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Focus on the Family

Inside • Parenting tips • Find a hobby • Read more

A Southern Lakes Newspapers publication 2018

s n o s a e r Five

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FOCUS on the FAMILY 2018

why summer camp is a good choice for kids

Summer vacation offers students a respite from lessons and the routine of school. Children might once have eagerly awaited those final days of classes so they could lounge poolside, skip rocks across ponds and spend the long days of the season playing with friends. But many of today’s youngsters spend much of their summer vacations indoors playing with their digital devices. Perhaps that’s why one of the last vestiges of the classic summer vacation escape – summer camp – remains such a viable option for parents who want their children to get outdoors once the school year ends. The following are five reasons why summer camp might be the right fit this year.

Explore talents

Physical activity

Lots of camps build their itineraries around physical activities that takes place outdoors. Campers may spend their time swimming, running, hiking, playing sports, climbing, and so much more. This can be a welcome change for kids

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Gain confidence

Day and sleepaway camps offer campers the opportunity to get comfortable in their own skin. Camps can foster activities in self-esteem by removing the academic measures of success and fill in with noncompetitive opportunities to succeed. Campers learn independence, decision-making skills and the ability to thrive outside of the shadow of their parents, siblings or other students.

Try new things

Camp gives children the chance to try new things, whether that’s learning to cook, exploring new environments or embracing a new sport or leisure activity. Opening oneself up to new opportunities can build character and prove enlightening for children.

Make new friends

Camp is a great place to meet new people and make lifelong friends. Campers flood in from areas near and far. This provides kids with a chance to expand their social circles beyond their immediate neighborhoods and schools. Camps benefit children in a variety of ways. Lessons learned in camp can strengthen values, build confidence, develop coping mechanisms when adversity strikes, and enable campers to make lifelong friends.


Summer camps help young people explore their unique interests and talents. Under an organized, yet often easygoing, camp schedule, kids can dabble in sports, arts and crafts, leadership, community support, and so many other activities that may not be fully available to them elsewhere.

accustomed to living sedentary lifestyles. Regular physical activity has many health benefits and can set a foundation for healthy habits as an adult.

FILE PHOTO Focus on the Family

Although kids needn’t be in camp all summer long, a week or two can benefit campers of all ages.

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FOCUS on the FAMILY 2018

Spending time with kids in the great outdoors can instill a love of nature in youngsters that compels them to embrace eco-friendly practices throughout the rest of their lives.

o g n a c s r e t s How young


hildren often aspire to emulate their parents. Young boys who see their fathers shaving might reach for dad’s shaving cream, while young girls may find their way into mom’s closet in an effort to dress up like their mothers. Kids’ curiosity may be similarly piqued when they see their parents going green. Parents who reduce, reuse and recycle are setting positive examples for their kids, who may inquire about the ways they can follow suit. While going green might not seem like the most kid-friendly activity, there are myriad ways for parents to involve children in their efforts to live eco-friendly lifestyles.

Donate clothing and toys

Children outgrow their clothing pretty quickly. Rather than discarding items

kids can no longer wear, parents can take tots along to donation centers or thrift stores to show them how their clothes can be reused. Use this as an opportunity to teach kids how donating or recycling old items cuts down on the need to use natural resources to create new items. Do the same with toys, which kids tend to outgrow almost as quickly as their clothing.

Bike to school

Stay-at-home parents, telecommuters or those who have time to escort their children to and from school can bike to school with their children. Teach them how biking in lieu of driving helps to conserve fuel and how such conservation benefits the planet. If biking is not an option due to weather or distance, parents can organize carpools, teaching kids how traveling together instead of individually helps to conserve fuel.

Avoid plastic water bottles

Plastic water bottles might seem more convenient because they don’t need to be washed after using them, but the environmental organization Clean Up Australia notes that plastic bottles, many of which are derived from crude oil, generate enormous amounts of waste that ultimately end up in landfills. In addition, the transportation of such bottles from factories to store shelves requires the burning of significant amounts of fossil fuels. Take kids along to the store to purchase their own reusable water bottle, explaining to them how they’re doing their part to protect the planet by choosing reusable bottles over bottled water.

Visit the library

Young children who love to read can borrow books from the library rather than

asking mom and dad to purchase their own copies at the bookstore. Explain how borrowing cuts down on the need for paper, which helps preserve forests and reduce waste.

