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  • 10 Things Not To Say to Your Childfree Friends

    Parenting can have a huge impact on friendships. But you can maintain your bond -- with some insight into the childfree point of view.

    By Jillian Mackenzie

    My boyfriend and I don't know yet if we're going to have children -- but over the last few years, the majority of our friends have taken the plunge. During that time, I've learned a few things about how to keep friendships strong when you don't have parenthood in common. Here are 10 things not to say to your friends who don't have children.

    1. "When will you finally have kids?"
    Once you have offspring, you want your friends to share the experience. But please don't loudly ask this question across the table at Thanksgiving dinner or at a baby shower. Although many people are happy to be childfree or waiting, the situation may be more complicated. A friend could be facing infertility, in the agonizing position of having a spouse who doesn't want children, or otherwise in a complex struggle over the issue. Bring it up privately with

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  • What I Learned from Raising a Child with Down Syndrome

    October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. The CDC estimates that 1 in 691 babies are born with Down syndrome each year, in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome (47 instead of 46), an occurrence that results in mental and physical challenges. Amy Julia Becker's daughter was one of those 691 babies. Read about Becker's parenting experiences with three children, one of whom has Down syndrome, below.

    By Amy Julia Becker

    When our daughter Penny was diagnosed with Down syndrome two hours after she was born, I immediately worried about her future, her health, our ability to take good care of her, and our community's willingness to accept her. I thought my world would shrink into a closed room with four walls labeled disability, special needs, developmental delays, and early intervention. But by the time she was one year old, I wanted to introduce her to strangers on the street so that they could share in her infectious smile and ready wave. I'm only five years into

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  • The 10 Healthiest Cities for Families

    We gave 150 of the largest cities a checkup, and found that these park-filled, low-crime towns are golden.

    By Karen Cicero

    Who hasn't rolled her eyes at her kid's school-lunch menu or thought twice about drinking her town's tap water? Parents gave 150 of the nation's largest cities a checkup, examining 40 criteria to see which ones are making your family's well-being a top priority. We were looking for schools that have frequent gym classes, kid doctors and specialists galore, businesses that don't pollute, parks in every neighborhood, and more. Check out these ten healthy havens.

    1. San Francisco
    The City by the Bay rose to the top of our list in part because of its gutsy moves to bring healthier foods to schools. San Fran booted soda and high-fat, empty-calorie food out of its schools in 2004 (five years before the state did) and was one of the first places in the country to push for school gardens. Salad bars -- stocked with California-grown produce and whole-grain breads --

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  • 5 Ways to Motivate Kids to Do Their Chores

    Don't let your kids drag their feet about doing household chores. Instead, inspire them to make the dull routines enjoyable and entertaining.

    By Christine Carter

    The best way to inspire kids is to work with their natural, intrinsic drive to be productive -- even creative -- contributors to the household. Kids will feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves. "Here's why household chores are good for kids," writes Dan Pink, author of Drive. "Chores show kids that families are built on mutual obligations and that family members need to help each other." Here are five ways to activate your kid's natural drive to get chores and other boring tasks done.

    Download Chore Charts

    Make It Playtime
    Turn "kitchen time" into a dance party. Appoint one child to be a chef and another to be a DJ. The chef chooses what she would like to help make for dinner, such as a simple salad or mashed potatoes. The DJ chooses what appropriate dance tunes he'd like to include on a playlist.

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  • Homemade Halloween Costumes for Kids

    No need to break the bank on kids Halloween costumes this year. These reader-submitted costume ideas are sure to inspire you to craft your own! (Make sure to click on the costume name for a picture of the easy-to-make outfit.)

    By Janna Oberdorf

    Mini Musketeer
    Why we love it: Because every little boy wants to be a knight in shining armor!

    Do it yourself:
    Drape your son in some blue fabric to make this Musketeer costume. (Be sure to cut a hole big enough for his head to pop through.) Add a Zorro-style hat and a white feather, and make sure you pick up a plastic sword so he's ready for battle.

    Baby Bandit
    Why we love it: Because it's the perfect first Halloween costume for a baby that hasn't learned to walk yet (and is a pro at sitting and looking mischievous).

    Do it yourself: Dress your baby in a simple black one-piece and cut two holes out of black fabric to make the mask. Fill a white pillowcase with cotton or old newspaper and draw on a big money sign to steal this awesome Halloween

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  • 10 Reasons to Love the Terrible Twos

    Dealing with the terrible twos? They may not be so horrible after all -- find out why this is a magical age for memories and self-discovery.

