Easy Gardening Activities for Kids

Gardening is indeed one of the most interesting activities for many and growing plants is the best way to interact with nature. Being a gardener myself, I enjoy the sheer pleasure of watching the sprouting seeds, growing shoots, blooms and fruits. Love for nature is something that I developed at a very young age. But, nowadays, kids like spending time on gadgets and gizmos, rather than watching plants, birds or bugs. There are only a few, who are interested in understanding nature. While some parents love gardening, they forget to involve their kids in this wonderful activity. In some cases, the kids themselves do not find it interesting. If you want to awaken the nature lover in your kid, introducing them to gardening (that too at a young age) is one of the best ways.

Introducing Kids to Gardening

Kids are found to have an innate interest in nature. They love chasing butterflies and playing in mud or water. They like touching worms and bugs. If your kid belongs to this category, you can easily introduce him/her to gardening. For others, you have to identify their area of interest, before forcing them to grow plants. Some may love watching bugs and worms, while others love flowers. You have to engage them in activities, which allow them to follow their interests. Try to make the activity interesting and fun-filled, as kids tend to get bored easily.

If your kid loves flowers, let him/her identify different types of flowers and their smell. Tell them about how plants grow and produce blooms and fruits. If the kid is found to be interested in a particular plant, you can grow that in your garden. Ask the kid to plant the seeds or water the soil. He/she will be enthusiastic to find the seed sprout, grow and bloom. This method is useful for those with kids in the age group of four to six. For older ones, you can assign a patch of soil for gardening. Let them grow flowers and vegetables of their choice. Supervise their work and help them. You may also ask them to present their products in local fairs.

You can introduce younger kids to gardening, but in a different way. Explain to them about the different types of plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables and how they grow in soil. Live examples are always better (choose those plants that grow fast). Let the kid watch, as you sow seeds, grow plants, remove weeds and feed them. This will help him/her to develop a bond with nature, at a very young age.

Fun-filled Gardening Activities for Kids

We all know that kids love fun-filled activities and anything that is monotonous, can be boring for them. So, make gardening a fun activity for them. Parents must plan the activities and join the kids for the same. The following are some tips about how to make gardening more interesting for kids.
To start with, allow your kid to roam around and explore the garden. You may also take the kid to places with natural surroundings. Collect different types of leaves and flowers and let the kids feel their texture and smell. Allow them to inspect different types of insects and worms.
For smaller kids, you may come up with activities like painting pots that are meant for plants. You may also allow them to collect differently shaped containers that can be used for this purpose. It could be anything from a discarded pair of shoes to an old can.
If you are searching for some fun-filled gardening activities for kids, try to make a watering can with old plastic bottles or containers. All you have to do is to make some holes on the lid of the bottle and a single hole (somewhere near the handle or top for air movement). Let your kid enjoy watering plants with the newly made watering can.
If you have space constraints, then get a good quality kids’ gardening kit and make your child grow some plants. These kits come with all the required materials for gardening, and so, are excellent for kids, especially the younger ones.
If you are ready to invest some time, then try to grow a playhouse (along with your kids) with plants like sunflower. You may also plant some cucumber or pole beans in between. Watermelon is also not a bad choice for this purpose. Kids will enjoy growing such a playhouse that could be a perfect spot for them to play and have fun.
Gardening activities for kids can be fun, if you allow them to grow plants in specific shapes. Allot them some soil or a patch of soil and some fast-growing seeds. Let the kids decide the shapes in which they want to grow the plants. It could be anything ranging from simple square or circle to alphabets. They can also use plants with colorful flowers. In that case, collect seeds of plants with flower colors matching with the seven shades in the rainbow and grow them in a semi-circular shape.
You may also plan a movable garden on wheels. Get a wagon planter and provide your kids with soil and bedding plants of their choice. Plants like ‘tickle me’ will be much more interesting for smaller kids. Even herbs, like peppermint and basil are good choices for their unique scent.
For older kids, you may get some special cultivars that they may enjoy growing. You may opt for cultivars like blue potato, yellow tomato, purple beans, etc. You may also choose plants with edible fruits and vegetables. Kids may enjoy harvesting and consuming the fresh veggies and fruits grown by them.
Growing a windowsill garden is one of the best winter gardening activities for kids. This is the best time for painting terracotta plant pots and other such gardening accessories. You may also help the kids to make a terrarium or a bird feeder. Vermicomposting can also be done during this time.
The above said are only a few guidelines about gardening with children. You may use them as per the age of your child and his/her temperament. However, make sure to monitor these activities and help them, if needed. This is more applicable for younger kids. It will be better to go for plants that grow fast and seeds that are large and easy-growing. Go for organic gardening and avoid chemicals in any form. Ensure that the kids keep the work area clean and wash their hands with soap, once they finish their daily work in the garden. Never fail to encourage them for their efforts.

You may find a thousand other ways to make gardening fun-filled and interesting for your kids. Apart from instilling a love for nature, gardening helps kids to recognize the value of fresh fruits and vegetables. It can also be viewed as a form of exercise for kids, who would otherwise spend time watching television or sitting in front of a computer. So, let loose your creativity and come up with some unique gardening ideas that your kids will enjoy.

How to Be a Good Father

Firstly, for those of you, on the brink of becoming a father, congratulations are in order and those of you who wish to be better fathers, I wish you all the very best. The lesson of being a good father, is synonymous with being a responsible human being.

