Here’s Why You Should Travel by Car This Thanksgiving

thansgiving travel

thansgiving travel

You’ve heard that the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, right? Well, it turns out that is a myth. Troy Green of AAA told NPR there are five to 10 days over the summer that are even busier. That’s not to say that Thanksgiving travel is a breeze; 66 percent of Americans plan to travel by car this Thanksgiving, according to Skyscanner, a flight, hotel and car hire search engine. And the U.S Department of Transportation reports that during the six-day Thanksgiving travel period, 91 percent of long-distance trips are made by personal vehicle. Traveling by car is the best way to avoid exorbitant flight fares and holiday crowds. Still not convinced? We’ve listed the best reasons to travel by car this Thanksgiving:

You Get to Call the Shots

When your Uncle Harold is telling about his cat for the 100th time, you’ll probably be eager for an escape plan. Traveling by car gives you the means to make a quick getaway. In all seriousness, this way you aren’t tied to a flight plan. And for those self-proclaimed procrastinators out there, driving might be your only option if you left buying plane tickets for the last minute.

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Toyota Venza: Smart and Stylish

2014 toyota venza

2014 toyota venzaLet’s get the disclosure stuff out of the way up front. Toyota gave me the use of a 2014 Venza—how else am I supposed to do an honest review? No, they didn’t pay me, and yes, all the opinions are mine.

The Toyota Venza is a crossover, meaning that it’s smaller than an SUV but bigger than a station wagon. But on the inside, it still feels like an SUV—and I mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s roomy and comfortable, the roof is high enough to accommodate fairly tall people, and it has all sorts of cargo-schlepping space–30.7 cubic feet, to be exact; more than double that when you fold down both sides of the 60/40 split rear seat.
It has the high ride of an SUV, which allows for plenty of visibility, but the ride is smooth and it handles the tight turns in the Bay Area hills like a car.
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Parents@Play is distributed by McClatchy (now part of Tribune Content Agency), one of the largest non-news syndicators in the world, to 1,200 media and digital information publishers in 50 countries. Here are just a few of the outlets that have run our column.

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3 Ways to Deal With a Teen Who Really, Really Loves Video Games

mrdad - kids love video games

mrdad - kids love video gamesIt’s no secret that teenagers love video games—the Palo Alto Medical Foundation reports that 97 percent of teens in the U.S. today play video games, and sales of video games are steadily growing. However, at times, it can be hard to deal with your teen’s love of video games in a reasonable way. To help this common problem, here are just a few ways you can deal with a teenage video game fiend without losing your mind.

Set Boundaries

One of the first things you can do to head off future problems with video games is to set boundaries. Set clear times for when gaming is allowed such as after homework or chores are done or on weekends. Additionally, it’s important to be clear about the kind of game content you will allow in your home as well as games that are simply off limits. By setting these boundaries clearly and early on, you can avoid your teen pushing the limits of the rules.

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When it Comes to Divorce, Sharing is Caring

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m getting divorced, and the only thing my soon-to-be ex-husband and I agree on is that we want what’s best for our children. He’s been talking about joint custody and co-parenting and I’m leaning in that direction. But a friend of mine who went through a nasty divorce a few years ago says that joint custody never works out and that I should go for full custody. What do you suggest?

A: At the risk of sounding harsh, my first suggestion is that you spend less time with your friend. She may have had a bad experience, but that has nothing to do with you. The fact that you and your nearly ex are putting your children’s need first tells me that you’re going to prove her wrong.

Assuming that there’s no history of violence or abuse (and I’m sure you would have mentioned it if there were), it’s almost always in the best interests of the children to spend as much time as possible with each of their parents. The best way to accomplish that goal is with “shared parenting” (sometimes called co-parenting). Joint custody sounds nice, but it can mean anything from having the kids live half time with each parent to having them live 80% of the time with one parent (usually the mom), with the other relegated to visitor status. With shared parenting, both parents have the right—and, maybe more importantly, the obligation—to be actively involved in their children’s lives and to agree on major decisions that affect the children (the big ones usually involve health and education).

Joint custody benefits everyone, according to Wake Forest University Professor Linda Nielsen. She cites research showing that children in shared parenting situations do better academically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. As young adults, these children have better relationships with both of their parents than those who lived primarily with one parent (again, usually the mom). Shared parenting benefits the parents as well. Former couples who share parenting are overwhelmingly happier with their custody arrangements than those who don’t. They fight less and are more satisfied with the overall outcome of their break-up.
Shared parenting does not mean that you have to spend huge amounts of time with your ex or that you have to agree on everything. A study that followed 120 shared divorced-and-co-parenting couples for 20 years found that half of the couples were “cooperative but not friends,” meaning that they made decisions together but didn’t have much contact with each other. Twenty percent were “dissolved duos” who cooperated with each other but had no other contact, and 10 percent were “perfect pals” who saw each other frequently. Only 20 percent were what the researchers called “angry foes.”

Judges tend to like shared parenting too, because they have to deal with fewer angry, squabbling parents.

Some critics of shared parenting—such as your friend—have claimed that it’s used as a way for one parent (usually the dad) to decrease child support payments. There is absolutely no reliable data to support that claim. In fact, mothers who share parenting with their ex are “just as satisfied as the sole residence mothers with the money they were receiving from the father,” says Nielsen.

On a different note, many readers know about the Mr. Dad Seal of Approval, which recognizes products and services that support and encourage father-child relationships. We’re gearing up for our 2014 Winter awards, and the deadline is looming. So if you know of a company that has products that fit the bill, direct them to mrdad.com/seal

Good Manners Might Just Be the Most Important Thing You Can Teach Your Kids

Nobody likes a screaming, disruptive, out-of-control kid, even yours. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but, there it is. ADHD is a serious disability with serious social consequences. But not every unpleasant child is suffering from ADHD. Many of them are suffering from something just as annoying, but a lot more treatable: bad manners.

Experts draw a clear link between spoiling a child and the development of bad manners. Parents spoil their children with the best of intentions. But the results are almost always bad. There are reasons why giving a child everything she wants is a really bad idea, and can lead to poor behavior down the road. Here are some manners every child needs to learn, and why a spoiled child finds it so hard to learn them:
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