Let's Talk Parenting

Parenting and Decision Making

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

I’m hoping that today’s blog becomes more of a conversation. I am genuinely so curious about how other parents make decisions for their house and whether they include their kids. So the whole premise of this is some social media posts – because where else do we argue nowadays – about the difference between millennial parents and boomer parents. I also think that your culture has to come into play here, so while the video was funny, it was based on a white societal normative style of parenting. So I’m going to write this based on my experiences, and if we haven’t met yet IRL or digitally, I come from a black household; so there are definitely going to be differences here. That is actually what I’m banking on.

My Experience with My Role

Okay, so when I was growing up, the line between parents and children was thick, bold as hell, there was no mistaking who was in charge, and even if you were going to be negatively affected by a decision, you didn’t get to have a say. That just is what it was; and when you don’t know differently, it doesn’t really bug you. As I grew up and got into other people’s families and saw some differences, I started to wonder what it might be like to be a more active participant in the way the house works. Overall, I had a good childhood; this isn’t a critique on that. However, it is an exploration of what my world would look like now if we were consulted on things. I do firmly believe that the ultimate decision has to be with the person whose brain is (hopefully) the most developed in the room. But what if?

What I Do Now

I wouldn’t say that my daughter and I are equals by any means, but as a single parent, she is my ace boon, my ride or die. It’s #teamus. So when I go to make decisions like dinner, weekend plans, chore lists, vacation options, etc., I am more likely to consult with my kid than I perceive I was consulted. I find myself asking questions like, ‘Hey would it be fun to go see Grandpa this year?’ or ‘It’s a home day; what do you feel like doing?’ My kid also has a general sense of what we can and cannot afford to do. So sometimes she’ll say I really want to go to Jumptime, and I can say, ‘Oh, I can’t really afford that this weekend but what about next?’ And we may still have to go and do some things she didn’t want to do, but at least she got to make her feelings known. And honestly, it makes those experiences less of a nightmare when I already know she isn’t feeling it, and I can explain, well this is why we have to do it. Now I’m not saying that I don’t still make choices that she didn’t agree with, but I am saying that she knows what’s happening, and has a chance to be vocal about it.

Now here is where you come in. I have also been very open with her about wanting a new house – we are on the same page – and wanting to foster some kids. And we have those dialogues (as much as a five year old can).

What decisions do your kids get a say in? Do you include them at all? Why or why not?

And let’s use designate this as a judgement – and shade throwing – free zone.

Kid Safety Raising Healthy Kids Sponsored Content

How ExpressVPN is Helping HP Build a More Secure Future

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Full disclosure – I have no affiliation with HP, although I am powered by an HP laptop. ExpressVPN provides my annual VPN subscription free of charge in exchange for sharing information about the importance of cybersecurity and the role a VPN can play in internet privacy. I 100% believe in what they’re doing and that every single one of us has a responsibility to step up our own personal security and protect our data.

And in a world where the Internet is becoming more and more dangerous for our children, we all have to do more. (You can start really simply, by not using super easy passwords, and not using the same password on every different site, and changing all of your passwords NOW).

Cybersecurity has become a major focus for many around the world the past couple of years, but tech companies seem to be ignoring this shift completely. Every year, we see new releases of laptops that offer incremental improvements over last year’s model while at the same time remaining free of any sort of security improvements.

Fortunately, two companies are working towards influencing the tech industry to take the right steps, and those two companies are ExpressVPN and HP. I’ve been using ExpressVPN for a while and really appreciate the added security it gives me when I’m traveling, working from a hotel room, or instead of using public Wi-Fi in a restaurant.

How HP and ExpressVPN are Influencing the Industry

Image from ExpressVPN

HP recently released their new Spectre laptop, the Spectre x360 13, and the press release outlined many security improvements, including but not limited to: a way to turn off the webcam, a physical mute button for the internal microphone, an optional, built-in privacy screen, and a partnership with ExpressVPN.

The partnership with ExpressVPN allows HP to pre-install the VPN program onto all the new Spectre 13s, along with offering a 30-day free trial for any users of the new Spectre.

Now, you may read all that and ask what the big deal is, and I understand. Nothing about that partnership screams revolutionary or important. However, keep in mind how long HP has been making laptops and how much influence they have. ExpressVPN as well, as it’s one of the biggest VPN companies in existence as of the time of writing. It’s also one of the most secure consumer VPN out there that vows not to keep any VPN log.