Spend more time in the great outdoors

Many parents want their children to spend more time outdoors and less time on the couch playing video games or watching television. Parents can make an effort to spend more time outdoors with their children engaging in fun activities like hiking, camping or fishing. Such excursions can instill a love and appreciation for nature in youngsters, and that love can compel them to a lifetime of protecting the planet and conserving its resources. Kids who want to follow their parents’ example and go green can do so in various ways, many of which are as fun as they are eco-friendly.


2018 Focus on the Family

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FOCUS on the FAMILY 2018

Baby-sitting can help girls from becoming victims By Brian Presley

Communication skills


Young women and teen girls have always had it tough, and the recent Hollywood scandals illustrate the types of problems women have had to face not only in entertainment, but in many other industries. There is however a longtime activity that can help young women from becoming a victim and that’s baby-sitting. Most people may dismiss baby-sitting as just a part-time job for a teen to make a few dollars, but with the proper training and experience, a young woman can develop her confidence, a higher level of responsibility, leadership and skills that she will use for the rest of her life. Being a baby-sitter is more than just putting the kids in front of the television and then to bed. A baby-sitter is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of another human being. It looks simple because in most cases, nothing goes wrong. The importance of having a properly trained babysitter is evident when something does go wrong. There are hundreds of baby-sitting courses available across the country. They teach how to properly handle, feed and change babies, how to deal with toddlers and many other situations that can pop up. Many babysitting programs also offer emergency first-aid and CPR courses that could help save a kid’s life. Just like anti-bullying programs, all the speeches, skits and cheers that kids are exposed to are useless unless that person develops their confidence and has a high level of self-esteem. In most cases, victims have the opposite. The majority of people

It is extremely important that the baby-sitter is able to understand and communicate clearly with the adults as to what needs to be done when they are gone. She must be able to ask questions before the adults leave and must be able to explain to the parents if they are not able or comfortable with something they’ve been asked to do. It is also important for her to clearly explain any situations or events that have happened while they were gone. It could be something as simple as an appliance not working or even noticing the kid developing a rash. Parents need to know. It is also just as important for the babysitter to communicate with the kids. Just barking orders won’t work, but being confident in giving them directions will. Kids ideally will be more cooperative if they feel like they can talk to her.

Organizational skills FILE PHOTO Focus on the Family

For parents, having someone watch their kids so that they can leave their home is like having a mini vacation. For teens, baby-sitting teaches responsibility and problem-solving skills.

who complete a baby-sitting course and learn first-aid and CPR do develop a sense of empowerment. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is empowering. Knowing that you can help save someone’s life helps build confidence and although they may not realize it, learning first-aid and CPR also builds and develops their leadership

abilities. A young woman with these skills is less likely to be a victim. For some parents, a baby-sitter is needed so that they can go to work to earn money to pay their bills. As long as there are kids, there will always be a need for baby-sitters. A few of the skills that being a babysitter can develop include:

A reliable baby-sitter is organized, prepared and on time. Prior to the job, the baby-sitter must have everything they need for the time they are there. That may include a change of clothes, a fully charged cell phone and a way to get there on time and a way to get home safely afterward. The parents also may have a number of tasks for the babysitter to do while they’re gone, so it’s important to be able to do them properly, especially when it involves something important such as giving medication. Being organized is important



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Helping kids find hobbies

Much like adults can benefit from participating in hobbies, children can reap rewards from engaging in hobbies. According to the Child Development Institute, hobbies give children a chance to express themselves. The CDI also notes that hobbies can play an important role in children’s self-discovery and boost their self-esteem. Some children may discover hobbies on their own, requiring little if any assistance on the part of their parents. For example, some kids may display an interest in music that parents, even those with no such musical inclination, can foster by purchasing certain instruments. But some children may need a little more prompting, and parents of such boys and girls can take certain steps to help their youngsters find rewarding hobbies.

Involve kids in your own hobbies Kids look up to their parents and often want to emulate what their mothers and fathers do. If possible, involve children in your own hobbies. Gardeners can teach their youngsters how to grow and tend to a garden, while painters can host family painting nights where everyone is encouraged to create their own masterpiece. Parents whose hobbies are more adult-oriented, like woodworking, can still involve their children. For example, work with children to design a new item, then show them how the item goes from paper to finished product; just avoid allowing them to use any unsafe tools or machines.

