Angry Daddy can’t get no respect

“Daddy! You didn’t melt the cheese!”

Our family of four just sat down for a lovely Mexican meal that I cooked, but already my teenage daughter is scolding me. Let’s call her “Blaze.”

“Hey, honey…” My voice is steady, but the arteries in my face are steadily engorging. “Why can’t you say, ‘Thanks for providing me with food?’ Where’s your gratitude?”

“I hate tacos with cold cheese,” she fumes. “Why can’t Mom cook?”

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Discovering the secrets of happy families

After a terrible summer trip, a 21st-century dad realizes happy families don’t just happen, they're made. Best-selling author Bruce Feiler shares what he learned.

Three years ago, author Bruce Feiler experienced a mild life crisis, which upended long-held assumptions about family life. He’d suffered through an especially wretched summer vacation with his wife and twin 5-year-old girls. He had two healthy, adorable daughters and a loving partner. Why didn’t this all add up to domestic bliss? 

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The simple little truth about those Big School Projects

They're supposed to be done by the kids. But all parents help, don't they?

“You have to write about cannibalism!” I fume at Zenobia, my fifth grade daughter. “Your teacher, your classmates, everybody wants to hear about people eating people.”

She’s constructing her big social studies report. Zenobia’s decision — all on her own — is to create a multimedia triptych on the Donner Party, the horror show where settlers get stuck in the Sierra snow, starve, and then snack on each other to survive. I am thrilled. My wife is the tutor in math, writing, science, piano, singing, Spanish… everything but history. That is Daddy’s domain.

“Don’t tell me how to do it,” my stubborn angel pouts. “You can help just a tiny bit but don’t boss me around.”

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Is the best second language Spanish, Chinese, Java, or Ruby?

Coding languages are the backbone of our interconnected world. Here's why your kids needs to understand digital language — no matter what career they pursue.

Our children won’t be using Java, C++, Python, Ruby, or any of the other top 10 coding languages to chat with foreign strangers on trains in exotic locales. But these programming languages — used to develop mobile apps, analyze data, and perform other Internet business and marketing functions — may be the most important second, third, or fourth language your child will ever learn.

Learning computer science (CS) provides a golden opportunity in our children’s future employment prospects.

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Is summer lowering your child’s IQ?

Caution: while your kids are having fun in the sun, their brains may be at risk. Learn which summertime mind-melting hazards to avoid and get brain-boosting alternatives.

The sun’s strong rays aren’t just damaging your children’s epidermis — they’re also diminishing their brainpower. Frying lazily for days on end on the hot sand can shrivel a person’s smarts up to 20 IQ points, according to research by Professor Siegfried Lehrl of Germany’s University of Erlangen. An excess of inactivity reduces oxygen to the brain, dimming neurons and literally causing frontal lobes to shrivel. Add to that dehydration from excessive heat or alcohol, and it gets worse, decreasing brain cell volume by as much as 15 percent.

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Should your kids learn online?

Weigh the pros and cons of leaving the analog classroom behind with these seven steps.

How do you assess whether online learning is right for your children? By starting with the basics — how happy they are in traditional schools and how comfortable they are using technology — these seven pointers can help you as you think about making the switch.

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How to pick the perfect learning toy

Here’s our insider’s guide to the tricks of the learning toy trade. Hint: Electronic and trendy doesn't necessarily mean "educational."

“Santa Claus will be here soon!” our two girls keep chirping. “Under the Christmas tree, we want to see toys. Toys. TOYS!”

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6 surprising foods and drinks to add (or avoid) during cold and flu season

Minimize sick days and keep your child happy and healthy this winter by following these simple dietary tips.

All food is fuel, but your children’s physiologies will founder if you fill their tanks with low-grade octane — especially during cold and flu season. Give them premium nourishment and they’ll zoom along happily with souped-up immune systems primed to defeat bacteria and viruses.

For the healthiest “sick season” ever, here are five tips on what to add — and what to subtract — from your child’s diet right now:

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5 surprising tricks for keeping your child healthy

“Did you wash your hands?”

Poor children. Constantly being reminded by parents to wash, wash, and wash some more. But keep up the nagging, Mom and Dad! Scientists have proven this timeless refrain merits the nagging: An estimated 80 percent of all colds and flu are contracted via our fingers. So the best (and simplest) way to avoid winter ailments is soaping and scrubbing your child’s cute, but germ-ridden, hands.

Researchers in Denmark put this theory to the test with 652 children ages 5 to 15. About half were taught proper hand-washing techniques and required to wash up using ethanol-based gel three times per day; the others weren’t. The cleaner-handed kids missed 26 percent fewer school days and had 22 percent fewer illnesses.

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