Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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Raising Children in America

January 28, 2016

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Raising Children in America | Moving to a new country is a complicated journey, especially when adapting to a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Here are a couple of things you may encounter in American culture. | Photo of an American flag.

Moving to a new country is a complicated journey, especially when adapting to a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Families encounter new values that may conflict with their culture’s values. Not only do parents have to adapt to the changes, but they must also balance old customs with new ones for their children.

Here are a couple of things you may encounter in American culture. Consider how to merge your home country’s values with those here to help your child acclimate.

Dating at a younger age
In the U.S., children start dating more seriously in high school. It is generally considered normal to let two teenagers go to the movies together, go out to dinner alone, or go as a couple to a school event like prom.

Of course, it’s your right to decide what rules you set before you let your child go out with a romantic interest. If you allow your child to date, you might ask him or her to call during the evening to check in and speak with other parents about what they do to keep their children safe while dating.

Sleepovers
Your elementary school child might be invited to sleepovers at friends’ houses. Usually the host family prepares activities for the kids to enjoy, like movies, games, and snacks.

If you feel a bit uneasy, ask the host family what they are planning for the night. Leave your phone number so they can reach you if your child feels homesick during the night or if something else happens.

Talk to your child before the sleepover, assuring him or her that you will pick them up if they are uncomfortable. You can also call to check in on your child before bedtime if you’d like.

Parent engagement in school
In some cultures, talking to or questioning teachers or school authorities is seen as disrespectful. But in the U.S., parents are expected to be involved in school and to talk to teachers about their concerns.

Parents can call or email the teacher at any time to discuss their child’s academic and social progress. Don’t feel intimidated—rather, take this opportunity to advocate for your child’s education.

Leaving home to live on campus
In some countries, teenagers live with their parents when they go to college (if they study in the same city). In the U.S., leaving home to go to college is seen as a rite of passage. In some universities, it’s even mandatory to live on campus for at least the first year of college.

See this as a great opportunity for your child to be independent, learn how to tackle daily life chores, and encounter new experiences and cultures.

It’s difficult to get used to a new normal in American culture, but work with other parents to establish trust and do what feels right to you. Build confidence and learn more about your adoptive country—you will be able to help your child with any obstacle he or she encounters in their journey toward success in America.

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Focus on Faith for Kwanzaa

December 29, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Focus on Faith for Kwanzaa | Kwanzaa’s seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, represent African cultural values that contribute to building and growing a community among African Americans. Each day, one of these principles is discussed. While all of the principles are important and bring value to the family’s discussions, this year I feel it is especially important to focus on the faith principle, or imani.

Kwanzaa’s seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, represent African cultural values that contribute to building and growing a community among African Americans. Each day, one of these principles is discussed. While all of the principles are important and bring value to the family’s discussions, this year I feel it is especially important to focus on the faith principle, or imani.

The imani principle’s purpose is “to believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”

This faith does not focus on religion, but rather faith in ourselves and others to do the right, just, and moral thing. 2015 has been a year filled with angst, anger, terrorism, and fear throughout our nation and the world. But out of that negativity rose community. People have banded together to fight corruption and evil and to demand better from our leaders and each other.

That positivity and community can give us faith and motivate us to challenge ourselves and inspire our families to be better. Before Kwanzaa ends on January 1st, gather your family and talk about the imani principle.

As you sit around the fireplace or dinner table, ask your family these questions:

  • What does faith mean to you?
  • What do you admire most in your teacher? In your father, your mother, your sibling or cousin?
  • Who is your hero and why? How can you be more like him or her?
  • How will you be a better person in 2016?
  • How will you help others in 2016?

These may seem like simple questions, but it’s an important exercise for families with children of all ages. Sometimes the simplest questions are the ones we forget to answer as we get older and busier. These questions can help you reflect on the past year, on your life so far, and refocus for the coming year.

Gather your family, discuss these questions, and strengthen your faith in yourselves, each other, and the community. It’s the best way to make a difference in your local community and eventually influence the global community.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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Our 7 Favorite Christmas Articles

December 22, 2015

By Jessica Vician

We’ve wrapped up seven of our favorite Christmas articles and put them under the proverbial tree to gift you with helpful tips and inspirational stories.

Merry Christmas!

Sometimes when families get together, conflict can arise, so how do you avoid it between blended families during the holidays?

The Holiday Brady Bunch: Blending Families by Sunny P. Chico
Holidays are about spending time together as a family and celebrating. When my husband and I married, I was blessed with three daughters from my husband’s first marriage while I brought with me my two children from my first marriage.

Even though my stepdaughters were raised Jewish and my children are Catholic, we celebrate holidays through our cultures and the uniqueness of our religions. 

Sometimes when families get together, conflict can arise, so how do you avoid it between blended families during the holidays?

Read on for Sunny’s three tips to avoid conflict with a blended family.

Change is good even around the holidays. If you have a grown son or daughter who is now married, consider what this means as you merge families and holiday traditions.

Grown Kids and Changing Traditions by Amelia Orozco
Change is good even around the holidays. If you have a grown son or daughter who is now married, consider what this means as you merge families and holiday traditions.