Preparing for fatherhood is a balancing act, that is unparalleled with anything you will ever do in life. It is being tender, yet tough at times, being protective without smothering your child, being a good mentor, without trying to take control, letting them be independent, yet being there for them. As you can see, it is not going to be easy. Having the responsibility of an entire person upon you, is never going to be easy for you or your wife.

To be a good father is a journey in self-discovery and the greatest lesson of your life. It is an opportunity to pass on all that is good in you and see a tender new life blossoming under your care. You are going to learn more from your child, than you learned from anybody else ever.

You have been on the other side before, that is, you have been a son. Now, it is time for a role reversal and you are a father now. It is time to unlearn a lot and learn a lot more along the way. Do not blindly give your children, the same treatment, just because you got the same from your mother and father. Recognize the good points of what they did and also identify the bad parts. Pass on whatever good there was and I am sure there was a lot. Forget and forgive the bad parts, if there were any. Make sure that you do not repeat them with your children.

As you face your own difficulties of bringing up your own child, you will be able to appreciate your father and mother, even more, for how they put up with you.

Being the Best Father

Unconditional Love…
Unconditional love is the prime ingredient for being a good father. You do not have to work to bring this out, it’s always there in you, just let it flow out. Do not withhold love under a false exterior of appearing to be tough or being a man. Let your child feel loved.

It is very essential that your child learns how to take in love and give out love. If he is deprived of that, it will create problems for him later, when he is connecting with the world outside. When a child grows up, seeing and feeling the love between you and your wife, he will learn to love too.

Enjoy the process of Being a Father
Enjoy the process of nurturing a new personality and seeing a new person take shape. You have to be a child yourself again, to connect with your child. See the world anew, through his or her eyes and see your own perceptions change. Right from changing nappies to dropping children to school, you will relive your entire childhood.

Be your child’s friend and his protector. There is something very satisfying in being a father. That feeling, you can only understand, when you see your child for the first time. It is scary and wonderful at the same time. So, enjoy the process of bringing up your child.

Be Responsible and Share Responsibility
Understand the immense responsibility you have on your shoulder as a father. Do not run away from it. Embrace it and grow with it. It is time to shed your careless ways and realize that one more person depends on you now. Whatever you and your wife do, your child is top priority. Think twice before taking rash decisions. In short, remember that you have to put your children before you.

A child’s mind is like clay. It is very impressionable and every action of yours around him or her, is going to influence the formation of his or her psyche. A new personality is taking shape in front of you, so be careful about how you shape it. Do things in such a way that there is no doubt in the mind of the child, about what is the right thing to do.

Share responsibilities with your wife. Plan things together. Be conscious about the health concerns of your child.

Be There For Your Child
Work is no excuse for not being there, when your child needs you. What use is the money you earn, when the people who you earn it for, are deprived of your presence, when they need it. It’s all about priorities in life. Once you marry and have your child, you must think of them first.

Yes, it is important to earn material comforts for your child. However, just buying big and costly toys is not your only responsibility as a father. A toy can be hugged but it cannot hug back. For a child, people are more important than having things. Remember that, or else do not complain when the child grows up to be insensitive.

Ensure Good Education and Moral Conduct
Good values and good education are the greatest gifts you can give a child. Ensure that he gets the best schooling possible. Teach him through example about how lying is wrong, how hurting people is wrong, and how to respect people. The child, especially a son needs to learn to respect women. The lessons for that will be taken from how you treat your wife, your daughters, and your mother.

Be stern and criticize your child, when he does something wrong, but do so in private. Do not insult him to the point where he or she cannot overcome the guilt. Teach your child, that it’s okay to make mistakes, but do not repeat them.

Encourage Curiosity and Independent Thinking
Obedience in a child is a virtue, but not meekness and conformism. Encourage curiosity and independent thinking. Explain things to children, as logically as possible. Do not reinforce false beliefs. Encourage reading and playing sports.

Let There Be Conversation
Talk to your child and create an atmosphere, where he or she can feel free to discuss problems. Let him or her question your methods and thinking. Children are the most honest critics and you will get a lot of insight from them, I am sure. Treat their opinions with respect and do not ridicule them. Teach him to reason things out. This may iron out some of the stubbornness in them.

Spend Quality Time
Go on a hike or camping with your child and show him the wonders of nature. No matter, how busy a schedule, let there be a large portion of your time, that is exclusively devoted to your child. Having fun is an essential part of growth in a child’s life. Have fun together as a family and you will stay a family.

Accept Your Mistakes
When you expect frankness from a child and expect him to own up his own mistakes, you must do the same. A child can very easily spot double standards. They are like mirrors. So, when you are mistaken regarding something and the child points it out to you, accept it. This is very important. When a child sees honesty, he or she reciprocates it.

You Can Be Tough and Firm Without Being Violent
There are bound to be situations, where you may have to be strict and stern, when the child is unreasonable. Reprimand him with straightforward words, when you find something unacceptable and make it crystal clear that it should not be repeated and tell him the consequences of his actions. Beating a child never brings out good results in short or long term. Never raise your hand on a child.

Do Not Compare Between Your Children
Do not compare the abilities of your children and pit them against each other. Teach them the importance of sharing and respecting each other, for what they are. Be fair with children and encourage bonding between them.

