August 29, 2012
Labor Day - Monday, September 3, 2012
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Source:  U.S. Department of Labor

August 22, 2012
Eat Smart
Enjoy more fruits and veggies:
1. Include vegetables and fruits at every meal and snack.
2. Let your child select a new fruit at the supermarket.
3. Try an exotic recipe for vegetable stir-fry.
4. Take a family trip to the farmer's market.

Source: http://www.myeatsmartmovemore.com/FruitsAndVeggies.html

August 15, 2012
Helping Your Child Grasp Geography
Recent studies show that a surprising number of high school and even college students have a poor understanding of where major cities are located.  You can help your child grasp the essentials of world and local geography with a simple map and guide.
    * Keep a globe or world map near the TV and point places talked about.
    * Put together a puzzle of the United States or the world.
    * Study an atlas together and find the locations of your child's favorite sports teams.
    * On a local map, plot all of the places your child goes - school, relatives' homes, the mall, the zoo, etc.

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

August 8, 2012
Links between Father Involvement and Impact on Children
Over the past three decades, an expanding body of literature concludes that fathers' engagement with their children is associated with positive cognitive, social, and emotional outcomes for children from infancy to adolescence.  Conversely, children of disengaged or negatively engaged fathers are at risk for a host of cognitive, social and emotional difficulties.

Source: "Promoting Fathers' Engagement with Children: Preventive Interventions for Low-Income Families" Journal of Marriage and Family 71 (August 2009)

August 1, 2012
Recipe for a Child Who Feels Loved
There are endless ways to show your love.  By listening, talking, sharing the events of your day, laughing together, and noticing accomplishments, you let your child know how loved he or she is.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

July 25, 2012
Why is Marriage so Hard?
     There will be times when your marriage isn't exciting or fun.  In fact at times you might just describe it as downright dull.  Bottom line is that ALL marriages are downright miserable at times.
     Some people ask why almost 50% all of marriages end in divorce.  A better question to ask is why all marriages don't end in divorce and for that matter, why does anyone get married in the first place.
     The answer is that marriage binds you together at a deeper level in a way that no other relationship can.  If nurtured, that bond can grow stronger and more rewarding than ANY other relationship.  The depth of the joy and happiness is far greater, more satisfying and longer lasting than any other relationship.

Source: The National Healthy Marriage Institute LLC, for other tips to strengthen your marriage visit http://www.healthymarriagetips.com/

July 18, 2012
July 22th is Parents' Day!
In 1994, President Clinton signed into law a resolution establishing the fourth Sunday in July as Parents' Day.  This day promotes recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in bringing up their children.  The messages that organizations try to portray include:  commitment is a core family value; parental responsibilities are important to children's growth and development; and that unconditional love is needed for a strong bond between parental figures with their children.  Parental figures include biological, foster or step-parents.

Source: timeanddate.com

July 11, 2012
Helping Your Child Speak a Second Language
Children, who learn a second language, including English, benefit in many ways - from discovering a new cultural world to gaining a distinctive edge when entering the workforce.  Here are some ways you can foster your child's new language.
   * Label items throughout your home with the equivalent terms in the new language.
   * Suggest your child make flash cards and help her practice.
   * Find opportunities for your child to speak the language with friends, colleagues or family members who are fluent.
   * Learn the language yourself and study together!

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

July 4, 2012
Independence Day
Fourth of July Cookouts – What are the odds?  Almost 1 in 3, the chance that hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa.  The Hawkeye State was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012.  This estimate represents almost one-third of the nation's estimated total.

Patriotic-Sounding Place Names
Thirty-one places have "liberty" in their names.  The most populous one as of April 1, 2010 was Liberty, Mo.  Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state:  Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

June 27, 2012
Helping Your Child Enjoy Reading
The ability to read well is central to your child's future success, in school and in life.  When children become better readers, they find it easier to succeed at everything.  Take the time to encourage your child, and to create a home that includes reading as an activity.
  * Make sure every member of the family has a library card, and go often.
  * Have a special time when the TV is turned off and all family members read quietly on their own - together.
  * Reward your child for reading.  Take her to see the movie version of the book after she has read it.
  * In the car, play games involving street signs or billboards.

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

June 20, 2012
Why is Marriage so Hard?
There is no way around it and no way to avoid it.  Marriage is difficult.  It's definitely not easy.  It takes sacrifice, sweat and many, many tears.  BUT, it is worth all the time and effort you can put into it.  Children, women, and men are better off in every area of their lives when a couple is able to form and sustain a healthy marriage.

