Living with Children: Parents need help with unruly teen; smartphone use

Q: Our 15-year-old daughter is very demanding and, to be honest, self-centered. One of the things she does is ask one of us for something and demand an instant decision, as in, "Can I go to the mall with my friends?" If she doesn't get the right answer, she begins to yell and become disrespectful and/or she goes to the other parent (in person, phone, text), but cleverly fails to tell him/her of the first parent's decision. That, of course, causes tension and sometimes conflict between the two of us. We feel caught between a rock and a hard place. If we tell her that she must wait on a decision until the two of us can collaborate, she begins to throw a temper tantrum. On the other hand, if one of us makes a unilateral decision, we often regret it. Any suggestions to help us resolve this?


Ex-etiquette: The Santa clause

Q: About a year ago I married a man with a lovely little four-year-old girl. Since his ex and he share equal custody, I am with this child for a week at a time every other week. It has worked out well and we adore each other. My husband and I wanted to take her to take pictures with Santa, and told her we would go this Saturday when she is with us. When her mother heard about it, she hit the ceiling. She said I had no right to take the child anywhere, and called my husband and really laid into him. Both of us are taking the child! What am I not seeing? What's good ex-etiquette?


Chris Erskine: So many troubles, but oh, the tender moment

We all need that one thing – whether it's libraries or gin joints, pickle ball or chess – that brings us a measure of comfort. For me, it's a daily workout, sometimes with the wolf-dog in tow. She is younger, faster, better-looking, which I realize is almost impossible to imagine.


Ask Mr. Dad: Media messages affect us

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm a new dad and have been reading to my baby. But I've started to notice that most of the parents in children's books are moms. There are some books where dad is the main parent, but most of the time we're not there at all. My wife says that the media is just reflecting reality. I disagree. What do you think?


What’s up with all the YouTube unboxing videos and why are kids so obsessed?

Unboxing videos are exactly what they sound like: People opening boxes and narrating their actions. Unboxing videos are very popular with kids, racking up millions of views and tens of millions of subscribers. Some unboxing videos, such as ones about toys and Kinder Surprise eggs are usually fine for kids to watch (with a few caveats). But the subject matter of some unboxing videos is not age-appropriate. If your kid likes these videos, be aware that they are not technically "reviews" of a product's pros and cons. Unboxing videos show the product in a favorable light and can have the same effect as advertising. Learn a little bit more about them and how to manage kids' fascination below.


Game review: ‘Squishies,’ colorful VR puzzler has adorable characters and inspires creativity

Parents need to know that "Squishies" is a puzzle platforming game available for download exclusively on the PlayStation VR. The game challenges players to use the Move controllers to direct small rolling creatures – Squishies – through virtual obstacle courses. The game also includes a level editor, which allows players to create their own custom levels and share them with the online community. There's some potential minor violence as players move the Squishies through the stages, but there's nothing graphic or explicit, and no blood or gore exists in the game. There's also no inappropriate content included. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids younger than 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.


App review: Magic Math Academy, delightful fairytale teaches preschoolers basic math skills

Parents need to know that Magic Math Academy allows kids to learn and practice basic math concepts. A young wizard is responsible for protecting the mathematical world and saving his friends from evil creatures. They have to use math skills, such as tracing numbers and counting, to overcome obstacles in the shape of monsters, barriers, and puzzles. The Wizard's Workshop offers a different approach to learning mathematical concepts. After choosing a topic, a wise wizard walks kids through mathematical concepts using a PowerPoint-like presentation and clear verbal explanations. Kids then have the opportunity to practice the concepts through assessment activities presented as games. The app provides clear verbal directions and explanations, and prompts in the form of a guiding hand, check marks, or arrows. 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.


10 shows that are OK to let your kids watch while you make dinner

Let's be honest: Sometimes you just need 15 uninterrupted minutes to get dinner going – so you put on a TV show. But you don't want to leave your kids hanging on a plot that takes a full 30 minutes to solve. That's where these great shows with short and sweet episodes come in. Between five and 22 minutes long (often two stories are broken up into shorter 11-minute chunks), these shows can give you just enough time to get things organized, and none of them will rile up your preschoolers enough that they won't be able to sit still for a meal.

Five safety concerns parents should ask child care providers about

Finding good child care can be difficult. Here are five safety concerns parents and guardians should talk about with child care providers.