Mentoring Without Taking Control
You cannot decide the destiny of your child. Every child is different and comes with inborn gifts. Do not try to mold him in your image and do not expect him to trace your footsteps. Nurture your child and provide all the opportunities you can. Put the pros and cons in front of a child and leave the decision up to him or her. Do not force your child into something, when you realize that it’s not conducive to his or her inborn talents. Do not kill your child’s dreams, but embrace and nurture them. Let the child know that you are always there behind him, for support. Do not use the carrot and stick practice with children. So mentor them, but do not manipulate and control them.

Protect But Do Not Smother With Care
Help your children and take care of them, but do not care so much, that they are unable to stand without you. Encourage self-reliance and resourcefulness in a child. Take pride in doing things on your own and your child will learn that too.

Small Trees Cannot Grow in a Big Tree’s Shade
Let the child bloom into his own personality. Give him opportunities to test his strength in the real world. Let him learn to take his decisions on his own. Trust him with jobs and give him responsibility and I am sure, he won’t be wanting, in shouldering it. This will build up self-esteem in your child.

Don’t Burden Your Child with your Own Unreasonable Expectations
Do not burden children with unreasonable expectations. This puts undue pressure on them. Encourage them to find themselves and be themselves, which is more important.

Never Give Up on Them
Things may go wrong and the child may land himself into trouble. Never give up on him or her. Be there to encourage and be his or her source of confidence and strength. Believe and trust in him to pull out of whatever trouble he or she has gotten into. Do not ignore your children ever.

Let Your Relationship Evolve With Time
As the child grows up to adulthood, be his friend, philosopher, and guide. Let your relationship evolve with time and be transformed into friendship. Let the child benefit from your experience and wisdom and let yourself benefit from the freshness of his spirit.

There is no perfect way to become a good father and life is perhaps the best teacher you can have. No matter what happens, do not let your ego come in the way of reaching out to your children.

You will realize how good a father you were one day, when your son or daughter will beat you at your own game and surprise you with his or her profundity. What you sow, you reap. Nothing can be more satisfying, than seeing your son or daughter fulfill your most ambitious dreams, but it’s more satisfying to bring up good human beings. One day, you will realize that it was not you who carried the child, it was the child who carried you.

What to Watch on Family Movie Nights

Movie nights with the family can be more of a hassle than it is worth, if everyone has different tastes in movies. The kids may be interested in the latest superhero sequel, while mom would prefer a comedy, and dad has his eye on an older James Bond flick. There seems to be no middle ground here. The family could spend half an hour or more arguing about which movie to watch, and go through the endless list of choices available for online streaming or on-demand.

Just when it seems like everyone is happy with the selection, one member of the family complains, and then the whole process starts all over again.
Why Not to Always Let Kids Choose the Movie

In these situations, what usually ends up happening is that one member of the family gets to choose the movie, and everyone else accepts it, along with more or less silent suffering. More often than not, kids get this privilege, since they are the ones with the least capacity to sit through anything. If that system doesn’t work, the family may give up on movie night altogether. This is the situation more and more these days, since everyone can just watch what they want on their own computers or tablets. The drawback, of course, is that family time gets sacrificed.
Try the ‘Pick System’

There is one system that works well for some families, and avoids all the problems mentioned above. I like to call it the ‘pick system’. The pick system is surprisingly simple and effective, and it even has the bonus of teaching some good lessons to the younger members of the family. The system works like this: each member of the family gets one pick, and movie night rotates, so that each member’s pick is shown on a movie night before the rotation is reset. The only hard and fast rule is that, if it isn’t your pick, you must sit through the movie that’s showing, without complaints. When it is your pick, you can choose whatever movie you want, and you know that the rest of the family will have to watch it with you. Depending on the specific needs of your family, you could include a few other rules related to kid-friendliness, subtitles, or other very broad regulations.
Learn Some Positive Life Lessons
When it’s described in writing, the pick system seems so obvious, that it sounds a bit silly, but it’s a proven method that eliminates all the arguing and agonizing, and makes movie night fun again. There’s a bonus which you might not see coming: if you have kids, it will teach them a lesson in consideration and patience. Using the pick system, you will be surprised to find that your kids will start choosing movies that they think will be crowd pleasers. The reason this happens is simple. Imagine it’s your pick, and you choose a movie that everyone in the family ends up loving. They will praise you for having made such a great choice. These words of praise are powerful positive reinforcements-it feels great when the people we love tell us that we did a good job. Of course, sometimes, there will be a movie that someone really, really wants to see, no matter what the others think. The beauty of the pick system is that, that’s always okay.
It Really Works!
In my family, the pick system revolutionized movie night. We used to avoid watching movies together, because it would take ages to find something everyone wanted to see. Now, we watch movies together on a regular basis, because we like sharing our unique tastes with each other, and it’s fun to see what the others will come up with on their turn. We also add a twist to make it exciting: whoever has the pick, can’t tell the others in advance what the movie is-it’s a surprise!

Unique Ideas to Celebrate Parents’ Day

Parents are a source of joy, hope, stability, security and love for their children. They play an important role in imparting values, and there is no doubt why there shouldn’t be a day to revere them.

Parents’ Day was formulated in 1994 by the then President Bill Clinton, who declared the fourth Sunday of July as a day to commemorate the role of parents and to promote ideal parenthood. According to the National Parents’ Day Council, it is not just a day to honor Moms and Dads, but also a day when parents can rededicate themselves to their children. The idea behind the concept of Parents’ Day is to celebrate a day of unconditional and true love.