So why is marriage so hard?  The following equation gives us the answer.  One imperfect spouse plus one imperfect spouse equals one imperfect marriage.  And since you will never find one perfect spouse let alone two perfect spouses you will never find a perfect marriage.

Does it always have to be so hard?  No.  There are lots of things you can do to increase they joy and decrease the misery you experience in your marriage.  The best place to start is to get used to your imperfect spouse just the way they are.  The alternative is to increase the misery you experience by constantly trying to force your spouse to change.

Source: The National Healthy Marriage Institute LLC, for other tips to strengthen your marriage visit http://www.healthymarriagetips.com/

June 13, 2012
A Father's Legacy
William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower, is often regarding as the father of "Thanksgiving".  On his grave is etched - "Qua patres difficillime adepti sunt nolite turpiter relinquere", which means "What our forefathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish."  You may think that Bradford had this profound philosophy passed down to him from his father.  Ironically, this was not the case.  Bradford's own fatherhood story begins with his father dying just after his first birthday.  He was then sent to live with his grandfather who died two years later, and was orphaned when his mother died the following year.  Bradford would eventually be raised by his uncles, and later by William Brewster who would become a father figure to him as a young man.  Bradford no doubt understood the need a child has for a father and it's no surprise that he would go on to adopt the children of his second wife and raise them side by side with his own children.

Our nation was formed by a group of men much like William Bradford who accepted the role of a father figure, and their lineage can be traced to the present day.  It's been said that we live life going forward but understand it looking back.  Look back and see how a dad, a grandfather, an uncle, a father figure or an adoptive father changed how we live, what we think and what we give back to the world.  And as a dad, remember not to basely relinquish your fatherhood which has been secured with much difficulty.

Source: http://firstthings.org/page/resource-center/fathers/a-fathers-legacy

June 6, 2012
A Father's Day Breakfast will be held Friday, June 8
To celebrate the importance of fathers and recognizing the great work being done around "fatherhood," a breakfast will be held Friday, June 8, 2012 from 7:30-8:30 a.m. at the John R. Grubb YMCA in Des Moines.  The event speaker, David Stark, President and COO of Blank Children's Hospital will discuss the importance of fatherhood.

May 30, 2012
For many Americans, summer means fun in the sun.  The kids are out of school, adults are on vacation and it's time for outdoor activities like riding bikes and hosting barbecues.  However, summer also is the time of year consumers are most likely to be injured.

Here are some safety tips:
  * Wear a helmet and other safety gear when biking, skating and skateboarding, and when riding scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and horses.
  * Never bring charcoal grills indoors. Burning charcoal produces deadly carbon monoxide.
  * Make sure your home playground is safe.  Falls cause 60 percent of playground injuries, so having a safe surface is critical.
  * Don't allow a game of hide-n-seek to become deadly.  Childproof old appliances (like freezers and refrigerators, cedar chests, clothes dryers and picnic coolers); warn children not to play inside them.
  * Summer also means yard work.  When mowing, keep small children out the yard, and turn the mower off if children enter the area.  If the lawn slopes, mow across the slope with the walk-behind rotary mower, never up and down.  With a riding mower, drive up and down the slope, not across it.  Never carry children on a riding mower.

Source: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

May 23, 2012
Memorial Day will be observed Monday, May 28, 2012
Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May.  It was formally known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States.  Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

Source: timeanddate.com

May 16, 2012
Helping Your Child Understand Science
Science is more than facts and theories.  It's a way of thinking that encourages observation, experimentation and analysis.  You can help your child understand the basic concepts of science by simply encouraging her curiosity.  Ask your child:
  * Why does your ice cream cone drip?
  * Why do some things float, and some things sink, in the bathtub?
  * When you put on a sweater, why does your hair stand up?
  * Why does the snow sometimes seem to be going sideways? If neither of you knows the answers, look them up together!

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

May 9, 2012
Don't Forget Mother's Day - this coming Sunday, May 13, 2012
Many people send cards or gifts to their mother or mother figure or make a special effort to visit her.  Common Mother's Day gifts are flowers, chocolate, candy, clothing, jewelry and treats, such as a beauty treatment or trip to a spa.  Some families organize an outing for all of their members or hold a special meal at home or in a restaurant.

Source: timeanddate.com

May 2, 2012
Father warmth and nurturance significantly predicts children's moral maturity, is associated with more pro-social and positive moral behavior in boys and girls, and is positively correlated with high scores on measures of internal moral judgment, moral values, and conformity to rules.