Let kids choose an activity While some children might take to hobbies their parents favor, others might need to be given some freedom to find their own activities. Afford youngsters this chance, recognizing that it might take some time before kids find an activity that genuinely sparks their passion.

Be a source of encouragement Some hobbies may prove more difficult than kids first imagined, requiring some perseverance before they can be enjoyed fully. In such instances, observe youngsters while they engage in the activity. If they appear to be enjoying themselves but are periodically frustrated, encourage them to keep trying. If kids appear to be disinterested in overcoming any struggles, then they might benefit by pursuing another hobby.

Don’t hesitate to focus on fun Hobbies can teach kids valuable lessons and provide a sense of fulfillment, but it’s important that parents not overlook the importance of fun in regard to their children’s hobbies. Hobbies can provide children with the same respite from busy schedules that they do adults, and that break should be as fun as possible. METRO CREATIVE

FILE PHOTO Focus on the Family

A form of escapism that can provide a much-needed respite from the hectic pace of daily life, hobbies can help men and women reduce stress by forcing them to focus on something other than the source of their stress.

Grown-ups need hobbies, too

Tips to find activities you’ll enjoy Commitments to work and family can make adults feel like they have little time for much else. But finding time to pursue hobbies can benefit men and women in various ways. Hobbies can be a great way to meet new people, an important benefit for working parents who may otherwise find it difficult to meet new people. Finding a hobby may take some trial and error, as adults may find activities that once appealed to them no longer do, while other pursuits may require more time than men and women can reasonably devote. Adults looking for a hobby can consider the following strategies as they begin their pursuits.

Think back to childhood A childhood passion may provide the perfect starting point as adults look for hobbies. For example, adults who enjoyed painting as children may find they still know their way around a canvas and palette.

Ask around FILE PHOTO Focus on the Family

Hobbies can enrich the lives of children. Finding the right activity may require some patience on the part of parents and youngsters alike.

Adults who want to find a hobby to foster social connections can ask friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers to recommend activities. This can help men and women make connections in their communities and/or reconnect with friends or family members with whom they have fallen out of touch.

Think small

Because there is often some trial and error in finding a rewarding hobby, it makes sense to avoid making too big a commitment right off the bat. Before buying lots of expensive equipment or materials or making a large time commitment, give yourself some time to try a hobby on for size. The first activity you try might not necessarily take, and walking away won’t sting as much if you had not committed much time or money.

Consider coaching or mentoring Athletes who still have a passion for their favorite sports, but can no longer meet the physical demands such sports require can stay involved by coaching youth sports. The same can be said for professionals passionate about their work that choose to mentor. These activities might not be traditional hobbies, but they offer a great way for adults to pursue their passions on their own time. Hobbies can enrich our lives and provide respites from the daily grind. Finding a hobby that fits might take some time and some trial and error, but such efforts will ultimately prove worth it if adults find activities they are passionate about.


FOCUS on the FAMILY 2018

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Changing parenting roles for dads FOCUS on the FAMILY 2018

The number of stay-at-home fathers on the rise Parenting roles continue to evolve as families look for solutions that meet all of their needs. In an effort to meet the financial demands of raising a family, parents may be taking on less traditional roles. For example, many fathers are now stay-at-home dads. The number of stay-at-home fathers continues to climb. The Pew Research

• Baby-sitting

Earning potential

Money is very often a factor in deciding

that mom will be the breadwinner and dad will be the caregiver. In the event one parent earns considerably more money than the other, and paying for childcare so both parents can work would be a detriment to the family, it can make sense to have the higher earner be the sole breadwinner.


Personality plays a role in who does what; some women simply see themselves thriving more in the workforce than as a primary caregiver at home, while some dads want to be home with their children and do not measure success in job titles or

income. These scenarios make the stay-at-home dad model more plausible.


If the situation does not affect the children, and grandparents and other supportive people in the kids’ lives are amenable to the idea, then accepting less traditional roles can be successful. Traditional family roles are increasingly falling by the wayside as both men and women put their families first and make decisions based on what’s best for all members of the family.


