Natural Treatment of Eczema

A couple of mornings ago, I noticed it again…eczema. I noticed it first on my daughter and then on myself. I don’t know how it returned to her and I don’t know why it’s happening to my skin, but I do know that there are natural ways to cure this. I recently purchased us some different body wash so hopefully this works. Eczema is “a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed, with blisters that cause itching and bleeding, sometimes resulting from a reaction to irritation (eczematous dermatitis) but more typically having no obvious external cause.” -Wikipedia

According to WebMD, “No matter which part of the skin is affected, eczema is almost always itchy. Sometimes the itching will start before the rash appears, but when it does, the rash most commonly appears on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet. It may also affect other areas as well.

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Affected areas usually appear very dry, thickened, or scaly. In fair-skinned people, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. Among darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area lighter or darker.

In infants, the itchy rash can produce an oozing, crusting condition that happens mainly on the face and scalp, but patches may appear anywhere.”

Sure, this can be treated, but one must use the right products to cure this. Right now, all we have is peeling of skin and itching. I haven’t seen any blisters or anything and hopefully, I won’t, but I’ve been monitoring what I put on our skin, what I wash our clothes with, and even what we put in our bodies.

After researching and talking to some people at my local natural store, I found out that coconut oil works wonders for eczema. Coconut oil isn’t just for food, but it can also be used for hair, skin, and teeth (oil pulling, which I will discuss at a later date). Since I currently have a huge jar of it at home, I decided to purchase some Nubian Heritage’s soap. My daughter’s father used it when we were together and I thought that it really did work. My local natural store sold the bar for $4 (incl. tax) which isn’t bad at all. Below, I have provided a list of a few of their soaps that they have available:

Honey & Black Seed Soap

Product Label
Black Seed, also known as the “seed of blessing,” is such a part of our culture that it was found in the Tomb of King Tutankhamen. So powerful are its medicinal properties that ancient proverbs proclaim Black Seed on the skin to strengthen the immune system, prevent external infections, increase blood circulation and achieve a smooth, even complexion.

Directions
Work into a lather and use in bath and shower.

Does Not Contain:
No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Paraffin, No UREA, No Propylene Glycol, No Mineral Oil, No Synthetic Fragrance, No PABA, No Animal Ingredients, No Petrolatum, No Synthetic Color, No DEA.

Coconut & Papaya Bar Soap

Product Label
This all-natural soap lathers up loads of sulfate-free suds, exfoliates with Papaya Enzyme and leaves your skin soft and silky from Shea Butter and Virgin Coconut Oil. Sweet-scented and nutrient-rich, the Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Collection pays homage to the bounty of natural tropical ingredients. The coconut palm has touched all aspects of daily life for millions of tropical communities. Since the 1st Century B.C., the coconut tree has provided shelter, transportation and, more importantly, food. Coconut Oil, high in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, is an excellent skin softener and protector. Papaya contains papain, a naturally occurring enzyme, used for centuries to gently dissolve dead skin cells, loosen pore blockage and stimulate circulation.

Directions
Work into a lather to cleanse skin.

Does Not Contain:
No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Paraffin, No UREA, No Propylene Glycol, No Mineral Oil, No Synthetic Fragrance, No PABA, No Animal Ingredients, No Petrolatum, No Synthetic Color, No DEA.

African Black Soap Bar

Product Label
Together, the deep cleansing of African Black Soap blended with 100% Shea Butter deliver an unsurpassed body cleansing experience that exfoliates without stripping skin of essential moisture. Oats and Vitamin E in the formula soothe, condition and prepare skin for moisture. Our traditional African Black Soap recipe Contains palm ash, plantain peel extract, tamarind extract and papaya enzymes.

Directions
Work into a lather to cleanse skin.

Does Not Contain:
No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Paraffin, No UREA, No Propylene Glycol, No Mineral Oil, No Synthetic Fragrance, No PABA, No Animal Ingredients, No Petrolatum, No Synthetic Color, No DEA.

