Dr. Laura
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Tip of the Week

Our Kids Love Being The Water. How Can We Make It Safe?
Armin Brott

Dear Mr. Dad: My kids, who are 3 and 5, absolutely love being in the water#151;swimming, boating, floating, soaking. And with summer just around the corner, I know they're itching to get into their swimsuits. What can we do to make sure our house is as safe as possible?

A: Any activity in or around the water, whether it's swimming, water skiing, or even wading, can be a huge amount of fun for little kids. But activities like these are potentially dangerous too, especially for kids.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 350 children under five years of age drown each year in swimming pools, many at their own homes. Another 2,600 children under age five are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year following some kind of submersion incident. Sometimes the result is permanent brain damage.

There's no way to make the water 100% safe for small children, but there are some steps you can take to significantly reduce the risks. Let's start with a few general rules:
  • Watch your kids (and everyone else's) closely when they're playing near any unfenced water-filled area.
  • Never allow them into the water or into a boat without a life preserver. Life preservers should have a floatation collar to keep the head upright and the face out of the water.
  • Learn CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and know how to get emergency help.
  • Anytime you're around water, whether it's the bathroom, a swimming pool, a spa, a hot tub, or even a big puddle, always stay within an arm's length from the child. The water does NOT need to be deep for a child to be able to drown in it.
  • Don't leave your bathroom door open if your child is old enough to stroll in by himself. If possible, lock the door from the outside so it can't be opened by a child.
  • If you have a baby who can't sit by herself, make sure you have a supporting ring device for your tub. But even with a ring, NEVER leave your baby alone#151;even for a second.
Swimming Pools and spas
  • Teach your kids to swim. A good time to start lessons is when the kids are about five. If you want to start earlier than that, do so only if you're absolutely sure the instructor is trained to handle toddlers. Don't make the mistake of thinking that once your child has learned to swim it's okay to leaver her alone. Constant supervision in and around the water is a must, no matter how old the child or how good a swimmer she is.
  • Never throw your child into the water (or let anyone else do so either). It may be fun, but it can also be disorienting#151;and dangerous#151;for small children.
  • If you have a pool at home, put up a fence at least around 4 feet high around it. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your kids can reach. And keep stools or anything else a child could climb on away from the fence.
  • Anyone watching your child around a pool should know how to swim and know how to perform CPR. Keep a life preserver, hook, flotation devices, a telephone, and emergency numbers near the pool too.
  • Always make sure that children with long hair either wear a bathing cap or pin their hair up. Hair can get sucked into drains and drown a child faster than you might think. If a drain cover is missing or broken, don't use the pool or spa until you replace the cover.
  • In the off season, keep the pool well -covered, even if it's empty#151;falling into an empty pool can be as dangerous as falling into a full one. And check the cover for water build-up too. Spas should also be covered and locked.
  • Always empty your baby pool as soon as you're through it. Store it upside down to dry, but keep an eye on your infant to make sure he doesn't crawl underneath and get trapped.
And finally, before you or anyone else gets into a pool or the open water, have an action plan ready in case of an emergency. Know how to get help and what to do until it arrives. Enjoy your summer!

Armin Brott, hailed by Time as 'the superdad's superdad, has written or co-written six critically acclaimed books on fatherhood, including the newly released second edition of Fathering Your Toddler: A Dad's Guide to the Second and Third Years. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, American Baby, Parenting, Child, Men's Health, The Washington Post among others. Armin is an experienced radio and TV guest, and has appeared on Today, CBS Overnight, Fox News, and Politically Incorrect. He's the host of 'Positive Parenting, a weekly radio program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit Armin at www.mrdad.com. Permission granted on DrLaura.com.

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Pets On A Budget
by Jonni McCoy

Getting a family pet can be one of the most rewarding things for a child. The pet provides companionship, entertainment and exercise. But sometimes the wrong pet for the family style and needs can be disastrous.

Many pets require a certain type of care. Some dogs, for example, require more money as well as physical interaction and attention. Without proper attention, they can start to act strangely, chewing up things and sometimes even biting or growling. Some other mammals, especially the small ones, don't demand as much and may be better suited for certain people. The smaller mammals, such as rats, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs, are not only less demanding, but also less expensive to care for. Food can be homemade healthy items such as vegetables, grains and fruit. And vet bills are usually minimal.

