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Ask Mr. Dad: Teaching manners: More than please and thank you

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm a little old fashioned, but I believe in manners. When is the right time to teach them to children?

A: In the early stages of parenthood, we don't care much about manners. Our infant's loud burps (and other bodily sounds) usually elicit laughter, and as kids learn to speak, we consider their inadvertent insults or seemingly ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: Ten ways to become a better dad

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm about to become a dad for the first time. My dad died when I was young, so I didn't have a good role model. How can I be the best father for my new baby?

A: You already took the first step -- asking for advice. Here are ten more.

-- Be active. If you don't take the initiative, you'll never be able to assume the child-rearing ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: His ex does not believe in co-parenting

Parents / Family Living /

Q: I met the perfect man and his 4 kids about six years ago. His ex does not believe in co-parenting and has told us many times to leave HER kids alone, but that's impossible because they share the kids' time equally -- one week with us, one week with her.

Over the years I usually take the kids shopping for something for their father on Father'...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: Helping dad get a handle on his health

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm 15, and my father, who's in his mid-40s, regularly reads your column, which is why I need your help. He barely exercises, eats horribly, is an over-stressed workaholic. I'm afraid he's going to die. What can my mom and I do to get him to take better care of himself?

A: Your email couldn't have come at a better time -- June is ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Tricky Father's Day when dad is just back in son's life

Parents / Family Living /

Q. My son is 14 and I wasn't around for most of his life, but about two years ago I reached out and he responded positively. We are now pretty close, but it's obvious he is even closer to his stepdad, which I think is because he has been around since he was two. Father's Day is right around the corner and I'm scheduled to be with my son, but I ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: Eight things women can do to get fathers more involved, part 2

Parents / Family Living /

Last week we talked about five things women can do to get their partners to take on more responsibility in the home, and, in particular, with the children. Here are three more. If you have any suggestions to add to the list, please drop us an email.

1. No gatekeeping. Many women take charge of the household and childcare because they want to be...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Joint custody is difficult to pull off

Parents / Family Living /

Q: My ex-boyfriend and I have been apart since November. We have an 11-month-old daughter. After we broke up, he got a new girlfriend two weeks later. My daughter's dad gets her every other weekend Thursday-Sunday. I have nicely asked this girl to stay away from my daughter, but she is trying to act as the mom! I don't know what to do so she has...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Ex posts 'missing you' letter on Facebook from family pet to son

Parents / Family Living /

Q: My ex and I split up about four months ago. We were together almost ten years and had two sons together. She had an affair, I found out and moved my kids out the next day. She sees the boys intermittently, but it's difficult since she's living with the guy. Yesterday I found an open letter on Facebook from our family pet. The pet lives with ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: Eight things women can do to get fathers more involved, part 1

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad: Before we had children, my husband and I talked about being equal partners around the house. But I find myself doing a lot more and 50 percent -- especially since what he does do, he doesn't do right. How can I get him to be more involved?

A: For most couples with kids, one of the biggest stressors is the division of labor in the ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Do his kids have to come to our wedding?

Parents / Family Living /

Q: I have a question about weddings. My fiance has two daughters, ages 5 and 7. Do they have to come to our wedding? I really want to start fresh, and besides no kids are invited. What's good ex-etiquette?

A: You're kidding, right? If not, please don't marry this man. You are not right for each other. Any woman he marries must understand it's ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: Signs that you're a good parent — even if you think you're not

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad: Like a lot of parents, I do my best. But I can't help but think that I could be doing better. How can I tell if I'm doing a good job or not?

A: The fact that you think you're not doing a good job and that you care enough to learn more is a pretty good indication that you are, in fact, a good parent (or at least a good-enough one)....Read more

Ex-etiquette: Talk to ex, ex's wife about co-parenting

Parents / Family Living /

Q. My ex and I have a daughter, 14, and we have co-parented well for years. He remarried and now has three more children. Our daughter stays with him during the week for school and with me each weekend, longer in the summer.

He's very laid-back and his wife really runs the show. I often touch base with her because co-parenting with him is like ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: What adolescents need from their fathers, part 3

Parents / Family Living /

Over the past two weeks, we've been talking about some of the many things teens need from their dad (and/or mom). While this is the conclusion of our series, in reality, there's no end to what our children need from us -- or to how many times you might have to satisfy what looks like the same need. As you know (or soon will), a 13-year-old is a ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Fighting is not good ex-etiquette

Parents / Family Living /

Q: It's very difficult to get along with my child's mother. I try, but she is constantly putting up roadblocks that prevent us from calmly interacting. From not returning my phone calls to making plans on my weekends -- it's always a fight, even though we share our daughter's time equally. I think if I have full custody I won't have to deal with...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: What adolescents need from their fathers, part 2

Parents / Family Living /

Last week, we introduced the topic of what adolescents need from their fathers (and, as many readers pointed out, mothers as well). That was just the beginning of the list. Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you parent your teen.

Encourage exercise and good nutrition. Your teen may be too big to wrestle with, but that doesn't mean ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: My husband's ex wants to borrow my dress

Parents / Family Living /

Q: I have been trying to cultivate a more casual relationship with my husband's ex. We share the kids's time in 7-day blocks -- a week with us and a week with her and I figured a more casual interaction would help the cause. But, yesterday she asked to borrow my favorite dress for an event we'll both attend. She knows I won't be wearing it -- ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: What adolescents need from their fathers

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad. I'm the dad of 12-year old boy-girl twins. I've already noticed that my relationship with them has changed, but I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to stay involved as they enter the teen years. What do they need most from me and how can I gently steer them in the right direction?

A: Great question! There are all sorts ...Read more

Ask Mr. Dad: Walking the walk — and crawling the crawl

Parents / Family Living /

Dear Mr. Dad: My best friend and I have 10-month-old boys who were born only a week apart. His started walking about a month ago but mine is still crawling and has absolutely no interest in walking. I know I shouldn't compare my baby to anyone else's, but it's hard not to. Is there anything I can do encourage my baby to walk?

A: Theoretically, ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Things get rough when his daughter visits

Parents / Family Living /

Q: My husband and I have a yours, mine family with kids ranging from 20 years old to 4 months old. Some are out of the house, plus we have two little ones at home. My husband's daughter is 12 and lives with her mom nearly 2,000 miles away.

Things have always been a little rough when his daughter spends the summers with us. Her dad and I have ...Read more

Ex-etiquette: Ten rules of good ex-etiquette

Parents / Family Living /

Q: I read your column all the time, and in your answers, you often refer to Ex-Etiquette rule No. 7 or Ex-Etiquette Rule No. 5. What are you talking about? Are there really specific rules of good ex-etiquette?

A: I can honestly say that I am asked about "the rules" just about every day. The whole thing started years ago -- divorced parents ...Read more


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