MONROE, Wis. - For more than 80 years, Eileen Wagner kept a secret from her children. She thought it was the best way to protect all of them - not only the two kids she raised with her husband, but also a third child, whom she had given up for adoption in 1933 when she was a teenager.
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - As a young child, he played on military trucks freshly back on U.S. soil after World War I. As a teenager, he says he shared the Yankee Stadium baseball diamond with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. As an adult, he spent a decade as the official printer for the U.S. Supreme Court.
My granddaughters' calendar is such that, at times, I feel as if I need to make an appointment to enjoy their company. Their commitments require the organizational skills of experienced social secretaries.
Q: My girlfriend and I were invited to a friend's Seder dinner for the Passover holiday, but the invitation fell through. My girlfriend has met my former wife several times and they appear to like each other, so she asked if we could go to her home for Passover dinner. I figured out a comfortable way to ask and she welcomed us.
Q: What should I do if my 13-year-old son is constantly taking my clothes without telling me? It happened this morning with a pair of jeans. Even my teenage daughter sleeps in my long-sleeve T-shirts, and my 11-year-old son has hijacked my supply of white T-shirts. I'm a frustrated dad.
Dear Mr. Dad: I'm a divorced mom, and because of my past substance abuse issues, my ex-husband has primary physical custody of our children. I only get to see them on weekends and we miss each other terribly. I've been trying to make it up to them by filling every weekend with outings and activities. But I think I've made a mistake. More than anything, I want to just hang out with the kids, but every time I schedule some downtime, they complain that they're bored. What can I do?
There is a good chance you've not been to Marion, Ind. It is north of Indianapolis, past Elwood, but not all the way to Etna. Like the rest of our state, it is what people on the coasts call flyover country - towns and cities bordered by corn and wheat fields that look like checkerboards from an altitude of 36,000 feet.
As the parent of a preschooler, I often see my daughter facing social situations she doesn't know how to handle. Whether it's knowing who to play with at school when her best friend is absent, figuring out what to say when a classmate mocks her letter-tracing or confronting the kid on the playground who pushed her, my parenting approach has been to listen, offer suggestions - but ultimately let her handle her own interactions.
How kids react to sad stuff can be very individual. But it also depends on their age, their temperament, and what's going on in their lives. In general, it's wise to be cautious with sad stuff for kids under 8. Until around age 8, kids can't distinguish between fact and fantasy, so they may process a made-up situation the way they would a "real" one. Your own reactions to sad stuff in movies will also affect your kids. If you start to feel emotional, tell your kid that the scene made you feel sad (it helps them learn to identify emotions). If your kids - or you - experience a strong emotional reaction, take it seriously. It may be "only a movie," but the feelings are real. Take a break, fast-forward through the sad stuff (our reviews usually alert you to red-flag moments), or come back to it later. Here are some more tips:
OK, don't laugh. Virtual summer camps - where kids head to the computer instead of the pool or park - are a thing now. And before you say, "Over my dead body," these aren't the solitary, sedentary, screen-centered experiences you fear. Plenty of virtual summer camps offer kids the chance to make projects, investigate ideas, and explore the world. And many are free.
It's no secret that playing outside is a great way for kids to keep physically fit, but it also has mental benefits. Hattie Garlick, author of the book "Born to Be Wild: Hundreds of Free Nature Activities for Families," suggests taking time to slow down outdoors: "Giving children the opportunity to stretch their bodies and minds in nature helps them alleviate stress and recharge their imaginations." Have your kids try a sequence of these simple exercises - which are inspired by both yoga and nature - to practice mindfulness under the sky.
Parents need to know that the three games included in the "Arcade Game Series 3-In-1 Pack" - Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug - are old-school arcade games and are thus devoid of any violent or sexual content. In Galaga, you do shoot aliens who explode, while Dig Dug squishes his enemies with rocks and uses an air pump to make his enemies expand until they pop, but neither game's deaths are bloody or gory. As for Pac-Man, his binge eating does set a bad example, as does all his pill popping, though he does enjoy some fruit occasionally.