How does one decide if they can afford a pet?
When deciding if you can launch into this addition to the family, don't forget to factor in the pet's love it will provide in return. This is something no one can put a price tag on. After deciding what the initial purchase fee will be, the prospective owner must look at food, vet bills, cage (if required), and any accessories that may be needed.

Another consideration is if your family is away from home much. Will pet sitting be a regular expense? A dog can cost $13,000 over it's lifetime. A third of that goes to food, and another third for the vet bills. The other third is spent on training, collars leashes, toys, etc. A cat will cost significantlyless, with small mammals, reptiles and fish trailing behind.

Vet bills can be an expense we forget to plan for. The average family spends between $100 and $350 per year on their pet. Those unexpected expenses like broken legs, etc. are just things we have to plan for.

There are ways to cut some of the routine vet expenses. Here are a few:
  • Ask around at pet stores if they host a mobile vaccine clinic in the area. These are usually 75% cheaper than a vet office visit.
  • Ask around what vet prices are. They vary greatly.
  • Practice good health and hygiene. This preventative measure can save hundreds of dollars.
  • Healthy food is one of the most important items pets need. Cheap food may not have the right amount of protein or essential oils that theyneed. Do some research on your pet's needs.
  • Get videos from the library on dental cleaning grooming, and clipping at home.
  • Get books at the library on simple home remedies for common ailments.
Food can be an overwhelming expense if you have a large and active animal, such as a dog. There are ways to get around this expense if you are creative. These have helped us in the past:
  • Buy in bulk quantities at discount pet superstores.
  • Avoid buying food from the vet. Their brands are good, but the mark upis high. Excellent quality pet food is available for less at most large pet stores.
  • Don't over feed the animal.
  • Learn to make some of their food - this is easier than you think. Most recipe are simple and can be made in bulk. That last suggestion may surprise you. When we lived in Nigeria and Pakistan we didn't have the luxury of a supermarket, or canned pet food.

    Instead, we made all of our pet's feed. It is simple, healthy and very inexpensive. It sometimes is better food than store-bought pet food.
For dog food, we boiled some meat and a bone with some rice and herbs. We would add some healthy oils (olive oil, etc.) to the mix for the dog's coat and skin.

For a cat, we chopped a few teaspoons of fish, chicken, or egg yolk and mixed it with a tablespoon of cooked rice or oats, a teaspoon of milk or sour cream and a little oil for its coat.

There are several recipe books in the library with various meals to make for pets. You can even make your own dry pet food. Whichever pet you choose, taking care of them shouldn't break the bank.

Good basic feeding and loving care should help them go a long way.

Jonni McCoy and her family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is the author of Miserly Moms, Frugal Families - Making the Most of Your Hard-Earned Money, and Miserly Meals. You can visit her website at www.miserlymoms.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Family/Relationships - Family, Morals, Ethics, Values, Parenting, Relationships, Relatives

Finding Closure When aRelationship Suddenly Ends
By Dalma Heyn

Charles left Miranda one day after a six-month love affair, with nosatisfactory explanation. He just announced, during a good solid startat long-term love, "Sorry, Miranda, I guess this isn't working" -- saidit not even kindly, at that. He wasn't interested in hearing whyMiranda thought that in fact it was working, quite wonderfullyactually; that it was a relationship and relationships needed a littleworking out now and again. No, he didn't want to hear it. For him, itwas over. So was all discussion on the topic.

It always seems unthinkable, this scenario in which a lover leavesabruptly; runs you over like a train, as if you were just something tobe left on the side of the curb like road kill. How do you everfind closure with a guy who heads for the hills and never tells youwhy? It's gut-wrenchingly hard, but you have to find closurewithin yourself. Here's how.

Cut your losses. You pickyourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. You don'tdecide that because he didn't tell you anything, the cause of hisdeparture are your thighs, or a fight you had, or your bad mood lastmonth. A man who is too withholding and cowardly to explain himself hasto be excised as brutally as he excised you. You tell yourself,"I don't want to spend my precious time with someone who doesn't wantto spend it with me." When all is said and done, isn't that the truth?

