Fostering Caring for Family Far Away

Teaching a child to demonstrate caring behaviors to loved ones far away is a lot easier today than it was years ago.


A big brother away at college, a grandma or grandpa who lives in another state, a relative serving in the armed forces overseas are all people who look forward to hearing from a child and are disappointed when they don’t hear. Children need to be encouraged to stay in touch with those who love them.

Here are some ways that make it easier to stay in touch:

  • Skype enables a  child to see and speak to a loved one via the computer when both parties have a webcam and this free software program.
  • E-mail enables a young child to send brief messages. When special holidays come around, a child can send a free card using programs such as Hallmark or Blue Mountain
  • Telephone calls, when possible, are also a good way to keep in touch
  • There is always the tried and true…send a hand made drawing or card in the mail.

A fun activity to foster caring for those far away is to make a “Caring Calendar” and hang it in the kitchen.

At the beginning of each a month, a child can circle dates for hello calls and holidays, birthdays or special events for each person that he or she wants wants to remember in a special way. When everyone has Skype they can see one another, which makes it a special visit!


“Can Do” Street: A Place for Many Kinds of Families, Diversity and Disability Inclusion

familiesOn “Can Do” Street there are many kinds of families. There is racial diversity. It is an inclusive environment; a place where differences don’t matter.

Nellie and Willie live with their grandparents while their mom is in the military. They are just one of the many kinds of families on “Can Do” Street.

Jay lives with his parents but he spends summers with his grandparents in Dakota on the Indian reservation where they live. His tribe, the Chippewa Indians of Turtle Mountain, is also considered his family. So, you could say he has two families.

Hector and Maria’s parents both work. They participate in an after school program at the community center until their mom picks them up on her way home from work. Yundi and Wendy’s parents travel for business so they live part of the week with Grandma Sue.

Orrie, Annie, Bobby and Arthur Jay live with their mom and dad in a house next door to Grandma Maureen and Grandpa John.

There are 14 child characters on “Can Do” Street, three of whom have physical disabilities and one has a learning disability. Orrie uses a wheelchair. He is a computer wiz kid. He is active in sports, playing basketball, swimming, and horseback riding. Having Grandma Maureen and Grandpa John  next door is important to Orrie and his mom and dad. They are a big help with Orrie.

Nellie and Willie have a cousin, Mickey, who is visually disabled. He goes to a special school where he gets the help he needs to be independent. He has a service dog named Muggins. He comes home to his mom and dad, who live on “Can Do” Street, on holidays and for the summer. He plays the saxophone.

Annie has a hearing disability, so she wears a hearing aid. She is captain of the school Pee Wee basketball team.  Maria has a learning disability and needs extra help with reading, which she gets in school. She loves to draw and use graphics programs on the computer.

Having characters that are racially diverse, and include children with disabilities as well as different kinds of families is meant to raise a young child’s awareness of people and living situations different than his or her own. It also provides content and characters that can be used to teach disability sensitivity and cultural diversity.


Helping Your Child Accept a New Baby in the Family

The following guest post is written by Nancy Parker, a former professional nanny. Nancy loves to write about wide range of subjects such as health, parenting, child care, and babysitting, full time nanny tips etc. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @

babyExpanding your family from one child to two is an exciting time, but also one that requires a delicate approach when telling your oldest child.

Your firstborn, especially when he or she is in the toddler years, is going to have a hard time adjusting, not only to not being the only child in the family, but also not being the baby anymore.

Before your second child makes his or her grand entrance you’re going to need to do some prep work with your oldest. You can help ease him or her into having a new brother or sister using the following tactics:

1.      Include your firstborn throughout the pregnancy Let your firstborn be actively engaged throughout your pregnancy. Helping to pick out a name for the new brother or sister, being given the opportunity to offer advice on different things, and feeling the baby kicking and moving all help to make to your firstborn fully aware that there is going to be a new baby in the house in the coming months.

