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Family Time
October, 2018 - Issue #169
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

Parents: Avoid the Social Media Comparison Game
by Mary Tan

Even a passing glance at social media suggests that everyone you know has perfect families led by parents who have it all figured out. With each flick of the thumb, an unsettling pressure begins to settle in your chest. You feel fed up, exhausted, overwhelmed, underappreciated and... unseen.
It's never easy to keep up with the norm, but on some days, it's impossible. Here's just one more reminder.
To make matters worse, your own inner voice starts to berate you, whispering lies about your worth. It's easy to ignore it at first - your never-ending list of tasks can help distract from the damaging subconscious conversation going on underneath the surface. It's still talking, you're just not entirely listening - but gone unchecked and it can create a spiral of negative emotions.
And all this because... her daughter earned a scholarship? He lost weight? They bought a new car? But deep down, you know that social media reflects only a tiny sliver of reality - what people want to share and how they want to be perceived. Just like you, they have their fill of ups and downs, arguments and stressors. We're all pretty much the same.
Stop the subconscious comparison; see that it causes you more harm than good. If you are prompted to feel envy, don't resist it - recognize it and transform it into a stepping stone. Let it be an inspirational magnet that pulls you toward your best future. Emotions are useful signposts once we understand how to decode their hidden messages. They can be powerful allies to help you craft an updated vision of the life you want to cultivate for yourself, your family and your children.
Mary Tan is a speaker, coach & author of "The Empowered Child," published by Morgan James NY, now available on Amazon. She lives with her two little girls, husband and dwarf bunnies in Valencia.

Why this "Dentist Mommy" doesn't Hand Out Toothbrushes to Trick or Treaters Anymore
by Shukan Kanuga

As a mommy pediatric dentist with younger kids, I have been guilty of handing out the not-so-popular "treats" (Who am I kidding!?) - like tooth-brush kits - to their classmates. As much as the teachers and the parents appreciated it, my kids would cringe. The brushes weren't the only things bristling; you would have thought I told my kids that Halloween was a holiday dedicated to the worry that "sugar bugs" were hiding in wait, planning to overthrow their mouths and take up permanent residency. (Oh, wait. I kind of did!)
Eventually, I realized that I could avoid turning my children into resentful social pariahs by handing out dental-friendly treats and ensuring a thorough brushing and flossing routine after the candy binge.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommendations offer smart ways to balance the candy coma with healthy practices - no "toothbrush kit shame" necessary. Here are my faves.
Avoid sticky candy. Chocolate is better than hard or chewy candy - and dark chocolate is way better!
Have a plan for the "left overs" (No, you and/or your spouse eating the remainder isn't a solid health plan!). Let the kids pick a few of their favorites and donate the rest to organizations like Operation Gratitude.
Encourage them to drink more water and steer clear of sugary drinks.
Maintain a healthy diet. Sugar also affects the immune system!
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to clean between the teeth.
Children should visit a pediatric dentist at least twice a year starting no later than age 1 to establish a dental home for prevention and management of dental diseases and to seek necessary treatment for mouth injuries.
Shukan Kanuga DDS, MSD is a board-certified pediatric dentist at Kidz Dental Care. 388-0499