Do not call him. Hedoesn't want to talk? Then believe him. No quick texts; no trying tolocate him; no flaming e-mails; no late-night calls begging for areason why you were so unceremoniously dumped. (Do you really want tohear, "Oh, it's you. Um, yeah, right, hi.") You remind yourself#151;athousand times, if you have to-- that while you still want him, you donot NEED him. You have a roof over your head. (I remember, eons ago,when women literally needed men to have a life!) All that you need isgood food, rest, exercise--and some calm downtime to get yourself upand ready to meet someone who wants you.

Do not idealize him now that he's gone.We all tend to turn people into saints once they're gone, but thisperson didn't die; he bolted. Resist the urge to make him moredesirable simply because he's unavailable. And resist the correspondingurge toward self-blame. (The thigh thing again.)

Take your power back. Remember what it felt like--really felt like--to be with him. I don'tmean how you thought it could be if he loved you more; I mean most ofthe time. Were you exhausted? Walking on eggshells? Pushing to getcloser? If so, you were at your worst and will never be at your worstagain. If it was truly wonderful.....then the man isn't just cowardly,he's psychotic.

Don't think, "I should have knownbetter." You couldn't have known. You can't spot one ofthese guys; he doesn't wear a sign saying, "I'm a disaster." The onlyway to avoid a man who can't love you is to remember what it felt likein the past. When you're with someone the next time, you'll have asense memory: a feeling of being exhausted, off-balance, nervous....and you'll run.

Meanwhile, lay low. Nurse your wounds--the way a hurt animal would.Don't date; you're not ready. But one day, you'll meet an earth guy wholoves being intimate; who wants to please you; who gets you, who makesyou feel comfortable in your own skin#133; a man who can express hisfeelings. And that man won't sap your energy--he'll make you feel aliveagain.

Dalma Heyn, M.S.W., Founder of The Love Goddess, is the author ofseveral bestselling books on marriage and relationships. Dalma is awidely read columnist and sought-after speaker. She hasappeared--without her wings--on national talk shows including Oprah, The View, Charlie Rose, GoodMorning America, and Larry King Live. For more information visitwww.thelovegoddess.comor www.dalmaheyn.net.copy;2009 Robbin Montero Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Six Sound Strategies to Stress Less

By Ellen Simon, M.S., M. Ed., LPC

Stress happens in your body but starts in your mind. In addition to the perception of danger or life threatening events, there are two thinking habits that activate the stress response in the body.

The first is negative attention, or focusing on what you don't want/like, rather than what is good, right or challenging in a growth producing way. The Law of Attraction will bring into your life that which you focus on and play on the movie screen of your mind.

The second common habit to induce stress is an insistence and needing that things be a certain way, rather than preferring the same. Insistence on things being a certain way implies an attachment to a particular outcome, and thus sets you up for disappointment. If instead you prefer an outcome, you still identify your wishes and desires, yet this attitude contains energy of letting go. Preferring carries an element of trust in the unfolding of life and the confidence that whatever happens, you have the resources and ability to handle life.

It's better to have what you need than to need what you want.

The 6 strategies to stress less and enjoy life more follow:
  1. Thinking healthy - focus on what you do want rather than what you don't want, let go of insisting or clinging to a particular outcome. Where are your thoughts? Are you focusing on what is wrong? Or is your awareness on the solution or even on the blessing that if often revealed down the road? Are you turning your wants into needs? When you NEED what you WANT then you create unnecessary stress. Try shifting your needs into preferences, relaxing, breathing and looking at the big picture.

  2. Breathing - breathe in fully and completely let go of your breath. Breathing is a metaphor for life. Take it in fully and let go of what you do not need.

  3. Moving - stretch your body and keep it flexible and resilient like your mind.

  4. Awareness - maintain a consciousness of your habitual patterns. If something is not working, cease the pattern and make another choice.

  5. Communication - be assertive, state your truth with harmless intention and allow another to have a truth that may differ from yours. Respect your needs and celebrate diversity in your loved ones.

  6. Sound Sleep - crucial to managing stress and feelings of well-being. If needed, create a routine for yourself that includes a soothing and calming ritual before bed. If there is something on your mind, talk to a friend or journal - get those feelings out of your body and onto some paper or into a friend's ear! Meditation prior to bedtime can create a nice transition to sleep. A spray of lavender or nutritional supplements may be considered to support a healthy sleep.
Keep in mind these six strategies as you remember that you are the choice maker. One of the few things you can choose is what thoughts you entertain and how you respond to life!!

copy; 2009 by Ellen Simon www.imadulation.com. Permission to reprint if left intact.