Raw Shea Butter With Frankincense & Myrrh

Product Label
This ultra-moisturizing soap blends Shea Butter, Vitamin E and Soy Milk with the gentle soaps of Coconut and Palm to cleanse, hydrates and restore skins suppleness. This unique formula is infused with a special essential oil blend of Frankincense, Myrrh, Cardamom, Ginger and Black Pepper that adds an aromatic experience and skin-healing properties. Frankincense is known for its toning and anti-aging properties and adds aroma therapeutic benefits promoting mental strength, clarity and balance while Myrrh is known as a superior cosmetic in early remedies and helps to relieve chapped skin.

Directions
Work into a lather to cleanse skin.

Does Not Contain:
No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Paraffin, No UREA, No Propylene Glycol, No Mineral Oil, No Synthetic Fragrance, No PABA, No Animal Ingredients, No Petrolatum, No Synthetic Color, No DEA.

You can find and purchase any of Nubian Heritage’s line on the Vitamin Shoppe’s website here.

I currently have a raw shea butter cream that I use. I do add a couple of my favorite oils as a body butter after taking a bath. If you or anyone you know suffer from eczema, know that you’re not alone and it’s okay. There’s a cure for it. I am a firm believer that natural products work so much better anyway, but I encourage you all to at least try it out.

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Recall Alert: Fruit!

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Shopped for fruit recently? You may want to take a look through your fridge. Trader Joe’s, Walmart (including Walmart and Sam’s Club stores), Kroger, Costco, Wegman’s, Ralphs, and Food 4 Less are recalling a variety of fruit after their supplier announced that the produce may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bug that is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. Though there have been no reports of food-related illness, the stores are proceeding with caution.

The recall includes the following fruit items with “SWEET 2 EAT” stickers on them, sold individually between June 2 and July 18:

Organic white nectarine
Organic yellow nectarine
White nectarine
Yellow nectarine
Organic yellow peach
White peach
Yellow peach
Organic dapple dandy plumcot
Plum

It also includes the following 4-pound boxes of fruit sold between June 2 and July 19:

Trader Joe’s peaches 4-pound box
Trader Joe’s nectarines 4-pound box

And Wegman’s bakery and packaged products that may contain the recalled stone fruits — like peach pie and peach salsa. See the full list of those bakery items here.

Those who have purchased the contaminated produce have been told to throw out the items or return them to their place of purchase for a full refund. Customers with questions can call Wawona Packaging at 1-888-232-9912 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday.

How to: Heatless Roller Set Curls on Natural Hair

“Hey y’all! Here’s a hair tutorial on how to get the best HEATLESS roller set curls on natural hair without frizz, flaking, or product build up. I don’t necessarily care for hair typing but for those who are curious on what my texture may be it’s a mix of 4a and 4b.

Tools Used:
Hair Clips
Snap On Rollers- Medium and Small
Detangling Brush
True Wave End Papers
8oz Spray Bottle- 6oz water mixed with 2oz of Design Essential Twist and Set setting lotion
Design Essential Curl Enhancing Mousse
Elasta QP Design Gel – Clear Power Styling Gel”

You can find My Natural Sistas Youtube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MyNaturalSistas

My Roller Set Natural Hair Journey

I would like to first apologize for being MIA these past couple of weeks. I have just been so busy with finishing up with college (I’ll be graduating soon and I have a lot of people that are planning on taking a vacay just to see me walk so I’m super excited!!!). I have also been quite busy with work and simply working on my business (this business thing isn’t a joke I tell you. It’s hard work, long nights, early mornings…etc…but I’m doing it for two people…myself and my baby girl). 🙂 Plus, I’ve been talking to a friend of mine about getting back on track with the Lord. I just thank God for sending the right people into my life at the right time…I can’t begin to really tell you all how thankful I am. It’s been one hard and long road as a single parent simply trying to do the best, provide the best, and raise a child to become the best person they can be. It’s been one rough journey, but one rewarding journey.

Speaking of journeys, I am excited to share another great journey with all of you. I have decided to start a roller set natural hair journey. I’ve been back and forth with relaxers, cutting my hair, growing it out, twist outs, braid outs, straightened hair, loc’d, etc…you name it. I’ve probably tried it. One thing I haven’t tried, however, was roller sets. Well, I used to get them when I was younger, but as I can properly recall, I looked like an old lady with big curly sue curls from those things. Now, that I am older, I wanted to try something new. As many of you know, I have chopped off ALL of my hair. Yes! I cut my fro! Do I miss it? Of course I do! But this was a change for the better. I had to realize that I had to let go of some things and my hair was one of them. I do not regret cutting it at all. I look at it as simply starting over. I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, surrounded myself around negative people that had an negative influence on my life, and even gave up on myself countless of times because I felt I wasn’t worth it.