ExpressVPN has stated that they already have more partnerships waiting to be announced, meaning even more tech companies are already realizing that partnering with cybersecurity companies is the best move to make right now. After all, the tech industry is shifting to an industry more focused on cybersecurity due to the numerous leaks that have taken place – Equifax, anyone? Capital One? Disney Plus??

Tech companies are realizing how dangerous things are becoming on the Internet, which is why I assume HP decided to partner with ExpressVPN in the first place. There comes a time when the blissful ignorance companies show towards cybersecurity fades, and I believe we’re living during it.

We All Need to Take Cybersecurity More Seriously

The new partnership between ExpressVPN and HP embodies the shift the tech industry is currently going through–a shift that demands attention towards security.

As I mentioned earlier, the Internet has become a dangerous place, and while security has improved tremendously, so has the number of scams out there. Companies know this, however…well, at least some do.

I believe the partnership between ExpressVPN and HP represents a step in the right direction where people become more aware of how they can stay safe online.

Parenting Stress Management

Thoughts on the Holiday Season

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

Guess what’s coming up? The best and worst part of the year – the holiday season. For ANY parent this can be a time of mixed emotions. I won’t speak on yours, but mine include joy, warmth, envy, guilt, embarrassment, and alcohol. Yes I am aware that alcohol is not an emotion but it could be if we had time for semantics. 

Navigating Family

There are so many different family systems out there. Pre-Kayree, I always wondered and worried about what it would be like to merge two families together for the holidays. Each family unit has their own traditions, their own way of doing things, and their own expectations on the holidays. Fortunately I got lucky(ish) about that – I still only have to worry about one family. The catch is, Kayree and I are our own family unit as well. So as much as I love spending time with my parents and siblings and cousins etc., I also want to start some traditions of our own. Cue guilt. It’s okay to decide that some of the specialness that happens over the holidays is JUST for your family unit, however that is configured. 

Navigating Envy  – I Mean, Gifts

So this might just be me, but I don’t think I knew what other parents were talking about when they talked about present envy during the holiday season. I thought they meant like that next week when all the kids when back to school and were comparing notes, but they really mean this unspoken competition between parents on what kids get. Yo, I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but I bet there are some of you reading right now that can think ‘have I ever felt even a little envious when my friend told me they were getting XYZ for their child?’. I have. There are so many things that I want my daughter to experience that honestly, I just can’t afford, or we don’t have space for, or that don’t make sense for her developmentally. I would love for her to have the full Barbie Dreamhouse complete with pool, water slide, and closet. I mean who wouldn’t? Add in the Easy Bake Oven, a full library of books, and a sweet play structure in the backyard. Sometimes our own hopes and dreams can lead to just a little bit of – you guessed it, envy. That’s fine and normal to feel. I feel it every year. But I also feel joy and love, and happy to see everyone’s positive experiences over the holidays; those feelings far outweigh a little envy.

Navigating Self Care

Alright, so sometimes the holiday season brings its own flavor of stress. We can all think of different ways that this happens, from tense family relationships, to expensive family outings, to pure exhaustion from the last couple of months. Self-care is important. I have three pieces of advice for ya that I live by:

  1. Boundaries. Set some financial and emotional boundaries on your time and interactions for the holidays. Maybe that means suggesting the first couple of days are sleep days. Don’t leave your house and don’t put on pants. And stick to that. For me I always tell people you are welcome to hang out but I’m not hosting. We can watch TV and eat snacks on my couch.
  2. Stick to your budget. I learned this the hard way last year. I always want to do the most, and provide the most, and make a big fuss out of the holidays. But the emotions are there regardless of what we are doing! I don’t have to drop $100 on an activity when we could go on a free adventure and have just as much fun.
  3. Be intentional. You know what recharges your batteries, so set an intention that you get some of that recharging time and juice. Maybe you need a couple hours of time outside. Or alone. Or a trip to the bookstore. Whatever it is – intend to do it, and intend to be refreshed.

We are gonna make it out alive people, and we are gonna make it out renewed! 

Education Parenting

Why I Chose a Charter School

I’d like to think I’m the kind of parent who thinks ahead. In reality I’m the kind of parent who sort of thinks ahead when I have to, and mostly just waits until the last second. One area in which I made it a priority to really think ahead was education. Living in Idaho has so many positives in the good stuff column – but K-12 education isn’t one of them. Or at least it wasn’t. Education is a sore spot for a lot of us, and I get it – this is what is supposed to set your child up for success. I decided to start my kid at a charter – and in all transparency, I am a founding Board Member for said school – and I want to talk about why.