Ellen Simon is a nationally recognized expert in the field of mind body health. Ellen's unique brand of audio programs is in use in hospitals and health care facilities across the country. Author of over 25 titles this article is adapted from Food for Thought(r) a 6 audio CD set. For more information visit www.imadulation.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Marriage, Men's Point of View

Are You Addicted toFear? Learn How Not To Be!
Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's new book "Emotional Freedom:
Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life"
(Harmony Books, 2009)
By Judith Orloff MD

If you don't make it your business to overcome fear, you better believeit'll try to overcome you. Most people are subservient to this emotionthough they may not know it. I define fear as the emotional response todanger, perceived or real. What underscores fear in all itspermutations is the feeling that you won't be all right.

Emotional Action Step from "Emotional Freedom". Harness Your Biology toQuiet Fear.

To short-circuit fear and turn off your flight-or-flight response,you'll need to train your brain to send chemicals to counteract them.Otherwise, fear and its hormones will make you crazed. In contrast,with a calm biology it's easier to find courage by practicing thecombined techniques below to quiet your system.

To achieve immediate and longer termresults:
  • Eliminate caffeine, sugar,and other stimulants--these fuel the fight-or-flight response.
  • Avoid people who reinforceyour fear--they are biological irritants; stick close to emotionalnurturers.
  • Stay away from violentnewscasts, traffic jams, arguments, or other stress inducers.
Whenyou're in the grip of a fear-driven adrenaline rush, try these quicksolutions.
  • Use this ProgressiveRelaxation Technique: In a comfortable position, sitting or lying down,take a few deep breaths while letting your body go as limp as possible.When you're ready, begin by tightening the muscles in your toes...holdto a count of ten... then relax. Enjoy the relief of tension melting.Do the same with flexing your foot muscles, and move slowly throughyour entire body: calves, legs, stomach, back, neck, jaw, face,contracting and releasing each area.
  • Immerse yourself in hotwater to relax muscular tension as soon as possible.
These practical changes, whichallow you to take control of your body, can be tremendously effectivein restoring calm. You don't have to be passive while battered byfear. The victim mentality takes many forms. It requires courage toassume control, to say, "I'm going to be responsible for my biologicalself-care." Educating your body how to respond makes you emotionallyfreer.

About Judith Orloff MD
Judith Orloff MD is author ofthe new New York Times bestseller EmotionalFreedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform YourLife (Harmony Books, 2009) upon which this article is based. Dr.Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edgeknowledge of intuition and energy medicine. An Assistant ClinicalProfessor of Psychiatry at UCLA, she passionately believes that thefuture of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieveemotional freedom and total wellness. www.drjudithorloff.com. Permission granted for use onDrLaura.com

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Tags: Family/Relationships - Family, Morals, Ethics, Values, Parenting, Relationships, Relatives

Five Ways to Market Using Email

There are many ways to market a home-based business. But one of the simplest ways is to use an every day business tool - email. By using these five easy tips you'll see how easily your business can grow without much effort on your part.

1. Use a Professional Signature - This is an important tip to use on every email that you send. Even your friends may not always remember your website address or business phone number and will quickly look to an old e-mail to look it up.

When preparing an email signature it's important to include Your Name, Company Name, and your Physical Address or Website Address. You may also include your phone number. Below is a sample Email signature:

Jill Hart
Christian Work at Home Moms

The signature is simple, easy to read and includes a link directly to my website. It is very important to include the http:// before the website address because many email programs will not link the text to your website without this (it will appear as text - not a link).

Also, make sure that you double check that you have your website correct. Often times I've found that people have their website wrong by inverting a letter or two and aren't aware of it. It cannot only lead to a loss of a sale, but it shows less professionalism on your part.

You can also use a virtual business card as your signature. You can design and purchase your own virtual business card at http://www.vistaprint.com.There is a very small cost - less than $2.00 for this professional looking virtual signature file.

2. Find a "Signature Buddy" - This is an easy and cost-free way to spread the word about your business. Ask a colleague or friend if they will "swap"a line their signature with you. You will add a line at the bottom of your signature with a link to their business and they will do the same.

