you’ at least once. While I never want to hear those words, I am prepared.

I once whispered those words in a way that was never heard from another living soul. (I’d get a whuppin!) My daughter is still a preteen and has not yet fully exerted her individualism. I know that is on the way and it will be far more difficult to be “besties.” Recently, in a freestyle rap, she said it again. I didn’t correct her this time. I just busted a rap and let the iPad record the whole thing. We laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Being friends isn’t so bad. Being a father is a gift.

Just know there are boundaries and times when separation is parenting. For the other times, we can rock matching Tim boots and trade battle raps until her true best friend Daniella takes over.

So parents, am I wrong for telling my kid we aren’t friends?