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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Pregnancy, Drugs, Alcohol, Mom AND Dad

Babies Born to Drug Abusers or Alcohol Drinkers

Most alcoholics and drug abusers know, but often refuse to admit, that they have addictions. Though pregnancy should change their behavior, often it does not. Oblivious to how their unborn infant might respond to their drinking or drug abuse during pregnancy, moms continue to abuse their bodies – and their baby’s developing bodies – with drugs and alcohol, knowing, and at the same time, refusing to believe, that continued use of either drugs or alcohol could harm their growing fetus. But Mom is not the only one responsible for her baby. Read on! 

Drinking While Pregnant

As I mention in a previous Help for Single Parents blog, titled, Which is Better – Tobacco, Alcohol, or Marijuana? “According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), ‘Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker's body and can damage a developing fetus.’” According to Mayo Clinic, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome symptoms “include any mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities, and problems functioning and coping with daily life.” Alcohol affects Baby’s brain and central nervous system, behavior, and social skills.

Further information from Mayo Clinic about the effects of alcohol on pregnant women include the following:
  • Alcohol enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing fetus by crossing the placenta
  • Alcohol causes higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a fetus metabolizes alcohol slower than an adult does
  • Alcohol interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your baby's developing tissues and organs, including the brain

University of Iowa Children’s Hospital lists the following complications for babies born addicted to alcohol:

  • Acute ingestion: hyperactivity, tremors for 72h, followed by lethargy for 48h
  • Chronic ingestion: consider fetal alcohol ingestion and its spectrum of abnormalities including CNS (Central Nervous System), growth deficiency, facial features, cardiac and musculoskeletal anomalies 

The difference between acute and chronic is that acute means an immediate severe problem, such as ingesting a lot of alcohol just prior to the baby’s birth; chronic means that Mom has been drinking throughout most of the pregnancy. If Mom is a chronic drinker, Baby could be born addicted to alcohol, in the same way that chronic drug abuse could result in a baby suffering from withdrawal.

Taking Drugs While Pregnant

Just as alcohol crosses the placenta, so, too, do drugs. Depending upon the type and amount of drugs the woman takes during pregnancy, varying effects on the unborn child occur. Withdrawal may be one of the results. The physical manifestations of those withdrawals is, according to several authorities, child abuse.  

The University of Iowa lists the following signs of drug withdrawal:

  • Gastrointestinal: Diarrhea, vomiting, ravenous appetite, poor feeding.
  • Neurologic: Irritability, jitteriness, restlessness (rubbed knees, rubbed nose), erratic sleeping, fist-sucking, shrill cry, hypertonia, hyperreflexia (overactive or over-responsive reflexes), myoclonus (spasms) and less often seizures. The incidence of seizures is higher in methadone-maintained mothers (10-15%) than in those abusing heroin.
  • Signs of heroin withdrawal occur in 50-75% of infants born to addicted mothers and usually begin within the first 24-72 h of life.

What Parents Can Do to Prevent a Baby from Becoming Drug Dependent

Many people place the bulk of the responsibility for the baby’s health on the pregnant mother. If she has a predilection for alcohol or drugs, she knows she needs to stop drinking or abusing drugs, but she needs encouragement and support from people she trusts and loves. 

If Mom’s partner continues to abuse alcohol or drugs during the pregnancy, she may find that stopping is difficult. With no support system to buffer her, the stress of pregnancy itself, along with other considerations (i.e., job, home life, finances), may contribute to her feeling that she’s handling her situation alone, and she may decide to drink “just one” or take “only one” pill. One translates to another, however, and then to another, and Mom cannot stop. At a certain point, she stops caring.

The first step in dealing with drinking and drugging while pregnant is admitting you have a problem. The second step is to enlist the help of your partner and outside help. A supportive partner who quits smoking, drinking, and doing drugs with you is a partner who is willing to sacrifice his or her habits for the welfare of the child. EXPECT your partner to support you! And be supportive of him or her as well.

If your partner refuses to be responsible and refuses to participate in your recovery, suggest you both join a group of either Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous. If your partner refuses to help you help yourself and your unborn baby, ask family members to help. If family is not an option, seek friends who want to be part of your support system. If you have no friends, several organizations specific to drug/alcohol addiction, like the ones mentioned above, exist to help you. Find them.

