If I have given a choice I will definitely take them with me, but there are reasons, most reasons we cannot always accept but they will always be there, to hinder, to make us think and to decide not to.

Their school is simply not here. I can’t just always take them with me and it would be hard for them to keep travelling and changing schools. They already have their friends and fun around the home country, so I think this will just be hard for them.

Simple, the budget cannot comply. If I have to take them here, I have to process their papers and visas and spend money on their ticket and etc. I have just started working abroad and the offer is just for an entry level contract worker and I cannot sustain the money I have to spend for them. I know some offers might be on the top level their companies support the finances of bringing the family as well.

I would love to watch them grow, teach them all the values in life but how? I am away and I have to work. How can I connect with them in the way that they will never feel that I am away.

My wife and I always take time to pray together, (Yes, Virtually.) I usually call her in the morning, my time and we say prayers together. She is very supportive. My kids are growing and they need me there. So I have comed up with ways I know I can still connect with them.

  • Internet. One way of still connecting and saving up money is using the internet. You may use skype, viber, facetime and numerous video call apps. Nothing is every wasted when you communicate properly and sweetly.
  • Monitor them through their guardian – always ask whoever it is that is left with them how they do and their whereabouts, in this way you can also have some stories to talk about and knowing what they are doing means you can teach wisdoms and values they can apply.
  • Pray for them – let them know you do. Let them know you are always thinking about their safety and they are loved. Teach them how to pray as well and let them know how vital that is in everyone’s life. Tell them to pray whenever they are scared or confused.
  • Let them know you are reliable and you can always be reached – After all, you are their father, Working abroad can never be a hindrance with family ties. Always tell them you are doing all these for them.  Let them know that even if you are not physically there, you can always do something to help them and be there for them.
  • Ship them something heartfelt! It doesn’t have to be expensive. One thing that can really be comforting is a loaf of homemade banana bread, or perhaps something chocolatey. If you’re not much of a baker or don’t want to deal with shipping, call a local place! Of every awesome bakery San Antonio offers, the one I still long for when I’m not working in that town is Cut to the Chase. It’s so easy. You just call them, and one of the owners, Angela, will probably pick up. You tell her what you’re craving, and they whip it up and send it your way. Even thinking about it, my mouth is watering. So no doubt your kids will appreciate it too, and feel your love in every bite.

Now, with my experience, these things made my family stronger, with faith in God and in each other, we know we can do all things in his ways.

Teens don’t need a talk on the facts of life. They know how sex works, many of them have experimented with it, or watched porn web videos or pirated DVDs. But they still seek parental guidance, they just never admit it—or they’re frustrated by the kind of guidance we give.

Most parents tell their children to wait until marriage but never explain why. Other teens complained that the “sex talk” consisted mostly of thinly-veiled threats. “They said they’d disown me if ever I got anyone pregnant,” 17-year-old Harry said. He just made sure to use condoms—or, in the case of the 16-year-old Eunice, do “everything but penetration.” All of them felt that their parents didn’t understand them.

The problem? Our typical “sex talk” deals with very clinical/medical information (STDs, pregnancy) or abstract lectures such as religious beliefs, etc. We forget how, at that age, sex is entangled with many intense, difficult emotions that tens are just too young to understand.

So most of them brush off what they feel. Rachel pushed back the shame of the morning-after by thinking. “Oh, it’s just sex. Everybody’s doing it.” When they broke up, and she started seeing other guys, she barely noticed the shift in her personal standards. “I kept dating really lousy men. But sex wasn’t anything special anymore,” she said.

This is what our teens are going through. This is what they want us to understand.

It’s tough for us parents to broach the Sex Talk. Sometimes we stick to clinical facts because it’s the least uncomfortable thing to do. “My parents never talked to me about sex. I came from a conservative family and it was just assumed that we knew that we should wait till we’re marriage,” said Janice, now mother to two teenagers.

Other parents are afraid that free discussion might make teens think that sex is okay. “I just want to send one message: don’t do it,” quips Monica, though you can tell she’s not entirely kidding.

Well, ignoring the topic won’t make the problem go away. In fact studies show that talking honestly about sex can help delay intercourse and prevent teen pregnancy.


But we can’t stay in that comfort zone. Parents can give guidance that teens won’t find from friends, magazines, or even their school’s sex education program. They also need to feel that after we’ve set the guidelines and rules, we’re there for them, even as we let them make their decision, but only because we can’t watch them 24 hours a day, and locking them up will only make them rebel even more.

But what do we say? What do they need to hear? And how do we start the conversation without embarrassing ourselves or alienating them?

  1. Don’t try to get too chummy in an attempt to be cool.

Talk to your teenager as a mom. Don’t ask her, “So, is he a good kisser?” Most kids find that really weird. We have to remember that there is a fine balance between getting involved and respecting their privacy.