My Own Experiences.

I went to school here. Elementary, Junior High, and High School. Not once in that time did I have a teacher of color. Not once in that time did I see myself reflected in the curriculum beyond the slave trade and the civil rights movement. Not one time did I see the positives of my culture, or really any other culture presented to me at school. When I got to high school there was this program in conjunction with Trio and Boise State University that happened once a year. It’s aim, if I remember right, was to help minority students understand the college process, and see how cool it was, and what doors could open for you. My friends and I took it as a time to be ourselves, to see ourselves reflected in the college students, and to be just with each other. Because of these experiences, I spent a long time thinking about how I would make sure that my child knew how great it was to be Black, how amazing and diverse and resilient our history was, and how many different options there were for her future. So naturally I had my ears to the ground on what state I needed to go to for that to happen. Yeah you guys – I was gonna move.

A Side Note.

There is so much misinformation about charter schools in the world. A charter school is a public school. Similar to a public school, the funding is based on attendance and student enrollment. When students move to a charter – they aren’t ‘draining resources from their home school’ because guaranteed the home school was able to accept a student to take their place. There are TONS of kids (here at least) coming into the district or needing to change schools due to services etc. Also – you don’t pay extra for a charter. Teachers aren’t kidnapped and dragged to teach at a charter. They may or may not get paid more – that’s based on what school they are at. For example, we all know that the BSD pays better than other districts – so many factors none of which apply to charters necessarily. Charters are not just for rich kids. Or white kids. Charters – just like every other school is supposed to – adhere to state and federal academic standards. Rant over.

A light in the darkness.

There is nothing wrong with the schools here for the most part. They just aren’t reflective of how I imagined my kid experiencing schools. In a story that could be it’s own post, I met two wonderful people who dreamed of opening a school where all kids could thrive, where all kids could be exposed to identity development, and have all of their identities celebrated. In a time where the Treasure Valley is diversifying beyond what anyone expected – and joyfully so – this was like a little miracle sent just for us. Not only where they excited to show kids of color, and other kids too, all of the joys of learning but they were also set to do so through a STEM focused lens. What could be better than that?


So fast forward to this year – the second year the school is open and her first year there. We learn all of the necessary things like the parts of a book, how to be a kind friend, and the foundations of math. We also have computer science and movement three times a week. We are a part of a school culture that welcomes wonder, celebrates joyfully, encourages conversation, and incorporates community into all that we do. I’m very excited to see my little brown girl thrive in her educational pursuits, and have opportunities that I didn’t; and isn’t that what we all want?


8 Wonderful Reasons to Visit Paris with Kids

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

We took our kids to Paris in 2016 as part of our 30-day trip to Europe that coincided with our daughter’s “I Do Take Two” – she and her husband had a small ceremony in the states with her U.S. family, then had a big, beautiful wedding in Nottingham with our son-in-law’s family. Since we were going anyway, we decided to visit some of our favorite places – Berlin and Wiesbaden, Brussels, and of course, Paris. We only had a few days, so hit the hot spots – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and paid homage to Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise.

But if you have more time to visit (we’re definitely planning to go back), here are 8 wonderful reasons to visit Paris with your kids.

1. The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont Playground – A giant-sized playground-cum-landscaped park, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is full of streams for playing and has a pavilion on the top of a hill. The gigantic place also offers an alcove with a waterfall gushing out of it and a breathtaking view atop a suspension bridge above the water.

Image Source

Kids are sure to love the place, what with donkey rides and funfair events encircling the main pond. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a unique, green area certainly worth a casual family stroll.

Numerous birds share the space, such as black-headed gulls, moorhens, and mallards, which enjoy its heights and also the lakewater’s freshness. If you’re traveling to Paris anytime between autumn and spring, you’re sure to spot the long-tailed songbird jerking.

2. The Ménagerie  Zoo – Lying in the heart of the Jardin des Plantes, the nation’s most significant botanical garden, the Ménagerie Zoo is home to plenty of big cats including snow leopards, and red pandas and is exceptionally child-friendly. Easily accessible, the zoo also has orangutans, kangaroos, snakes, a 100-year-old turtle, and a variety of birds including vultures, ostriches, and flamingos.