On Being a Foster Mother
by Janelle Burkholder • photography by Micah Dixon

My husband and I became resource parents with Children's Bureau three years ago. We joined CB because we knew we needed support and guidance as we entered the unfamiliar world of foster care. We have had five children join our family during our time as resource parents - and have adopted one child.
The experience of getting a call to receive a child into your family is one filled with great anticipation and anxiety. We know the joy we are about to experience in holding and loving a baby is because of someone else's pain. We know children joining our family may be temporary. The sleepless nights and early-morning feedings, the countless doctor and therapy appointments, social worker visits and family visitations - all of these things consume our life and then they end, sometimes quite suddenly.
The temporary nature of foster care has brought attachment issues and emotional highs and lows - often in the same day or hour. Yes, kids go back to their biological families and we start over with another child. And sometimes it feels like I will never stop being the mom of a newborn because my kids don't grow up; they move on. We've celebrated first birthdays, sent Christmas presents and enjoyed dinners and baseball games together with our foster children's biological families. Our experience has shown us again and again the sacrifices biological family members have made to help a child in their family.
Foster care has opened my eyes to pain in the world that is easy to ignore, but it's also allowed me to see people who care enough to do something about it. And while my husband and I entered this world with the goal to adopt a child, we have continued to serve as resource parents because we know there's more to it than that. There's the bigger picture.
Discover if you have the willingness, ability and resources to take on the challenge of helping a child in need. A monthly information meeting is being held Saturday, September 22 from 10am to 12pm at Children's Bureau in Valencia. 208-4212

1 Burning Question with Dr. Marvin Tong, DDS
You've been a well-respected family dentist in the SCV for decades. Why open a new practice in Valencia now?
It really came down to my team and our confidence knowing that we could provide an experience that was incredibly client oriented, family friendly and joyous. We love going to work every day because we love what we do, we love who we do it with and we love our patients. We say all the time: This doesn't feel like work. We have fun - and that carries over to how our patients feel from the minute they walk through the door.
268-6284

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"Ever since Nathaniel, 4, was very small, numerous people said our son was good looking enough to be on TV. As his parents, we didn't want to assume acting and modeling was something he wanted for himself and no one can make that decision when they are 3.5 years old. We visited the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts last September and met with Mike. Nate showed a considerable interest in seeing himself on camera and followed directions really well. After hearing about all the benefits of taking classes and the opportunities to meet with agents, we decided we would enroll our son. Nate has grown to be a self-assured and outgoing little boy, having learned a variety of skills like modeling, dancing and acting. After a few weeks of classes, we met with three agents, all of whom wanted to represent him. He loves modeling in fashion shows and has two commercials for Niko Car Seat Covers. We are so thankful for this school and its outstanding office staff, teachers and classes and we feel comfortable knowing the skills he is learning at SCSOPA will carry throughout his life."
~Becky & Mike Castelo

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courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock
6 Ways to Help your Child Cope with Divorce
"Divorce isn't easy on adults; it's naive to think that it will be any better for the children involved," says family-law attorney Denise Placencio. "But with the right parental support, this life transition can be navigated in a way that leaves children feeling loved, cared for and wanted every step of the way." Here are the divorce expert's top-six tips to helping your child feel emotionally safe during a tough time.
Purchase books that help explain what's happening, like "Dinosaur Divorce," "My Two Homes" and "It's not your Fault, Koko Bear." Read them together, perhaps cuddled up with a favorite treat.
Make sure your child feels comfortable and encouraged to love and connect with the other parent. Simple phrases like, "Would you like to call Mommy before bedtime?" show that you value your child's relationship with your ex. Be excited and animated when you tell them that they are going to see the other parent and encourage them to have a great time.
Never underestimate stability. Keep as many existing elements - sports teams, schools, social circles - stable and consistent during this time of inevitable change. Let the kids in on the "plan," letting them know what will happen, and when.
Understand that your child might be very upset with you and/or your ex. Let them know that they are safe and welcome to share their feelings. Let them talk and really listen - without getting defensive or mad. Your job here is to ensure they feel heard, not to explain your choices to a kid who's hurting.
Be incredibly flexible. Kids don't care if "Monday is mom's day" if they're really missing Dad. If they want to see the other parent on a day that's "yours," make it happen - without guilt. They'll love you for it because you are teaching them that you are responsive to their needs and feelings.
Never, ever speak poorly of the other parent. Be kind, compassionate and polite to your ex - because they're watching. Immature or aggressive behavior on your part will make them feel divided, unsafe and confused. No matter how bad you're hurt, they don't deserve to be put in the middle.
Denise Placencio, Esq. of DaCorsi Placencio PC 877-317-8080
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