Ex-etiquette: Boyfriend needs to set the record straight

Q: My boyfriend of two years and I broke up for a short while, but we have reconciled and I moved back in about two months ago. His ex-wife, who is constantly causing trouble with the kids, continues to ask him out for coffee, for dinner, to join her skiing. It's really maddening and she won't stop! What's good ex-etiquette?

Living with Children

Q: My 18-year-old son and a slightly younger friend recently found some mice and decided to dispose of them. They drowned one and set the other one on fire. When I confronted my son for torturing animals, his response was "They're just mice." Is this typical boy behavior or should I be concerned?

Ask Mr. Dad: Exploring the culinary arts

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm not a whiz in the kitchen but I learned enough as a kid to make it through college without having to subsist solely on peanut butter sandwiches and Ramen noodles. My wife and I both cook meals but we can't seem to get our son (age 11) remotely interested in cooking. How do we get him interested in learning how to cook for himself?

How your teenager can enjoy the family vacation

Family vacations are an excellent time to reconnect. As kids blossom into teenagers, they want their independence and tend to spend more time participating in extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends, at sporting events or working. At times your home may feel like a group of people living under the same roof without a lot of interaction. As kids grow older, family time is more difficult to juggle with busier schedules and multiple priorities.

Note to self . . . today is the last day. But of what?

So I'm looking at my day planner, and on April 11, I had penciled in "Last Day." I noticed it last week, but I was thinking that it was the last day of Lent. But that's next Thursday. And then I thought maybe it's the last day to finish my taxes. But that's next week too.

Child Sense: Easter/spring holidays with blended families

Spring is finally here, and after a particularly brutal and prolonged winter it is a welcome relief. With spring comes Easter and other spring holidays; it also is the time when children of separated and blended families can feel anxiety, manifesting in "bad" behavior. Using each person's dominant sense, you will be able to have an understanding of when they are not coping and also how to alleviate their anxiety and concerns.

A wild idea for an Easter egg hunt

Give a traditional egg hunt a fun, nature-friendly spin with this idea from blogger Deb Olmstead of imaginechildhood.com. Fill emptied and washed eggshells with birdseed, then hide them in your yard (or a local park that allows bird feeding) for all your wild neighbors. "You can go on an outdoor adventure when you look for hiding places," says Deb.

Parents @ Play: East of Easter

How is it that giving candy and chocolate to kids has become such a major part of so many holiday celebrations? Every one of those holidays has its own, special, traditional sugary treat. In the case of Easter, of course, it's eggs and bunnies. But these days we're hearing from more and more parents of very young children who are looking for two things: reduced-sugar treats for the kiddies, and toys that aren't too big for their little ones to pick up and play with. Here are some of our spring Easter-basket-stuffing faves that satisfy both of those requirements.

Living with Children

Q: Our 14-year-old son seems depressed - to us, at least. His principal sees no sign of depression but thinks he's socially anxious. The subjects of counseling and medication have come up. We have suggested to him that he get more exercise and spend less time playing video games and watching TV, but he says he hates sports. He appears to be withdrawing more and more into his video screen world. Our plan of action is to insist that he take up a sport if he wants the freedom to have a computer and video game. We want him to have balance in his life. Your thoughts?

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