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Internet Safety for 2014

shocked

Happy 2014 Recycled Moms and other visitors. As I gaze into the upcoming year, trying in vain to know where it will lead us, I do know some things remain the same. One of those is danger to our kids from the internet and wicked people who use it to touch our beautiful children. I have put together a guideline for us all to use as a tool in protecting our beloved little ones. Just last week I was made aware that a little boy I personally know has been accessing pornography. Therefore, it does happen and affects the hearts, minds and spirits of everyone who loves the children who have fallen into danger.

Toddlers are routinely given tablets to play with and to use. I see them almost daily with these expensive gadgets. With that fact in mind, I have included very young children in this list of rules and options to consider.

Children under Five

Parents or caregivers should always be present and active when children are using computers, tablets and phones. At this age, children accept anything and everything. They do not have the mental or emotional skills to consider both sides of an issue or image and may become frightened by something fictional that is very real to them. They will click on anything and can easily be exposed to inappropriate content.

Children Five to Seven

Kids are smart and today’s children have grown up with technology. They are used to using computers, manipulating screens and gadgets yet are very naïve and innocent. They are obedient toward adults and will willingly provide any information asked of them including home address, telephone numbers and personal names. They also become easily frightened by media images and content that is access by clicking on hyperlinks and opening new windows.

Parents should teach children this age about privacy, what to share and when to run away and get help. Access to email, social media, message boards and the like should be disabled with strict parental controls in place.

Eight to Ten

These kids love anything video related. They play video games, are greatly influenced by celebrities or other people considered cool or heroic. This leaves them vulnerable to predators that are adept at pretending to be a slightly older kid who seems to have it all and who befriends them. Parents should make sure all computers and online devices are only used in family rooms where activity can be monitored and visible to any observer. Parental control filters should be in place and parental supervision constant. Children this age should not have personal email addresses or any online presence. A parent’s email should be used to register for games, etc.

Eleven to Thirteen

Kids this age think they are wise in the ways of the world. They are usually into music, download videos and use the internet to help with schoolwork. They are beginning to get curious about the changes in their bodies, which leaves them vulnerable to predators and to pornographers. They love to be independent yet greatly rely on their friends and want to be doing what others are into since that seems to be cool and popular. This is also an age where bullying frequently occurs because kids desire to be accepted and become quite anxious about any perceptible differences.

Parents should insist that computers remain in common rooms and set parental controls on all devices. Check the browsing history; do not allow chat room use or profiles on social media sites.

Access Denied

Up to Eighteen

These young teens seem so grownup yet are still emotionally and mentally young, incapable of living an unsupervised life. They should be taught safe online skills and all devices still should only be used in open, common areas of the home. They might stumble onto pornography or other adult content sites simply by exploring the internet for off color jokes or other seemingly safe places. They must be taught morals, ethics and financial responsibility. It does not come natural to most young people as their brains are still developing.

Parents must be very involved in the lives of teenagers. House rules, family guidelines and expectations should be clearly defined and adhered to by everyone so there are no surprises. Approve all email or telephone contacts and monitor texts daily. This is not invasion of privacy but parental protection.

When parents and caregivers set rules and those are enforced, it leaves less opportunity for kids to fall into moral or physical danger. An involved parent is one who loves his/her child enough to keep danger far, far away.

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Oh Boy-It’s a Girl!

Security and Love

 Hi Recycled Moms and other kinship caregivers. The Christmas season is only a few days away and we know it brings a lot of stress to some people and is an excuse for others to party their lives away. This time of year also brings upheaval in families. Many children are torn from the only environment most of them know and are placed in foster care or kinship care. Sadly, many suicides or attempts happen also at this supposedly cheerful time of year.

I myself took custody of my own grandson at Thanksgiving many years ago. I thought it might be helpful to compose a checklist that people can use to help the child settle and ensure their physical needs are taken care of. It will vary of course depending on each individual circumstance. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who is taking the giant leap of love and welcoming a child or children into their home.

