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Author Karen Johnson Zurheide

My daughter recently turned 16. Several weeks later she completed driver’s education. After another 10 days, she felt almost ready to take her tests. As her father and I were leaving town for several weeks, she decided she had better go for it. Despite several questions that were so obscure that no licensed driver could […] Read More

It was a rare moment. With my parents and children around the dinner table, we hit on a topic to which my mother and daughter both responded passionately. “You shouldn’t have children unless you are going to take care of them,” declared my mother. My 16-year-old daughter shot back with a series of challenging questions: […] Read More

Passing values and desired behaviors on to our children is at once a mystery and a very simple thing. It is mysterious, in that we can do everything in our power to mold and shape a child, only for the “result” to turn out as opposite as possible from our intentions. Similarly, there are children […] Read More

Back when I was your age… What parent doesn’t say—or at least think—that once in a while? Back when I was a child, my parents were very strict about several things—including forbidding the use of certain words. As a child, I was not allowed to curse or to use any “bad” language. My siblings and […] Read More

They are everywhere, always with us. Anticipated or not. Welcome or not. Smooth or less so. Exciting. Challenging. Nearly always difficult. They are transitions, and they are a constant in life, particularly family life. My family and I have recently had more than our usual share of transitions. We relocated from Southwest to Northeast. We […] Read More

Time Apart

Some fortunate professions, most notably those in higher education, enjoy the enlightened tradition of the sabbatical, a periodic time away from regular duties of employment. While the word implies a break every seven years, the time between sabbaticals varies from one institution to another. Sometimes there is an expectation that a product—research, writing, additional education—be […] Read More

A New Journey

Recently resettled in a new community, my family and I are shocked to find that we have an unexpected and unwelcome resident in our home. I would like to boot this interloper out, but cancer doesn’t leave that easily. Less than a month after our move, my not-yet-50 husband was diagnosed with aggressive multiple myeloma […] Read More

Holiday Matters

What really matters at the holidays is being together. If we have our families and our health, we can be thankful and truly celebrate. That’s what we have been told—and told ourselves—countless times. This year, we are especially aware of the importance of family, as many American families are separated by overseas military service. Not […] Read More

I can’t help but think of sex when I clothes shop with my teenage daughter. There, I’ve said it—at the risk of sounding like a parent from a by-gone era, the kind who when I was growing up might have opposed dancing for fear that it would lead to premarital sex. Shirts, blouses, sweaters and […] Read More

Children at Odds

As director of a non-profit agency that works with the local school district in providing supplemental programming for children who are homeless, one of my job responsibilities is playing the role of principal of a small school. When there are problems with a child that require a “heavy” beyond the classroom teacher, those concerns fall […] Read More