Source: Healthy Marriages, Responsible Fatherhood: Research on the Alignment of Marital Outcomes, Marriage Education and Their Impact on Father Involvement in the Lives of Their Children

April 25, 2012
Today is Administrative Professionals Day
During World War II, there was an increased need for skilled administrative personnel, particularly in the United States.  An association was formed to recognize the contributions of secretaries and other administrative personnel to the economy, to support their personal development and to help attract people to administrative careers in the field.  The first National Secretaries Week was organized in 1952 in conjunction with the United States Department of Commerce and various office supply and equipment manufacturers.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) in 2000 announced the names of the week and the day were changed to Administrative Professionals Week and Day to keep pace with changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of the modern administrative workforce.  Many work environments across the world observe this event.

Source: timeanddate.com

April 18, 2012
Create a story one word at a time. Starting with "Once upon a time," go around the room and have each person add a single word to the story. Tip: Decide on a genre in advance - fairy tale, ghost story, etc. - and go from there.

Source: realsimple.com: fun things to do

April 11, 2012
Helping Your Child Embrace Music
Research suggests that children who play an instrument do better in school than children who do not.  Music teaches discipline, relieves stress and can be a life-long source of enjoyment.  Be sure to encourage your child's musical education.
   * Incorporate music into your everyday family life.
   * Share your musical likes with your child and be open to his.
   * Let your child decide if she wants to learn an instrument, and if so, which one.
   * Make sure practice time never becomes a punishment.

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

April 4, 2012
"Father hunger" often afflicts boys aged 1-2 whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent.  Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and night terrors frequently begin 1-3 months after the father leaves home.

Source: Boys Father Hunger: The Missing Father Syndrome, Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, January 1989

March 28, 2012
An excellent way for students to gain a feel for aerodynamic forces is to fly a kite.  Kites come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and each kite flies a little differently from another kite.  Kite flying is an excellent way to learn while you are having fun, but kite flying can also be dangerous.
Like NASA - take safety very seriously.  Safety is the first mission in flying; whether it is flying the space shuttle, an experimental aircraft, or a kite.  Be aware of the people and things around you which can be harmed by your aircraft, or which can harm you or your aircraft.
   * Fly your kite in an open field or near the shore where there are no obstacles.
   * Never fly near trees.  As Charlie Brown observed, they like to eat kites.
   * Never fly near a highway.  You can be hurt chasing your kite across the highway and people driving by are often distracted by kite flyers.
   * Never fly near houses.  Your kite can do damage to the windows, sidings and roof of a house.
   * And never, ever fly near high tension wires.  If your kite touches the lines you can be killed by the electricity.
Fly safely.

Source: NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

March 21, 2012
Helping Your Child Appreciate History
The study of history provides children with an inquiring mind, a sense of their place in the world, and the chance to learn from others' mistakes.  Here are some ways you can help your child appreciate history and see that it is more than boring dates and facts.
     * Give your child a tape recorder to interview family members and discover his own history.
     * Reenact an historical event with your child so she can feel the excitement.  Pretend that you are walking on the moon.
     * If your child loves cars, help him learn about the history of motor vehicles.
     * Have your child create her own time capsule for the future.

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

March 14, 2012
Approximately 20-25% of children from divorced families experience long-term difficulties in relationships, academics, occupation, mood or behavior.  It seems to be particularly important for girls' long-term prospects for academic and occupational success "to see their father as an active presence during adolescence."

Source: The National Center for Education Statistics, "The Condition of Education, 1997"

March 7, 2012
Daylight Saving Time starts Sunday, March 11, 2012
Don't forget to set your clocks FORWARD one hour before going to bed Saturday night.

A Safety Reminder
Don't forget to check the batteries in your smoke detectors when you change your clocks.  Most homes in the United States have smoke detectors, but one-third of those homes may have dead or missing batteries.

February 29, 2012
Kidsfest:  March 2 - 4, 2012
Enjoy fun activities, games and entertainment for kids and their families at the Varied Industries Building - Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
   Friday, March 2 - 6 pm to 9 pm
   Saturday, March 3 - 9 am to 6 pm
   Sunday, March 4 - 10 am to 4 pm
All the fun is for a good cause - proceeds from the event support Children & Families of Iowa's programs.

February 22, 2012
Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor.  A child with a nonresident father is 54% more likely to be poorer than his or her father.

Source: Getting to Know Poor Fathers Who Do Not Pay Child Support, Social Services Review 75 (September 2001)

February 15, 2012
Presidents' Day – Monday, February 20
Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States.  It is also commonly known as Presidents Day (sometimes spelled Presidents' Day or President's Day).
The federal holiday honors the accomplishments of the man known as "The Father of his Country".  Celebrated for his leadership in the founding of the nation, he was the Electoral College's unanimous choice to become the first President; he was seen as a unifying force for the new republic and set an example for future holders of the office.