Now, I am able to say that I am worth it. I am able to get myself out of bad situations and remove myself from negative people with ease. I am now loving and appreciating everything I am, everything that I have to offer, and this woman that I’ve become. I am going to be a Godly young woman that is also a mother and a leader. I know that we’ve all made bad choices in our lives, but it’s up to us to:

1. Admit it
2. Decide to change it
3. Stick to it

Right now, one of the changes that I am making is taking better care of myself, from my hair to my health. I want to be able to live and see my daughter grow into a beautiful young woman, get married, and have children. I want to see her learn from the mistakes that I’ve made and do better than I did. I want to take care of my body and my hair that way I can be that positive role model that not only encourages her to do the same, but shows her that I walk the walk as well.

I have been rocking and loving my short cut. I even colored it jet black for more POP! 🙂 I am excited for it to grow and to share my roller set natural hair journey with you all. It’s still too short to start right now, but in a couple of months (I’ll give it to December) then I will be able to start it. Right now, I am rocking probably 1.5-2 inches of hair and it’s tapered on the sides and the back so it’s shorter there. This time around, I will keep track of the growth so every two months, I will give an update on my hair. I can’t promise it, but I will surely mark it in my calendar as a reminder.

Here are some roller set styles that I simply adore! You can go from super tight curls, to loose curls, to straight hair with these things and that’s why I really need to get these in my life once my hair starts growing out some more! 🙂 During this journey, I will still rock some twist outs, braid outs, and even protective styles such as: braids and wigs but this journey will mainly consist of roller setting my hair.

I hope that you all enjoy these pics :):

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Roller-Sets

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Portrait of young woman --- Image by © Drew Myers/Corbis

Marriage Still a Good Idea

After every guy I’ve dated and after those relationships have failed, I finally decided to give my all to God. I’ve realized the most important relationship that I need is one with God. Not dating and saving myself until marriage may sound stupid to some, but it makes perfect sense to me. Others may say “Well, you have a kid already so it’s not like you’re a virgin” or whatever, but I believe that remaining celibate and keeping my promise to God to not date prior to marriage is a personal decision.

I don’t want to end up down this road again because I chose to make another poor choice.

I don’t want my daughter to end up down on this road either. I want her to make better choices than I did and do better than I did. Trust me, I had plenty of warning signs that I didn’t deed to with every guy I’ve dated. I knew better especially with growing up in church and learning that True Love Waits, yet I chose to do the opposite because I wanted to see why everyone else seemed to have fun and I wasn’t. I wanted to experience the same things my “friends” did. I am so glad and thankful that I grew up out of those bad things and have removed toxic people out of my life. I know now that it’s not as cracked up as it may seem to be to party every weekend, drink, and give myself away to people that don’t matter. This is why I am turning my life around. It’s not just for me. It’s for my daughter and any future children. I want them to realize that life isn’t the life to have and I want them to realize that they should love and respect themselves this way they can attract good people in their lives.

Now, I am realizing that none of that dating stuff really matters. I am content being a single Godly mother and I am seriously waiting on God’s pick instead of relying on my own. I’ve been down that road of cohabiting before marriage and it didn’t work. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Going down that road will not be a wise decision and although I know with some people, it may work out (kudos for you all), but as for me, I am following what God has…not my own plans. I want to be able to date after my marriage and simply get to spend so much time with my future husband instead of giving it all away before the marriage and we are left with so little to do. I want to have fun family and couple dates after marriage. I just want to do things the right which is God’s way. I know that I don’t have the best answers, still make mistakes, but I am still preparing myself to be a Godly wife, a Proverbs 31 woman of God, and I am sure that the person that God has for me will be the best person I could ever imagine being with. As of right now, I am concentrating on being an awesome mother to my beautiful little girl and a more responsible and Godly young woman. I believe that marriage still exists and not every person out there is bad…we just have to stop settling and start letting God show us who His pick for us is.