Inside this living book of diverse wildlife, you’re sure to experience tenderness during your encounters with animals, letting you reconnect with nature. These unforgettable moments also make kids aware of the vital need to protect and preserve biodiversity. You can also take guided tours to understand common and rare types of animal behavior.

Younger kids will enjoy themselves at a petting zoo here, full of farm animals, while the older ones can spend quality time at the Microzoo, zooming in on tiny organisms.

3. The Jardin d’Acclimatation Amusement Park – A huge success with kids, the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a 19-hectare amusement park is best to visit during summer. Packed with kids’ attractions like pony rides and puppet shows, the park also houses a livestock farm and an aviary.

The Jardin d’Acclimatation features 4 fabulous roller-coasters, flying chairs and 18 hectares to stroll on. Summers offer kids ample scope to chill out with water-themed rides.

While the “Enchanted House” entertains toddlers, radio-controlled boats and mini-golf areas fascinate the older kids. What’s more, the park has, in its vicinity, a mini train with pushchairs running right up to its entrance.

4. The Grévin Wax Museum – Offering a wacky yet useful experience of French civilization, the Grévin Wax Museum houses more than 300 wax shapes. The figures include those of historical characters like Napoleon, political figures like Obama and singing superstars like Celine Dion. What’s more, kids could have their pictures clicked by the side of waxworks of these celebrities!

Image by Iva Balk from Pixabay

The fascinating museum takes kids through the history of France via its numerous waxworks. On the museum tour, you will also get to learn the detailed process of making the wax figures.

Last but not least the Grévin Wax Museum boasts an incredibly opulent marble staircase leading up to an equally exuberant hall of mirrors throwing light from every angle. Under dimmed lights, the hall creates eye-catching optical illusions of a temple, mysterious forest and a palace made of gold.

5. Disneyland – With a French-speaking Mickey Mouse and making a perfect fairytale family vacation destination, Disneyland Paris is full of classic attractions, entertainment events, and street processions.

Image Source

Your magical tour of Disneyland covers two parks, namely, Parc Disneyland and Parc Walt Disney Studios, Disney Entertainment Village, and countless restaurants. At Disneyland, kids can meet all Disney characters including Goofy and Captain Hook.

The little ones can enjoy themselves at Fantasyland that brings Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to life, while the older kids can indulge in adventure rides like the “Star Tours” where they need to dodge objects and fly at full speed for destroying the Death Star.

Don’t miss out on “The Pirates of the Caribbean”, the most popular family ride in Parc Disneyland, where spooky pirates will attack you.

Disneyland offers a unique experience in autumn due to Halloween as well as Christmas celebrations.

6. Aquarium de Paris – Situated opposite the iconic Eiffel Tower and brimming with interesting collections of marine life, Aquarium de Paris offers an extraordinary experience for kids as well as adults.

With approximately sixty tanks and ponds where you’ll find more than 7000 sea creatures, all from the French waters, seek out clownfish, the favorite aquarium pets, the poisonous puffers, and the endangered species of stingrays.

What’s more, the aquarium with its glass walls touching the floor caters to even toddlers as they’re able to see inside without you having to pick them up.

Image Source

Kids will love, in particular, the shark tunnel, the dwelling of twenty-four toothy sharks as well as the petting pond where they can fondle warm and friendly sturgeon fish as they thrust their long funnel-shaped noses outside the water.

7. Parc de la Villette Playground – A 55-hectares playground located in northern Paris, and full of slides and jungle gym-style, fun-filled activities the Parc de la Villette is a full-fledged, kid-friendly attraction. Children will find plenty of games as well as carnival rides to spend any additional time while relishing cotton candies.

Watch your kids shooting down Chinese dragon slides as you experience the beauty of this urban delight. Red-colored pavilions dotting the playground serve as huge climbing frames and also as a kids’ art center.

Summertime attracts large crowds to a film festival held on the lawns, in the open air.  Parc de la Villette has 10 themed gardens having reminiscent names like the “Garden of Mirrors”, “The Garden of Mists”, and “The Garden of Acrobatics”.

8. The Cat Cafe – “Le Café des Chats” – The first cat cafe in Paris offering a relaxed ambiance for you and the kids to savor your coffee and pastries while being around cats, Le Café des Chats is home to a dozen, beautiful cats.

The two-story cafe serves as a stable shelter for abandoned cats, thus contributing to animal welfare. With plenty of comfortable sofas and a large variety of pastries on the menu, kids will have a memorable time here, while gently interacting with the cats.