If you don’t take care of the problem while pregnant, you may not be able to bring your baby home from the hospital! Many Departments of Family Services organizations take addicted babies from hospitals directly to foster homes while they await your recovery, and you will miss those first bonding moments.

What Parents Can Do to a Baby Born Addicted

Because addicted babies are considered to be the result of abusive parents (abused because the parents took drugs or drank alcohol during pregnancy and caused their baby to be addicted), some states won’t allow Baby to go home with Mom or Dad and instead may place the infant in a temporary foster home until the parents are deemed capable of caring for their newborn. Why risk losing those first bonding moments with your baby when you can take care of the matter now, while you’re pregnant? 

If you’re fortunate enough to bring Baby home, STOP DRINKING and STOP USING! Cuddle, swaddle, and care for your baby. Let your baby know that you value your baby’s wellbeing. He or she will be dependent upon you for the next 18 years.

And don’t resume drinking or doing drugs once the baby is home. Children who grow up with alcoholic or drug abusing mothers and fathers live in fear. I cannot possibly list all of the problems associated with children who grow up with alcoholics, so I will suggest you read Psychological Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics, written by Kenneth J. Sher, Ph.D. 

And if you continue to abuse drugs, I suggest you download the report located at the bottom of the article titled, No Safe Haven: Children of Substance-Abusing Parents, which starts out:

Children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs are almost 3 times likelier to be physically or sexually assaulted and more than 4 times likelier to be neglected by their parents compared to children of parents who are not substance abusers. With 28 million children of alcoholics and several million children of other drug abusers, children and adults in America who, during their lives, have been neglected and/or physically and sexually assaulted by substance-abusing parents constitute a significant portion of our population.

Alcohol and drug abuse contribute to the neglect and abuse of our children. With everything going on in the world today, why subject your baby to a life of more fear and uncertainty? Be a safe haven for your baby.

Photo was found on so many sites, I couldn’t find the original to credit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Do We Force Our Kids to Be Someone They're Not?

Yesterday I watched a Dr. Phil episode, Mama’s Little Boy or Daddy’s Little Girl: Identity Confusion or Brainwashing? And my heart went out to that little child who was born an “intersex,” a term meaning that the child was born with ambiguous sex organs (not to be confused with hermaphrodites who are born with two complete sets of both male and female sex organs). 

The heartbreaking part of the story, though, was the way the child’s parents were raising him or her. Dad is convinced his child is a girl; Mom is convinced her child is a boy, so at Daddy’s house, Aubrey dresses as a little girl, and at Mommy’s house, Aubrey dresses as a little boy. How confusing must that be for a 4-year-old child!

And yet, how confusing must the parents be as well. I don’t pretend to understand what they’re going through, but imagining how the situation looks through the eyes of a 4-year-old child, I can understand how I might want my parents to behave if I was an intersex. I would want the choices about me to be mine – without being forced to make them to please both of my parents!

Let me explain why I think a 4-year-old child is perfectly capable of knowing what he or she likes. I’ll use my own 4-year-old granddaughter as an example. Nothing about Avery is ambiguous. She was born a girl and she has long hair, which she loves. She won’t play with dolls, but she loves playing “house” with stuffed animals. 

Try to put a dress on her, though, and she will refuse to wear it. She does not like wearing dresses. And she loves to play sports.

Does that make her a boy? No! And if she wanted short hair, what difference would her hair make in determining her sex? My own son, when he was only 4 or 5, had long curly hair, which I refused to cut, because I loved the way it looked. He, however, wanted a buzz cut, so I relented. He didn’t like his curly hair, so why should I force him to keep his hair long and curly? I’m glad I recognized that even as young as he was, he knew how he wanted to look.

The Barbarians – Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl

Maybe Aubrey has been so brainwashed, the child no longer knows what s/he wants. And how sad is that? But I think it would be wise for these parents to allow their little boy or girl to choose whatever hairstyle, clothing, bedding, or whatever else the child wants to wear or to have. Right now, I think Aubrey chooses what s/he believes her/his parents want her/him to choose. Aubrey very compliantly lives as both sexes depending upon which home s/he stays.