    By Lauren Warner

    At a recent dinner party, moms shared stories of their little cherubs suddenly turning into terrible, hard-headed toddlers. Snuggles and smiles had been traded for tantrums and time-outs. Baths had become battles and dinnertime a danger zone. They swapped war stories ("Well, if you think that's bad...") and said they couldn't wait for this stage to pass. I nodded and agreed, but I couldn't help feeling a tug at my heartstrings. As much as the terrible twos come with their own set of challenges, they're also a time of great milestones and imagination. Even in the hard moments, I am completely smitten with my blossoming little creature and his strong spirit. Even in his despondent "no's," he is finding a voice all his own. So I celebrate the reasons to love this pivotal age, knowing that one day I will look back and wish it hadn't

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  • 14 Most Outdated Pieces of Baby Advice

    Much of yesterday's baby wisdom has been proven untrue today. We checked in with Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411, to get the scoop on why these old-school parenting facts have become fiction.

    By Amanda First

    Myth: Infants need to be bathed every day.
    The truth: Babies don't get stinky from sweat the way adults do, so they only need a bath every two or three days (except following a major diaper explosion!). If it's part of your wind-down routine, a daily bath is perfectly okay too--just moisturize afterwards.

    Myth: Babies sleep best in a room that's silent and dark.
    The truth: While some children really are light sleepers, most do fine with background noise and a little light. Plus, if your little one gets used to some activity around him when he's sleeping, he'll be more willing to snooze in a variety of situations.

    Myth: When infants are running a high temperature, rub them down with alcohol to lower their fever.
    The truth: Rubbing your baby with alcohol won't

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  • What's your wish for our kids' future?

    Parents magazine is turning 85! To celebrate, we're making wishes that will benefit children and families everywhere. Would you help make our wishes come true? Please advocate for one or more of our causes, and add a wish or two of your own. The best present for our 85th year: to have all these hopes and dreams for families come true by the time Parents turns 100!

    By Karen Cicero

    Our Wish: Babies stay in mama's belly for 40 weeks -- or at least 39! More than 12 percent of them make an early entrance now.

    Help Make It Come True: Sign up for the March of Dimes Prematurity Registry

    Our Wish: A safe playground is within walking distance of every child's home.

    Help Make It Come True: See if KaBoom! is building or modernizing a playground near you with the help of volunteers.

    Our Wish: Schools would make changes to the cafeteria to reduce the risk of obesity: out with soda, in with salad bars.

    Help Make It Come True: Find out how get a salad-bar grant for your kid's school from Michelle

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  • The One-Week Fix for Bad Behavior

    My plan was to end my kids' whining, hitting, and tantrums in seven days. But first I had to change my own actions.

    By Jacqueline Burt

    "Why does Julian have to be so annoying?" Usually, when my 9-year-old daughter, Charlotte, poses this question about her 4-year-old brother, my response is, "Don't call your brother annoying." But one rainy day, after spending hours listening to Julian's whining, I asked myself: "Why do kids have to be so annoying?"

    Nothing drives me crazier than my son's high-pitched complaints, except Charlotte's tendency to pinch or smack her brother. Sometimes I wonder if my stress level is higher because I'm a single mom. Still, the married mothers I know say every child has a behavior that's like fingernails on a chalkboard. But we may be as much to blame as our kids. "If you focus on what a child is doing wrong, he'll naturally resist, which leads to arguments and worse conduct," explains Bernard Percy, a parenting consultant in Los Angeles.

    Percy is right: My

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  • How to Create a Homework Headquarters

    Design a space that works well for schoolwork and keeps your kid on track all year.

    By Taryn Mohrman

    Create a Homework HQ
    A special study space can make homework more fun and help motivate your child to get it done! Choose a space in your house that's least likely to distract your child, and use our tips to create a simple, organized, and kid-friendly homework HQ.

    Plan Ahead
    Teach your child to manage homework and project deadlines by hanging a personalized calendar above his desk. (calendar, $40;

    Clear Clutter
    Make room on the desktop for the basics, which should include an adjustable lamp -- and get rid of everything else! A neat work area will help him be more efficient. Create an "in box" and "out-box" so important permission slips and notes aren't lost. Tidy up desktop dust-collectors in jars. (Lighten-Up Task Lamp, $39;

    Choose a Simple Setup
    A desk and chair that are clean in design will grow with your child. Add a throw pillow or a cushion

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