Jill Hart
Christian Work at Home Moms

Publishing and book marketing - http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com/

The signature "swap" can be as simple as a line (as above) or as much as a 2- 3 line testimony of why you're recommending this link. You can find a permanent signature "buddy" or change it weekly or monthly.

3. Send Email Coupons - This is a great way to network using email. Send a special coupon by email that is available only for those that receive your emails. You can also extend this to a newsletter if you have one. Offer a special coupon for anyone who signs up for your newsletter!

You can send other specials by email as well - special offers, free gifts, ebooks, etc. There are many ways that you can utilize your email to bless your customers and colleagues.

4. Create a Custom Background for your Email - This is easier to do than it sounds. If you are using Microsoft Outlook or a similar program, you can find directions on creating your own custom signature online at places like http://www.mailmsg.com/outlookstationary.htm.

Custom email stationary can take a plain email and make it look professional. I include my logo and my website name in my custom background.Be sure to make the picture "light," so that it does not compete with the text of the emails you'll be sending.

5. Send Thank You Emails - In this day and age it is very acceptable to send a Thank You card via email. This is an easy way to thank customers, advertisers, and even newsletter subscribers.

You can create you own Thank You or use a program like Yahoo! Greetings.Many of these programs have free e-cards that you can send as well as a paidversion with additional designs. Another great place is Hallmark.com whereyou can get customized greeting e-cards for any occasion, free. It's a great way to remember your client's birthdays or perhaps a special day in their business.

You can even set up an auto-responder to send the Thank You automatically.There are many auto-responder programs for you to choose from and many website hosting companies will provide you with one, you'll just need to go in and set it up.

One great thing about an auto-responder is that you can set up when the email will be sent, what will "trigger" the auto-responder and what the email will say. This way, any time you receive an order, the customer receives an email immediately, even if you're not available.

One downfall to auto-responders is that they can seem impersonal. However, you can overcome this by taking the time to write a personal note to your customers and use this as the auto-responder email.

Can you see how beneficial e-mails can be for your business? When you use a professional looking signature, find a "buddy" to swap lines in your signature, personalize your email background, use auto-responders and any other items that you are able to customize, you'll never look at email the same way again. Marketing can be inexpensive and effective when you know the right ways to do it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com. This site is dedicated to providing work at home moms with opportunities to promote their businesses while at the same time providing them spiritualencouragement and articles. Visit http://www.CWAHM.com for additionalinformation. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Family/Relationships - Family, Parenting, Regarding Dr. Laura, Relationships, Relatives

Today's Family Man
'Values-Based Holiday Shopping

By Gregory Keer

Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee is a refrain parents here from (at least) November till the end of the holidays. It's hard to blame children for their insatiable requests for more and bigger gifts as marketers bombard them with 'must have options and their friends have parents who are dealing out the goods. It's difficult for a kid not to be motivated by other boys and girls shouting, 'I'm getting a Furby! or 'My parents bought me a Game Boy Micro!

One of the toughest tasks for a parent in this materialistic mayhem is to teach values. But the moms and dads who come out on top are the ones who stick to the program of educating their children about moderation, the needs of the less fortunate, and what's more important than the things we own. Here are some ideas for instilling principle in young consumers.

Gifts for Kids to Give to Others
  1. Let's List Again

    I've frequently recommended that a parent not even step foot in a retail outlet without first having made a list of things his or her child may want. Preparing in advance allows you to set a number of gifts and a budget in advance, thereby managing a child's expectations and teaching them the limits of money. The same thing applies when shopping for other family members and friends.

    Have your kids make a list of things they want to give to each person, working with them on the budget and the appropriateness of each gift. While you do this, discuss with them why they are choosing the specific present and what they think the result of the giving the gift will be. Often, children are disappointed by the reactions their friends or family give when receiving an item. Before this happens, teach your child that it is indeed the thought that counts and that giving is its own reward. You can tell them that not everyone has the ability to understand this, so it's important to derive self-satisfaction from the act of giving.

  2. Give Unto Others What You Would Give Your Kid

    For friends, give what your kids would want for themselves. Have them tell you what to get or have them shop for it themselves. Of course, a young girl may not want a 'Bonecrusher 2005 for Christmas, so you should do a little guiding about the recipient. But buying something your child values puts the friend on an equal footing.

    A couple of other tips: While shopping, buy two for the holidays or birthdays. Or keep the list of what you buy and return to the stores for sales on those same items.

