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Children
05/13/2010
IconIt's been all over the news.' A "nanny-cam" in the home of two twin preemies showed the nanny handling the children like trash bags.' I mean, if you know it's going to be shown on Nancy Grace's television program, it has to be bad!The single most important issue, however, was never addressed.' Where were their parents?' These delicate babies were in the hands of hired help and not their own parents.' Nowhere in the news pieces did anyone suggest that these parents had to work or risk being homeless.' Quite the contrary.There are babies who have been forgotten, neglected, and abused in day-care centers.' Now, nannies are doing the same in the parents' home.' Parents themselves are forgetting their own children in cars, which literally causes the children to be poached to death.' When will the tide turn back to parents making their children their number one priority, and moving their dual careers or owning "things" to a lower spot on their list?' Until then, more horrifying stories are sure to come. More >>

Tags: anxietyChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthParentingStress
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05/13/2010
IconThe Boston Herald (February 25) reported that, in 2007, a record number of newborn babies were given up by their parents (in reality, probably just the mother) under Massachusetts' Baby Safe Haven program.The law came to pass after state Representative Barry R. Finegold (D-Andover) proposed the bill, which would allow a parent to legally surrender a baby, aged 7 days or less, at a hospital, police station, or manned fire station without facing criminal prosecution.' In other words, under certain conditions, Massachusetts legalized child abandonment.Honestly, I cannot understand the critics of this law.' They argue that the law creates an "easy out" for reluctant mothers.' Darn straight!' The fact is that these girls and women didn't legally kill the baby in their bodies, nor did they abandon them in a dumpster or toilet.' They knew that they couldn't raise a child and had an option which contributed to the well-being of that child and the adoptive family.Another criticism is that this strips children of their heritage.' Are you kidding? Since when does one's place on a genetic family tree trump a loving home environment?' They also say that this law promotes irresponsibility.' What?? What is more responsible than giving a child over to people who will arrange for the child to be loved and nurtured, when they know they cannot?The Department of Social Services, which oversees the Safe Haven program reports that the Baby Safe Haven hotline has helped thirty women to get into a parenting or adoption plan.' They also said that "parents give up their babies for various reasons, including post-partum psychosis, emotional immaturity, and social isolation."' Whatever the reasons, the woman is still making a conscious choice to "save" her baby from her own emotional and social problems.' I say these women are heroes. More >>

Tags: ChildrenParenting
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05/13/2010
IconBrace yourselves for this one: The Oregonian on February 18 exposed a demonic deal made in 2004 between the Salem-Keizer Public Schools and a teacher.' Here's the deal:' if the teacher resigned, they would conceal his alleged conduct (touching and grabbing butts) from the public.' Moreover, they promised not to reveal the teacher's behavior if potential employers called looking for a reference.' They would attribute his departure to personal reasons and make no reference to the agreement. The Oregonian confirmed 47 similar confidential settlement agreements. "During the past five years, nearly half of Oregon teachers disciplined for sexual misconduct with a child left their school districts with confidential agreements.... Some promised cash settlements, health insurance, and letters of recommendation as incentives for a resignation. The practice is so widespread, school officials across the country call it 'passing the trash.'" I think school systems around the country should be examined to ensure this "trash passing" isn't happening in your area.' Also, every parent has a moral obligation to every other parent and child to report such abuse to the police - in spite of embarrassment - so that these worms will be forced above ground.' And by "worms," I don't just mean the molesters.' I mean the administrations that would clean up their yards by dumping trash in another's yard and put unsuspecting children at risk.Disgusting. More >>

Tags: ChildrenEducationFamily/Relationships - ChildrenParentingSchool
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05/13/2010
IconWe live in a time where millions of children spend all day away from their families in facilities that have big screen TVs to amuse them, and they have caregivers for whom English is not required.' This is also the time when parents buy ever-increasing numbers of electronic gizmos to occupy their children's time - sometimes to "make them smarter," or to "make them buzz off," so that busy, busy parents can have some "well-earned down time."Whether its TV, computer games, or hand-held devices, more and more parents are inundating even babies with all of this mass-produced "input."' A recent study reported that about 40% of families with babies and young children keep the television on at all times.' "Always on" TV damages the children's ability to play imaginatively and to develop language skills.' Obviously, it reduces the number of nurturing interactions between parents and children, too.There are many so-called studies which identify programs that provide a positive influence (like "Barney," which teaches kids politeness and social cooperation).' The problem with all of these studies is that they never compare these TV-watching children to those raised in TV-free households to compare the shows to the loving attention of a parent.The problem is that we are living in a time of rising juvenile obesity and inactivity, and ever-increasing "diagnoses" of ADD and ADHD (which I believe most of the time is "kids being kids," and/or kids who don't get proper attention paid to them, with direction, support, and consequences).' This is also a time of more childhood sexual activity, leading to STDs, pregnancies, abortions and broken hearts with confused minds.So, this Christmas-time, change your adult life around and give your children "stuff to do" -- some with you and some on their own - to exercise their imaginations and give them a sense of accomplishment. More >>

Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconWhen a woman wishes to diminish her own value (as well as that of the covenant of marriage) by cohabitating with a man who is not willing to make the vow of committing his life to her, it's a shame.' When a woman with children does so, it too often becomes a crime.Thirty years ago, nearly 80% of America's children lived with both their Mommy and Daddy, who were married.' Now, only two-thirds of them do.' Of all families with children, nearly 30% are now one-parent families, up from 17% in 1977.' The net result is instability, neglect, and the likelihood that children will be in homes with adults who have no biological tie to them.Children living in homes with unrelated adults are nearly fifty times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as are children living with their bio-parents. ( Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005 ).' Children of single parents had a 77% greater risk of being harmed by physical abuse than children living with both parents ( National Incidence Study, 1996 ). Children living in stepfamilies, or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault than children living with their bio-parents ( University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center ). Girls whose parents divorce are at significantly higher risk of sexual assault, regardless of which bio-parent they live with ( Family Law, Washington and Lee University ).It is righteous to judge the lifestyles of people who have children, because the results of their choices can result in harm (psychological, physical or sexual), as well as death to innocent children.' "Six year old Oscar Jimenez, Jr. was beaten to death in California, then buried under fertilizer and cement.' Two year old Devon Shackleford drowned in an Arizona swimming pool.' Jayden Cangro, also two, died after being thrown across a room in Utah.' In each case, as in many others every year, the alleged or convicted perpetrator had been the boyfriend of the child's mother. ( Associated Press, November 18, 2007 ).The recent "Baby Grace" case was no different.' According to news reports, the mother's boyfriend beat the child to death because the child didn't address him politely.'I am firm in my beliefs and advice that young women, pregnant out-of-wedlock, need to consider adoption as in the best interest of the child, and that divorced parents should not marry again until the children are grown (and if they do, they shouldn't marry someone with children or create more children, because they will be sidelining their own children).Of course, I get everything from "antsy" to angry feedback for these recommendations, as adults feel entitled to their happiness, freedom, and sexual adventures.' My point of view is that the children's needs should eclipse the privileges of adult desires.A week ago, a 29 year old female caller to my radio program, with two small children from her first marriage, was now divorcing her second husband.' Two divorces before the age of 30!' Her question was should she let the new "ex-to-be" see the kids?' How about this for a life?' Each weekend, you alternate between different "daddies."I suggested she not date again until the children graduated high school. More >>

Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenMorals, Ethics, ValuesParentingShacking UpShacking-UpValues
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05/13/2010
IconI got this eloquent email recently, and wanted to share it with all of you, as it addresses the consequences of some behaviors that often come up from callers to my radio show:"Two months ago, I left my wife and children and moved into a condo about a mile from our home.' This morning, I was moved to write the following, just to help me vent my frustration over the treatment from my wife that led to this painful and damaging decision, called "For Years:" For years, you behaved as if it didn't matter whether I came or went, so I went. For years, you were unsatisfied with the income I brought in, even though it was way more than enough to allow you to stay home with the children. Now you have less, and you get to go to work. For years, you behaved as if my touch meant nothing to you. Now, it's gone. For years, you never complimented me on the household repairs I made, keeping up the lawn and garden, cleaning and organizing the garage and the hundreds of things I did to keep our home balanced and running. Now, you can do them. For years, you complained I didn't do enough housework.' Now it's all yours. For years, you chose not to attend community and social events that were important to me.' Now they're not an option. For years, you expected me to read your mind when you were hurt or upset.' Never could, never will. For years, you punished me with your silence.' Now you have plenty. For years, you would not share information about our kids' schedules, doctor's appointments and so on.' Now some attorneys will help you polish your communication skills. For years, I chose to love you, protect you, provide for you, confide in you, and have fun with you.' Now, I don't. For years, you behaved as a long-suffering martyr.' Now you can be one. For years, I chose to raise your son as my own.' Now, he's hurting. For years, you treated me as the lesser parent.' Now I am. For years, our precious young daughter has watched this debacle. What do you think she's learned? For years.... P.S.' I bought and read "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage" months ago, and asked my wife to read it with me.' She laughed."(Signed)Still My Kids' Dadin Southern California More >>