Source: Wikipedia

February 8, 2012
Turn It Off... And Turn on Your Child's Imagination
Our children are spending too much time in front of the television. Too much television cuts into family time, may encourage violence, and promotes inactive lifestyles. Excessive TV watching has been linked to overweight in children. Tips to help you and your family turn it off are:
*Designate certain days of the week as TV-free days
* Turn the TV off during mealtime
* Move the TV to a less prominent location
* Listen to music instead of watching TV
* Read to your children
* Have your child draw a picture
* Put a puzzle together
* Limit the number of TV's in your home to one or two

Source: January parent newsletter, colormehealthy.com

February 1, 2012
Helping Your Child Master Math
It is almost impossible to live an independent life without basic math skills.  Math teaches logic and order.  It teaches kids how to think.  Take advantage of the endless opportunities your daily life provides for helping your child learn math.
* Have a yard sale and let your child take the money and make change.
* On game night, appoint your child the scorekeeper.
* Teach fractions by dividing up an uncut pizza or apple pie.
* With younger children, play a geometric version of "I spy" – I spy a circle, I spy a triangle, I spy a square.

Source: 2012 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

January 25, 2012
Eating Together as a Family
The family meal is a place for children to learn what their parents think is important; learn good manners and how to hold a conversation with an adult. The family meal is a good time to introduce a new food or recipe. The family meal gives children a feeling of being connected with their parents. Studies show that children who eat with their families are less likely to have problems in their teen years. Make having a family meal a priority; you'll be glad you did!

Source: January parent newsletter, colormehealthy.com

January 18, 2012
An Easy Way for Dad to Bond with Baby - Get up and Dance!
Babies love dancing with their daddies, either strapped to their chests or held in their arms. Little ones enjoy being gently jiggled about, and this not only helps a dad and baby to bond, it can also soothe and quiet a fussy baby. With a bit of luck, it may even put her to sleep!

Source: babyzone.com

January 11, 2012
Let your child help in the kitchen. Allow them to help measure ingredients as well as wash fruits and vegetables.  Allowing children to help make a meal will make them more willing to try it.

Source: January parent newsletter, colormehealthy.com

January 4, 2012
Winter Safety Tips
Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm.

What to Wear
* Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don't forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat. 
* The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.

* Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen.  This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose.  They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb. 
* If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water.  104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips. 
* Do not rub the frozen areas. 
* After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink. 
* If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Winter Sports and Activities
* Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.  Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Sun Protection
* The sun's rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow.  Make sure to cover your child's exposed skin with sunscreen.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics


December 28, 2011
The following New Year tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
* I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong. 
* I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating. 
* I won't tease dogs or other pets - even friendly ones.
Kids, 5- to 12-years-old
* I will drink milk and water three times each day, and limit soda and fruit drinks to once each day. 
* I will always wear a helmet when bicycling. 
* I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. 
* I'll be nice to other kids. I'll be friendly to kids who need friends – like someone who is shy, or is new to my school.
Kids, 13-years-old and up
* I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition. 
* When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust. 
* I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol. 
* I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

December 21, 2011
Tomorrow, December 22 is a Winter Solstice Day
The December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight for those living in the northern hemisphere. It has influenced the lives of many people over the centuries, particularly through art, literature, mythology and religion. Although winter was regarded as the season of dormancy, darkness and cold, the coming of lighter days after the winter solstice brought on a more festive mood.

Source: timeanddate.com

December 14, 2011
In 2010, there were an estimated 154,000 stay-at-home dads.  These married fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wives work outside the home. These fathers cared for 287,000 children.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau: America's Families and Living Arrangements

December 7, 2011
Parenting Tip - Say what you are going to do and stick to it
Most parents unknowingly teach their kids to not listen to them. If you consistently repeat yourself and then don't follow through on what you've said, you are teaching your kids to ignore you (and especially to ignore you the first time you say you're going to do something). If you are not going to do what you say you are going to do - you are basically teaching your children that your word is muck and can't be trusted. By following through on your word consistently you will begin to pave the road that leads to your children hearing you the first time.