Let’s say your daughter and her boyfriend look like they’re getting serious. She’s probably confused about where to take it. Ask her how she feels about the relationship. “He sounds like he’s very special. What makes him different from the other guys you met?” Notice: you’re helping her process the situation, but you’re not dictating what she should do. In fact, you’re doing most of the listening.

Once she feels that you’ve heard her out, then talk about what “serious” means and why it may bring about new levels of intimacy.

  1. Reinforcements. Kids may have misconceptions about sex, i.e. “I can’t get pregnant if I do it during my period” or “I won’t get STDs if there’s no penetration.” You don’t want to handle this talk with your daughter (she’d be afraid to ask you questions, anyway.) Instead, bring her to your ob-gynecologist. She needs a check-up anyway once she reaches sexual maturity, and she’ll be more comfortable with a doctor anyway. How to guide the conversation? Brief your OB-gyne beforehand. “I told her what I wanted them to discuss—diseases, pregnancy, etc—and asked her to please reassure my daughter that I respected their doctor-patient confidentiality,” says Lilly. She then left the two alone, and never asked what happened behind those doors.

Your doctor can also give objective and credible reasons why your teen shouldn’t engage in casual sex. “It’s like having sex with a person and his/her previous partners. That’s why it’s important to know your partners. That’s why it’s important to know a partner’s sexual history.”

  1. Don’t be a prude. Sex is not a bad thing. Avoiding the topic, or treating sex like it’s a sin, will make teens feel ashamed of very natural human needs. Instead, talk about sexuality in a positive way. “You’re a woman, and an adult. You are in charge of your body. Don’t let anyone cheapen you or treat you with disrespect.” This makes them feel proud their sexuality without encouraging wanton promiscuity. In fact, you can remind them that people who are too “liberal” are just using sex to satisfy other needs—fitting in, hiding insecurity. “You can’t use your body to fix an emotional problem. The problem will still be there when you wake up, and you’ll feel worse.”
  1. Be clear about rules. “Don’t have sex” is pretty abstract and all-encompassing. Make it easier for them to keep that rule with clear, concrete rules that prevent them from being overwhelmed by hormones and temptation. Can they bring their boyfriend/girlfriend inside the house? Are they allowed to go on out-of-town trips with friends?
  1. Role model a healthy, happy relationship. It’s not just about sex—it’s being intimately involved with someone. And they get their attitudes about that from you and your husband. Don’t show double standards. Be careful of jokes and stories that give the impression that sex is okay for boys but not for girls. Both have to be sexually responsible.
  1. First listen, then talk. Ask them what they think before giving your decision. The irony about teens is that the more you treat them like adults the more they’ll respect the rules that you do give. Also let them know they can come to you with questions anytime. That includes not freaking out when they open up, and spending regular one-on-one time quality time with them where they can blurt out what they think.
  1. Talk about values in a way that they’ll listen. It’s not enough to say “Save it for marriage.” Explain why you chose this for yourself. Impart your values, not impose.
  1. Find everyday teaching moments. Latest issues, showbiz news can be a good springboard for relationship talks. A nice and easy way to start talking about making smart choices in relationships.
  1. Take off the pressure from yourself. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for talking about sex with your teen—you really have to go with the flow. But the good news is that even if you stumble through the “Big Sex Talk” there are plenty of other opportunities to send your message across. Plus, teens are more insightful and forgiving than we give them credit for.

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Elise’s kid, Bradley, is one of the smartest in school, but classmates tease him about being nerd or a teacher’s pet. He does not want to tell the teacher because the kids will mock him all the more. He sometimes hides his intelligence to avoid being taunted. He has become more timid and has even more difficulty making friends. How can Elise help her son?

Every school has bullies, regardless of gender and age, and bullies are rampant in the world outside school. In fact, many studies show that a significant number of children have suffered from verbal bullying, such as teasing, or worse, physical violence at least once in their school lives. Bullying, depending on its severity and on a child’s sensitivity, may either lead to loss of self-worth, or in the case of many children, it could be just a part of growing up.

There is no one right way to deal with bullies, but there are alternatives.

Tell the teacher. Bradley may have that fear telling the teacher may subject him to more teasing, and this may be true—or it may not. Caring teachers will want to know if their students are being teased, and will do their best to deal with the problem. Evaluate the teacher—if you think she cares enough, then by all means, tell her. Your child is probably too shy to do this himself, so accompany him in the consultation.

Tell the teacher your fears. “My son is afraid that he will be teased more if he tells you, so can you try your best to ensure that this does not rebound on him? If needed, transfer him to another class.