Children can also learn about the cats’ different personalities by reading a card about every individual cat, displayed near the tables. This way children will surely get to know the cats better while enjoying watching them play around the place.           

Bonus tip: Be sure to get a scratch-off map of the world so that once back home, you can add Paris to your travel memories.

Back to School Self-Improvement

Going Back to College as a New Parent

Starting a family changes your life in many ways. When you’re pregnant, it’s normal to think about how different your life will be in a very short time. You’ll have to make some sacrifices (including sleep!), it’s true. But one thing you shouldn’t have to sacrifice is your education or your desire to keep growing.

It’s not impossible for a new parent to go back to college. Whether you’ve never taken collegiate classes before, or you chose to stop to focus on your family, you can always go back. You can start over completely, or finish what you already put in motion in order to get a degree.

But parents (especially single parents) who choose to go back to school do face a unique set of challenges. You’ll have to balance your time between classes and your child (and maybe even a job), you might experience fatigue, and you’ll have to devote extra attention to both sides of your life, too.

Thankfully, having a support system in place and knowing your own limitations can make a big difference. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some strategies you can use to go back to college as a new parent.

Getting the Support You Need

One of the biggest obstacles you’ll face as a new parent going back to school is feeling like you have to do it all alone. If you try to go about it that way, it’s going to be much harder, and you’re more likely to quit or burn out quickly.

Raising a baby on your own is difficult. If you’re a single parent, going back to school can be more of a challenge because you don’t have a spouse at home to take care of the baby when you need time to attend class or study. It can also be more of a financial strain on single parents surviving on only one income. Some single parents even avoid going back to school because of the lack of affordability, the workload, or the inability to find clear information on what to expect.

If you’re married or living with your child’s other parent, rely on them for support. Talk to them about what you need and why you want to go back to school. Work out a schedule and a budget ahead of time that makes the situation comfortable for both of you.

If you don’t live with someone, it’s okay to rely on family members, friends, or even a childcare provider for support. Some colleges even provide on-campus daycare for parents in your situation.

Unfortunately, “mommy guilt” is a real thing, and it can be hard to disrupt your routine with a new baby if you feel like you’re leaving them alone or you should be spending more time with them. But if one of your reasons for going back to school is to better your career or your life in general, it’s worth it to reach your long-term goals.

Value Your Free Time

Newborn babies take up a lot of time. They require a lot of attention. If you already have other children, you’ll have even less time for yourself. It can feel overwhelming to balance yourself between school and your children, so don’t take any free time you have for granted.

Take an extra hour to study when your baby naps, or you can put them to bed early if they’ve had a long day and use that time to get your homework done. You’ll have to find unique ways to make everything work for you, and it might have to be around your baby’s schedule.

It’s also important to provide yourself with a little self-care during your free time. Get some extra rest, take a few hours off and go see a movie, or go to the spa. If you don’t have that kind of time, even spending 10 minutes in the morning meditating or doing yoga can help to calm your nerves and reduce stress.

Finally, use some of your free time to play. Babies are fun and can always make you smile and laugh. Taking time out of your day to play with your baby will strengthen your bond and help you to relax.

Think About Your Future

Before you decide on heading back to college, think about why you really want to. Is it just a personal goal you want to achieve? Do you want to get a better job, or start a completely new career? Are you willing to go the extra steps to put yourself out there with networking events, social gatherings, job fairs, and interviews when you graduate?

There are a lot of questions you’ll have to ask yourself along the way in order to make the experience worthwhile for you. College isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t the only path to success.

With that being said, if it’s right for you, then go for it. It’s a very personal decision you’ll have to make, especially with a new baby in your life, and it is doable. College can be a wonderful way to reach your goals and to show off your accomplishments to your child one day, showing them they can do anything they put their mind to. If you’re willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of your future and your child’s future, then going back to college is a great way to achieve your dreams.

Doing it Alone Self-Improvement

Single Parents as Students

A friend and I were having a lively conversation about college the other day – and who has it harder. His arguments make sense – it’s hard for young people to want to go to college in this climate, despite the economic growth, because of the unreasonable hiring practices of companies. He just spent three months helping a PR firm look at it’s diversity practices when it comes to young people of color. That’s something a lot of top companies are doing – take Starbucks and Walmart for example.

One thing that I have as an added layer, is single parenthood. How does being a single parent play into the complicated life that is college? Well added expenses for one. But beyond that it’s the missed opportunities that college provides that single parents can’t always take advantage of, and the additional stress to manage.

