There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

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What do pelicans have to do with parenting? Nothing except when oil-soaked pelicans look miserable or dead and parents must try to explain WHY?

Children see images (usually graphic because graphic means increased ratings) on TV screens and all those other screens where we get information about the world. Most days the world isn’t very pretty. Seeing the poor pelicans made me cry. Sensitive, animal-loving kids get upset too and ask us: What will happen to the pelicans? Why is this happening? Why can’t we DO something?

To fully answer your children’s questions you would need to be well-versed in biology, ecology, environmental issues, corporate responsibility, energy, unemployment, our culture of cars, non-renewable natural resources like petroleum, and politics (both sides of the aisle).

But kids don’t need scholarly answers. They need to validate their own feelings by learning how their parents feel and think about the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

If my children asked the above questions, this is how I would respond:

    • The pictures of birds covered in oil really upset me. Some of them will die but there are lots of people…professionals and volunteers…working hard to help the help the birds and turtles.


  • Why did this happen? It’s complicated but it’s because we don’t have a safe and sound energy policy. Everybody wants a car and wants to run the car cheaply. Oil near the earth’s surface in areas that are not environmentally sensitive has been already drilled out. Oil companies have to drill deeper. Safety precautions for both the men who drill and the environment are not always taken. Poop (accidents) happen.
  • What can you think of to do? Let’s think together of what this family can do to reduce its carbon footprint (Explain term). Let’s look online to see if there is a way we can help the wildlife in the gulf. Let’s think about the politics of energy. What would we say to people who want to drill, baby, drill? How will you feel next summer if we decide to save oil and not drive to Yellowstone on a camping trip? What could we say to those out of work including the people who work on oil wells in the Gulf? What could we say who think we can ignore the environment?


Be sure to let the kids talk and argue their points even if you disagree. There are no wrong answers in a discussion.

So parents deal with oil-coated penguins and other hard-to-watch events in our lives by doing the following: 1) EMPATHIZE with how the kids feel. 2) EDUCATE them on the issues. 3) EMPOWER them.