In any divorce situation, when parents get along, everything goes better for the child. In the case of Aubrey, though, the parents communicate not at all. Mommy gave her “son” a buzz cut, for instance, without informing Daddy of her decision. I would imagine that by now, the child feels coerced into behaving like a little girl when she is with Daddy and like a little boy when he is with Mommy. 

So maybe a trusted third party should take the child shopping and allow Aubrey to choose for him- or herself the types of things that will help Aubrey learn to identify who s/he wants to be – and who s/he is – with no outside interference or coercion.

A walk through Toys R Us would give parents a clue about what the child finds fun or entertaining. Bedding choices should be the child’s too. And let the child lead when it comes to shopping for clothing. Hand Aubrey a catalog and let Aubrey choose what s/he wants to wear. 

In the meantime, though so much damage appears to already have been done, Dr. Phil has offered these parents some professional help. I hope they get it in time for Aubrey to go to school, where s/he will have to appear as one sex or the other. Kids don’t need much incentive to bully, and seeing a child who appears during the week as a little boy and on weekends as a little girl would give the bullies among them target practice on Aubrey.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pedophilia in the Workplace: Does Your Teenager Work for a Pedophile?

Originally posted on Associated Content/Yahoo Voices/Yahoo Contributor Network December 3, 2009

Pedophilia is a subject that causes blood to boil. But it also causes - in some people - an excitement unmatched by anything else.