Source: ultimateparent.com

November 30, 2011
Talking to Kids and Teens about Social Media
Today's teens and "tweens" are connected to one another, and to the world, via digital technology more than any previous generation. Recent data suggests that social media (SM) venues like Facebook and MySpace have surpassed e-mail as the preferred method of communication in all age groups. While today's tweens and teens may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and life experience can quickly get them into trouble with these new social venues.  For this reason, it is imperative that parents talk with their children of all ages about social media and monitor their online SM use to help them navigate this new online social world. How parents talk with their kids and teens will vary slightly by age depending on the topic being discussed.
Here are some tips that will help you start that journey with your family.
  * Learn about these technologies first hand. There is simply no better way than to have a profile yourself. It will also enable you to "friend" your kids and monitor them on line.
  * Let them know that their use of technology is something you want and need to know about. 
  * Keep the computer in a public part of your home, such as the family room or kitchen, so that you can check on what your kids are doing online and how much time they are spending there.
  * For all ages, emphasize that everything sent over the Internet or a cell phone can be shared with the entire world, so it is important they use good judgment in sending messages and pictures and set privacy settings on social media sites appropriately. 
  * Check chat logs, emails, files and social networking profiles for inappropriate content, friends, messages, and images periodically.  Be transparent and let your kids know what you are doing.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

November 23, 2011
Thanksgiving - November 24, 2011
The first Thanksgiving in the United States is generally associated with the first successful harvest celebration in 1621 by the Pilgrims.
Who Were the Pilgrims?
There is no single definition of "Pilgrim." Many families, Separatists and non-Separatists and Separatist sympathizers alike, traveled to America in several ships in the 1620s. Early Plymouth records refer to all passengers from the first four ships as "First Comers."  These ships were the Mayflower (1620), the Fortune (1621), the Anne and the Little James (1623). The term "Pilgrim" was not generally used until the early 1800s.

Source: Pilgrim Hall Museum

November 16, 2011
Parenting Tips - Respect
Don't do anything to your child that you wouldn't want your child to do to you. The list of things you don't want to be doing includes yelling, hitting, spitting, making fun of people and putting others down. There are far better ways for you to handle conflict, stress and common misbehaviors.

Source: ultimateparent.com

November 9, 2011
Veterans Day - Friday, November 11, 2011 (11-11-11)
November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars." World War I - known at the time as "The Great War" - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles in France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Source: United States Department of Veterans Affairs

November 2, 2011
Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 6, 2011
Don't forget to set your clocks BACK one hour before going to bed Saturday night.
A Safety Reminder
Many fire departments encourage people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change their clocks.  More than 90 percent of homes in the United States have smoke detectors, but one-third are estimated to have dead or missing batteries.
October 26, 2011
Halloween - October 31
Please encourage your children to remember safety tips:
* Do not get into cars or talk to strangers
* Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only when the lights tell you to
* Visit only houses with Halloween decorations - not everyone wants to receive trick or treaters, so teach your children to respect that
* Do not enter homes of strangers - only accept treats in the doorway and thank the homeowner for the treat

October 19, 2011
The best predictor of father presence is marital status; when a father's romantic relationship with the child's mother ends, more likely than not, so does father involvement with their children.

Source: Divorce Dads, and the Well-being of Children, Institute for American Values, Center for Marriage and Families, July 2008

October 12, 2011
Recipe for an Accepting Child
Our families and schools and communities are a rich blend of peoples, cultures and ethnicities.  Teach your child to be tolerant of all by encouraging him to play with kids who are different from him.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

October 5, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Practice positive parenting.  Show affection for your child.  Recognize his or her accomplishments.  Encourage your child to express his or her feelings.  Read interactively with your child.  As your child learns to read, listen as he or she reads out loud to you.  Teach family rules.  Set limits, establish consequences, and assign responsibilities.  Help your child set achievable goals - your child will learn the important skill of taking pride in himself or herself and rely less on approval or reward from others.  Talk with your child about school, friends, and things she or he looks forward to in the future.  Talk with your child about respecting others and encourage him or her to help people in need.  Expect curiosity and be prepared to answer your child's questions about his or her body.  Explain that certain body parts are private.  Do fun things together as a family, such as playing games, reading, and going to events in your community.

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

September 28, 2011
Early adolescence (12-14 years old) is a time of many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. Some changes younger teens go through are:
* More concern about body image, looks, and clothes.
* More interest in and influence by peer group.
* Less affection shown toward parents.  May sometimes seem rude or short-tempered.
* More ability for complex thought.
* Better able to express feelings through talking.
* Moodiness.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

September 21, 2011
Infants of highly involved fathers, as measured by amounts of interaction, including higher levels of play and caregiving activities, are more cognitively competent at six months and score higher on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, are better problem solvers as toddlers and have higher IQs by age three.