  • Get some sort of custody order if the parents have simply left the child with you otherwise they could take the child at any time and nothing could be done to prevent it from happening. If DSS is involved, they will take care of that issue.
  •  Inform DSS that you have the child and request assistance.
  • If possible, get birth certificates, social security number, immunization records, medical information, etc.
  • Get the child’s insurance information if possible. If not, apply for Medicaid for the child or add him/her to your policy if resources allow.
  • Schedule a medical checkup with a pediatrician, dentist and optometrist.  Consider psychiatric counseling especially if the child has been abused in any manner.
  •   Enroll the child in school if they are old enough. If possible, keep him/her in the school they are already attending. The less upheaval the better so the child can adjust easier. A private school allows the child to receive attention that is more individual and some states offer vouchers to make it affordable
  • Seek resource assistance such as Food Stamps, Daycare vouchers, etc.
  • Join a support group. Many of these kids have lived in homes where alcohol or drug abuse was a daily, normal occurrence and they will have been neglected or abused. A support group with a good children’s program will help all of the new family dynamic to feel normal instead of different.

In The Home

All children need stability and security. Our precious Recycled Kids need these even more desperately and will thrive when they are provided along with gentle care and lots of love.

  • Set up a bedroom for the children if possible or designate part of an existing bedroom as their own personal space. Hang a curtain for privacy if they must share. Give them a dresser, bed, desk and any other furniture they need.
  • Take the child shopping and ask their opinion when purchasing clothing. This is critical for older children because it helps restore ownership and empowers them to make decisions for their life.
  • Set aside time to talk with the child privately every day. He may or may not confide in you, may even blame you for taking away the parents. Allow him or her to talk and take mental notes. Let him or her know you may have to follow up on some of these revelations but will not ever hold the child accountable for the actions of grownups.
  • Do not react outwardly to revelations of abuse and many of these kids have been abused emotionally, physically or sexually. Try to express acknowledgement without condemnation or horror. The child WILL think you feel that toward them.
  •  Never cast aspersions on the parents. These uprooted children tend to be very protective toward their absent parents and will not take kindly to any words of anger or blame.
  •   Answer questions honestly but briefly. A personal example as when my grandson asked if his “birth mom” was dead. I simple said, “I do not know Buddy. I hope not.” Then I redirected him to another subject. Kids require very little information and are content with a yes or no most of the time. Older children might ask for more details. Again, keep it simple.

There is so much more. I could write a book. (Actually, I am writing a book.) I hope this information is a foundation to get someone started on the path to being a Recycled Mom. I pray for all of you and wish I could meet every one of you and personally commend you for what you do.

Joyful Children Become Joyful Adults

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The Holiday Blues

Hello Recycled Moms caregivers, aunts, uncles and friends. The holidays came so swiftly this year that I am let in a daze. Since I am a minimalist, I am not in a panic because I give so few physical gifts and many of those are books that I have written.

My great focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas are gratitude to God for all He has done in our lives. My love and faith never wavers although my treacherous heart does. When families are gathered together by the dozens, laughing and enjoying that wonderful Thanksgiving meal, I, and probably many other Recycled Moms, grieve for that missing person. Our table has one less person who is greatly wanted and beloved.

The children often act up during this time. The little ones do not know how to express their sorrow so they might misbehave or have crying fits. Older children sometimes attempt to hide their emotions through anger or withdrawing.

Just be cognizant that our recycled children are experiencing some sort of loss during the holidays and give them extra hugs, I Love You, security and a sense of permanence. It will make all the difference to those tender hearts and their own love will be a salve to our own wounds.

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My New Children’s Book!

Silas Watts

Christmas is coming soon and birthdays occur all year long. A book with a message and moral makes a wonderful gift. My latest children’s book, Silas Watts The Highly Electric Lightning bug is now available. Contact me for a signed copy or purchase it from

http://thelauruscompany.com/book/silas-watts-highly-electric-lightning-bug

or

http://www.amazon.com/Silas-Watts-Highly-Electric-Lightning/dp/1938526368/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382539001&sr=8-1&keywords=silas+watts

Thank you faithful readers for your support and for your tender care of our most vulnerable children.