What is pedophilia?
Considered a mental disorder by some medical professionals, pedophilia is a societally condemned abnormality wherein the pedophile becomes sexually aroused by his or her own fantasies involving children.
Unlike fantasies engaged in by "normal" people who keep their fantasies in the fantasy stage, however, the pedophile's fantasies mutate into actions - unacceptable and harmful actions - perpetrated on innocent victims and their loved ones.
What is a pedophile?
The pedophile is a master manipulator. He learns very quickly how to draw children and teenagers into his deceptive web. He entices his victims in ways those victims would never recognize as anything but sincere. At most, children feel only slightly uneasy or uncomfortable, initially without any obvious validation for why they feel the way they do.
How do pedophiles operate?
Pedophiles ease their way into unsuspecting lives and often try to befriend the parents first - in an attempt to build trust. The hope is that eventually parents will allow their children unsupervised visits with them. The pedophile, once he targets his victim, feigns interest in the child by engaging the child in ways that cause the child to believe the pedophile truly cares about him or her.
Children who are under a tremendous amount of stress and who are filled with self-doubt are particularly good targets for a pedophile. The pedophile zeroes in on the stress and alleviates it by pretending to be more interested in the child than the parents appear to be (at least according to the child's perceptions, which have been masterfully manipulated by the perpetrator).
Once the child trusts the pedophile, the pedophile, taking advantage of the opportunity to abuse the trust, confuses the child by taking the child off-guard with something as simple as an arm around the shoulder. Thus begins the courting stage where the pedophile convinces himself that he loves the child and therefore anything he does to show that love is justified.
The pedophile, in his own warped mind, decides his purely sexual attraction to children is actually a form of love.
Why does it seem that pedophilia has proliferated?
Sexual attraction to children is not new. It has been going on for centuries, but with the introduction of computers and web images, pornography has become a profitable venture for opportunists who find pleasure in abusing children.
How do pedophiles entice their victims?
The pedophile puts himself into a position where he can access children in socially acceptable settings. Nowhere is this ability to attract children more obvious or more insidious than in the workplace, where the employer can choose his victims through a careful screening process, weeding them out until "the one" shows up.
Though we often think of pedophiles as being attracted to young children, some are more attracted to teenagers. And by offering employment through business opportunities, the pedophile can attract exactly the type of victim he prefers.
How does the boss give himself permission to abuse his employer?
Say he owns a small shop and pays minimum wage. Who, other than a teenager, would apply for such a position? He is the "boss" and the teenager depends on him for income. After a couple of weeks, when the teenager becomes somewhat comfortable with the job, the boss introduces small gestures of sexual interest. It may be only a hand on the shoulder or the back of the neck. It may be a nudge with a hip, but it soon becomes a hand placed on other body parts.
Or it starts with suggestive comments, like a subtle request to take a picture. The request sounds innocent until the boss asks the child to open his shirt a little or pull down his pants. The teenager panics, but unless he is equipped with enough self assurance to run out of the store and immediately call the police, the teenager may reason that he has to keep his job and, though upset, grants the pervert's request.
A teenager may at first brush off inappropriate suggestions. But by showing up at work again the next day, her boss now has the impression that she merely has to be convinced to adhere to his wishes. She will probably be too embarrassed to mention to her parents that her boss asked her to engage in sexually explicit pornography.
The teenager becomes more and more uncomfortable, but feels helpless to change anything. He is afraid he will disappoint his parents who are depending on him to keep his job. He is also afraid to stand up to his boss. The boss is an authority figure and if the teenager's parents drove into him that he had to respect his elders, he won't be capable of standing up for himself.
Why do children and teenagers cooperate with the pedophile?
Fear drives the victim to engage in activities she otherwise might never allow. Taking "just one picture" might seem innocent to her, but one picture leads to more and now the boss has an entire hard drive filled with photos of your daughter or your son ready to share with other perverts on the web. And once your daughter (or son) feels degraded and humiliated, she will never admit her involvement and she will blame herself for her behavior.
What signs can parents look for when their children have been abused by a pedophile?
How can parents know if their children are experiencing abuse in the workplace? By paying attention to their child's behavior. Don't always assume that behavior changes are related to age. Sudden consistent moodiness needs to be investigated. If the child becomes withdrawn, if he or she starts making excuses for not wanting to go to work, don't ignore her silent pleas for your help.
Open a dialogue about your teenager's feelings. When your teenager feels even slightly uneasy about another person, teach him or her not only how to recognize and pay attention to those feelings, but also how to act on them by reporting them. Uneasy feelings are trying to relate to your child a warning that needs heeding.
Discuss people who are put into abusive situations. How do they deal with blame, humiliation, and degradation? Let your child know that actions perpetrated by pedophiles are NOT the fault of the victim. Children whose parents discover pornographic photos on web sites are NOT at fault, even if they allowed somebody to photograph them.
Teach children never to send suggestive photos of themselves to people they think are their friends. Friends don't ask for naked pictures. Friends don't put their friends into precarious situations.
Empower your teenagers by asking them how they would handle the situations discussed above if they were put into similar situations. By opening a dialog you may be able to prevent future abuse or learn about past abuse.
Let your teenagers know that the abuse is never their fault, and that you will help them through this emotional turmoil if they are involved in an abusive situation (resources are listed below). Assure them that no matter what - you are there to support them.
What do you do when you discover your child has been a victim of abuse?
If you discover that your teenager has been a victim of sexual misconduct, no matter how minor the infraction seems to be, report the perpetrator to the police. We need to protect our children from these perverts.
Other resources are also available. To report incidents of child sexual (including pornography) exploitation and abuse, fill out an online form at the CyberTipline. The CyberTipline is operated through The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). 
The NCMEC also maintains a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST and a website at

And to see a list of registered sex offenders (listed by state) go to the National Sex Offender Public Website. Keep in mind that though sex offenders are required by law to register, not all of them do. Many of them move frequently. Just because they don't show up on the registry does not mean they are not offenders.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Help for Parents Who Don’t Want to See Their Drug-Abusing Kids Live on the Streets

Like cigarettes in the 50s with their sexy and glamorous portrayal in movies, drugs today intrigue kids because they are mysterious, alluring, and enticing. What kids don’t realize, though, despite what they hear, is that they are also dangerous (because they believe that nothing bad will ever happen to them). 

In the 50s smokers were considered cool. Today people look upon cigarette smokers with disdain and disgust. Unfortunately, kids don’t see that drug abusers are looked upon with that same disdain and disgust, because their teenage friends use drugs and they're popular. As parents, we flounder with our inability to cope with the devastation associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

Like so many parents who struggle to maintain some sense of balance when they know things are going terribly wrong, we stand on the precipice of wanting to help our kids without also enabling them. Susie calls Mom to ask for money – again. Mom instinctively knows, either because Susie has been asking for a lot of money lately, or wants to deny that Susie is using drugs, that the money her daughter wants will not be used for what Susie says it will be used.