The Roman Catholic Church venerates 26 July as the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church dedicates this day to parents and grandparents the world over. Considered to be the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne are venerated as exemplary models for all parents. According to the American Catholic organization, 26 July is celebrated as the ‘Feast of Grandparents’. It is a day to remind grandparents of their responsibility and it also acts as a foundation for future generations. It is a day to remember the role of parents in each one’s life.

As the world gears up to celebrate Parents’ Day with gifts and cards, you can make this day extra special for your parents in a unique way. It’s a day you get to honor your father and mother in a way that you have never done before. After all respecting parents is one of the commandments given by God. Take a look at how you can make this day a special occasion for your parents.

10 Ways to Make it a Special Occasion

“There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.” – Henry Ward Beecher

» Happy Wanderers
Pack your backpacks and wander off together as a family. Take along some eatables and some games too and have a wonderful time bonding with your parents. Knapsacking as happy wanderers is a good way to reminiscence your childhood days.

» Dine Out
Surprise your parents by booking a table at a nice little restaurant and treat them to their favorite cuisine. If you are capable enough, reserving a table in a plush multi-cuisine restaurant won’t do you any harm. You can add a little bit of charm by asking for some special music, or better still, surprise them by playing a song or two yourself.

» Bring the Restaurant Home
Set up a nice little tent in the backyard or the garden and decorate it with drapes, wind-chimes or beads. Then cook a nice meal and dine out in the open along with your parents. To make it even more special, ensure you include the things they love to eat, or maybe try out a dish that they have never tried before. You can ask an older relative to help you out with your preparations.

» Organize a Theme Party
Get your family together by organizing a theme party. It would be fun to revisit the good old childhood days when you and your siblings wore matching ensembles. Only this time match your outfit with that of your parents’ so it would be ‘like father like son’ and ‘like mother like daughter’.

» Book a Yacht
If you are capable enough, you can book a private yacht for a day and set sail with your parents. If this seems too costly an affair, opt for a day cruise which will allow you to spend quality time with your parents. You can spend the day catching up on good old memories.

» Book Tickets for a Show
Present your parents with tickets for a concert or a theatrical or even for a movie that they like. You can even book tickets for a game that they enjoy. You would have to ensure that you keep spare tickets for yourself to make it even more special. Try to rope in the entire family for the event to make it a day for the entire clan to remember.

» Plan a Nice Little Holiday Together
Seems too far-fetched an idea, but if it brings a smile on your parents face, it would be worth the effort. The amount of time you spend with your parents, no matter how old they are, the better their day is bound to be. You could drive down to a place they would love to go to, or hiring a caravan could do the trick.

» Organize a Surprise Potluck
The greatest gift for a parent is to see all their children spending happy moments together. You can do your bit by organizing a surprise potluck party in honor of your parents. Get each of your siblings to prepare a dish that your parents enjoy. Then get together and see their happy smiles when you shout “Surprise!”.

» Gather Memorabilia
This would require a little bit of hard work on your part. Gather all your childhood pictures, prized possessions and trophies that have made them proud of you in the past and display it in your garden. Invite your parents to visit a museum and surprise them with a mini-museum right in your backyard or attic. This would be a true walk down memory lane for your parents and the best possible way of showing you are grateful for all those memories.

» Make a Promise to Keep
Put on your thinking caps and come up with a handful of vows that you promise to keep for your parents. They can be simple ones like ‘I promise to be there for you’, or ‘I promise to spend a day in the week with you’. Whatever the promise, remember to diligently follow it. Dedicate your time, energy and love for the people who never cease to love and care for you. Time is the only supreme gift that you, as their child, can give to your parents.

Ideas for the Perfect Parents’ Day Gift

Time and love are the only gifts your parents will be satisfied with. However, you can show your love and gratitude for all they do for you with a present or two as well. You will never go wrong with some of these personalized gift ideas.

Say It with a Scroll » Prepare a scroll by artistically sewing or painting a good quote or an excerpt that expresses your love. Display the scroll once your parents have gone off to sleep, so the first thing they notice on Parents’ Day is the beautifully done up scroll.

Gift a Frame » Create a collage of all the best pictures of moments spent with your parents and put it together on a chart. Do remember to personalize it with a few splotches of palm prints, or fingerprints and a few phrases to complete it. Present this as a memoir of the best days of your life.

Quotes Diary » Compose a nice little poem, or gather some of the best quotes on parents and fill up a few pages with them. Present this diary as a sign of gratitude for all the sacrifices they have made to keep you happy.

Photo Album cum Scrapbook » Recollect all the best moments you have spent with your parents and compile them into a scrapbook. Add your personal touch by describing each captured moment the way you remember it. Presenting a scrapbook is a good way of remembering the old days.

Become a Music Jockey » Hunt for the songs that your parents love and put them together on one disc and present it to them. You could even record few of these songs with the help of a few friends and compile a disc and present it to your parents.

Say It with a Card » A homemade card makes a nice gesture to show your love for your parents. Make it even more special by pasting their pictures along with a few of yours to remind them how much you love them.

Cakes, Chocolates and a Bouquet » Flowers have the capability to put an instant smile on anyone’s face. Think of the many ways you can decorate the house with flowers; for a more ethnic touch, prepare a garland and present it to your parents. Chocolates are known to be heart warmers and have no age bar to enjoy. Take along some cake, chocolates – and there you have it – you can make the day the most special day ever.

