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Teaching Our Children about Different Kinds of Families


Young children's families seem like the typical, standard type of family to them. Reading books

Often, they don't discover different kinds of families until they go to school. Their own family structure may also change over time.

Teach your child about different kinds of families early. Read books about family types. Talk about different family types in your community.

Your children will have a better understanding when their peers have families different from their own. They'll also be more able to adapt to any changes in their own family.

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Teen Parents

You can be a great parent, no matter how old (or young) you are!

Here are tips for teen parents to help you be the best parent you can be:

family units teen parents 2015

  1. Ask for help! It’s hard to do it all on your own. When you get the help you need, both you and your baby have the best opportunities to be happy and healthy.

  2. Find programs that can help you stay in school. There are programs out there to help! Ask a teacher, school counselor, social worker, or other trusted adult who can help you find out more.

  3. Do your best to keep yourself and your baby healthy. When you're stressed, it can be easy to eat junk, not get enough sleep, or not keep fit. You'll have more energy when you eat well, get sleep, and exercise sometimes.

  4. Don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. These harm your health. If your baby is exposed, your baby's health will be harmed, too. NDQuits is totally free and can help you stop smoking. Contact FirstLink at 2-1-1 for programs that can help you stop drinking or using.

  5. Keep your home as stable as you can. Kids need safe, secure environments and regular routines.

  6. Make time to relax. Do something fun without your child. Find a babysitter, ask a family member or friend, or trade babysitting with another parent. Take a walk, read a book, see a movie, go out to dinner with a friend, or take a long hot bath. Taking care of yourself makes you a better caregiver for others.

  7. Manage your emotions. Everyone gets overwhelmed, angry, and sad from time to time. Find healthy ways to deal with your emotions. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, take a nap, or write in a journal.

  8. What if your baby won’t stop crying -- or you feel so angry, you want to hurt or shake your baby? Stop right now. Put your baby in his crib, step away, and call for help. Take deep breaths. Ask a trusted neighbor to watch your baby until your help arrives. The hard times will pass. Keep breathing!

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Dad Involvement

family units dad involvement 2015


Fathers -- and father figures -- are very important to their children.

Here are a few tips for new dads:

  1. It’s OK to struggle. You’re a new parent. All new parents struggle at first. This is how people learn.

  2. We all do things differently. Changing a diaper, holding the baby, bathing the baby -- it's OK if you don’t do it just like others. Figure out what works best for you and your baby.

  3. Have "your thing.” You need to have at least one thing that is always your “job.” Maybe it's bath time or midnight changing. With a special job, you'll form a special bond with your child. This bond has a dramatic effect on on your parent-child relationship. It also gives your baby's other parent (or other caregiver) the chance to watch with pride.

  4. Affirm yourself. All new parents worry that they're not good enough. You are the dad your child needs! You can make a positive difference in your child's life.

  5. Talk to your partner, spouse, other dads, and/or other caregivers. They probably get just as scared and confused as you do. 

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Adoptive, Foster, and Respite Parenting

Adoptive Parenting

family units adoptive family 2015Did you know that 90% of adoptive children have a positive view of their adoption?

What's more, 88% of adoptive parents say they have a warm and very close relationship with their adoptive children.

In fact, 68% of adopted children are sung and read to by their adoptive parents, compared to 48% in the general population. 

Children don't need "perfect" parents.

They need one or more caring and committed individuals who are willing to meet their needs and incorporate them into a nurturing family environment.

Check back soon for adoptive parenting tips. 

Foster Parenting

Like all parents, foster parents face joys and challenges in parenting. As a foster parent, you love your foster kids like any other parent -- while you also support them to have a loving relationship with their birth family, as much as possible.

Check back soon for foster parenting tips. 

Respite Parenting

For parents of children with special needs, respite care is a vital service. It gives parents a break and can provide needed recuperation time.

If you are a parent looking for respite care, you might find what you're looking for at

Check back soon for respite parenting tips.

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Single Parenting

Zebra family 2015


Check back soon for tips on single parenting.

Meanwhile, check out these single-parenting tips from Mayo Clinic.



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Grandparents Parenting

If you are a grandparent raising your grandkids, you are in good company.

If you'd like to build the relationship between you and your grandchild, draw on nearby support systems. Slide with Grandpa

Reach out to other grandparents in your community who are raising grandkids. You can also look for support in the elementary school system, adult education programs at community colleges, or local faith-based programs.

You might also start a playgroup through word of mouth or with the help of a friend or healthcare provider.

Some hospitals and birthing programs also offer “Mommy and Me” classes that welcome grandmothers as well. 

Check back soon for tips on grandparents parenting.

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Extended Families

In many cultures, multi-generational households have always been the norm. In the U.S. today, multi-generational households are becoming more common again.

family units extended family 2015Here are some tips for multi-generational living:

  1. Plan ahead. Talk about how to address possible problems before they start. Discuss boundaries, use of space, and different ways to communicate about what’s working and what's not.

  2. Create clear roles and responsibilities. Put these in writing if that helps. Little things can be the most annoying, so be specific. Be clear about the issues that will be deal-breakers for you and which ones you can let go. Don’t keep quiet and let resentment build up. Resentment can lead to blowups you don't need.

  3. Organize expenses. Make individual budgets and a shared household budget. Be clear about who pays for what -- and how and when bills will be paid. Family members with fewer resources could contribute in other ways, like cleaning the house or caregiving. Review your plan every once in a while to make sure it's working.

  4. Use space wisely. Make your home as ready for sharing as you can. As much as possible, make some private space and private time for everyone. Be sure the home is safe for children and, as necessary, elders.

  5. Plan for different technology needs. For their developing brains, young children (birth to age two) should have ZERO screen time. Three to 5 year olds should have no more than 1 hour a day. But others in the household may use screens for work or play. Figure out how your multi-generational household can protect children from too much technology. Create "screen free zones" where children eat, sleep, and play.

  6. Facilitate family time. Help your children and family get the most out of shared space. Create routine, scheduled times together -- shared meals, game nights, nature walks, or family conversations.

  7. As much as possible, go with the flow. Expect to face conflicts, frustrations, and moments when you want privacy and freedom. That's the nature of your living situation. Get some time away, get clear on your priorities, and, when you're ready, go back to your family with a loving approach. Be sure to have regular times to talk about challenges, so you can bring up suggested changes when the time comes. A trusted elder or professional mediator may be able to help your family sort out bigger challenges.

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LGBTQ Families

family units lgbtq family 2015



Check back soon for parenting tips for LGBTQ families.



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Multi-Cultural & Multi-Racial Families

Check back soon for parenting tips for multi-cultural and multi-racial families.

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