Keep reading for Amelia’s advice on how to embrace new traditions with your expanding family.

Holidays are full of social gatherings where alcohol is often a staple. Through my work as a family counselor, I’ve seen the effects that irresponsible drinking can have on a family. We need to be conscious of what image of social and holiday drinking we give our middle and high school children.

Enjoy Alcohol Responsibly This Holiday by Noralba Martinez
Holidays are full of social gatherings where alcohol is often a staple. Through my work as a family counselor, I’ve seen the effects that irresponsible drinking can have on a family. We need to be conscious of what image of social and holiday drinking we give our middle and high school children.

Click to read Noralba’s tips for responsible social drinking that doesn’t send your teen a misleading message.

The true meaning of Christmas for Christians is about celebrating the gift God gave us through the birth of his son. It’s a time to reflect on how blessed we are despite the bad moments we faced throughout the year.

True Meaning of Christmas by Sunny P. Chico
The true meaning of Christmas for Christians is about celebrating the gift God gave us through the birth of his son. It’s a time to reflect on how blessed we are despite the bad moments we faced throughout the year.

Read more about what Christmas means to Sunny and her family and how to reconnect your kids to the true meaning of Christmas.

The holidays are a time of giving, and what better way for your child to show love and appreciation than with a homemade card? We created these holiday card templates for you to download and print for a DIY family activity.

DIY Activity: Holiday Cards - Free Download!
The holidays are a time of giving, and what better way for your child to show love and appreciation than with a homemade card? We created these holiday card templates for you to download and print for a DIY family activity. 

Click for the free download, grab the crayons, and start coloring!

Try this easy DIY activity with your children to make heartfelt, homemade ornaments and jewelry from plastic take-out containers.

DIY Shrinky Dink: Repurposed Plastic Ornaments and Jewelry by Judy Razo
Here’s another fun DIY activity for the kids to try.

Creating gifts together is a great way to teach your children the concept of giving—they create something they’re proud of and then give it away for the sake of someone else’s joy.

Try this easy DIY activity with your children to make heartfelt, homemade ornaments and jewelry from plastic take-out containers.

Spark your family’s joy and wonderment with these 5 holiday activities. From being awed by zoo lights to “transporting” to Germany for a Christkindlmarket, create magical holiday memories with your family this season.

5 Must-Do Holiday Activities by Jessica Vician
Spark your family’s joy and wonderment with these 5 holiday activities. From being awed by zoo lights to “transporting” to Germany for a Christkindlmarket, create magical holiday memories with your family this season.

Read through my top 5 holiday activities and share yours in the comments.

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Celebrate Las Posadas with These 3 Activities

December 17, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Celebrate Las Posadas with These 3 Activities | get in the spirit and teach your children about Las Posadas, try one (or all) of these Las Posadas activities. | The star piñata being hit on Las Posadas.

In the nine days before Christmas, many Mexicans and North and Central Americans celebrate Las Posadas, a time to remember Mary and Joseph’s journey to find shelter before bringing Jesus into the world.

During Las Posadas, people reenact that journey by traveling door to door, singing carols to request shelter, just as Mary and Joseph did. Once they reach a home that welcomes them inside, everyone celebrates with food and music while the children take turns hitting the piñata. Once it’s broken, everyone shares the candy and fruit that was inside.

To get in the spirit and teach your children about Las Posadas, try one (or all) of these Las Posadas activities.

1. Act out a Play
Children’s Ministry Magazine wrote a short play that you can share with the children in your family and/or neighborhood. Ask them to rehearse and perform during Las Posadas.

2. Create Poinsettia Art
Let your children get messy with this art project that allows them to make poinsettias and learn the story behind Las Posadas.

3. Light the Way with Luminaries
Make luminaries to light outside your home and welcome the carolers. While traditional luminaries are paper bags with sand and tea lights, this list of DIY luminaries has creative alternatives that your family can make together to impress visitors.

How does your family celebrate Las Posadas? Tell me in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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4 Hanukkah Facts for Kids

December 8, 2015

By Jessica Vician

4 Hanukkah Facts for Kids | It's Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, your children will likely have questions about it. Take this opportunity to educate them during the eight days and nights with these four facts.

Sunday night kicked off the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, your children will likely have questions about it. Take this opportunity to educate them during the eight days and nights with these four facts.

The History
In Hebrew, “Hanukkah” means “dedication,” which honors the Jerusalem holy temple’s rededication after the Jewish victory of the Syrian-Greeks.

Beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights. The reason it falls on different days and weeks each year is because the Hebrew calendar is lunar.

The Tradition
The family lights one new candle each night on the menorah, which commemorates the Maccabee miracle, when one day’s worth of oil lasted eight days to rededicate the temple.

The Celebration
Throughout the week, children play with a dreidel toy, which is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The child with the most gelt, candy coins that represent charity, at the end of the game wins.

The Spelling
Kids often wonder which spelling of Hanukkah is correct and why there are so many options. The truth is that most of the spellings you see in English are correct. There are several spellings (for example, Chanukah or Hanukkah) because the guttural sound of the Hebrew letters is difficult to translate into English.

What questions have your children asked about Hanukkah? How does your family celebrate? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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