Advise your child not to hide his intelligence, but do not show off, either. I doubt that Bradley is showing off, since he is shy, but other parents (and kids) need to know that show-offs are not popular in the class. Those with quiet confidence earn the respect of others, and since they do not irritatingly dominate every discussion, they never get labeled “teacher’s pet.”

Introduce your child to nerds who have become role models. He should not retaliate, because it shows that teasing gets to him and bullies love to see this. Instead, Elise should teach Bradley to say “I am nerd, so what?” Bill Gates is a nerd, and he is the richest man on earth, earning a lot more than David Beckham. Haven’t you heard the saying, ‘Nerds rule?” My friend, whose son was teased for two months, finally stopped the bullying by asserting: “Be nice to nerds, you may end up working for one someday.”

Teach your child confidence-building skills, such as judo or karate. Enroll him in drama, debate, or singing class in summer or whole year round. Elise says Bradley finds it hard to make friends, but I would like to believe that he is not the only nerd in the class and that there are no other kids he can connect with. Yes, bullying has contributed to his problem, but I think his personality and perhaps his upbringing may have something to do with it. Ask yourself if you are too strict on him. Encourage him to bring friends over.

As a parent, network with other parents whose kids do not tease him (there are some who do not do so, I assure you) and help him make friends.

Encourage him to join the math or science club, or the school paper. Chances are he will feel at home there.

Keep things in perspective. Bullies bully out of inadequacy and insecurity. Tell your son that their teasing stems from jealousy. Tell him that achieving high grades is an honor, and that his intelligence is a gift from God. When your son eventually gets a scholarship and the bullies don’t, then they will wish that they were nerds.

Offer to help. This is a radical idea, but perhaps your son can take the initiative. The next time they tease him for getting high marks, he can ask them, “I would like all of you to do well, too. Would you like me to help you with the lesson?” One of my friend’s daughters used this strategy, and though it did not happen overnight, she eventually made friends with her tormentors, and yes, she started tutoring them, too.

Fighting among siblings is normal. They did not choose each other, forced as they are, by circumstances, to share the same roof. Some love each other but there are those who cannot stand each other. Parents should teach their children to live together and to respect one another.

My two sons, Randy, now 21 and Sean, 19, were always fighting when they were young. It was Randy who instigated the fights. He would put Sean down, trying to make his life difficult. We observed over time that Randy was insecure and jealous of Sean’s talents. Sean was a talented cello player, well-applauded by family and friends during cello recitals since he was five years old. This was a source of envy of Randy.

Parents need to look out for the child who starts the fight and asses the causes—possibly insecurity, low self-esteem, or perceived favoritism of one or both kids.

So what do we do when they fight? An effective tool I used was the time out. When Randy and Sean fought, I would not ask them what happened because, many times, they argued and counter argued. Separating them was the key. Initially, they were apart for five minutes, with Randy staying in the living room and Sean in the dining room. They could not look at each other—since they made faces, fuelling more anger. They were separated with no contact between them at all. After the five minutes was up. I let them play again. About 10 minutes of playing, they would fight again. So, I separate them again, but longer this time, say ten minutes. The consequence of fighting is a time out from each other. Having no playmate for several minutes is “painful” for kids—so no need to scream or spank. In between, I show them the right way to play with each other.

Building up Randy’s self-esteem was worked on at the same time. With a healthier self-esteem, the fights were reduced significantly.

There was also regular coaching on how to relate to each other, asking permission to borrow and waiting for the owner to lend things or toys. I encouraged them to talk to each other about why they fought. While I listened, I avoided taking sides.

Avoid these bad habits. Parents should not say: “You should love your brother or sister.” Rather, help them improve sibling relationship. Forcing them to love each other and stay in the same bedroom can make matters worse. Remember, they did not choose each other. Circumstances forced them to be together. Be aware of each one’s uniqueness. Do not compare. Do not have a favorite. These will just increase fighting between siblings. Never side with anyone.

Today, Randy and Sean say that they are very good friends, not just brothers. So work on reducing the fights and they can have a friend at home as well as a sibling.


Stimulation is everything. Play, read, sing, hug your child—oh, you know what to do. But what are some things that are very important to your child’s brain that we tend to overlook?

