Ask Mr. Dad: Joint custody – even for toddlers – is the best option

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I are getting divorced. She has filed for sole custody of our two children, ages 2 and 4. I've always been a very involved dad and my wife knows how important my kids are to me. I asked why she's asking for sole custody and she says that her lawyers told her that it's better for young children to be with their mothers and that spending overnights with fathers can cause all sorts of mental health and behavioral problems. If that's truly what's best for my children, I'm willing to go along with her having full custody, but my gut tells me that she and her lawyer are wrong. Can you help?


Ex-etiquette: Is it legal to keeps kids from being with dad?

Q: My wife and I broke up recently. She moved out, took the kids with her and has kept them away for two months. I had to move in with my parents but there's plenty of room for the kids. I can't imagine not seeing them on Christmas, even for a couple of hours. Is this legal? What's good ex-etiquette?


Living with Children: Standing firm on childrearing practices of the ’50s

A Wisconsin pediatrician wants his newspaper to eject my column, giving as one of his complaints that I hew "to the idea that the world of the 1950s was the be-all and end-all of parenting/childrearing, and that if we were to return to that era with the good-old practices of our grandparents, our children would reap the benefits." The good doctor then claims that my traditionalist point of view is not supported by evidence. As "evidence" that his assessment of me is correct, he refers to Huffington Post review of one of my books in which the reviewer claims that I do not believe child and teen suicide, gender-identity issues, or drug abuse existed in the 1950s, all of which is news to me.


Game review: ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,’ massive cartoonish brawler is awesome and incredibly fun

Parents need to know that "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" is the latest installment in the wildly popular fighting series exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Players select from a roster of more than 70 characters from a wide variety of games, and the game also supports amiibo figurines that are sold separately, which players can use to personalize their favorite character, and a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online is required for online multiplayer games. While fighting is the point of the game, with characters using fists, feet, special attacks, and items to launch opponents off the screen, there's no blood or gore shown, and the combat is cartoonish. Some female characters wear skin tight costumes, but otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.


App review: Silly Street Learn & Play, terrific app builds character onscreen and off

Parents need to know that Silly Street Learn & Play is an educational app based on a physical game that aims to build character through play. Kids can play solo or with up to 6 players and either read the directions or turn on the sound for narration. The free game includes six card packs that target empathy, curiosity, adaptability, and other character skills through entertaining tasks. The prompts on the cards encourage kids to express themselves and explore their creative side through jokes, movement, storytelling, and song. It's up to the players to input whether or not they successfully complete the task on each card or when playing with others, who should receive points after completing a contest card. A scoreboard keeps track of each player's progress. If parents want more information or to buy more cards, they can visit the parent portal which offers information about character development and allows them to purchase additional digital card packs or the physical Silly Street board game. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

Movie News & Reviews

Movie review: ‘Into the Spider-Verse,’ excellent adventure has thrills, humor, and heart

Parents need to know that "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is a funny, original, action-packed animated Marvel adventure that centers on Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), who becomes a new Spider-Man and ends up meeting other Spider-people from parallel universes. It's sure to appeal to Spidey fans of all ages, and it's more tween friendly than the live-action wall-crawler movies, but it's still pretty intense. And while the violence is mostly cartoonish, there are lots of fights that involve weapons (including guns), injuries, and even death. (Spoiler alert: One version of Spider-Man dies, as does an important supporting character.) There's also large-scale destruction, as well as frequent peril, suspense, and mortal danger. Characters flirt a little and occasionally use words like "hell," "dang," "fat," "stupid," and "dumb." But kids won't fail to notice the movie's diverse characters and clear messages about friendship, courage, mentoring, perseverance, teamwork, and (of course!) the nature of power and responsibility. Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Nicolas Cage co-star.


19 great Alexa skills for kids and teens

"Alexa, entertain my kid with high-quality content." If you have an Echo device, you know this is a tall order. Not only is Alexa a finicky listener, but you need to launch specific "skills" to get the device to do what you want. With hundreds of skills in a huge range of categories listed on the Amazon Alexa app or website, it can take some digging to find the good stuff. But if you do dig, you'll be rewarded with some pretty sweet games and activities, including interactive storytelling, math practice, exercise, games to play together, and more.

In search of the perfect Christmas tree: A family tradition

Watch Gabriella Ingwaldson and her family look for Christmas trees, Friday, November 23, 2018, in Apple Hill, a tradition that she hopes to keep going for many generations.