Source: Goldberg, W.A. & Easterbrooks, M.A. (1984). Development Psychology

September 14, 2011
Recipe for Feeling Good
Your child needs your love and acceptance to feel good about himself and to be comfortable in his own skin.  Embrace your child's uniqueness.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

September 7, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Practice prevention and safety.  Teach your child about staying safe, including always swimming with adult supervision.  Use safety equipment that can reduce injuries and even save your child's life.  Encourage your child to wear a helmet and protective gear when bicycling, playing contact sports, using in-line skates, or riding a skateboard.  In addition, pedestrian safety skills are very important.  Children ages 5 to 9 still need supervision when crossing busy streets.  Also, teach your child about sun safety, including wearing a hat outdoors and frequently applying SPF 30 sunscreen.  If you have a firearm, keep it unloaded and locked up, or remove it from your home.  Also, a child may come into potentially dangerous situations or may become separated from a parent or caregiver.  Be sure your child knows his or her name, parents' names, and phone number.  Help him or her to recognize police and fire officials as trusted individuals, while raising caution to other strangers.  Get your child's fingerprints taken and keep a recent photograph in your wallet.

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

August 31, 2011
Labor Day - September 5, 2011
The first Labor Day was held in 1882 and became a federal holiday in 1894.  It was originally intended that street parades be held to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations.  One of the reasons for choosing the first Monday in September was to add a holiday in the long gap between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

August 24, 2011
Child Safety First
Encourage your toddler to sit when eating and to chew their food thoroughly.  Other tips to promote safety:
* Check toys often for loose or broken parts.
* Encourage your toddler not to put pencils or crayons in his mouth when coloring or drawing.
* Never leave your toddler near or around water (that is, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or rivers) without someone watching her.
* Never drink hot objects while your child is sitting on your lap. Sudden movements can cause a spill.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

August 17, 2011
A recently released report in Britain suggests development of a parenting campaign "5-a-day for child development".  The report backs the suggestion that providing support in the earliest years of a child's life that the biggest differences can be made.  The "5-a-day" campaign could look like the following:
     Five steps (every day) to help your child
     * Read to your child for 15 minutes
     * Play with your child on the floor for 10 minutes
     * Talk with your child for 20 minutes with the television off
     * Adopt positive attitudes toward your child and praise them frequently
     * Give your child a nutritious diet to aid development

Source: CentreForum (an independent, liberal think tank) publication:  Parenting Matters: early years and social mobility by Chris Paterson, August 2011

August 10, 2011
Recipe for a Happy Life
Children often see happiness in terms of "things."  Teach your child to find joy in what really matters - family and friends and helping others.  These are things that will truly make us smile.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

August 3, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Always use a car safety seat.  Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 9.  Be sure your child rides in an age-, weight- and height-appropriate child safety seat or booster seat, correctly installed in the back seat, on every trip.  Children should ride in a safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until at least age 8.  You can tell when your child is ready for a booster seat when your child reaches the top weight or height allowed for the safety seat, your child's shoulders are above the harness slots, or your child's ears have reached the top of the safety seat.  If you have any questions about how to install your child safety seat or booster seat, many local fire and police departments will help you.  Once your child has outgrown the safety seat, be sure that he or she always wears a seatbelt in your car and any other vehicle.

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

July 27, 2011
The absence of the father in the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in greater use of alcohol and marijuana.

Source: "Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse" Adolescence 30 (1995)

July 20, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Make sure your child has a primary health provider.  Prevention is the key to a healthy childhood.  So make sure that your child has a primary health provider, such as a pediatrician or family practitioner, who knows your child before your child has an illness, injury, or developmental delay, that requires medical attention.

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

July 13, 2011
Disconnected Youth
Reaching adulthood used to mean getting married and having children; today it means either completing school, living independently and/or having a full-time job - but that's not so easy these days.  The trend has resulted in more young adults than ever before who are still living with their parents.

Source: National Center for Children in Poverty:  see publication - A Profile of Disconnected Young Adults in 2010

July 6, 2011
Recipe for an Independent Child
You can help develop your child's independence by instilling confidence.  As they grow and progress, give them the freedom to make their own choices.  Let them spread their wings and fly.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

June 29, 2011
Independence Day - July 4
On July 4th in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.  As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.

Source:  U.S. Census Bureau

June 22, 2011
Recipe for Priceless Memories
You don't have to give your child a "picture perfect" life.  You just need to be there - listening to their troubles, celebrating their victories and creating everyday memories they will never forget.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

June 15, 2011
Father's Day - June 19
A day in June was chosen for the first Father's Day celebration - 101 years ago, June 19, 1910, because it was the month of the birth of William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm.