Expense versus Gain

According to the Lumina Foundation, 4.8 million undergrad students in America are raising children. 43 percent of that population are single mothers. I wonder how many graduate students – traditionally older people with some professional experience under their belts – also fall into this category. One of the things that I wish I had paid more attention to before committing to this program was expense versus gain. What skills, knowledge, and economic opportunities will arise for me – real opportunities not hypothetically – through this educational experience? I should’ve made a list. And then I should’ve made a list of every financial sacrifice that was going to need to be made. Oh, and the other sacrifices, like time spent with my kid, favors called in, etc. AND THEN I would have put those lists right next to each other and really gave thought to which outweighed the other. Personally I am committed to making the gains outweigh the expense of added debt and financial sacrifice, but because hindsight is 20/20 I hope making a list in advance helps some other parent out there.

Missed Chances

There are many awesome opportunities provided by being in a program of study, even as a graduate student. Research opportunities, conferences, workshops, special lectures, the list goes on. However being a single parent can significantly reduce the amount of those opportunities you take part in. Even if you are lucky enough (or unlucky depending on your relationship) to have a co-parent, sometimes you can’t make that weekend conference, after hours lecture, or two day travel work. I do take advantage of as many opportunities I can, while managing care for my kid. Sometimes that means she’s spending a Saturday with GiGi, or having a late night hang at Nana’s. These kinds of opportunities are sometimes missed chances for single parent students.

Stress Load Management

If any people in this world are good at stress management – or avoidance – it’s single parents. Many of us do not have time to feel stress; we have to work, take care of kid(s), take care of house, try to socialize, and sometimes pursue higher education. Add on top of all of that, the mountain of emotional trauma that a lot of single parents have experienced, some guilt, and sprinkle on all of the hopes and desires of the kid(s) in the picture. That is so much to deal with! Being a student can provide resources that help with the management of stress; from mentors, to onsite childcare, to finals week stress relief for all students. Know what your program, department, and/or campus provides in this area – and take advantage of it! I know I do, especially the free food and free massages!

Everything Baby On Motherhood

A Science-Based Look at Natural Induction Methods

Getting Real with Neve Spicer, Founder & Director at

The nine months we spend carrying our babies can sometimes seem to fly by in a haze of appointments, celebrations and preparations. Once a mom passes her due date, though, time may seem to slow down a bit – you’re eager to meet baby, and may be equally eager to avoid the prospect of medical induction, which can lead to labor complications. Though we don’t believe in rushing baby along, moms who are recommended for induction and are hoping to avoid a Pitocin drip may be interested in discussing natural methods of inducing labor with their doctor or health care provider.

Natural labor induction has been a part of recorded medical history for millennia, and the list of rituals, tinctures, herbs, and oils with which doctors, apothecaries and their patents have experimented is mighty long. While many of those fall under the heading of so-called “old wives’ tales”, other remedies have long been considered by traditional wisdom as legitimate ways to naturally trigger active labor.

For moms today who are armed with medical knowledge, natural labor induction methods pose a few important, clear-cut questions. Is it safe? Is it effective? Are there side effects? Does your doctor consider your method to be a safe alternative to hospital induction? While there’s not a proliferation of research available on naturally inducing labor, the studies that do exist let us know that there’s reason to believe some natural labor induction methods can actually trigger active labor. On the flip side, while some have a short and innocuous list of side effects, other methods can cause issues ranging from unpleasant symptoms to serious labor complications and birth defects – in other words, nature is powerful, and induction methods shouldn’t be assumed to be safe solely because they are natural.

As deceptively simple as it sounds to kick back with a bag of tasty dates and wait for your water to break, knowing the facts about the efficacy and safety of natural labor methods from a scientific perspective can help you understand the way they work and whether they’re appropriate for your situation. It’s always essential to discuss your plans with your doctor for a final go-ahead, as their informed knowledge of your pregnancy can help them steer you in the right direction. We The Parents put together a helpful visualization detailing nine of the most common natural labor induction methods to help moms understand what science has to say – read on to learn more.

Let's Talk Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

How to Talk to Your Kids about Gender, Sexuality, & Private Parts

When did your child first start noticing gender differences? I’m not talking about toys or colors, I’m talking about private parts. Before joining Boise State University‘s counseling program, I couldn’t imagine how to start having these conversations with my child. I’m a touch more prepared, although it still makes me nervous, but I know it’s important to talk to your kids about this stuff. 