So Mom lends her money for all those things Susie asks – I need money for food – I need to pay the rent – the kids don’t have any school supplies – the list goes on and on. The list changes from week to week, of course, because Susie doesn’t want Mom to become suspicious. So Mom, who doesn’t want to see Susie and her grandchildren living in a dangerous alley or under a bridge somewhere, gives Susie money.

Why not just take Susie in, you might ask, and let her live with Mom? That way her kids would live in a safe environment. But Susie stole some family heirlooms and sold them for drugs. One day, Susie’s mom came home to find her home ransacked and she reported the theft to police. A brand new flat-screen 60” smart TV was missing, along with several electronic devices, including the family computer. Susie looked a little too surprised by the theft. Mom suspected Susie and her “friends” had something to do with it, but she didn’t want to accuse Susie in front of her children.

Nobody ever found out who stole the goods, but Susie’s mom knew, and so did everybody else who knew Susie.

So what’s a mom or dad to do?

Probably the first thing to do is to recognize the signs of drug abuse. (For a list of different types of drug abuse and their signs, click this link on the National Institute on Drug Abuse web site.)

The next thing to do is initiate court proceedings to put Susie’s kids in a loving home. Sadly, too often, people like Susie have parents who also abuse drugs or alcohol. If you’re a parent who uses and abuses drugs and/or alcohol, GET HELP NOW!

Then get Susie (and yourself if need be) into a rehabilitation center somewhere. No money? Figure out how much you’ve been “lending” Susie. You might find that the money you’re losing could pay for a stint at a rehab facility. Just plug, “drug rehab centers” into your search engine to find one.

But in the present situation – STOP GIVING MONEY TO YOUR KIDS!! Do they need gas? Drive them to the gas station and pay for the gas yourself. Do they need food? Go shopping with your kids and pay for their food. Do they need money for a doctor or dentist? Accompany them to the doctor’s or dentist’s office and pay the bill. We have to STOP ENABLING our children in ways that result in even more alcohol or drug abuse!

You could argue that paying for gas, food, and doctors constitutes enabling, but a lot of parents feel guilty for not giving their kids money, and this is one way to alleviate the guilt without contributing to more abuse.

We also need to offer our kids alternatives. Maybe we didn’t discuss drug or alcohol abuse with our kids when they were younger. Maybe they saw us drinking and abusing drugs and we feel that because we indulged, we have no right to say anything. Maybe we weren't honest with our kids about drug usage (see link below that talks about why we're not telling our kids the truth about drugs).

But thinking we don't have the right to discuss drug abuse because of what we did in the past is ridiculous. As the parent you have every right to look out for your kids no matter how old they get. We have access to the Internet and to some very reputable resources. Look at some of these resources and figure out a way to help your kids in any way OTHER than giving them money.

Every dollar you give your kids who abuse drugs or alcohol puts them a little deeper underground. If you don’t want to bury your kids, help them find a way out.

For more information on drugs, specifically concerning the lies we tell our kids about drugs, read, Why What We’re Telling Our Kids About Drugs Doesn’t Help Them.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Access to Classrooms for Parents

With all the problems associated with school shootings and ongoing disciplinary problems, why don’t we offer classroom access to parents? Video access would hold teachers, students, and administrators accountable for their actions. Parents would be able to tune in throughout the day and could watch first-hand exactly what their children are learning and doing. They might even be able to make sense of some of the ridiculous things their children are learning today (like common core math, for instance).

Common core math aside, some parents want to help their children with homework but have been out of school for so long, they don’t remember what they learned. And learning new ways to solve old problems (common core math again – something many parents find ridiculous because what could be a 3-step process now adds multiple steps to arrive at the same conclusion) could stimulate our brains. By tuning into classroom lectures and assignments, parents can update their skills and be able to check homework.

Video cameras could be placed in the upper corner of each classroom and parents could tune in throughout the day to view their child’s activities. Each year, each student’s parents would be given a code to access the camera (we don’t want random pedophiles accessing classrooms). If anything disruptive occurs, schools can save the evidence on thumb drives for possible disputes.

What this type of accountability means is no more “he said/she said” situations, no more bullying – of a child or a teacher by a child or by a teacher – parents and administrators alike will know with certainty what is happening in their child’s classroom.