Tags: ChildrenMarriageParenting
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05/13/2010
IconLike most people in this country, I have been glued to the television coverage of the fires raging through San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, etc.' Unlike many of you, I just need to look out my kitchen window to see and smell the eerie smoky brown sky that hangs over my neighborhood.' From this vantage point I can understand the fear and shock that is consuming the millions who are experiencing up close and very personally the ravages of Mother Nature.''''''' Much of the California coastline is burning.' Almost one million people have been evacuated and over one thousand homes and some communities have been burned to the ground.' An unknown number of people have died and scores have been injured; mostly firefighters.''''''People are living out of their cars, in the homes of friends, relatives or gracious strangers; hotels are crammed, and thousands are in stadiums.' What is remarkable about this disaster is how well San Diego has handled this.' The local government got right into gear with evacuations, physical support and fire-fighting; the people, although devastated, have been cooperative, positive, virtually non-complaining, non-violent, and mutually supportive.' Charitable and supportive donations from people far and wide have been administered successfully.' No hysteria, blaming, or violence.' Listening to the stories of gratitude in the midst of hardship has been inspiring.'''' 'Nonetheless, it is important to consider the longer term emotional and psychological issues resulting from this disaster, the largest in California's history.' My family survived a house-fire in the early '90's.' A faulty electrical connection in a socket sent a spark across the room onto a bed and in mere seconds the entire room was ablaze.' I tried to put the fire out and realized that the fumes and smoke were even more dangerous.' I called the Fire Department immediately, grabbed my wallet and my son and left the house.' Between the flames and the efforts of the Fire Department, our house was totaled but without damage to our neighbors.'''' 'We lost just about everything.' Our first reaction was shock.' It was difficult to absorb being in a home one moment, and standing in front of a burning building in the next.'''' 'For the most part, the people involved in the California fires have whole neighborhoods that are gone and don't seem to have the option of "continuing with life."' Their stresses, grief, and fears will need to be addressed.' Most people are ultimately quite resilient, and after months of reasonable, normal hyper-emotional reactions, get back into life without long-lasting impact.'''' 'Children are more vulnerable to these disasters and special attention needs to be paid to their well-being.' The more up-front and personal the exposure to the disaster, the greater the post-disaster impact will be.' The loss of a home and destruction of a community are obviously high-distress events leading to grief and trauma.'''' 'Children under the age of 2 have little real understanding of what has happened and don't have life experiences to tap into to give them a sense of immediate or future safety.' They pretty much are experiencing sensory overload as the sights, sounds, smells stay imprinted in their young minds and may be activated in the future.' Also, children of this age are not equipped to discuss their fears.' It is very important that small children not be separated from their parents during these disasters.' The parents are the ultimate security and measure by which they will react; if parents stay calm, children feel more reassured.'''' 'Children up to age five may start regressing in their behavior because of their confusion and fear.' They may have nightmares, stop eating and sleeping, and report stomach aches which are really a sign of distress.'''' 'To assist young children:1.' Give verbal reassurance and physical comfort2.' Try to keep eating and sleeping routines intact3.' Avoid being separated from them because of the comfort they need from' you and because they fear abandonment.4.' Let them talk and talk and talk and talk about what they feel, especially'about losing pets, their toys, etc.5. Try to minimize their exposure to images of fires on television and any other' disturbing input.6. Get them playing -- this will be good for them and for you!''' 'School age children can become obsessed with their fears over these events.' This would be a good time for you not to be so concerned with your expectations of proper behavior and performance in school (if they have access) and with you.' However, while it is important for you to let them talk again and again about the disaster and their opinions and feelings, you should also set some gentle limits on "acting-out" behaviors of anger, and so forth.' It might be good to say something like, "You know, it is quite reasonable for all of us to be angry or feeling kind of crazy over what's happened.' Let's keep 'showing it' to five minutes each hour or so, then the rest of the time we can make plans, take a walk, figure out meals, play a game, sing a song, help somebody else..."'''' 'Allow school-aged children to participate in actions geared to "take care of immediate business."' That way they have a sense of power in a seemingly powerless situation and feel useful - which is a positive and rewarding experience.'''' 'Some children may be slow to show distress, taking weeks or months for signs or symptoms of their distress to appear.' Don't push for "feelings" to be expressed; instead, be watchful of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) depression: persistent sad or irritable mood, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed,' a significant change in appetite or body weight, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentration and/or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.'''' 'Five or more of these symptoms over several weeks may indicate a need for professional intervention.'''' 'Remember, supportive parents, friends, family members, teachers, and other adults make all the difference in the ability of children to cope with disaster.'''' 'For more information, click on: " Helping Children Handle Disaster-Related Anxiety - National Mental Health Association "To hear Dr. Laura in an on-air interview with KFI-AM regarding this issue, click here More >>

Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenMilitaryParentingSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconI am "the proud mother of a deployed American paratrooper," and because of that fact I have, perhaps, a unique perspective on the massacre at Virginia Tech.'''''''As a mother I, of course, thought about how horrendous this whole nightmare is to the families of the victims as well as all the emotional damage to the survivors.' From listening to the reports on this heinous occurrence, I heard repeatedly that the shooter had to reload several times and went from classroom to classroom.' As a military mom, I immediately wished that our young people had the same obligation and experience that all young folks in Israel have: two years of military training and service.' Those reloading and trolling periods were windows of opportunity that only young folks trained militarily would have been able to use to subdue or terminate the perp and save many lives.'''' Just in case you're saying, "Well, this doesn't happen that often and is not a substantial reason for universal 2-year training," I've got a further reason to support such training.'''' Radical Islamists and jihadists are already here in the United States.' While we have, for better or worse, focused their attention on Iraq and Afghanistan... they will be using their tactics of mass murdering of innocents right here next.' It is going to be important that our civilian population have sufficient training and know-how to protect their homes and communities.''' The following quote came from an Associated Press (April 17, 2007) article entitled, "Taliban Using Indiscriminate, Iraq-style Tactics, Killing civilians, Rights Group Says." "I lost my son, brother and nephew because of the Taliban. They say that they are fighting for God and Islam, but they are not; they are killing good and innocent Muslims and Afghans who have done nothing wrong," one man was quoted as saying.'''' I believe every household should have at least one person trained and certified to shoot a gun.' I believe every young person between 18 and 20 years of age should be required to receive compulsory military training.' Over 70 nations in the world require some level of compulsory military service on the part of their young citizens including countries such as Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.' Why shouldn't the United States be as prepared as these countries?' I believe we as Americans should be equipped mentally and physically to protect ourselves, our family, and our Country. More >>

Tags: ChildrenEducationMilitaryParentingReligionSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconFeminism Kills Women: Betty Friedan's negative view of so-called "women's work" created a movement that turned family life upside down and wrenched women from their homes. Turns out, women's work, is the very thing that saves women's lives! Research following 200,000 women from nine European countries for an average of over 6 years and 3,423 cases of breast cancer determined that women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer by 30% among the pre-menopausal women and 20% among the post-menopausal women. "The International authors said their results suggested that moderate forms of physical activity, such as housework, may be more important than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk." The research is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention .The women in the Cancer Research UK-funded study spent an average of 16-17 hours a week cooking, cleaning, and doing the washing. Experts have long been touting physical exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer, probably through hormonal and metabolic changes. What kind of exercise, though, has been debated. Most of the research to date has examined the link between exercise and breast cancer in post-menopausal women only. This latest study looked at both pre- and post-menopausal women and a range of activities, including work (right now, only my fingers are getting a work-out), leisure (hitting the C button with my thumb to change channels is obviously a step down), and housework (I actually like folding clothes). "All forms of physical activity combined reduced the breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, but had no obvious effect in pre-menopausal women. Of all the activities, ONLY HOUSEWORK SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED THE RISK OF BOTH PRE- AND POST-MENOPAUSAL WOMEN GETTING BREAST CANCER."Don't hold your breath to find this information on Lifetime Channel for Women, "Oxygen," "The View," college and university women's studies programs, "Cosmo", or any other of the women's magazines out there. Excuse me while I go vacuum. Cindy Sheehan: Cindy Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004 at the age of twenty-four. Brought up by his ultra-liberal mother did not keep him from re-enlisting for a second tour to fight for his country. Picture that against the unbelievable photos published around the world of his mother hugging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who, by the way, "has said he will not renew the license for the country's second largest TV channel. Radio Caracas Television, which is aligned with the opposition, supported a strike against Mr. Chavez in 2003." (BBC News, December 29, 2006). Rocky #?: I stopped going to Rocky movies after the second. I loved the first; finding it tender, motivational, exciting, touching, and dramatic. I really didn't want to go to see the current Rocky film. I figured it was a silly attempt to get some mileage out of a franchise that needed to be put to rest. I was seriously wrong. "Rocky Balboa" is probably one of the best films I've seen... ever. It has the sentimentality of a film like "The African Queen." Sylvester Stallone, now widowed, is living in and on his past. He runs a restaurant named after his deceased wife, Adrian. He tells the same, lame war stories of past fights to all the patrons and sits for hours in front of his wife's grave. His son is weak, insecure and bitter, feeling like his life is nothing because he lives under his dad's shadow. Stallone looks and feels like well, crap. And this is what makes this movie so special.Rocky has something to learn and something to say. I don't want to ruin it for you, so just trust me and go see it. More >>