 2.      Have your child practice with a doll – Buy a baby doll and let your firstborn practice holding the doll so that he or she knows the proper way to do so. Teaching everything that can and can’t be done with the baby ahead of time makes the transition from pretend baby to real one easier.

3.      Make special dates for one-on-one time – Your firstborn is not used to sharing you and your spouse and adding another person that demands your attention is going to be a difficult concept to grasp. Make special dates with just you or your spouse and your oldest child so that he or she still feels special and is reassured that spending alone time with you both is still possible.

4.      Don’t overdo the excitement factor – One mistake that a lot of parents make is over doing the excitement factor of having a new baby in the household. By doing this, your oldest child is going to be let down when he or she realizes that the new baby is only going to be able to sleep, eat, and cry most of the time and will not be a  new playmate right away. Instead be honest with your oldest  so that he or she knows what to realistically expect.

5.      Let your firstborn help you – As your own personal helper, your firstborn will still feel important. He or she can pick out what the baby is going to wear some days, help you bottle feed, grab burp rags, etc. for you.

The initial shock of having a new baby in the household is going to be a big hurdle for your oldest to overcome.

Expect feelings of resentment and jealousy and that your oldest may resort back to habits previously grown out of. These are all coping mechanisms, and soon enough they will pass. By being honest and taking time to make him or her feel important you can lessen the shock and help your oldest child transition to the role of big brother or sister.

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Affordable Health Care Act, Women and Families

Health Care and womenMost of us are not sure what the Affordable Health Care Act means for women and families.

The following is a summary  about what this law means for us. It is from

  • Insurance Companies Can’t Deny Coverage to Women. Before the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance companies selling individual policies could deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and having been pregnant. Under the law, insurance companies are already banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. In 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
  • Women Have a Choice of Doctor. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans joining new insurance plans have the freedom to choose from any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in their health plan’s network, or emergency care outside of the plan’s network, without a referral.

  • Women Pay Lower Health Care Costs. Before the law, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies simply because of their gender. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150% the premium that a 22-year-old man paid. In 2014, insurers will not be able to charge women higher premiums than they charge men. The law takes strong action to control health care costs, including helping states crack down on excessive premium increases and making sure most of your premium dollars go for your health care.

The following is a summary  about what this law means for your family and extended family. This summary also comes from

  • Delivering New Coverage Options for Americans with Pre-existing Conditions. Health plans that cover children can no longer exclude, limit or deny coverage to your child (under age 19) based on a pre-existing condition. In addition, the law created a new program called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) to help provide coverage for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions until new insurance market rules that prohibit discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition go into effect in 2014.
  • Providing Consumers with New Rights and Protections: The Patient’s Bill of Rights. The Affordable Care Act frees Americans from worrying about losing their insurance, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick, giving you greater control over your health insurance and care. It also places tough restrictions on health insurance companies to make them more accountable to you.
  • Requiring Plans to Cover Preventive Services Without Out-of-Pocket Costs. The law requires new health plans to cover recommended preventive services, including vaccinations, cost-free. Regular well-baby and well-child visits are also covered from birth through age 21. These services do not require a copay or co-insurance when offered by providers in your insurer’s network. See a list of preventive services for women and children. (Preventive services benefits apply if you’re in a new health plan that was created after March 23, 2010.)

  • Allowing Children Under 26 to Stay on Their Parents’ Plan. If your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 (except, in some cases, when your child’s employer offers health coverage). It doesn’t matter whether your child is married, living with you, in school, or financially dependent on you.
  • Help for Family Members on Medicare. If your parents or other loved ones are on Medicare, it’s good to know the Affordable Care Act protects current benefits, strengthens Medicare for the future, and offers new benefits that will help cut costs. The gap in drug coverage known as the “donut hole” is being closed, reducing seniors’ out-of-pocket costs. In addition, people on Medicare may receive recommended preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies for free.

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