January 9, 2006

Making the Rules

Every family needs some structure. Set limits that work for you. The first step in setting down realistic rules in your family is to understand your child’s ages and stages of development.

These are very important for two reasons: first, a child is much less likely to break rules that take into account his needs and learning abilities; and second, knowing that your expectations are reasonable gives you the confidence to discipline your child when he does overstep the mark.

When rules work

Children who are too young to understand the concept of rules really don’t benefit from them. Before your child is 2 years old, it’s much easier to simply redirect his undesirable behaviour rather than to try to stop it with a set of rigid rules. For example, if your child has a tendency to scribble on the walls, tell him that this is wrong and give him some large sheets of paper instead.

You will find that being positive rather than negative usually results in a better chance of cooperation. Children find it easier to recall and obey rules when you tell them what you want instead of what you don’t want. Saying „Stay in bed” is better than „Don’t get up now.”

Putting rules into play

The language of rules must be very clear and firm because your success with rule-making very much depends on the way you phrase any request. For example, you can’t make fuzzy statements like ‘You can splash your sister at bathtime, but just a little bit’. Imagine what’s going to happen next! Often, parents undermine the strength of a statement by presenting it as a question. “Keep your shoes on, okay?” won’t work because your statement sounds ambivalent and will be interpreted by your child as if the final decision is his.

Strict or permissive?

The most extreme approach in disciplining children doesn’t work because it doesn’t promote self-discipline. A heavy-handed, authoritarian approach will just fuel resentment and can make your child rebellious.

Over-permissiveness, on the other hand, leaves children feeling neglected. Today, most parents want to strike a balance, but the question is how?

A lot of new parents face a real dilemma. Intuitively they know they should be setting limits, but they’re so aware of the need to see things from their child’s perspective that they are afraid to make demands on their children and set rules. Many of them end up negating their own needs in order to meet the needs of their children.

© Louise Jakob 1999.
Louise Jakob is a freelance writer and web publisher based in Switzerland. She is the editor of European Woman, http://www.europeanwoman.net, a webzine, community and web guide for women in Europe and everywhere.

Keep your Kids Safe Online

By Colleen Moulding

Thousands of children and young people use the Internet every day without any problems at all, but we’ve all heard about it’s darker side and the danger they could find themselves in. Here are ten quick tips to make sure that your kids enjoy using this wonderful resource without putting themselves at risk.

1. The most important thing you can do to ensure your child’s safety on the Internet is to be there when they are using it. Don’t let children surf in their bedrooms or in a separate room to the rest of the family. If this is unavoidable, make sure that you are often in and out of the room that they are using, keeping an eye on what is going on.

2. Have clear rules about what is and what is not allowed and stick to them. This might be no e-mailing, no chat rooms, only chat rooms approved by you or whatever you decide. Some people like to draw up a contract with their children agreeing which types of site can be visited and which activities participated in.

3. Get involved in what your kids do online. Get them to show you their favourite sites, tell you about their e-mail buddies and explain what they like doing online. This will give you an insight into the possible pitfalls. If you want to keep a check on which web sites they are visiting, click on History in your browser window.

4. Download some filtering software. There is software available that can stop your child giving out personal information such as his/her name, address and telephone number. Stress to them the importance of keeping such information private. Even competitions and product offers are not always what they seem to be and false sites have been discovered with just the intention of getting this type of information from children.

5. For younger children consider using a site like Surf Monkey at http://www.surfmonkey.com where you can download free tools to help children surf the web safely. There’s the Surf Monkey Bar, which incorporates safety features to ensure sites visited are kid friendly and there is the animated Surf Monkey character which acts as a web guide to the surfing child. Parents can use a password system to build in safety settings for the bar and browser and for activities on the Surf Monkey Kids Channel. Parents can then sign their children up for the Surf Monkey club if they want them to join in on the community features such as chat rooms, message boards and e-mail. The bar is easily turned off for adult use.

6. Older kids are just as vulnerable as young ones. Teenage girls, for example, are at risk from men who lure them into face to face meetings after chatting to them online for many weeks before suggesting that they get together. Make sure children know never, ever to arrange a meeting with someone they get to know online without your permission. If they really want to meet up with a friend made in a chat room or similar, go with them and make sure that the parents of the child/teen that they are meeting know about the arrangement too.

7. Make sure that children understand that not everything they read is necessarily true. This can be difficult, but it’s a life skill they need to learn. All through life we have to make decisions about whether or not information is of value. Discuss with your children how to evaluate the material they find and the difference between fact and opinion.