  1. Respond to a child’s cues and clues. A child, no matter how young, gives you indications of how he is feeling. Observe how a child’s eyes move when looking at you or objects. Watch out for body language and the pitch of his cry. “When a child knows you’re listening to him, he becomes calmer and more confident,” says the experts.
  2. Make every moment a teaching moment. Babies are like sponges. Name his body parts as you scrub them in the bath. Count the toys as you put them away from the shelves.
  3. Use “Parentese.” Mothers instinctively put their faces very close to a child and speak in a high-pitched, sing-song manner. Studies show that these actually help babies understand the words. Another tip: use short sentences and speak slowly, maintaining eye contact.
  1. Watch your emotions. Other studies show that a depressed mother’s interactions with a child can affect his level of brain activity. The melancholy rubs off on him, and he may become less interested in playing or interacting with others.
  1. Rotate your toys. You’ve invested a small fortune in educational toys—but most of them gather dust on the shelves. Bring out 10 or 11 each week and put them in a box, replacing them regularly.
  1. Let them crawl. Studies suggest that the act of crawling can actually build what neurologists call the primitive brain. That wasn’t a big deal before—experts once thought that the cerebral cortex was more important for daily and long-term decision making. But now they realize that memory and problem-solving involves all the structures.
  1. Build a healthy attachment. Play school teacher experts say that relationships, not things, build a baby’s intelligence. “Does he trust his environment and feel comfortable exploring it? Does he feel rewarded for his accomplishments? Does he have fun learning due to the ewere asked to play with unfamiliar toys in an unfamiliar room. Those who had a “healthy attachment” to their parents would take only a few minutes to adjust to an unfamiliar room. They would explore, only periodically checking if their mom was still there. Children who had experienced trauma or neglect were fearful and clingy. Not surprisingly, the latter scored lower on memory tests.

SPEECH AND VOCABULARY. Between birth and 3 years of age. What he hears will largely determine the size of his adult vocabulary. Those who aren’t spoken to regularly even score lower on conceptual thinking tests than those who were included in conversation.

This is also why young children can learn several languages effortlessly. Dorothy and her 3-year-old daughter traveled back and forth between Hong kong and UK. “She learned Cantonese faster than all of us, and used it to communicate with playmates. She spoke Mexican to her Nanny and English to us.” That’s one secret to avoiding language confusion—your child knows which to use, depending on who she’s talking to.

EMOTIONAL PATTERS. Between birth to 2 years. While this is difficult to isolate (our personalities are shaped by so many things) some say that babies who are raised in an inconsistent, violent or unaffectionate environment can grow up to be very clingy, anxious, or easily frustrated.

The theory fits with research does as early as 1970s. Pediatrics guru Dr. Terry Brazelton videotaped babies crying to get the attention of their moms. Each one reaches their tolerance level and begins to look away from her, finding it too difficult to continue making an effort with no response. Though some try again, they run away for longer and longer periods, finally slumping down and giving up completely. That’s one experiment conducted over one afternoon. Imagine what 2 years of this sense of rejection would do for a child?

OTHER WINDOWS ARE VISUAL ACUITY. (Birth to 2 years) and motor coordination (birth to 5 years). “Let them crawl, sweat, get dirty,” says pediatricians. “Too many first-time parents are scared that their babies will get too tired or sick. Don’t be. His got his natural immune systems to protect him. “

In the late 70s, a research group asked first time expectant mothers at what age they thought their babies were aware of things around them. Most of them pegged it at 2 months; some said as late as one year. Even prominent psychologists said that babies saw the world in “one great, blooming, buzzing confusion.”

Then, amazing research—made possible by instruments that could measure brain activity or other subtle responses to stimuli—proved that babies are far smarter than we ever gave them credit for. Some US studies found that 3-week-olds presented with 2 seemingly identical blankets would reach for the one that had the mother’s scent. (And they thought babies couldn’t remember anything!)

And maternal pride notwithstanding we sense the intelligence in their eyes and how they hate being left alone to stare at a blank white ceiling. “My son was always very fussy in the living room playpen, until I propped flashcards on the mattress,” says Janet. Then he’d grow restless again—a sign to replace the cards with another act.

But the most amazing of all neurogical discoveries is that the electrical activity of the brain cells actually changes the physical structure of the brain. The timeline:

At birth, he has over 100 billion neurons. Most believe that’s all you get—few or none are produced later in life.


BIRTH. While the brain contains all the nerve cells it will ever have, the pattern of wiring is not established. Your baby needs stimulation and repetition of activity to create the connections (called synapses) that lead to language, feelings and movement. No need to spend a fortune on baby classes—computer readings show that a simple hug and song can activate significant brain activity.

8 MONTHS OLD. He can’t walk, can’t talk, but his brain has already formed 1,000 trillion synapses. That’s twice more than what adults have (most of us have less than 500 trillion).

But here’s the deal: the connections operate on a “use it or lose it” principle.

The brain discards synapses that are rarely used—and since brain systems develop at different times, there’s a “window of opportunity” for parents to maximize a particular type of brain function.

3 YEARS OLD. The brain’s blue print has been formed, largely from the sensory experiences of sight, sound, touch and taste. This will be refined until he is 10 to 11 years old.

12 YEARS OLD. Scientists say the brain structure has more or less become final. Depending on the type of parenting and stimulation provided, we get a unique brain with different patterns of emotion and thought.