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Fun in the Sun Facebook Contest Winner

September 17, 2014

Fun in the Sun

This summer we held a contest on our Facebook page, asking parents to post a photo of their child having fun in the sun. The parent whose photo had the most votes (and met all of the eligibility requirements), won an Amazon Kindle Fire, the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher ebook in English or Spanish, and a YOU Parent tote bag.

We spoke to the winner, Camy Lopez, about her family’s summer, parenting moments, and what she’s looking forward to this fall.

YOU Parent: What was the best part about this summer for Josue?
Camy Lopez: Last summer I enrolled Josue in swimming classes. He loved it so much and learned very quickly. He was disappointed when summer came to an end and he spent all year wishing it was summer again. This summer, he has spent most of his time swimming in our pool with his friends. He absolutely loves swimming. I am very glad he does since this is a great activity for exercising and is better than him staying inside playing video games or watching TV.

YP: Do you have a favorite summer tradition for your family?
CL: My favorite family summer tradition is getting together with all my family. We have a cookout at our house with games and music. I like this tradition because I am able to see all of my family, which is hard to do when school is in session and with everyone's busy schedules.

YP: What is your proudest moment as a parent?
CL: I have had numerous proud moments as a parent but I would have to say the most proud moment was when I battled breast cancer. After my surgery, my sons Josue and Jonathan took care of me. They would help me bathe, dress, and would cook for me. They did it with so much love that I was able to recuperate very fast. I had the best doctors in my house!

YP: What has been one of your most difficult moments as a parent?
CL: The most difficult moment as a parent was when my daughter, Carmina, passed away. She was only 15 years old. I had to live with the pain of her loss but had to remain strong for my sons. I knew they needed me during this difficult time. I taught them that they could overcome any situation no matter how difficult it may be. 

YP: How has YOU Parent helped you and your family?
CL: YOU Parent has made me realize how important it is to spend time with your children. It has made me want to spend more time with them and do the fun activities I find on YOUParent.com. YOU Parent has also helped me with parenting issues. I love all the advice I find on the website.

YP: Now that summer is ending, what is your family looking forward to this fall?
CL: The cooler weather. We live in California, so the summers here are very hot! We are also looking forward to Josue starting another school year and my other son Jonathan starting his senior year in college. My husband and I are so proud of them.

Congratulations, Camy, on winning the YOU Parent Fun in the Sun Contest! You deserve it. We wish you and your family a happy and healthy fall.

Stay up-to-date on future contests by following along on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.

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Gender Neutral Parenting

September 15, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

Gender Neutral Parenting | A young boy smiles as he pushes a stroller with a doll inside it.

I was at my friend’s house with my 15-month-old son, Seth, when he stumbled upon a box of hair accessories in her bathroom. He sat on the floor, smiling, brushing his hair, and trying to figure out how to put a bright pink sequined headband onto his head. When he finally figured it out, he beamed with happiness and said “Ta-da!”

“So pretty!” I exclaimed.

But my girlfriend said, “No, Seth! That’s for girls!”

Her comment really irked me. He doesn’t know or understand what that comment means, and brushing your hair or putting a headband on your head isn’t only for girls.

Later I started thinking of all the other things I let Seth do that might challenge traditional gender roles and that my friend might frown upon. My son enjoys cleaning, from wiping down walls to vacuuming to sweeping the kitchen floor. He sees mama doing it and wants to learn. I recently bought him a kitchen set and he organizes his fake cans of food and plastic plates in the cabinets. He is learning how to put items away.

I am a more laid-back gender neutral parent (GNP for short). I believe there is great value in learning at a young age about cleaning, cooking, fixing things, being artistic, playing sports, and dressing up, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, some parents limit their child’s learning because they assign and reinforce the more traditional gender roles. Many of these parents don’t even realize that they do it.

There are a few approaches to gender neutral parenting. Parents like these from Toronto believe in genderless parenting and have yet to reveal their third child’s sex, who is now three years old. Sweden added the gender-neutral personal pronoun "hen" to the country's vocabulary to be more inclusive. Even McDonald’s is changing their language from asking kids if they want a boy or girl toy to just describing the toys that are available and letting them choose the ones that appeal to them most.

Gender neutral parenting is about expanding a child’s world through decision-making, independence, and finding comfort with the choices he or she makes without parents pushing toward a gender. As Paige Lucas-Stannard puts it in her article about gender neutral parenting, “The whole point of GNP is that is doesn’t force any preconceived gender norms onto a child in the hopes that they can find their own comfort spot on the continuum we call gender.”

Many parents fear that they are molding their child to be more feminine or masculine by not setting gender boundaries. In my opinion, your child is going to be who he or she is meant to be no matter the gender. The difference is that you are giving your child the opportunity and support to express and discover him or herself a lot earlier in life.

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Being Active Without Sports

September 12, 2014

By Amelia Orozco

Being Active Without Sports | A girl plays hopscotch on the sidewalk.

When I was a teen, if I asked my mom what I could do to stay fit, she would most likely say to sweep the floors or do some other household chore. That was back in a time when once the afterschool specials on TV were over, there was nothing to do but go outside and play tag, ride bikes, and climb trees. Today there are many different options that cause us to be more sedentary such as the Internet, video games, and our cell phones, so we have to be more creative in getting our kids to stay fit and active.