In 2010, there were 1.8 million single fathers (15% of single parents were men).  9% of the single fathers were raising three or more children younger than 18.  About 46% were divorced, 30% were never married, 19% were separated, and about 6% were widowed.

Source:  U.S. Census Bureau

June 8, 2011
The average newborn cries from one to four hours a day, every day, for the first year of her life.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

June 1, 2011
Children of fatherless families are less likely to attend college, are more likely to have children out of wedlock, and are less likely to marry; those who do marry are more likely to divorce. . .Children from single-mother households earn less as adults than children from two-parent families (and are) more likely to be incarcerated.

Source: The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man:  The Annual Public Costs of Father Absence. (2008)  National Fatherhood Initiative

May 25, 2011
Memorial Day - May 30, 2011
This holiday, on the fourth Monday of every May, is a day on which Americans honor the dead.  Originally a day on which flags and flowers were placed on graves of soldiers who died in the American Civil War, it has become a day on which the dead of all wars and other dead are remembered the same way.  However, to many Americans the day also signals the beginning of summer with a three-day weekend to spend at the beach, in the mountains or at home relaxing.

Source: Consulate General of the United States

May 18, 2011
Recipe for a Continued Success
Celebrate your child's successes regularly.  Don't wait for the major milestones, but celebrate the little achievements too, like an exceptionally clean bedroom or homework done promptly.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

May 11, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Teach and practice healthy eating.  A healthy diet maximizes the likelihood of a child growing up healthy and strong.  Provide three nutritious meals a day, with fruits and vegetables, supplemented with two healthy snacks a day.  Share meals as a family.  Offer children nutritious foods and let them decide how much to eat.  Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine.  Be a good role model and follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/index.html

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

May 4, 2011
Mother's Day - May 8, 2011
The driving force behind Mother's Day was Anna Jarvis, who organized observances in Grafton, WV and Philadelphia, PA on May 10, 1908.  As the annual celebration became popular around the country, Jarvis asked members of Congress to set aside a day to honor mothers.  She finally succeeded in 1914, when Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

April 27, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Pay attention to important milestones.  For example, children ages 6 to 8 years should be able to dress themselves, catch a ball more easily with only their hands, and tie their shoes.  They will also show more independence from parents and family, a stronger sense of right and wrong, a growing desire to be liked and accepted by friends, and a greater ability to describe experiences and talk about thoughts and feelings.  If you have concerns, talk with your child's school or a health care professional to decide if developmental screening is warranted.  http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/child/middlechildhood.htm

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

April 20, 2011
". . .evidence suggests that the influence of father love on offspring's development is as great as and occasionally greater than the influence of mother love."

Source: "The importance of father love: history and contemporary evidence." Review of General Psychology

April 13, 2011
Pregnancy Planning and Prevention
Shockingly, half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.  While there is concern about teen pregnancy rates, it is also true that many adults experience unplanned pregnancies.  The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that:
* 7 in 10 pregnancies to unmarried women in their 20s are unplanned.
* There are more than 1 million unplanned pregnancies to unmarried women ages 20-29.
* Two-thirds of unplanned pregnancies in this age group are to women in the lowest income brackets.
* Unplanned pregnancy is not just an issue for women who have never been pregnant before: 72% of all unplanned pregnancies to unmarried women in their twenties are to women who have already had at least one pregnancy.

Source:  http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/planningforchildren/guide.aspx

April 6, 2011
Recipe for a Creative Thinker
Help your child see the world in her own unique way by encouraging her imagination.  Is that really celery and crackers, or is it a rear engine dragster with parachute control?

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

March 30, 2011
Parents will change 6 to 8 diapers a day, or approximately 2,500 during a baby's first year.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

March 23, 2011
Recipe for a Secure Child
You are the best security blanket your child could ever have.  By providing the structure, consistency and boundaries your child needs, you help her feel safe in a world that is often unstable.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

March 16, 2011
The best predictor of father presence is marital status; when a father's romantic relationship with the child's mother ends, more likely than not, so does father involvement with their children.

Source: Divorce Dads, and the Well-Being of Children.  Institute for American Values, Center for Marriage and Families, July 2008

March 9, 2011
Daylight Saving Time
Benjamin Franklin is credited with the concept of Daylight Saving Time.  The basic idea is to make the best use of daylight hours by shifting the clock forward in the spring and backward in the fall.  Daylight Saving Time has been in use throughout much of the United States, Canada and Europe since World War I.