  3. Be Personal

    For relatives, give something personal. Create-your-own pottery, handmade cards, photo albums with photos of special times spent together. What counts is how the gift connects with a friend or loved one.
Beyond Disposable Fun and Worthwhile Gifts for Kids
  1. The Gift of Time

    A museum pass or amusement park pass provides your kids with an opportunity to spend more time with you. Also consider "gift certificates" with dates for times you will take one child out with mom or dad for special dinners or other outings.

  2. Year 'Round Gifts

    In addition to the museum or park passes, try joining a book club in their name or make your own book club good for 5 to 10 books throughout the year and stamp a homemade card each time you buy one with your child.

  3. Philanthropy

    Teach your children about those who don't have the same privileges. Have them choose a toy to send to a charitable organization. Take them to the donation place so they can see the people who are getting these gifts. Making it personal will have a more lasting effect on a child who needs to understand that others don't have it as good as him.

  4. Board Games

    Board games, a deck of cards, puzzles for family times. Ages two on up will like this option, which increases family time.
These ideas are some of many others that creative, values-minded parents can use. At the core of the suggestions are understanding the needs of others and realizing that the time we spend with each other trump any video game or fashionable clothing that money can buy.

copy; 2005 Gregory Keer. All rights reserved.

Gregory Keer is a syndicated columnist, educator, and on-air expert on fatherhood. His Family ManTM column appears in publications across the country, including L.A. Parent, Boston Parents' Paper, Metro Augusta Parent, and Sydney's Child in Australia. Keer's parenting advice is found at his online magazine, www.familymanonline.com, which is the #1 ranked site for fathers, according to Amazon's Alexa ratings. In addition to writing for Parenting magazine and the Parents' Choice Foundation, Keer contributes to USA Today, Pregnancy magazine, DrLaura.com, ParentingBookmark.com, Pregnancy.org, and CanadianParents.com. Keer is also a featured guest expert on television and radio and advisor to the Cartoon Network. He and his wife are the proud parents of three sons. Keer can be reached at his Web site, www.familymanonline.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Religion, Values

The Punch That Parents Don't See
By Vaughn Alaine-Marshall

The job of nurturing an impressionable mind has always been a challenge. The once gradual ascent into adulthood is now a sharp rise. Every single day parents in America are confronted with the task of monitoring their child's influences. New technologies, social crazes and information portals emerge on a monthly basis, making the job of policing what goes into a child's brain all the more difficult.

The attempt of previous generations to counter this quandary reflects our modern standard of censorship. School reading lists now have an emphasis on classical works. Films now warn of offensive content. Music controls its controversial artists with corporate strings. The Internet, the latest parental predicament, is vast but awareness of its power is leading to its restraint. Individual standards of decency dictate what is suitable for viewing in different households, however like any old boxer will warn you, 'it's the punch you don't see that knocks you out...'

More money is being spent on television production than any other time in the industry's history. Television's fiscal resurgence is on the back of reality programming. Reality-TV shows, especially those of the talent show format, are gaining legitimacy and fulfilling the need for more family-oriented programming. For a parent, this is the punch you don't see.

Recognize the Punch
  • Every year the airways carry another slew of reality drama packaged for families. The highest-rating and most profitable show in the genre, American Idol, has built its franchise upon young adults chasing their dreams.

  • American Idol thrives because of its feel-good music moments and viewer participation. From the outside, American Idol is wholesome entertainment. The reality of this reality-TV show though is not so benign.

  • American Idol and it spin-offs intentionally project cruelty under the guise that it is part-and-parcel of the entertainment industry. American Idol reproduces the dynamics of bullying children deal with in schoolyards across the country every day.

  • By making it family entertainment only legitimizes this behaviour.

  • Children who have been victimized are much more likely to be depressed, anxious, withdrawn and distrustful, even in adulthood, and more likely to miss class and underperform in school.

  • The impact of America's most watched television show has been linked to the growing incidences of cyber-bullying.

  • In 2008, researchers at Yale School of Medicine found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children.
Reality shows are not only shaping how impressionable minds interact in the schoolyard, but what is perceived as reality. Unlike scripted television shows, there is no suspension of disbelief. American Idol and its affiliates claim to make superstars out of ordinary people; however the reality is far from this. Confidentiality agreements suppress the hundreds of contestant horror stories resulting from reality-show experiences.