8. Teach them to stay out of trouble by not posting anything bad about another person no matter how angry they may feel at the time. Once a comment is out there it cannot be retracted, and many hurtful remarks have been posted in the heat of the moment. It is much better to leave a chat area than to get drawn into anargument.

9. See that they understand that taking pictures, writing or music from web sites without the permission of the copyright holder can get them into trouble as it is stealing someone else’s work.

10. Tell them firmly never to pay money or agree to pay money for anything without parental supervision and never to use your credit card details without your knowledge and permission. Also make sure that they recognize mass mailed money making schemes for what they are and are not foolish enough to waste their money on them.

(c) Colleen Moulding 2000
Colleen Moulding is a freelance writer living in the south of England. She is also owner/editor of All That Women Want.com http://www.allthatwomenwant.com a magazine, web guide and resource for women everywhere. We Know What You Want! Home, Parenting, Women’s Biz, Work At Home, Fashion, Kid’s Sites and more. Come on over to http://www.allthatwomenwant.com It was made for you! Subscribe to the FREE monthly e-zine by sending a blank e-mail to allthatwomenwant-subscribe@egroups.com

Kids and Dogs Safety Tip Sheet

By Sheila Blythe-Saucier

Teaching children the do’s and don’ts regarding animals is among one of the most important lessons you’ll ever teach them. Animals are everywhere and though many are domesticated, this does not automatically make them safe. For example, in the U.S. alone, 1-2 million dog bites occur annually.

Today many homes are raising children along with the family dog. Naturally kids delight in hugging, petting, and playing with their pets. But unfortunately, many children grow up believing that all dogs are gentle and friendly like their pets, and commonly fall victim to a dog attack, simply because they’d never been taught when it’s not okay to approach a dog.

Start teaching your children the following safety guidelines regarding dogs when they are quite young, and continue reinforcing these precautions frequently.

1. Never run up to a dog.

2. Never attempt to touch a neighbor’s dog through a fence.

3. Never touch a dog that is growling, showing his teeth, or barking hysterically.

4. Young children must never approach dogs without a grown- up’s supervision.

5. Always hold your hand out first and allow the dog to sniff your hand.

6. Never grab at a dog.

7. Don’t approach a dog that is a watch dog protecting his property.

8. Never attempt to touch a dog that is eating or in possession of a bone or a treat of some sort.

9. Never hurt the animal by pulling it’s tail or fur for example.

10. If the dog is leashed, ask the dog’s owner permission to pet the dog first.

11. Keep your face away from the dog’s, when approaching or playing with them.

12. Don’t make loud noises or sudden moves when approaching a dog. Speak softly to it.

13. If a dog is chasing you, stop running, as this encourages him to chase you.

14. Avoid eye contact with an aggressive dog, and back off slowly and non-threateningly.

15. Do not touch, or attempt to touch, the animal’s eyes.

Copyright © 1997 by Sheila Blythe-Saucier. Founder and owner of Safety Net-Child Safety Consultants, Sheila Blythe-Saucier is in the business of protecting children from the hazards that exist in their homes and communities. An R.N. for the last 20 years, Sheila extensively researched and authored a child safety book, which lead to the development of her business. Through a home inspection covering over 600 hazards commonly found in and around homes with young children, parents receive an education on protecting their kids fully, in a few hours time. Brought to you by World Wide Information Outlet (WWIO) your source of FREEWare Content online. Located on the Internet at: http://certificate.net/wwio/

What to Expect from a Family Law Attorney

Many single parents will need the services of a family law attorney at some point. Separation, divorce, death of a partner, modifying a visitation agreement or child support order are just a few of the times to seek out a family law attorney. However, many of us have little experience with attorneys. The following will give you some general information on how to select and what to expect from a family law attorney.

Where Do I Find an Attorney?

  1. The phone book – Look under the Family Law section in the yellow pages. Here you will find a wide selection of attorneys. There are attorneys who specialize in the representation of men or the representation of women. Some attorneys specialize in a particular component of family law, for instance custody. There are attorneys that are Christian focused, and some that offer payment plans. Many offices will give you a free phone consultation.
  2. The library – Ask to see the Martindale & Hubbell Law Directory. This directory lists most lawyers and areas of practices within the United States.
  3. State or Local Bar Association – Most operate a Lawyer Referral Service. After asking you to briefly describe the facts of your case, they will refer you to attorneys in your area. Tell the attorney you were referred from the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service and you will often get a half-hour consultation at no charge. The referral service does not give legal advice.
  4. Network – Ask friends, family, and co-workers for names of attorneys they would recommend. Ask friends who have gone through a divorce if their attorney did a good job and if they would hire him/her again.
  5. Legal Aid Offices – If lack of money is a problem call your local legal aid office to determine if you qualify for representation. Your income has to be below a certain point to qualify for most services. Legal aid organizations often have restrictions on case acceptance. For instance, they may only take domestic violence cases. If they are not accepting your type of case ask them to refer you to pro bono attorney programs. These are local attorneys who have agreed to provide free legal representation to eligible persons, usually lower income. Like legal aid, some have restrictions on case acceptance.