Toddler Milestones: One-Year-Old’s Biggest Achievements

Being a parent has been most exciting time of my life. Nothing can replace the memories of seeing my daughter smile for real for the first time or the first time I saw her take her first steps. Although it’s hard raising a child, it’s a beautiful thing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wanted to share with you all some one year old milestones that a lot of toddlers achieve before they turn 2. My daughter has reached every milestone, with the exception of one, but reaching each milestone whether it’s at the pace described below or not is a blessing in my eyes. This just reassures me that she’s learning, growing, and will blossom into a beautiful young girl. Just remember that each child is different, therefore as parents, we should remember that they move at their own pace and should be happy at each milestone they achieve.

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Toddler Milestone #1: Clap Hands
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 12 to 13 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: The ability to bring his two hands together means that your one-year-old is developing eye-hand coordination and fine-motor skills — both of which will eventually allow him to do things like catch a ball and hold a crayon.

How to make the most of it: Clapping is contagious, so put your own hands together whenever your toddler does anything worth cheering for. (Don’t forget to throw in a lot of “Yay!”s.) Now that he can clap, your tot will also enjoy patty-cake a lot more, since he’ll be able to do at least some of the hand motions all by himself.

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Toddler Milestone #2: Take a Few Steps
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 14 to 15 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: When it comes to one-year-old milestones, first steps are a biggie: Your baby’s graduated into toddlerhood. And once your wee one is walking, he’ll be on the road to all sorts of physical fun, from running to jumping to climbing stairs all by himself.

How to make the most of it: Give him every opportunity to stand (and move) on his own two legs. Push toys are terrific for fine-tuning locomotion, but find other opportunities to help him master mobility: Let him push a pint-sized stroller, or entice your toddler to toddle over by sitting a few steps away and holding a favorite toy.

Thirsty toddler

Toddler Milestone #3: Drink From a (Non-Sippy) Cup
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 16 to 17 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: The ability to drink from a real cup, versus a spouted one, means that your toddler is gaining mastery over his mouth muscles — and his fine-motor skills and coordination. Cheers to that!

How to make the most of it: Your sweetie doesn’t have to swap a sippy for a spoutless cup for good, but he should start to switch off between the two. If he seems reluctant, make quaffing from a regular cup fun. Purchase a special set of colorful plastic ones and then find ways to get him to want to use them. For example, be your tot’s drinking buddy: Pour yourself a beverage and then propose a “toast” (or two or three) while you both enjoy a snack.

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Toddler Milestone #4: Laugh at Funny Things
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 17 to 18 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: No doubt your child has been laughing along with you for months, but now that he understands the world a bit better, he’s more likely to yuk it up at things he finds funny.

How to make the most of it: Most one-year-olds find humor in the absurd and will giggle when they see something that’s not quite as it should be. Play the clown: Put the bowl on your head (before you mix up the pancake batter), call Daddy by the dog’s name, slip his socks onto his hands when you’re dressing him. He’ll be in stitches, and so will you!

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Toddler Milestone #5: Say 10 Words
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 17 to 18 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: One word was exciting (especially since the first one was probably “Mama” or “Dada”), a handful of words was nice, but ten words? Now we’re talking! Because children’s vocabularies increase exponentially, once a child has a solid ten or so words, he’ll be stringing together sentences before you know it.

How to make the most of it: Give him something to talk about. Ask him simple questions about things you see, making sure the answer will include a word he knows: Point at the neighbor’s pup and say, “What’s that?” And pay attention to his sign language. He’ll often point at things he doesn’t yet know the word for, so tell him, “Yes! That’s a flower.”

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Toddler Milestone #6: Imitate Behaviors
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 18 to 20 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: When your one-year-old picks up your cell phone and pretends to chat, or offers his stuffed bunny a spoonful of cereal, you know that his understanding of how things work and are used is developing by leaps and bounds.

How to make the most of it: Now you and your toddler can be full-fledged residents of the Land of Make Believe. Pull out the pretend toys (or safe versions of real objects) and enjoy playing pretend school, doctor, tea party. Be sure to invite that stuffed bunny and its friends: When it comes to a pretend tea party, the more the merrier!