Finally, tell your parents how much you love them with a nice bear hug. And if you’re still not satisfied, say a prayer for your parents, that’s one of the best gifts you can ever give them this Parents’ Day. This hymn should be able to sum up all your heartfelt gratitude for the gift of your parents “I thank my God each time I think of You, and when I pray for You, I pray with joy.”

Steps to Effective Parenting

Being a parent is not an easy job, and bringing up the children in a proper way is even more difficult. Most of the parents are least prepared and often confused about this. For the parents who want to bring up their children more properly and effectively, here are certain steps to effective parenting.

Nurture Your Child’s Self-respect

The way you talk or behave with your child plays an important role in developing his/her self-esteem. Praise your child for his/her achievements and allow him to do the things for himself. This will help him/her in developing self-confidence. Never underestimate him/her or pass any bad comments. And the most important one is, do not ever compare him/her with other children.

Try to be a Good Role Model

Remember, your child learns a lot just by observing you. He/she tries to behave or act like you, and this possibility increases when he/she is younger. Therefore, it is necessary that you model the qualities you want to develop in your child. “ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN THE WORDS”, and therefore, instead of speaking, you can teach him/her the qualities like respect, honesty, friendliness, kindness, trust, and tolerance simply by your actions. Do not use aggressive words or express your anger in front of him/her.

Appreciate Your Child for Being Good

Praise and appreciate your child for his/her good behavior. Catch him/her while doing something right and pass some positive comments. Compliment him/her every day, however small the reason may be. The comments like “You behave very nicely with elder people” or “You are very good at drawing” will encourage him/her in doing right things. Remember that your compliments, love, and kindness are the greatest gifts that you can offer to your child. Never give negative comments or repeated scolding.

Give the Child Your Undivided Time

In today’s world where both the parents work, it often becomes difficult to give time for the children, which is the greatest gift you can give your child. All the children like being observed and try to do the things by which they can gain others’ attention. But when these children do not get that, they often misbehave as they feel that this is the easiest and quickest way to gain attention. For this reason, it is very important to give some of your quality time to your child. Spend a day with him/her. You can take him/her to a garden or a restaurant once in a week, probably on weekends. You can even have a breakfast or a dinner with him/her if possible.

Make Clear Communication

Try to make communication your first priority. Be clear with your words. As a parent, you expect a lot from your child, so make your expectations clear. Let your child know what you expect from him/her and why you want him/her to do so. If there are some problems, you should be able to explain it to your child or even ask him/her for suggestions. Let your child participate in the decisions.

Be Flexible and Try to Adjust Your Parenting Style

No child is the same and you have to adjust your parenting style accordingly. Every child grows at different speeds; one child may have fast growth while the other may have slow. Comparing the two children or keeping high expectations from them may result in frustration. Therefore, a single parenting style may not work, and you may have to change it according to the child’s growth. What works now may not work later, so be flexible.

Ensure that the Child Knows that Your Love is Unconditional

Let your child know that your love is unconditional, and that even if he/she misbehaves, your love will not change. But this does not mean that he/she can carry over this misbehavior. It is your responsibility as a parent to correct and guide your child properly. The way you do this also makes a difference. Never blame or criticize your child, instead tell him/her in such a way that he/she knows that even if you expect better next time, your love is still there.

Parenting Styles

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But, don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em.”

“Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time, when they learn they’re not attracting attention with it.” ― Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

If you have read this book, then one of the things that will strike you the most is the bond shared by Atticus, a single parent, and his children, Scout and Jim. Most of the lines are memorable, and express a lot about parenting, with immense simplicity. True parenting is about sharing a bond that provides the right amount of affection and love unconditionally, and instills a sense of responsibility and humanity in your offspring.

It is about respecting your kids, and teaching them the essentials of life in a way that doesn’t seem didactic. It is being the child’s friend and mentor, without one role overpowering the other. Parenting is one of the most fulfilling and yet, one of the most difficult tasks in life. Every parent deals with his/her child in their individual way, yet a parenting style is always evident within each one’s pattern of action.

Authoritarian parenting style is the one in which the parents always try to be in control of their kids. Usually, these are the sorts who try to impose rigid rules and restrictions on their kids, in order to keep a tab on them. These parents often believe that children should show no signs of negative emotions like crying, since it makes them appear weak. Hence, you find these parents constantly warning their kids about it. Those who have authoritarian parents, always struggle to keep up with their parents’ expectations, and often end up feeling a lack of affection in the child-parent bond. These parents often fail to explain to their kids the reason behind imposing the rules and restrictions. Kids with authoritative parents often have trouble being independent individuals who think on their own, and have difficulty in trusting their own judgment. They can grow up feeling lonely, emotionally distressed, and can have trouble in learning new concepts and getting along with peers.

Permissive parents or those with a laissez-faire parenting approach, tend to give their children a lot of freedom, and have very little control over their lives. Permissive parents rarely make any rules, and if at all they are made, not all the rules are rigorously imposed. Permissive parents love their kids unconditionally, even if it means accepting their unacceptable/objectionable behavior and tantrums. These parents tend to provide abundant choices and options, without ensuring whether the kids are capable of handling the responsibility, and without ensuring whether they are making the correct choice or not.