Mental-health workers have discovered that people who compete on these shows suffer severe and often long-lasting psychological trauma as a result. American Idol is no different to any other television show produced in America except that it works on a fundamentally different premise - that it is real. The winner is chosen before a single second of the show goes to air. Impressionable minds take American Idol on face value.

The punch that parents don't see is not drugs, sex or violence - it's the subtle impressions. Parents cannot control every stimulus - only give their children perspective to make balanced judgements. Dreams are an expression of the soul's desire and shows like American Idol stimulate our hearts to achieve extraordinary feats. It's when their promises and methods are rooted in fiction the greatest damage is done.

Every day, parents all over America are giving their children wings hoping they achieve whatever it is they want. The punch we don't see is giving children hope when there is a dead-end and legitimizing a show that encourages meanness. Dreams do not materialize overnight, but they do come true. And they are a direct result of courage, perseverance and talent that parents nurture in developing people every day.

Vaughn Alaine-Marshall is the author of the ground-breaking reality-television novel Uuml;berstar. Born in Sydney, Australia, Vaughn is a chiropractor who put a career in private practice on hold after four-and-a-half days to co-found the international publishing firm Hendlin Books. Based in Hamburg, Germany, Vaughn is bringing the vision of his firm's two namesakes - Jimi Hendrix (HEND-) and Charlie Chaplin (-LIN) - into the publishing world. Vaughn's debut novel, Uuml;berstar, is a funny and explosive exploration of reality-television as told by insider sources from the world's biggest reality shows. For more information www.uberstarthebook.com.Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

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Tags: Women's Point of View
A Little Spring Cleaning
Cliff Ennico

Every three months or so, I clean out my e-mail files to make my computer run faster. Whenever I do, I always run across a few e-mails from readers with terrific questions that are too important to delete without at least a 'quick and dirty response. Here are a few:

'I want to start a cleaning business for residential homeowners. It will be a sole proprietorship initially. I want to make sure no one else uses my fictitious name. What do I need to do, and how much will it cost?

As a sole proprietorship, you are usually required to file a 'fictitious name certificate with your county or city clerk's office for a small filing fee (usually $5 or $10). This doesn't give you the legal right to use the name, but a good clerk's office will always check prior filings to make sure no one else is using the same name in your city or county. Likewise, they will make sure no one else files a certificate after you with the same name. Sadly, in some larger municipalities, the clerk's staff are too busy to do a thorough search, such that two local businesses end up using the same name and have to 'duke it out in court.

If you need greater protection, you can register your name as a federal trademark with the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) or a state trademark with your state Secretary of State's office (for a listing of Web addresses, go to www.iaca.org/members). This is the best protection for a company name, but it will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,500, depending on where you live and how much research your attorney needs to do. DO NOT attempt to do it yourself online; most trademark sites are extremely tricky, and it's easy to make serious mistakes in the application process if you don't know what you're doing.

'I am starting a bridal accessories business that will be by appointment only. I am creating purses using public domain and out-of-copyright patterns, as well as my own designs. Since I will be selling only in local craft bazaars and boutiques, do I have to copyright my designs? I really don't want to do that.

There's no law that says you MUST copyright your original designs. It's just that if you don't copyright them (by registering your design with the U.S. Copyright Office, www.copyright.gov), anyone else can rip off your design and there won't be much you can do about it. Here's an idea. Make sure the following notice appears somewhere visible on each of your bags: 'copy;2005 [name of your company]. All rights reserved. By doing this, you are claiming what lawyers call a 'common law copyright, meaning that if someone blatantly rips you off and you can prove they did, you may be able to take some legal action even though you didn't register your designs with the Copyright Office.

'I received an e-mail warning today from a Website threatening to share and sell private information about me that they received from another Website. At the bottom of the e-mail, there's a note saying 'if you wish to eliminate your information from our database, you must send an e-mail to the following address and type in 'opt-out' in the subject tab. In the body of your message provide your name, address, city, state, Zip Code, Social Security Number and birth date.' Should I do it?

I would avoid doing this. If this Website obtained information about you from another Website, why would they need you to repeat all the information in your 'opt-out message? That seems a little fishy to me. I especially don't like the idea that they want your Social Security Number and birth date.