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Toddler Milestone #7: Dance!
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 18 to 20 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: For starters, a toddler who can boogie is one of the cutest things you’ll ever see — definitely fodder for the Flip. But this particular one-year-old milestone also marks a child’s emerging sense of rhythm. His footwork will get fancier as the months go by — a sign that he’s gaining control over his body, building physical strength, and fine-tuning his large motor skills.

How to make the most of it: Easy! Crank up the CD player or plug your MP3 player into some speakers and get your groove on. Try teaching your tot some funky old-fashioned dance moves, like the Twist and the Macarena, and you’ll help hone his powers of observation and ability to imitate what he sees.

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Toddler Milestone #8: Take Off an Article of Clothing
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 20 to 22 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: If your tot has a motto, chances are it’s “Me do it!” The second (and third) year is all about growing independence, so when a little kid can do a task solo, it’s a major accomplishment. Plus, being able to undress himself takes one job off your plate.

How to make the most of it: Practice makes perfect, so let him strip as often as he wants. Set him up for success — avoid clothing with complicated closures (like snaps) until he hones his dressing skills a bit more and opt for stretchy fabrics and elastic waistbands instead. Also, try to build in extra time for him to slip out of his shirt or pull off his own pants (it’ll take a lot longer when “Me do it!”).

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Toddler Milestone #9: Set Simple Goals
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 20 to 22 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: No one has to tell you that your toddler has a mind of his own. But the ability to decide what he wants to do and how to do it, and then to carry out his plans, is a huge leap in a child’s cognitive development. You may not always agree with your toddler’s intentions (like when he decides that the dining-room wall would make a perfect canvas for a self-portrait), but there’s no question such antics indicate a creative, resourceful mind in the making.

How to make the most of it: You can encourage this kind of thinking-ahead thinking by asking questions. For example, at the sandbox say, “Hey, the sand is all dry and hot. How could we make it cooler?” Your tot will probably fill his bucket with water (with your help, of course), and then empty it out on the sand.

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Toddler Milestone #10: Show Awareness of Your Approval
When you can expect it: Most toddlers will probably be able to do this by 22 to 24 months.

Why it’s worth celebrating: There are a few reasons you’ll want to give this milestone a high-five. For starters, it shows that your toddler is beginning to develop empathy: He’s tuning into how others feel. It’s also a sign that he’s ready and able to start living with some limits.

How to make the most of it: Start to set some simple house rules and teach easy childhood chores. A good one: Toys need to be cleaned up after playtime. Make sure tasks and limits are easy for him to understand and help him to follow through. When he’s done, celebrate with a little hand-clapping — by this time he’ll be a pro at it.

18 Lessons Kids Learn from Your Relationship

Today, I wanted to share two important posts for you all. As we all know as parents, our children are very important and a lot of the times we will do any and every thing we can to show them how important they are. Some of us are single parents, some are dating with children, and some of us are married parents. No matter what state you are in currently, as parents, we should always remember that our foundation at home will really impact our children as they grow up. A lot of times, when we suffer as parents, it affects our children whether we intended to affect them or not. This is why I stress making sure that the foundation is good first, this way the child can reap the positive benefits. A couple of months back, I made a post about where I put my daughter and actually so many people agreed with me. I believe that when you are together and you and your mate are together, it can help and encourage the child to be together. Take this for example, as many of you know what I just went through months ago really affected me. I was so hurt and didn’t really realize at the time that me being hurt also affected my daughter. To simply stay in the situation that I was in would’ve really affected my daughter. It wasn’t healthy and it was morally right, but I stayed because I wanted the “ideal family.” I had to realize that there were deeper issues that I couldn’t and still can’t change so since I can’t and it won’t, we had to separate. I would rather be alone and happy and seeing my daughter happy than to be in a house full chaos and raising my daughter to believe that’s what “love” is all about. When I saw this article on iVilliage’s website, I knew that I had to share it with you all. These points work with both married and dating couples, even for those that are single.

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You can spend countless hours lecturing your offspring on the benefits of being kind, gracious and forgiving people, but the reality is they get most of their how-to information by watching the way their parents interact. Are you modeling the sorts of behaviors you want to see in your children? Read on for lessons (good and bad) you might be imparting to your kids without realizing it.