Democratic parenting is, perhaps, one of the more balanced styles of parenting since it encourages the children to think independently, and take responsibility for their own actions. Democratic parents teach to differentiate between good and bad, but allow the kids to make their own choices and learn to take responsibility for themselves. These parents generally have clear and reasonable expectations from their kids, and also explain why they want particular manners and behavior. They monitor their kids’ behavior to ensure that they are on the right track, but in a way that seems loving and caring, without being intrusive. These parents also encourage their kids to participate in the household chores. The mistakes are appropriately pointed out and corrected, and every mistake is a means to teach them a valuable lesson, rather than an opportunity for punishment. Moreover, good behavior is always appreciated and rewarded by the democratic parents. They often analyze the abilities of their kids, and provide them with suitable options.

Dismissive or neglectful parenting is an essentially harmful method of parenting. These parents generally fail to generate adequate interest for parenting their children. Parents do not interfere in any of the activities and merely provide the basic needs of life. These parents often dismiss the kids’ concerns, and shrug off the responsibility to acknowledge or discuss the problems. Their kids grow up to be rebellious, irresponsible and may show signs of psychological distress.

Emotional coaching is another unique style of parenting, that focuses on nurturing the child’s emotions. Emotional coaching is about getting into the child’s shoes, and empathizing with his/her emotions instead of analyzing or criticizing them. Parents who opt for this style of parenting, try to get to know the emotions of the child. They encourage the expression of emotions, and empathize with these feelings instead of restricting them. They see every moment as an opportunity to converse and strengthen the bond further. They talk to the kids, and guide them towards solving the problem instead of giving the solution. Children of such parents have been observed to have fewer behavioral problems, and handle all sorts of emotions in a much better way in childhood as well as after growing up.

It is not necessary that all the parents might rigidly fall into one of these categories. These are generalized characteristics of prominent parenting styles. Some parents might also show characteristics from more than one of these styles. Parents need to realize the effect of these parenting techniques. They need to be aware of the fact that every step and every action they take, is watched and processed by their children. Kids often try to imitate the habits and characteristics of their parents, and hence, one of the most important elements in parenting is leading by example. Love your kids, respect them, teach them what is good and bad, give them the right to question, encourage independent behavior, and monitor their growth by being a facilitator instead of being a control freak or intruder.

How Not to Entertain Your In-Laws

When Can We Come Over?

Recently, I had the opportunity to entertain my in-laws at my house. My partner and I usually visit them at their house, but my mother-in-law had been practically begging for an invitation for weeks. Every time we saw her, she would ask, “When are you going to invite us to your place?” or “We’d really love to see your place, when can we come over?” She even went so far as to write this nagging question in a thank-you note after Christmas! Finally, I relented and we invited them to have dinner at our place.

Entertaining the In-Laws

You could say that the first thing I did wrong was to invite them over at all, but at the time I felt that it really couldn’t be avoided. If I didn’t entertain the in-laws, they would just keep on asking until it gradually became awkward, and then I would have a situation on my hands that I really didn’t want. And now, I’m glad it’s all over with, but on the whole the night will go down in history as one of the more irritating evenings I’ve hosted. Of course, any good host or hostess knows that if an evening isn’t fun, it’s her or his fault, because she or he was responsible for showing the guests a good time. I feel that way in this case, too, but believe me, they aren’t the easiest people in the world to please.

My Tacky Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law in particular is known for being extremely judgmental. Although she is a woman of pedestrian tastes, she thinks that she is the height of fashion, so anyone who doesn’t share her fondness for the banal and tacky, she takes for an underdeveloped cave-dweller. Even worse, she’s from the backwaters of a Midwest state, so she knows (or thinks she knows) that anyone who doesn’t agree with her is simply uninformed, and she adopts a very patronizing tone when she gives people instructions on how to dress, live, and behave. In other words, inviting her over was a lot of pressure, and I wanted to serve something really delicious.

The Dinner

My father-in-law is on a gluten-free diet, and I’m a vegetarian, so my cooking options were limited. Ultimately I settled on a recipe that I made once, several years ago, and that was a big hit. It was a recipe for Scalloped Potatoes and Fennel, and I thought it would go over really well. I followed the recipe meticulously, but for some reason it just didn’t turn out very well. It was sort of bland. To make matters worse, the Olive Tapenade that I made for the occasion was overly strong, on account of the fact that I had never made it before. Suffice it to say that I would have had much better results if, instead of trying to wow them, I had gone with something I knew would turn out well.

After Dinner

The after-dinner portion of the evening didn’t go much better. The in-laws didn’t seem to like the music I had chosen, my mother- and father-in-law took turns monopolizing the conversation, and by the end of the night we were all struggling to stay awake in each other’s company. I should have prepared some conversation topics or activities in advance (not that my in-laws like to have fun), or at least instructed a friend to fake an emergency at an opportune moment.

The biggest lesson I learned from all this is never, under any circumstances, to invite my in-laws over for dinner. If I had to do it again, though, I would try to be a little better prepared. I only hope someone can learn something from my mistakes.

Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/how-not-to-entertain-your-in-laws.html

How to Get Along with Your Mother-in-Law

Obviously, she is feeling neglected because you took over the position of the most important person in her child’s life. Yes, I am talking about your mother-in-law. Would you react any differently? If you haven’t shared the best mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship, you are one among the countless women who are sailing in the same boat. There are very few who are actually lucky enough to have kind and caring mothers-in-law who know their boundaries. You can either be at war with your better half’s mother or be at peace with her. However, I always say that it is never too late to mend a relationship, especially the one that you are legally obliged to have. At least you can ensure that for the rest of your relationship, you can get along nicely with your mom-in-law. It is really not that tough and most of it is just in your head. A little tweaking in your attitude towards her could go a long way. You never know, she may just become your best confidante and help you out with family life and your relationship with your spouse.

