Submit items for Reader news to

Communication is a key component in maintaining strong relationships with children.
Extra days at home during the holidays create a natural opportunity for families to spend time together. Parents can use this time to reconnect with their children by talking with them about their friends, favorite school subjects, career aspirations and current concerns.
Participating in activities important to the child is another way to strengthen a parent-child relationship. Play their favorite video games or attend a holiday event together.
There are many activities families can do together during the holidays that cost little or no money and can become family traditions.

Children benefit from participating in family rituals. Some activities to consider include: Gather the family by the fireplace to roast hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores. Tour the local holiday lights and decorations. Play board games. Bake cookies to give to neighbors or family members. Purchase or make inexpensive gifts for underprivileged children. Make Christmas tree ornaments and decorate the house for the holidays. Visit grandparents or other family members. Read a favorite Christmas book together.

The best gift a couple can give their children during the holidays and throughout the year is to have a healthy and strong relationship.
People in healthy marriages tend to be less stressed, perform better at work and have less anxiety and depression.
Children in healthy two-parent homes tend to perform better socially, academically and cognitively.
Single parents, stretched thin between working and caring for their children, should not feel pressured to impress their children with exciting activities or impressive gifts.
The holidays provide an opportunity for single-parent families with tight budgets to find a project to help someone else, like singing at a nursing home or making inexpensive gifts. This can remind the family they have something of value to give to someone else, whether it’s their time or talent.
Regardless of family dynamics, the holidays present many opportunities for families to bond and to reflect together on the true meaning of the season.
When your children are adults, what they will remember most will not likely be the expensive presents you bought but the fun, spontaneous activities shared with their families.

For more information, contact your local Extension office at 816-252-5051 or its new location at 1106 W. Main St., in Blue Springs, or visit