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Children Who Die at The Hands of Parents or Caregivers

children

Hello faithful readers and visitors. My heart is heavy as I write this post. Yesterday I attended a vigil for the 28 children in our state that died in 2012 at the hands of parents or caregivers.* As each name was spoken a bell rang one solitary chime. At the same time a baby undershirt painted with a beautiful scene and the child’s name was hung on a line. It was one of the most poignant moments in my life to sit there and know so many children were frightened, hurt, lost and hopeless. The youngest was one day old and the oldest was thirteen.

My heart broke anew that the people entrusted with these precious lives were the perpetrators, the killers. I am even more cognizant that the stress of parenthood can create tremendous pressure on caregivers. That is even more so for Recycled Moms because we are at the age where we should be doing this. Nerves get frazzled; the fuse may be shorter because it has burned for so many decades and many of us were raised in an era when kids were less assertive and needy. The constant running to accommodate schools, sports and other activities wears one out physically and emotionally.

There are many things we can do that to reduce stress and increase knowledge of how to handle pressures and our children. Find a support group that offers childcare. That is respite and even two hours of respite can make the rest of the week go better. If possible, find someone who can spend an hour with you several times a week. They can just talk, help with housework or whatever affords you the most help.

Learn to NEVER put your hands on your child unless it is in love. Hugs, caresses and other tender touches should be all the child ever knows from your hands. Many people spout that old biblical “spare the rod and spoil the child” adage. The writer never intended for readers to interpret this as whipping, spanking or beating children. The rod was something a shepherd used to protect his flock. He would guide them from dangerous cliffs and drive predators away by using the rod. This constant discipline taught the sheep to stay on the right path and to trust the shepherd. The rod was never used to strike or punish the sheep and we should not ever hit our children. If a caregiver never puts an angry hand on a child, there is no possibility of getting carried away and inflicting injury.

Most of all Recycled Moms and other caregivers must admit when they are out of control and seek help. Do not allow a child’s behavior to drive you to a breaking point. Seek help and respite well before you are exhausted and temporarily insane. I am going to list the names of the dead children. As you read them, imagine your child’s name on that list. I did and can tell you it made me fall to my knees. Then go out and put steps into place so this never happens to you and the precious children in your care.

*Other children died at the hands of outsiders, the mother’s boyfriend accounts for most deaths in child homicide.

Names of Children Killed in 2012 by Parents or Caregivers

The five Protective Factors are a great resource and wonderful place to start educating yourself in ways to reduce stress.

Parental Resilience

Parents who can cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well an occasional crisis, have resilience; they have the flexibility and inner strength necessary to bounce back when things are not going well. Multiple life stressors, such as a family history of abuse or neglect, health problems, marital conflict, or domestic or community violence—and financial stressors such as unemployment, poverty, and homelessness—may reduce a parent’s capacity to cope effectively with the typical day-to-day stresses of raising children.

Nurturing and Attachment

Children’s early experiences of being nurtured and developing a bond with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development. When parents and children have strong, warm feelings for one another, children develop trust that their parents will provide what they need to thrive, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection.

Research shows that babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents have the best chance of healthy development. A child’s relationship with a consistent, caring adult in the early years is associated later in life with better academic grades, healthier behaviors, more positive peer interactions, and an increased ability to cope with stress.

Parental Knowledge of Child Development and Parenting Skills

There is extensive research linking healthy child development to effective parenting. Children thrive when parents provide not only affection, but also respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations, and safe opportunities that promote independence. Successful parenting fosters psychological adjustment, helps children succeed in school, encourages curiosity about the world, and motivates children to achieve.