My suspicion is that this is an attempt to get information from you that they can then either sell to someone else or use to 'spam you themselves. Worse, you may be opening the door to a possible identity theft. Don't wait three months to delete this message; do it now!

Cliff Ennico (cennico@legalcareer.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2005 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com

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Tags: Military, Values

Healthy Children forLife - Breakfast:
Setting Your Child Up for Success

By Linda Miner RNC, CHN, CMTA

Imagine building a housewithout a foundation. It may stay standing for awhile, buteventually it will start to shift and crack and eventuallycollapse. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast should beconsidered as important to your body as a solid foundation is to ahouse. The word breakfast literally means "breaking thefast". After you stop eating in the evening, there is usuallyabout 12 hours until you rise and eat again. Although it isimportant for your body to rest during the night, it is extremelyimportant to begin nourishing your body once you awaken. As soonas you eat, your metabolism revs up. The internal organs,including the brain, can perform their respective functions and youhave energy to begin your day. On the contrary, if you don't eat,your metabolism is not activated and the body starts to go intostarvation mode. The human body has a natural instinct topreserve itself and basic functions begin to slow down as the bodyresponds to a lack of nutrients. By not consuming breakfast, youstress your internal organs, you have trouble concentrating becausethere is no energy for your brain, and you create a body that isdestined to be obese as it learns to hold onto fat due to thisperceived famine. Therefore, eating a healthy breakfast is anextremely important habit to teach your children. So what are thebest choices for breakfast?

Start with Fruit: A great habitto instill in your children is to have fresh, whole fruit to start theday. Fruit gives you tons of energy, it's full of nutrients andenzymes for digestion and most varieties have a good amount offibre.

High Quality Carbohydrates: Itis very important at every meal to have carbohydrates andprotein. Let's start with the carbs. When it comes tobread, insist on multigrain. White bread should be considered a"treat" just like candy. My youngest daughter likes when I make"Mamp;Ms". No, not the chocolate kind. I toast up somesprouted multigrain bread. Then after buttering it, I sprinkle alittle cinnamon and evaporated cane juice (i.e. real sugar) ontop. Cinnamon is a great blood sugar stabilizer and powerfulantioxidant. Then I cut the bread into the letter "M", the firstletter of her name. Somehow this makes it taste much moredelicious.

Be Cautious with Cereals: Manypeople ask me about breakfast cereals and instant oatmeal. I amnot a fan because most are loaded with sugar, are low in protein andfibre and spike blood sugar levels. Check the glycemic index (GI)and you will see that many cereals have a higher GI and spike bloodsugar more than white sugar (http://www.glycemicindex.ca/glycemicindexfoods.pdf). You generally want to eat foods with a glycemic index rating of lessthan 55. Do not be fooled by advertising that says "wholegrain". That still usually just means one grain NOTmultigrain. You want to purchase cereals that have more than onegrain. Nature's Path (http://www.naturespath.com),Kashi (http://www.kashi.com)and Bob's Red Mill (http://www.bobsredmill.com)brands have some excellent cereals, but make sure you check thenutrition label. Look for at least 4g of protein and 3g offibre.

High Quality Protein: Next, Iwould recommend a good source of protein. Plain, low fat yogurtis great because it is loaded with protein, is an excellent source ofcalcium, has lots of good bacteria for the intestines and is easy toadd flavour to. Stir in the aforementioned fruit, some honey ormaple syrup, some chopped up nuts and a high quality granola and youhave a very satisfying breakfast. Or make a smoothie with thefruit and yogurt. In my experience, if you give them straws, kidsare more likely to drink it. It's all about making it fun. Stay away from presweetened yogurts that are loaded with sugar. One of my daughters' favorite breakfasts is what we call "string cheeseegg". I pour egg whites into a fry pan and the girls "string" thepart-skimmed mozzarella cheese over the top. I serve it rolled upand they love it. What a great blast of protein

By starting the day right, your kids will be ready to perform theirbest in school, in sports and in life.

Linda Miner is a RegisteredNutritionist specializing in Metabolic Typing. Linda works with clientsonline to help them restore their health by re-establishing balance inthe body. Through one-on-one coaching and an individualized food planbased on your unique characteristics, Linda can help you achieveOptimal Health. Learn more at www.iChange.com and
www.MyHealthyBalance.com. Permissiongranted foruse onDrLaura.com

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Tags: Parenting
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