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With technology making its way into every aspect of our lives, kids are spending a lot less time playing outside than we did when we where their age. And even when they do play outside, it's often in a highly structured activity (like soccer, swimming, and most other organized sports) that doesn't give kids freedom to explore, create, or just have fun. There are alternatives, however, and this week we bring you four of them.

Q. Do you have advice for parents of "boomerang" kids who have moved home after college graduation?

Q: How do I stop the flow of information between homes? My stepdaughter, whom I like very much, is constantly telling her mother things that go on in our home. While we do not have anything to hide, it is very frustrating. Sometimes the information gets completely blown out of proportion. For example, we have a glass of wine with dinner and all of the sudden we're drunks! I need more privacy! What's good ex-etiquette?

Walking through a Wal-Mart parking lot, I was surprised when a toddler shot past me. I looked to see where he came from and spotted his mother, halfway down the aisle of cars, yelling at him to stop.

Dear Mr. Dad: My marriage of 15 years has finally come to an end, and my wife and I have joint physical and legal custody. Because the last thing I want is for my children to become yet another case of "children of divorce," I would appreciate it if you could guide me on how to become the best dad for them.

Q: The "sassiness" that I have heard so much about from my friends started a few months ago with my 5-year-old daughter. She will say things to me that I actually find myself tongue-tied on how or what to say to correct her. Sometimes, she apologizes, which tells me she knows she's talking disrespectfully to me. What do you think about 10 minutes of time out for this sort of thing? Also, on a recent vacation with another family in which there are two other girls around the same age, my daughter became very competitive. She constantly wanted to "race" to see who would be first, for example. Is this normal for this age?

When the last of my children hit their middle school years, I figured my time as a birthday party host - and guest - had wound down to a much-anticipated end. Wrong. As a grandmother and a great-aunt, I'm very much in demand, and this may have more to do with where I live than any particular Martha Stewart skills.

We were young then, with our whole lives before us, starry-eyed blind to all that lay ahead.

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that it now allows photos of women breastfeeding ...

Mommy and daddy guilt - we've all experienced it. Did you ever ask yourself, "Am I making a big mistake?" or, "Am I forgetting anything important?" How about: "Am I being too hard on my child?" "Will I regret my decisions later?" Yep, we've all been there.

Thousands of kids are seen in the ER each year due to preventable accidents that happen at home. Taking some time to childproof your home can protect you and your family from experiencing injuries sustained by household accidents. Below you will find some tips to help create a safe and healthy environment for your kids to grow up in.

Vaccines are "one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century" but their use is "suboptimal" because some parents, worried about their safety, refuse them for their children. Vaccines, however, are safe and adverse reactions "extremely rare," says a new medical study out last week.

I received so much positive feedback after admitting in my Balancing Act column last week that I talk too much ("Here's the scoop on parental chitchat: Less really is more," June 29), that I've decided to do more listening this week.

School's out for summer! Time to stock up on healthy foods to keep growing bodies nourished during the day and especially between meals. Parents can think of snacks as mini-meals that combine two or more food group foods for maximum satisfaction and nutrition.

"The View" aluma Debbie Matenopoulos is expecting her first child later this year. The two-time Emmy nominee opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her regular role as one of the "family" on "Home & Family," her pregnancy and her new book, "It's All Greek to Me." "Home & Family" airs weekdays at 10 a.m. ET/PT on the Hallmark Channel.

Teenagers are known for their angst. They're also expected to go to school for 40 hours a week and perform well enough to get into a top college, along with playing sports, leading the debate team and volunteering at various community service events. And don't forget homework time.

The 90 days of summer are a great time to introduce your child to a new language and culture. From introducing your child to a new food or taking them on a fantastic imaginary journey around the world, you can create a memorable summer for your child.

I've been thinking lately about the name Jennifer.

There is nothing quite like a reliable fan to help ward off the sweltering heat that summer brings. Moms might want to consider Honeywell's Oscillating Table Fan with QuietSet Controls, which comes with a one-year limited warranty. It can also help to save up to 20 percent on energy bills when used with air conditioning, according to the fan's packaging, and is not too hard on the pocketbook.

School's out and it's time to get your travel on. That often means a seemingly never-ending chorus of "Are we there yet?" and "I'm bored!" from the table- and smartphone-demanding minions who've set up shop in the back seat. We've got some good news for you: there are actually creative and stimulating ways to keep your kids entertained that don't involve a screen. Really. Expect plenty of push back, though, but if you stand your ground, they'll eventually come around. We promise.

Hit the beach

School's out and it's time to get your travel on. That often means a seemingly never-ending chorus of "Are we there yet?" and "I'm bored!" from the table- and smartphone-demanding minions who've set up shop in the back seat. We've got some good news for you: there are actually creative and stimulating ways to keep your kids entertained that don't involve a screen. Really. Expect plenty of push back, though, but if you stand your ground, they'll eventually come around. We promise.

I'm a sucker for summer, when our best memories are made.

OK, so I am biased. I'm partial to the rhythm and melody of language, to the thrill of a well-turned phrase, to the surprise ending - didn't see that coming! - of a superbly plotted story.

Birthday celebrations are not always sparkling affairs.

Dear Mr. Dad: I am currently deployed and going to miss the birth of my first. As such, my wife and I decided to hire a doula. We found one and really like her, but unfortunately, she is not vaccinated, nor are her own children. We spoke to my wife's OB who says there is a very slim chance of anything happening, but there is a chance. How much should we be concerned?

I am uncomfortable with my husband's family, particularly his sister, having a relationship with his ex-wife. It feels like she is choosing her over me and my husband. She treats my husband's kids with her like the "real" family and overlooks my kids and the kids I've had with my husband. I try to ignore it and not let it bother me, but my older kids are starting to notice now with, "Why are their pictures on Auntie's fridge and not ours?" When I see them conversing on Facebook, it's like they are slapping me in the face. Is this normal?

Every Sunday afternoon, my 17-year-old son stops what he's doing and voluntarily drives to a church up the road to be with a couple dozen of his friends.

Our neighborhood is populated with immigrants. We were diverse before diversity was cool.

Q:When he throws a tantrum, which happens several times a day, my 20-month-old often gets down on the floor and starts banging his head. Worried that he may hurt himself, I pick him up and comfort him. I know that reinforces head-banging, but I don't know what else to do. Making matters worse, a school counselor friend of mine tells me that head-banging is something lots of autistic kids do. I'm at a loss.



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