How to Have a Healthy Marriage
One of the biggest causes of marital unhappiness and divorce is when couples let their marriage slip to the bottom of the priority list (or off of it entirely), says Judith Siegel, MSW, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work in the New York University Silver School of Social Work and author of What Children Learn from Their Parents’ Marriage. “Before you had children, your spouse was your baby,” she explains. “After kids come along, we often stop taking care of our partners. When you make an effort to put energy into your relationship, you send your children the message that marriage is good and that it makes people happy. When you ask a child what brings their mom or dad joy, the luckiest ones are the ones who can answer ‘my mom makes my dad happy’ and vice versa.”

How to Treat Someone With Respect
It’s not just the way you speak to your spouse that your kids notice; they’re also paying painfully close attention to how you talk about their other parent. When DH pisses you off and they hear you dad-bashing, the loud-and-clear message isn’t just that Dad is a doofus, but also that mom is not to be trusted. (Does she talk that way about me when I’m not around, too?) Double lose.

How to Pitch In
When your kids see you assuming certain household responsibilities — say, you do all of the laundry and your partner does the gardening — they naturally and automatically assume that this is the way it is across the board and around the world. “The information you gather as a child is what we call tacit knowledge, and it basically forms the assumptions you take with you into the rest of your life,” explains Siegel. Want to raise kids who not just value but expect teamwork? Let them see you folding laundry or pulling weeds together. Bonus: They’re more likely to pitch in themselves when they don’t view a task as strictly mom’s or dad’s domain.

What Commitment Means
Marriage can be hard, no doubt about it. And if your rugrats are getting all of their messages about the way it works from the star-studded media all around them, they’re bound to believe that when the going gets tough, the tough bail it straight out of there. “When your children watch you work through challenging times — when you’re frustrated, cranky, having financial troubles, one of you is sick or unemployed — they learn that marriage isn’t about expecting perfection but about getting through these things together,” says Tina B. Tessina Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist in Southern California and the author of 13 books including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.

How Equal Partners Negotiate
You covet a new couch, your DH craves a new car. How do you decide where to spend the funds (assuming, of course, that a dual-splurge is out of the question)? “I make more money so I get to decide” sends a dangerous might-is-right message and shows a clear lack of respect. On the other hand, taking the time to really hear each other out and work out a compromise (“How about we do this now, and make it our goal to do the other within twelve months?”) imparts skills that your kids can take to preschool, the playground and beyond.

There’s Joy in Being a Family
Beyond your paying jobs, you and your partner also are engaged in the very demanding task of co-parenting your offspring. Sadly, in many families the children only see parents slaving away — both on the job and at home. “Part of your job as a family is to have to have fun together,” says Tessina. “Sometimes that means knowing when to say ‘let’s go outside and play’ even though all of the chores aren’t done and you still have work to do.” The message (that may one day score you a gaggle of grandkids): Parenting isn’t a miserable, thankless 24/7 job.

How to Fight Fair
Take two people with two distinct personalities and they’re bound to disagree from time to time. The pros agree that witnessing conflict isn’t harmful to children — it’s the low blows we often resort to that do the damage. Next time you’re fuming, look at it as one of those famous teaching moments and model the kind yet confident behavior you’d like to see in your kids. “I can see how you might feel that way and I’m trying to understand why; I’d also like a chance to explain why I feel differently” creates a much safer kid-space than “I don’t know why I ever married an idiot like you in the first place!” Here are 12 things you need to know about marriage to strengthen your bond.

Love Should Be Unconditional
Many a spouse has uttered some version of this statement: “Fine! You can do your own laundry/pick up your own dry cleaning/cook your own meals from now on!” Of course we all occasionally say stupid things we don’t mean in moments of frustration, but remember the offspring hovering around your ankles? They’re taking all of this in, and what they hear is that love is conditional. Instead? Explain with fond generosity what it is that you need (more recognition for your efforts, or more effort on your partner’s part). Tip: No buts. “I love you and I need a little more help in the morning,” doesn’t negate the affectionate part.

How to Apologize
Say something unkind to your spouse? Overreact to a small transgression? Forget to do something he asked you to do? Let the kids see and hear you say you’re sorry. “Apologies are healing,” says Tessina. “It’s important for children to see that mom and dad can be really mad and then come back together and fix it. The most important part of this is the idea that it can be fixed. They’ll carry this belief with them later in life, when they are having struggles of their own.”