Getting Along With Your Mother-in-Law
Don’t try to create a wedge between your partner and your mother-in-law. In fact, you should allow them to spend more time together without interfering between them.
Suggest your partner to visit your mother-in-law at least twice every year if she stays in another state or once every other month if you stay in the same town. The more you avoid seeing your mother-in-law, the more both of you will be estranged. Increasing face time will familiarize both of you with each other and make a better bond.
You would make your mother feel special any day and you know she would absolutely love it if your husband did it for her too. So, why not show a gesture of affection/generosity towards your mother-in-law once in a while?
Quit trying to pick out flaws in her. Nobody is perfect and she did not bring you up. So, your husband or wife is likely to overlook her flaws because they are so used to it. It’s new for you and it will take time to settle down in your relationship with your relatives in-law. Give each other time.
If you often find yourself being annoyed with your mother-in-law’s tactics, focus on the positive things that she has done like not forgetting your birthday, bringing you a dish that she cooked when you were unwell, babysitting your children, giving you her support during tough times or helping you around the house.
Don’t complain about her child. No mother wants to hear it from anyone that her child is not perfect, especially the spouse. Instead, you should appreciate your partner by saying, “I am so glad that you brought him up to be the man he is because he is so responsible/takes care of everything/makes me feel secure”, or mention any particular characteristic you love. She will feel proud and will respect you for acknowledging her toil.
If she comments on any of your habits or way of life, take it as constructive criticism and ask her to help you out with better tips or solutions. She is not necessarily nagging you. She has been in your shoes and you will be surprised how much you can learn from her years of experience and how she dealt with life.
But, refrain from criticizing any of your in-laws even if one of them indulges in the same. You will only be perceived to be trying to alienate them from each other. Also, avoid getting into arguments, taunting, making sly comments or bickering with them.
A smart way to get along is to start mirroring her body language and habits. It indirectly suggests that both of you are in sync, reducing the tension and will make you feel more comfortable in each other’s presence. Use the phrases she commonly does or mirror anything unique about her body language. You should also try to imbibe a few of her positive habits like the way she finishes household chores, etc.
Make her feel that she is a part of you, your spouse and child’s life by keeping her informed about all the important events taking place in your lives; the time your baby got his first tooth, your child’s school recitals, his/her birthday, your spouse’s promotion or any other significant news.
Ask your mother-in-law for her opinions, suggestions and advice to solve some issues in your life that you wouldn’t mind her getting involved into. It will show that you are not threatened by her presence in your life and you welcome it wholeheartedly.
Don’t forget to buy your mother-in-law gifts, not just on her birthday or anniversary, but for all festivities, especially mother’s day and even days when there is no reason to gift her. It could be a fresh batch of her favorite cookies you baked, a cashmere shawl, a pamper-yourself bath set or delicate cutlery.
Praising your mother-in-law to others will someday end up being the music to her ears. Secondhand praise is even better than praising someone directly. Moral of the story, always speak good about your mother-in-law.
If you do not have much in common to talk about, a never-a-miss subject is her children! Ask her about your husband/wife’s childhood, every mother likes to talk about her children and you will end up learning something new about your partner.
Every mother is concerned about her child’s happiness, health and prosperity. You need to assure your mother-in-law that you are taking good care of these. Getting along with your mother-in-law is not a ‘herculean task’. Give her a reason to feel glad about you being a part of her family and give her time to trust you. Don’t be prejudiced towards your mother-in-law. Else, no matter how hard you try, your bitterness towards her will never let you share a nice relationship. Every relationship is built on respect, faith and regard for emotions. If you are keen on building a healthy relationship with her, you need to first make changes in your outlook towards her. Remember, nobody likes someone who doesn’t like them. If right now, you do not get along, showing a gesture of love and gratitude will help break the ice between both of you. No matter what you do, don’t ever put your partner in a tough spot to choose between the either of you. He/she may take a stand but you should avoid your relationship with your mother-in-law from affecting that with your partner.

How to Build a Snowman

For people who live in cold countries where there is abundant snowfall during the winter months, building a snowman is a good pastime. Although snow restricts our options of moving around, it is the same snow that we can use to build a snowman in our yard.

Factors to Consider

The first and foremost aspect to consider for those who want to build a snowman is to make sure that the snow is of the right kind. It should be wet enough so that it can be easily packed. Test this by taking some snow in hand and making a ball out of it. The ball must stay together and not crumble easily.

One also needs to decide the size and the place where the snowman is supposed to stand. In case it is a large one and the place which is chosen for it is far off from where the balls are made, then carrying them over to the site will be a difficult task. Also, one needs to understand that the top and the middle balls of snow need to be lifted up and placed on top of the lower balls. Hence, the size of the snowman should be decided keeping in mind the number of people who are building it.