Don't forget - Daylight Saving Time starts at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2011.
Set your clocks forward one hour before going to bed Saturday night.

Source: NASA Eclipse website

March 2, 2011
Children from a fatherless home are:
   * 5 times more likely to commit suicide
   * 32 times more likely to run away
   * 14 times more likely to commit rape
   * 9 times more likely to drop out of school
   * 20 times more likely to end up in prison

Source: The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect: Final Report, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services. Sept. 1996.

February 23, 2011
Kidsfest:  March 4 - 6, 2011
Enjoy fun activities, games and entertainment for kids and their families at the Varied Industries Building - Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
     Friday, March 4 - 6 pm to 9 pm
     Saturday, March 5 - 9 am to 6 pm
     Sunday, March 6 - 10 am to 4 pm
All the fun is for a good cause - proceeds from the event support Children & Families of Iowa's programs.

February 16, 2011
Loving Fathers
"Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.  Committed and responsible fathering during infancy and early childhood contributes to emotional security, curiosity, and math and verbal skills."

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Promoting Responsible Fatherhood

February 9, 2011
Learning through Play
The act of playing is an important tool that influences a child's life.  The primary goals of childhood are to grow, learn, and play.  It is often through play that children learn to make sense of the world around them.  It is a child's "job" to play to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity, social skills to interact with other children, and self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.
A child's inability to play well could indicate another problem, such as a learning disability or behavioral problem. If you would like to consult an occupational therapist, your physician, other health professionals, and your school district's director of special education may have information on how you can access an occupational therapist in your area.

Source:  The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc.

February 2, 2011
Changing Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Mothers
Education:  Most mothers of newborns (54%) had at least some college education in 2006, an increase from 41% in 1990.  Among mothers of newborns who were ages 35 and older, 71% had at least some college education.
Race and Ethnicity:  White women made up 53% of mothers of newborns in 2008, down from 65% in 1990.  The share of births to Hispanic women has grown dramatically, to one-in-four.

Source:  A Pew Research Center report examining the changing demographic characteristics of U.S. mothers by comparing women who gave birth in 2008 with those who gave birth in 1990.  http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1586/changing-demographic-characteristics-american-mothers

January 26, 2011
Reconnecting with Your Children
Maintaining - or patching up - your connection with your children requires some sacrifice and self-discipline but can start with several easy-to-follow approaches:
* Be involved with your children as much as possible, even daily if you can.  Although you might not be able to see them in person, use the phone, e-mail, and texting to stay in touch consistently.  Answer their messages promptly so they believe you are available when they need you or just want to chat.
* Show acceptance of your children for who they are, rather than only for what they do.  Your constant acceptance proves to your children that you love them unconditionally.
* Demonstrate your affection through loving words or appropriate touch.  Communicate to your children that you value them and they are worth loving.
* Be consistent in your personal characteristics and fathering habits.  No matter the circumstances, your children should know what to expect from you and that they can count on you.
While separation and divorce can threaten the fragile bond between fathers and children, the challenges they present nevertheless can be opportunities for personal development and growth, by you and your children.

January 19, 2011
Tips to Fathers for a Healthy Childhood
Maximize school success.  Meet with teachers and prepare your child to enter school positively - for the first year of school and every year thereafter.  Talk about new opportunities, friends, and activities at school.  Tour the school with your child, and be involved in school activities.  If your child has trouble concentrating or is hyperactive more frequently than other children in his or her same stage of development, talk to your health care professional.  Your child could have Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  ADHD is one of the most common childhood behavioral disorders and can persist into adulthood.  Symptoms begin before age 7 and can cause serious difficulties in home, school, or work life.  The good news is that ADHD can be managed through behavioral or medical interventions, or a combination of the two.  http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/default.htm

Source: U.S. Surgeon General as a part of The Year of the Healthy Child agenda

January 12, 2011
Father Absence
"Father absence has risen greatly in the last four decades.  Between 1960 and 2006, the number of children living in single-mother families went from 8% to 23.3% and 34% of children currently live absent their biological father.  . . .The $99.8 billion spent directly on assistance to single-mother households amounted to nearly 4% of the total FY 2006 federal budget."

Source: Nock, Steven L. & Christopher J. Einolf.  The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man: The Annual Public Costs of Father Absence. (2008) National Fatherhood Initiative

January 5, 2011
Recipe for a Warm Relationship
Spend time with your child doing things he or she enjoys - like listening to music or playing a video game.  It's the simplest moments that create the warmest memories.

Source: 2011 Calendar, NJ Department of Human Services

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