New Articles for Military Families

My latest articles for military families are up on my mini site on about.com. Here’s what’s new this month:

What military families need to know to find the perfect home. (a guest post from AHRN.com)
The ins, outs, upside downs of VA Loans
How military spouses can avoid getting sucked into the destructive, dangerous rumor mill.
Family planning for military families: When’s the right time to start planning for a baby? Is there even such a thing as “right time”?

Back(pack) to the Future

Dear Mr. Dad: My daughter’s backpack is insanely heavy. I’ve mentioned this to her teachers and they say that textbooks aren’t used much at school and that students shouldn’t have to bring them in every day. But because my daughter spends half her time with me, and the other half with her mother, she’s worried that she’ll leave a book at the wrong house and won’t be able to do her homework. I get that, but I’m really worried that she’ll hurt herself. She doesn’t want a wheely backpack (says it’s not cool). How should we handle this?

A: You’re absolutely right to be worried about your daughter’s backpack. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 14,000 backpack-related injuries every year, 5,000 of which are bad enough to land the child in the emergency room. Most of those injuries involve muscles and the skeleton. But a study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering found that heavy backpacks can also cause short- and long-term nerve damage by pressing on the nerves that go through the head, neck, and shoulders.
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Using Sports To Build Health And Character

Intolerance. Obesity. Bullying. The media is full of reminders about the negative things that affect young people today. And there’s a lot of truth there. There’s also a lot of truth behind the idea that participating in sports can help mitigate some of those negative traits. Unfortunately, too many obsessive sports parents are focusing on the material and self-serving aspects of sports instead of on the positive ones.

So let’s do the numbers: A boy who plays high school baseball has a 1 in 4,000 chance of ever playing in the big leagues. Given typical rosters of 20 or so, it would take some two hundred high school baseball teams to produce a single major leaguer.
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For Parents and Teachers of Children with Special Needs, Communication is Key

communication special needs

communication special needsA guest post from writer Felicity Dryer.

Children are not able to advocate for themselves. Teachers are bestowed with the vast privilege and responsibility to ensure that children are receiving the best education possible to prepare them for their place in the world.

There are many ways that teachers can make sure that their special needs students are receiving the best possible education, as well as strategies for parents to work with their children’s teachers to guarantee attentive and effective instruction.
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The Best National Parks for Family Trips

Dear Mr. Dad: My family hasn’t had a vacation in years—we haven’t been able to afford it. But we really need some time off. We’re thinking of doing a driving trip over the 2-week winter break. Can you suggest some affordable family-friendly places to visit?

A: Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance you won’t have to leave the state to find a super-low-cost, amazing vacation spot. I’m talking about our national parks, most of which offer a range of activities, from just plain fun to educational to knock-your-socks-off gorgeous hikes in nature. Whether you’re planning to spend your whole vacation in one place or want to explore several locations, the National Park Foundation (http://www.nationalparks.org/) and the National Park Service (http://www.nps.gov/) can help you find a park that suits your needs. But here are a few favorites, some of which were sent in by readers.
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My Dad, the Neighborhood, and Sports: The Value of a Good Game

My family grew up in Pepperell, Massachusetts and what made it so amazing was that my father was one of ten brothers (yes, 10!). Because of family history there was a 99% chance that you would become a carpenter (or did some kind of activity in construction).

Everyone in the family held these type of professions which created a really unique upbringing because my family and extended family essentially built the neighborhoods all around where we lived. Everyone knew one another and all us kids were always roaming the streets going from house to house.

One of the most popular activities we kids would play (often joined by our dads) was street hockey since so many of us were still pretty bad at ice skating at that time.

In Mass you’ve basically got your football and you’ve got your hockey.

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