Steps
The Belly:
Take a small amount of snow and start making a ball by pressing it together with your hands. Once it becomes too large to be handled by you, place the ball on the ground and roll it around over the snow. As you roll the ball, more snow will stick to it. Press this snow firmly onto the ball. Roll the ball in all directions so that snow sticks to all sides and what you get is a good spherical ball that is equally round on all sides. This is the bottom potion of your snowman. Place this ball in a place where you want the snowman to stand. You definitely don’t want to shift the position of your entire snowman after it has been made. Scoop some snow out from the top in the center of this ball so that the next ball can be placed comfortably over this one, which will form the lowest portion of the snowman.
The Heart:
Now, make the middle portion of the snowman. This is as we call the “heart and soul” of the snowman. Start the same way as you did while making the lowest ball. Take some snow in hand and make a ball by it together. Now, roll the ball over in all direction and press the snow that accumulates around it, but remember that this ball has to be smaller than the lowest one, say about two-third the size of the lower ball. Also, be sure that the snow in this ball is clumped tightly together. You do not want the snowball to crumble when you are placing it over the other ball. Make a hollow at the top in the center as you had made in the previous ball. Now, gently place this middle ball over the hollowed area on the lowest ball. Put some more snow around the place where the two balls are in contact. Press the snow firmly and clean out the extra to give a clean look to the meeting edges of the two balls.
The Head:
This is the last ball of snow and has to be done the same way as the other two balls. It just has to be smaller than the middle ball that makes up the snowman. Place it on the scoop that is made on the top central portion of the middle ball and seal the joining place with some tightly-packed snow and remove the extra amount.
The Face:
Making a snowman is not just about piling one ball of snow on top of the other. Now that you have built your own snowman, how about giving it some identity? You can use coal, rocks, or even paper dishes (depending upon the size of the snowman) for the eyes. For the face, you can arrange pieces of coal, pebbles, or rocks into a smile. For the nose, the most common option is to use a carrot. Alternatively, one could also use a fir cone, tangerine, or anything else that you wish to choose. Only be careful that while inserting these objects the snow ball does not crumble.
The Arms:
Though some wish to leave their snowman without arms, one with its appendages looks more attractive. One can use sticks or even snow to make the arms. It is better to have the sticks slanting slightly upwards or downwards than sticking right out of the sides horizontally. In case you want your snowman to hold a broomstick, ensure that the end of the stick is buried a few inches below the snow. This is to ensure that it is not blown away by a strong gust of wind. Also, be careful while inserting the stick into your snowman. Just as with the nose, the snowball may crumble if the sticks are inserted in haste.
Accessories:
What about putting a muffler around the neck of your snowman? Not only would it give a look that it is ready to face the cold out there, but also break the monotony of color. Just ensure that you tie the muffler into a neat knot so that it stays where it is supposed to. You could also put some leafy branch of a tree as hair. If you are planning to provide your snowman with a hat, consider knit hats, as they are better options than top hats that tend to be blown away by wind if not secured. Scarves are also a good alternative to hats.
This was just one of the ways for those who want to know how to build a snowman. Alternatively, instead of using two balls of snow for the body, one could just make a single mound and place a round ball of snow on top of it for the head. As far as decorating and giving a real look to your snowman is concerned, the sky is the limit. Enjoy your winters holidays and build your own snowman!

How to Make Bubbles for Kids

Blowing bubbles is a fascination for every child. The inherent joy of seeing those bubbles rising in the air and filling the atmosphere is a treat to watch. Kids simply love it, and even adults won’t deny the fact that it is a real fun experience. However, parents often complain about the money their kids waste in blowing bubbles. Here’s how you can be frugal and yet creative, if you just give some thought to it.

How to Make Bubbles for Kids
You can use soap and detergents for this purpose.

With Soap Solution
Soap and detergents are an integral part of our household products. Kids would surely love the idea of making soap bubbles at home. Making bubbles with dish soap or shampoo is an interesting thing to learn. The steps have been mentioned below.
Select a container, in which you’ll prepare the soap solution. Ensure that the container has a lid.
Get some dish soap or shampoo.
Next, fill the container with water, and add some amount of dish soap or shampoo to it.
Stir this mixture, and tightly seal the container.
Before shaking the container vigorously, ensure that the lid is tightly closed.
Search for some wire, band, straws, etc. Clean them before using.
It is mandatory to stir the mixture properly, or else the solution won’t give you the desired results.
Dip the wand into the container, and blow into it.
Lo and behold! Now, you can blow bubbles into the air.

With Glycerin Solution
Glycerin is a relatively cheaper additive, and the bubbles can be much better and thicker. Now, let’s learn how to make bubbles with glycerin.
Gather up some soap, bowl, water, spoon, and thickening ingredients like glycerin.
Mix the dish soap or shampoo with water in the bowl. A suitable ratio of water and other ingredients is necessary so that at the end, the mixture works well. For instance, 1:1 soap to water ratio is best. You can try various combinations, and check which one works best for you.
Add glycerin to the solution. You can also add corn syrup, but be careful that the amount must be in proportion to the other ingredients.
Stir the solution gently, and mix it well.
Taking your container outdoors would help you achieve better results. Moreover, storing the solution for one day would give you much better bubbles.

Important Tips
In the quest to blow bubbles, kids tend to be careless, and end up doing something that makes them fall ill.
Bending the wand or the wire from one corner in a circular, heart, or triangle shape can help you get some good bubbles. Just bend your wire from one corner. Supervise the kids while they are doing this, to avoid them hurting themselves with the wire.
Distilled water shows better results than tap water.
Bubbles last longer during humid days.
Don’t let them drink the bubble solution. Be cautious, as this could be harmful to their health.
If you wish, add some food coloring material to make colored bubbles. Ensure that the coloring material is not harmful for kids.
Prefer baby shampoos over other shampoos and soaps, as they are meant for kids.
Prepare the above-mentioned solutions, and enjoy watching your children prance around the bubbles with glee.