Shop around for an attorney just as you would a doctor. You want them to be knowledgeable in family law but you also want to feel comfortable working with them. Some things to consider besides their expertise in family law:

-Do they have weekend or evening appointments? This is important when you work full-time.

-Are their offices fairly close to where you live or work? Single parent time is stretched to the limit. You want one located in a convenient location.

The Initial Consultation:

Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation. This is usually half-hour to listen to an overview of your case and give you options on how to proceed.

-Create a “cheat sheet” – Write down the main facts of your case and put them in chronological order. Also, list the questions you have about your case. Bring it to your initial consultation. Refer to your sheet when speaking with the attorney. It will ensure that you don’t forget to tell the attorney something important.

-Some Questions to Ask in the Initial Consultation:

How long have you practiced family law?

Do you have experience dealing with cases similar to mine?

If all goes well, how long will it take for my case to be resolved?

What should I expect?

What will be happening step-by-step?

How can I be sure I get my child support, visitation, etc?

What are the best case and worst case scenarios in regards to the outcome of my case?

How much will this cost?

How do you bill?

How Do Attorney’s Charge?

Some attorney’s charge by the hour and some will charge you one lump sum when your case is completed. Some of the common ways lawyers bill for their services:

Retainer Fee: advance payment to the lawyer for a portion of their fee.

Contingency Fee: an agreed upon percentage of any money obtained through settlement, trial or negotiation.

Hourly Fee: the lawyer’s hourly rate. They will take their hourly rate and multiply the number of hours worked on your case.

Fixed Fee: a specific amount of money charged for a specific service. Cost advance: reoccurring advance payment for on-going expenses related to the case.

Mixed fee: A combination of contingency and hourly fees.

How Will the Attorney Bill Me?

If the attorney charges an hourly fee ask how often they bill. A monthly invoice is common. Ask for a detailed monthly billing statement that specifies what services the attorney provided and how much time they spent on each service. Do not accept a bill that says: ” service rendered.” This doesn’t tell you what you are being charged for. Be assertive. If you don’t understand your bill ask the attorney to explain If the attorney charges a fixed fee ask if they have payment plans. Paying a little each month is easier to budget than paying one lump sum.

Hiring the Attorney:

When you decide to hire an attorney you will sign a retainer agreement. This is a document that states what services the attorney will perform and what the fees for the service will be.

If you accept the fees and understand the services to be performed then, and only then, should you sign the retainer. Find out if the quoted fee includes court costs, copying costs, and filing fees or if these services will be extra charges.

Do not sign the retainer unless you understand all the terms of the agreement!

After You Have Hired the Attorney:

-Be prepared and organized for each appointment.

-Obtain the documentation your attorney has asked for.

-Put in writing what you want out of the case. For instance, what property you want, how much child support, etc. Give this to your attorney. Ask what problems you face in getting what you want.

-Create a folder labeled “Attorney”. Keep all correspondence and documentation relating to your case in the file so it will be easily accessible.

-Write down what you want to ask your attorney before you call him. This will ensure you don’t forget anything. It will also help you stay on track since most attorneys will charge for time spent on the phone.

-Listen carefully to what the attorney says and make notes if necessary so you can review them later.

Hint: Remember, your attorney is not your therapist. Don’t pour your heart out to him about your personal problems each time you meet. He is only interested in the facts of the case – besides he will probably charge you for listening.

Selecting and hiring an attorney is an important decision. You should research your selections carefully. He should be receptive to your questions and keep you informed about each step in the proceedings. If you do not feel that your attorney is representing you in the best possible manner than dismiss his services and find another attorney. Remember, the attorney works for you!

The information is free to reprint in any format provided the information at the bottom, including this, remains intact. Reprinted from Single Parent Central, www.singleparentcentral.com, which offers information and resources to single parent families. ©2000 SingleParentCentral.com