If your son or daughter is younger, you may find it easier to start a physical exercise routine now. Even if he or she is not interested in being a part of a team sport such as soccer or baseball, any kind of activity will keep your child healthy. For example, start with sidewalk chalk. Draw hopscotch or another game on the sidewalk and start hopping around. A jump rope and hula-hoop are also great exercises disguised as toys.

It may be a bit more challenging to get your teenager interested in sports if he or she has not already been naturally inclined to do so. Aside from the peer pressure to fit in, trying out for a sport can be a lot of pressure. Most teens won’t try out even if they are interested because high school sports can be so competitive.

Encourage your teen to stay positive—there are plenty of sports outside of school in which he or she can participate. Find nearby sports centers with drop-in games, where teens can stop by and play a game of volleyball or soccer for a small fee or even for free. Encourage your son or daughter to get a couple of friends together and have an outing at that sports center or a local park instead of the mall. Your teen may surprise you and become interested in a sport once he or she feels comfortable out there.

Perhaps the most important part of being active is being aware of the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your son or daughter and model positive behavior by staying active yourself. Invite your teen on a walk after dinner just to talk, or play a Wii sports game in your living room together.

Regardless of what you do, have fun and be consistent by incorporating exercise as much as possible into your daily activities. Even vacations can be an opportunity to hike, swim, and run. By teaching your teen the benefits of exercise and helping him or her find a physical activity to enjoy, you can help your son or daughter have a healthy and active life, even without traditional sports.



Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.
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Parent Engagement in College: Academic Success

September 10, 2014

By Judy Razo

Parent Engagement in College: Academic Success | A college student raises his hand and the teacher calls on him in a lecture hall.

The time has come for your child to head off to college. You’ve done a great job staying involved at his or her school, providing a loving home, offering help and support for academic success, and you even checked grades to make sure he or she stayed on track to graduate. Now your teenager is off to college and you hope to continue supporting him or her in the same way.

However, the circumstances will be different. You can’t volunteer at the school, he or she won’t be living at home, you can’t keep track of study habits, and the academic advisor is not allowed to give you, or anybody else, any of your student’s academic information.

That’s right. The only person allowed by law to receive your child’s grades and GPA is your child. Now that he or she is in college, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) classifies your child as a responsible adult and therefore protects his or her right to privacy. It is your child’s choice to share his or her grades and GPA with you.

So how can you check grades when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you? I have some tested approaches that will help you out.

Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult, and therefore, you should respect and trust him or her as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you his or her grades, no matter what they look like.

Next, create a protocol in case he or she has trouble with a class or grades begin to slip. Try to establish this protocol before he or she starts college and present it as a “just in case” plan that both of you hope you won’t have to use. As a parent you have high expectations for your child. As a son or daughter, your child doesn’t want to hear that you think he or she is going to fail, so be tactful in your delivery. Acknowledge that going to college is very different than going to high school and this plan will provide wiggle room as your child adjusts.

Before your student leaves for college, make an agreement for when he or she will share grades. This will set expectations and help keep your child on track as he or she keeps in mind the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.

The agreement will vary depending on the relationship between you and your child. If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade his or her living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.

Lastly, you can take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades by having your student walk you through his or her degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and always be supportive if he or she chooses to change his or her major or area of study.

Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught him or her to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught him or her and learn new techniques that will hopefully pay off.

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DIY: Study Rooms for Kids

September 8, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

DIY: Study Rooms for Kids | A photo of the YOU Parent Pinterest board called DIY: Study Rooms for Kids

Your child has returned to school and you’re noticing the homework and studying is getting heavy. School books are scattered on the kitchen table, notebooks are opened on the coffee table in the living room, and pens and highlighters appear magically throughout the house. Why not make a study room for your son or daughter?

Your first thought may be that you do not have the funds for such a wonderful idea. But making a study room does not have to be expensive. You probably already have everything you need without realizing it. You really only need three things for the foundation of a great study room: location, furniture, and accessories. We even created a Pinterest board to inspire you.

Location
First, you and your child need to agree on a location. Maybe you have a junk closet that you can clean out. Maybe you have a mudroom or a window recess that can be put to great use. Maybe you have an inside back porch that nobody uses. Maybe you don’t have an extra room but have a corner of a room you can section off with a simple hanging curtain. Find somewhere private, quiet, and peaceful. Does the space have access to a view or window? Imagine what would help you focus and get work done and ask your child what would help him or her.

Furniture
You won’t need to go out and buy all new furniture, but you will need a table and chair. Depending on the space, you can add shelving. I recommend wall shelving because it is space-friendly and inexpensive. A cabinet would be another good piece of furniture to use in this room, as it could store supplies like notebooks, pencils, rulers, calculators, and any other study materials that could clutter up the area.

Accessories
This is the fun part! Let your son or daughter get creative. Allow him or her to hang pictures, add a clock, a corkboard, a calendar, etc. I recommend a motivational board to help inspire and keep your child focused.

If you need ideas on how to utilize a closet or make cute accessories, visit our DIY: Study Rooms for Kids board on Pinterest. We will be adding to it regularly, so follow the board for the latest updates.

Where have you created space for your child’s studying? Tell me in the comments below.

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