Why Support Is Key
It’s one (very important) thing to apologize when you’ve caused harm or damage — but don’t forget to model empathy as well. After all, a child’s visceral reaction to someone else’s pain is often, “I didn’t do it!” Having your kids hear frequent displays of selfless consideration (“I’m sorry you had a bad day,” or “I’m sorry that happened to you,”) shows your children the critical skill of compassion in action.

You Need to Show Affection
It’s easy and natural to hug, kiss and cuddle with your kids, especially when they’re little. But when was the last time that Dad got that kind of attention? “When children see that Mom and Dad have their own bond and don’t exist exclusively to serve their needs, it helps foster their independence,” says Tessina. Plus, as hard as it may be to fathom, one day the kids will be grown and gone, and you’ll be glad you put some energy into nurturing your own relationship.

How to Share
What’s more embarrassing than watching your child refuse to share his toys on a play date? (“I know it’s your batmobile/Barbie/bubble machine sweetie, but in our house we share with our friends.”) While this level of generosity is a hard concept for kids to grasp, they’ll pick it up a lot more quickly if they see their parents willingly giving up half of their dessert or graciously handing over the remote control.

How to Make Up After a Fight
An hour ago you and your partner had a fight — and made up. Are you still sulking around (lugging a titanic grudge everywhere you go), or are you laughing together about how silly you both acted? “Humor has a way of lightening your emotional load,” says Siegel. “Couples who help each other manage stress with laughter teach kids resiliency.” Plus, it’s tough to stay mad when you’re giggling.

You Don’t Need to Be Perfect
Your spouse is always late, or he’s an impossible slob, or he never, ever remembers your anniversary. Remember that bit about “for better or for worse”? Every minute of every day you have a choice: You can constantly berate him and his behavior, or you can model an attitude of tolerance. By opting for the latter, you show your kids that affection isn’t tied to performance, and that by the same token imperfection is unquestionably lovable. As for the irritating behavior itself, Tessina suggests adopting a mantra that sounds something like this: “I love him and he’s wonderful in all these other ways. I am going to let it go.”

Why It’s Important to Manage Your Emotions
When grown-up tempers flare in your house, how do you deal? If your answer is “slam the nearest door,” “cower in the corner” or “go stay with my mom for a week,” know that your children will likely follow suit in their own troubling situations. Want them to learn to stand up for themselves (and you will, especially when the old peer pressure kicks in) without completely losing it? Show them by example how adults can stand their ground with calm confidence and grace.

How to Give Praise
He tosses the last pillow on the bed triumphantly and looks at you, head cocked. Do you praise him for the effort or roll your eyes and think to yourself, “Big deal, I do it every day. He’s acting like he deserves a medal?” It’s no secret that married folks can be mighty stingy with gifts of recognition — which is too bad because positive reinforcement and more good behavior make a notoriously happy couple. Even if he’s agreed to assume responsibility for a certain task, who doesn’t like to hear “I really appreciate it when you do that for us”?

What Love Looks Like
You dash from work to the grocery store to soccer practice pick-up, and burst through the door, arms laden with shopping bags, anxious to get dinner on the table. “Honey, I’m home!” you shout into the bowels of the house. Really happy to see the guy after a long day, are you? “Reentry is so important,” insists Tessina. “Any time you come together after being apart, take a moment to greet your spouse, tell them you’re glad to see them and looking forward to hearing about their day. Doing this sets the tone for the rest of the day and makes the whole marriage run more smoothly.” It also serves to remind your kids, “Wow, mom really likes dad!” If there’s one lesson you want to pass on, it’s that the two of you are in love.

Marriage Is a Two-Way Street
Marriage is a two-way street paved with love, respect, responsibility and several tons of compromise. “When children are little, they have a need and parents fill it,” Tessina explains. “They can’t be expected to understand that needs go both ways unless you demonstrate this.” Simply shifting your language from “I” or “he” to “us” and “we” shows you value the whole of the family over the sum of its parts. Yes “you” (singular) may not love camping, but “you” (plural) can still have a great family time doing it.

 

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