Tags: ChildrenFeminismInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMovie ReviewMoviesParentingSocial IssuesStay-at-Home Mom
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05/07/2010
Icon Expensive Legal Documents The Dollar Stretcher by Gary Foreman www.stretcher.com gary@stretcher.com Do you have any recommendations on how to set up a living trust without paying high priced lawyer fees. I figure by the time we are done working with our local lawyer who has a good reputation it will run just over $1,000. We have children and need to make plans just in case. Julie in MI  Julie is to be congratulated for making 'just in case' plans. Far too many parents assume that nothing will happen to them and fail to take the necessary precautions. Unfortunately, the simple answer to her question is "no" I don't advise trying to set up a trust without a lawyer. But let's look a little deeper into Julie's question. Perhaps it won't be as expensive as she thinks.  We'll begin by considering a frugal truism. Avoid making expensive mistakes. A problem with your will or some trusts are almost impossible to correct. There's a reason that they call it your "LAST will and testament". Once you're dead you cannot amend or revoke it.  Being a sharp consumer doesn't mean always taking the least expensive alternative. In fact, doing that can sometimes cost you more in the long run. This is probably one of those cases.  In fact, not only should Julie contact an attorney for her will or trust, she'd also be wise to find one that specializes in estate planning in her state. There are some nuances that an attorney who works in another area of law or another state might not know. In fact, if you move to a new state it's important to see if your estate plan should be updated.  Let me be clear about this. I'm not a big fan of attorneys. Wills and trusts are more complicated than they need to be. And attorneys are a large part of the reason that they're so complicated.  But the unfortunate truth is that it does take specialized knowledge to do them so that problems don't crop up after your death. Not only with federal taxes, but also with state laws. And much as I don't like paying lawyers, the cost of doing it wrong could be very expensive for my children. So finding a lawyer who knows estate planning is likely to produce the right document at the lowest cost.  Julie might be tempted to consider some of the do-it-yourself will kits available. No doubt that some are quite good. Just remember that you'll die believing you did a great job. A problem won't come out until some judge says that your will or certain portions are invalid. So make your selection carefully.  So what should Julie do? She doesn't say so, but it could be that her concern is simply for her children's welfare. If that's the case a living trust probably isn't required.  A living trust is often used to avoid federal estate taxes. And that usually isn't a problem until you have over $500,000 in assets. So if Julie's goal is simply to make sure that if she and her husband die that the money goes to her kids and that she gets to select the children's guardian, then a living trust isn't necessary. Typically a will, which costs less, can handle the job.  Selecting a guardian is important. Remember that each state sets an age where a child is considered an adult. Until that age they cannot manage their own financial affairs. The guardian could be an individual (for example your sister, friend or attorney) or a corporation (a bank or trust company). There are various ways, including trusts, to set it up legally. You also have the option of letting the guardian control the money even after your children reach adulthood. Discuss it with your attorney.  Another reason this process, called estate planning, is important is that if you don't make your wishes known in writing before you die, the state will follow its own laws and make the decision for you. Not only as to managing the money, but who will raise your children. Your irresponsible bachelor brother could be asked to care for them. This is also a good time for Julie to talk with her choice and make sure that they're willing to accept the responsibility.  One final word of caution. I am not a lawyer and this isn't a place for amateurs. All I can do is warn you of the potential dangers. So before you make any decisions, contact the appropriate experts. Yes, experts do cost money. But this is one area where saving can be very expensive.  Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who currently edits  The Dollar Stretcher website  and newsletters subscribe@stretcher.com  You'll find thousands of articles to help stretch your day and your dollar. Copyright 2003 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. all rights reserved. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

Tags: BudgetChildrenmoneyParenting
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