Concrete Support for Parents

Many factors affect a family’s ability to care for their children. Families who can meet their own basic needs for food, clothing, housing, and transportation—and who know how to access essential services such as childcare, health care, and mental health services to address family-specific needs—are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.

Partnering with parents to identify and access resources in the community may help prevent the stress that sometimes precipitates child maltreatment. Providing concrete supports may also help prevent the unintended neglect that sometimes occurs when parents are unable to provide for their children.

Social Connections

Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Most parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice, or concrete support. Research has shown that parents who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.

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Modesty for Boys and Girls

Good day Recycled Moms and other Caregivers. As we go about my day, we encounter countless children and look upon them with love. Some of these children that I see look so worldly that my heart grieves for them. Little girls wear high heeled shoes, short skirts that flare around their bottom and even see through shirts. Boys of all ages are seen wearing pants that drape off the hips, tee shirts that depict violent games or characters and often sport extreme hair styles.

On the surface one might wonder if an item of clothing is really that vital. Does it really affect a child’s values or safety? Yes, indeed attire, hair and attitude play an important role in how our recycled kids build their future lifestyle.

We live in a world where our kids are out on their own for hours at school, extracurricular activities, church functions and the like. When they are modestly dressed and have been taught to conduct themselves with decorum, they are safer.

Girls can climb trees, go fishing and enjoy other activities while being properly covered. We adults are laying the foundation of how they will behave in settings where we may not be present. Despicable people are always looking for an opportunity to prey on children. By monitoring what our kids wear, keeping them covered and discreet, we can minimize risk. Please be aware that boys also need guidance in modesty and virtue.

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These principles will become a character trait that remains with our precious children as they grow and become adults who one day pass these onto their own offspring. We are now impacting future generations and it is an awesome and powerful responsibility. As we spiritually are separate from the world, we must be so in flesh also, presenting an appearance of pleasing modesty.

Let’s go shopping for new clothing that protects and nurtures the innocence of children and become an example to other parents. I do wish to add that modest and profanity free speech also is important and create a clean heart in children and adults.

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Love Them Like Doctor Zhivago

One of the greatest movies ever made is Doctor Zhivago. This account of the Russian revolution and the romance of Lara and Yuri is truly unforgettable. The ending is very powerful. Tania, a young woman who was lost, separated from her family as a child of eight, is asked how she came to be lost. She evades the question several times before acknowledging the truth of a long buried memory. The question causes the past to flash through her mind and Tania then admits that when they were fleeing the explosions, the houses falling to the ground and the terror of fighting, her father let go of her hand. “He let go of my hand,” she says with tears in her eyes, “and I was lost!”

Recycled Moms never let go of those tiny hands. Through all the days and nights that exhaust and try us, we hold our children so close that they are never lost. Long nights spent beside a fevered child, evenings filled with homework and weekends at birthday parties are considered precious and we do not resent them. Even when our children grow up and decide to leave us, we still cling to our treasures. That spiritual hand is there, guiding, supporting, and loving our children.

A friend recently confided in me that her son is a prodigal and making dangerous life choices and decisions that place him in danger. She continues to love him, give him monetary and emotional support. No other option exists for her or any other mother. She is a hero to me and to her child. He will one day know that her love and prayers kept him alive during this time of running. We never let go and they are never lost to us.

Having said all of that, I must declare that our children, recycled or not, have free will to choose their own life paths. We can only love them and hold their hands through the fallout. It is one of the most difficult things we will ever face. My own recycled kid recently made some poor choices and he is only ten years old. It made me even more determined to hang on tight and let him know he can never shake me loose.

It is what we do. We are mothers. Maybe these children did not grow in our physical womb however they are nourished to life in our heart. That is a powerful testament to the possibilities that exist in our world. We make a difference to these children that have come to us through adoption, because their parents abandoned them or made poor choices that left them adrift in a harsh world of icy indifference. They have found a balmy oasis with us and as we hold on tight in the race through life, they will always remember that we never let go!

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