Yes, video cameras are expensive, so schools, especially those that are inadequately funded, should not be expected to handle the cost, but interested parents could pool their money and fund the cameras themselves. Or the school could hold fundraisers to raise money.

I would have loved to have had that kind of accountability when my kids were in grammar school. One teacher was so inept that when one of my kids got this woman as a teacher and dropped from an A in math to a D, I became suspicious. Fortunately I was taking algebra in college at the time, so I was able to help my daughter with her homework. I would go over the instructions with her and within seconds, she “got it,” but it wasn’t until the following year, when my son, who was also an A student in math, dropped to a D when he had the same woman, that I thought maybe it was a problem with the teacher after all. 

Though I had complained to the principal the prior year, asking why my daughter came home not understanding anything and then, after a couple of minutes with me, understood everything, the principal explained that maybe I “refreshed her memory.”  The problem, I later learned, was not with my kids; it was with the teacher. Because that teacher had tenure, the principal backed her up. With a video camera, that teacher would have been responsible for actually teaching my kids.

So what do you think? Do you agree? 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

How to Detect a Scammer When You Get a Reply from an ad You Placed on Craigslist

We’ve all fallen for them, but we’ve educated ourselves and now we know how to detect the scammers, don’t we?

Not always.

Though my radar is always on high alert for potential scammers, I completely missed this latest one. I had placed an ad on craigslist to sell  a wheelchair lift. Unlike some of the other scam replies I’ve received over the years, this one seemed legitimate – confusing, but legitimate. 

Matt somebody or other sent the following email to me:

Hi..I don't have your phone number to text, I can be available tonight around 7:00 or tomorrow morning before i go to work around 7:30, or Thursday morning at 9:00 or Friday  evening at 6:00.  Please let me know if any of these times work for you to see me here  (I didn’t want to include the actual email address) Thanks

I responded:

I didn’t get this message until 4:12 a.m. so I’m unclear about the times you can see it. Text me at xxx-xxx-xxxx to let me know if you can see the wheelchair lift at 9:00 this morning or 7:00 this evening. I’ll send you my address if either time works for you.

Until that email, everything seemed to be like any other response I would get from anyone interested in what I was selling on craigslist. And then I got this email:

Hello! let's do like this, actually now I'm not in town for now, I came to visit my son so i wont be able to meet with you but am ok with the condition as seen on the advert, I'll proceed in issuing a Check out to you and when you received the check , I will make arrangement for pick-up. So get back to me with below details asap.

Address: Not P o Box
Postal Code:
Phone Number:
Last Asking Price:

And as soon as this is provided, the payment will be overnight to you and i will let you know when its mailed out. I need you to be honest with the sale as I am a God fearing person

As soon as I saw that email, my radar went on high alert. Can you understand why? 

The first clue that this was not a legitimate inquiry was that “Matt” changed everything from his original email. At first he was available at several different times, and then suddenly, he was completely unavailable and out of town. Secondly, he asked for my name, which he already had, my address, which he didn’t need, my phone number, which he already had, and the asking price, which he already knew. But the third indication of deception was his final goodbye, stating, that he was “a God fearing person”.

When people try to convince me that they are somehow saintly in an environment where that information is entirely unrelated, I sometimes feel like Harrison Ford felt on the day he was sick and improvised a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. His character, Indiana Jones, originally had a much longer scene, but Jones shot his enemy quickly because Ford didn’t feel well enough to continue. That’s how I felt with this insane emailer. I just wanted to get rid of him quickly. So how did I respond? I wrote back:

I understand. I have too much information to relate in an email, though, so please give me your phone number so we can discuss it over the phone.

Guess what! I never heard from him again.

So bottom line – if you list items on craigslist, be prepared for the crazies to attack you. I’m keeping those emails in case he ever tries to contact me again, so I can report him to the FTC! If you have been scammed, you can contact the FTC, too, or you can click on the links below for even more information about how to detect and report scammers.

Related Reading:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Is ANY Job Really Better than NO Job?

Originally posted on Yahoo Contributor Network January 6, 2011, with the title, "Any Job is Better Than No Job! Is Any Job Really Better Than No Job?" Later posted on and removed from Bubblews.