Don’t panic. 

The first time your kid comes to you naked (probably not new) and points out their specific genitals, it will probably catch you off guard. It did me. The first thing I had to remember was to keep calm. Take a breath – you can do this. No matter how you approach the conversation, just remember that the way you react tells your child whether they should be ashamed of their natural bodies, or whether it’s okay to notice. 

Stay consistent. 

Whatever your message, stick to your script. I knew from the minute I felt her kick that I wouldn’t want any sexual predator to take advantage of her. I chose to tell her exactly what the body parts are called. Then we had the bathing suit conversation. If it’s covered by your swimsuit, it’s a private area only for you to see, and we don’t need to share that -or let anyone else show you theirs. 

How to have "the talk" with your child.

Encourage conversations. 

Now this comes from my counseling experiences. As your child grows and develops, so should these conversations. I don’t anticipate being able to keep telling my kid “that’s yours, so keep it to yourself. And don’t ask to see anyone else’s business,” because her curiosity will grow. All of ours did. As a parent I’d prefer that she asks me for information before she asks a friend or Google. I’d also prefer that she comes to me with things she hears from others, so that we can discern together if it’s true or not. 

No matter how you tackle it, make sure that you do. The best thing you can give to the next generation is knowledge! 

Kid Safety

Cyber Safety: Is Your Family Safe?

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Here’s some information to help families stay safe – and keep their kids safe – online.

While parents are busy building a family, supporting a household, and raising good children, one big responsibility is safety. Cyber safety has become an ongoing risk for quite some time now. A 2018 study conducted by Common Sense Media showed that 89% of teenagers have a smartphone, and 70% of teens are on social media multiple times a day. There’s no doubt the Internet is playing a huge role in our kids’ lives on a daily basis. But are you doing all you can to keep your family safe from cybercriminals? Here’s how to get started:

Protect your home network

A strong Wi-Fi connection starts with a reliable router. This connects all of your devices to the Internet. Although Wi-Fi is a necessity these days, it can also pose several risks to your home. An unsecured router could become vulnerable to hackers looking to access your private information. While installing your home Wi-Fi router, you should follow a couple of important steps to ensure it’s protecting your home network. Here are a couple tips:

  • Perform all necessary updates to your router. Not only will this help the router perform at its best, but it will keep your device free from any new threats.
  • Give your router a name (you’ll find this option in the security settings). Try to avoid anything too obviously related to you or your family (i.e. “Smith Family” “Sharon Smith Internet”) Use something basic like “xf456” or any other complex combination of letters and numbers.
  • Always disable WPS (Wi-Fi protected setup). Although this was created for an easier user experience, it’s not always the most secure option. Because the WPS uses a PIN as the login credentials, it can easily be hacked.
  • Establish a guest network. This network will give your guests their own SSID and password but will also block others from being able to access your regular network. Your original password will no longer have to be shared with guests who are in your home further keeping your network private and secure.

Arm smart devices

With the rise of smart devices, and the ability for all children to have access to them, comes the danger of the unknown threats. While children are going to and from school, friends’ houses, and any other public areas, they might be connected to Wi-Fi that is not secure. This could leave them vulnerable to being tracked, hacked, or even followed. Look into installing a VPN (virtual private network) onto your child’s devices so they are protected no matter where they are. The network establishes a private network from a public Internet connection. It also hides your browsing activity including anything you access while connected to the Internet. VPNs should be installed on all devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Monitor screen time

Allowing children the freedom to explore the Internet can be difficult at times. With the number of anonymous people using the Internet daily, it’s imperative that parents enact smart ways to keep their children safe. Monitoring screen time is a quick way to ensure your children are being smart digital citizens while also maintaining their everyday life and responsibilities. As a parent, it’s your duty to make this screen time schedule however you’d like, but it should always be communicated with your child.

Here are some ways to monitor screen time:

  • Only allow screen time after dinner.
  • Shut off all devices by a certain time every night.
  • Lock specific games and apps from being used.
  • Only allow screen time on weekend nights.
  • Use parental controls to monitor what your kids are accessing and how they are interacting with it.

Use these tips to teach your family how to be safer while using the Internet. Focus on cybersecurity as another task to accomplish while you’re setting up your family home. Just like locking a door, never forget to lock your Internet connection to keep you and your family safe from cyber harm.