(Continued from page 4)

for a successful babysitter.


Center indicates that roughly 550,000 men have become full-time stay-at-home parents in the previous 10 years. Economics have forced many couples to make less traditional decisions for their families. The National At-Home Dad Network says the stay-at-home dad is a growing trend because men want to be more involved with their kids. The following factors may give families pause to consider swapping parental stereotypes in favor of stay-at-home fathers.

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For some teens, this is the first time that they are really in charge of something important. First and foremost, they are responsible for the safety of the kids. The tasks assigned to them by the adults are not always suggestions and must be completed to the best of their abilities. The baby-sitter must also be responsible enough to tell the parents that they are not confident or even able to do something they are asked to do. It’s important for the baby-sitter to be honest with the parents and to themselves about her abilities.

It may be boring to be sitting in front of the television, but a responsible babysitter knows that they are always “on duty” even when the kids are asleep.

Problem solving

You hope that everything goes smoothly, but as parents know, it’s not always the case. Unexpected things happen and a babysitter must be able to adapt and solve problems as they come up. She must be able to understand the situation, come up with a solution, implement it and hope that the problem is resolved, which may not always happen. Being able to find solutions to problems now may help her to solve larger issues in the future as an adult.


Confidence is a skill that is developed over time and as a baby-sitter, she must be responsible, be organized, solve problems and be able to communicate. Having these skills and using them will help her to build confidence in herself and increase her selfesteem, which will help her throughout her life. Not every decision she makes will work out and not every decision she makes may be the right one for her at that time, but at least she was confident enough to make that decision. Deciding about what is good will come with time, maturity and experience. Kids with confidence are less likely to be bullied and are more likely to succeed

at what they do. Young women who have developed a high level of self-esteem are less likely to become a victim of predators. Brian Presley is a stay-at-home dad, former youth worker and leadership councilor and is currently the president of What To Do With The Kids, the website that adults go to when they want to know what to do with their kids. To contact him, call 613-276-7739 or email brian@ For more information, visit www. WTDWTK’s SitterAdvantage app is designed to help babysitters become better at their jobs while providing parents with the peace of mind of knowing that their kids are happy and safe when they’re not there.

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Exercise your mind

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FOCUS on the FAMILY 2018


help slow a decline in memory and other brain functions. Frequent brain exercise can lower mental decline by 32 percent, according to research published in The Huffington Post. Studies even suggest that reading can help a person be more empathetic to others’ feelings. Research published in the journal Science showed that reading literary works (not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as “theory of mind,” which is the “ability to ‘read’ the thoughts and feelings of others.” Reading also can be calming, helping to reduce stress as a result. By losing oneself in a book, worries and stress can melt away, says research conducted in 2009 at the University of Sussex. Measuring heart rate and muscle tension, researchers discovered that study participants needed just six minutes to relax once they began reading. The following tips can help men and women find more time to read.

Finding time to read more can improve cognition, reduce stress and increase intelligence.

Find small minutes to read

Busy people may think they don’t have the time to devote to reading, but if they read in small intervals, the amount of time will add up. Read during commutes (if you’re not driving), while in physicians’ waiting rooms or during a lunch hour. FILE PHOTO Focus on the Family

Read more books for better health The availability of digital content has made it easy to forget how pleasurable it can be to pick up a good book and get lost in a story. In fact, a 2015 Huffington Post/ YouGov poll of 1,000 adults in the United States found that 28 percent hadn’t read a single book in the previous 12 months. Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health analyzed 12 years of data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study concerning reading habits. Among the 3,600 participants over the age

of 50, those who read books for as little as 30 minutes per day over several years were living an average of two years longer than those who didn’t read. Studies have shown that reading improves fluency and story retention while providing a host of additional benefits to young children. However, the perks do not end with the passing of adolescence. Data published in the journal Neurology found reading regularly improves memory function by working out the brain. This can

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It’s okay to quit

If you’re a few chapters into a book and it’s not striking your fancy, it’s okay to trade up for a more interesting tale. Don’t feel obligated to finish a book if you are not engaged.

Read paper books

Reading printed books can be a welcome, relaxing change from looking at screens all day. This may inspire you to read more and for longer periods of time.

Join a book club

A book club in which you engage with fellow readers can motivate you to read more often.

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