For the record, I want to say how much I DESPISE hearing those words. I raised four children, mostly by myself, with little and sometimes no child support. No way could I have made it on the salary I was making.

If it weren't for the generosity of my parents and one of my sisters, my children and I would have been living in roach-infested apartments, eating only Ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese. What's really sad about what I just wrote is that families do live in squalor, because they can't afford to live anywhere else. Landlords can't afford to fix apartments when the rent doesn't even pay the mortgage.

I'm not defending slum landlords. I'm just pointing out the obvious - unless the government subsidizes an apartment, if tenants make minimum wage and the landlord wants to help out by offering low-income housing to people who can't afford anything better, something has to give. And sometimes that "something" is major, like a furnace or a refrigerator. Tenants who can't afford to live anywhere else, put up with the inconveniences, because they can't afford to move anywhere else.

My situation wasn't that bad, BECAUSE I had help. But my income was so insignificant, it barely made a dent into my bills.

And it wasn't that I wasn't working as hard as the next guy. In several places where I was employed, I was doing the work of three people. In one law firm for instance, when I left in tears because I just couldn't complete the work expected of one person, I later found out, because my sister took a job working for the same law firm, that they replaced me with three people.

At another job, I worked frantically to keep pace with the work, but everybody asked, "What exactly does Theresa do?" So I devised a performance measurement process to discover just exactly how much work each person in my department was contributing to the overall workload. In addition to what the other employees had do to, I had an additional job that none of them had to perform. I showed the chart to my boss. My output, on the one job alone - the one that the other employees had to perform - was three times that of the average employee. PLUS I had my other job - at the same place - during the same work hours.

However, my pay scale was nowhere near what I needed to succeed in raising my children. Here's why:

The federal minimum wage in 2009 was $7.25. Figuring on the LOW side, rent for a single parent of two children might have been close to $600 a month, food for three was minimally $200 a month. Babysitting was about $400, renters insurance was probably $50 a month, car insurance an addition $50 a month, and when you factor in electricity, phone, gas, heat, and water, you would probably have spent an additional $200. If you wanted cable, that's at last another $100. Gas for your car might have been another $75 a month. But let's leave out the cable, because cable is really not a necessity, is it?

A $15,080 year minimum wage salary equals $1,257/mo. Let's not forget to take out Uncle Sam's portion, which leaves you with about $980. And with deductions, you are left with...

- 600
- 200
- 400
- 50
- 50
- 200
- 75 

...nothing AND you owe an additional $595 - $7,140 LESS PER YEAR than the EMPLOYED individual requires just to meet basic necessities. And remember, the costs I listed were probably so much lower than what people with two children would have paid, that you might have to add far more loss to the equation.

In any event, I have to ask, HOW is having a job making $595 less per month than you need to survive BETTER than not having a job? What is the tenant supposed to tell her landlord - "Sorry, I can't pay the rent - EVER - but at least I have a job." Or how about the utility companies? What happens when her children grow out of their clothes and shoes? When you make $595 less per month than you need to survive, you can't even afford items from the Salvation Army.

The employed person could better herself by going to school, but how will she pay for daycare and transportation? Granted some government programs are in effect for SOME individuals. If you want to go into nursing, for instance, you are guaranteed to find help, but the professions for which the government is willing to pay are limited.

Let's take the problem further. Can employers afford to pay more than minimum wage to their employees? Probably not. As it is, most employees have had benefits taken away from them, wage freezes put into effect, perks taken away, and yet they still show up for work every day.

They cut down, cut out, and still they can't meet the demands of life that require them to feed their children, clothe their children, and transport their children to the grocery store.

So what is the answer? Without a job, people have to go on public assistance. With a job, people can't afford to pay their bills and end up on the streets. If you can't afford to pay the bills for your home or apartment, you can't afford to live in your home.

Again, I ask, what is the answer?

I have a suggestion. What if the government expanded its list to include professions other than the limited ones they offer? Not everybody wants to be a farmer or a nurse.

And I would like to offer another ray of hope - a government job. Nowhere else will you find pay scales that increase, benefits that are in most cases superior to anything you would find in the private sector, and more job security than you would find anywhere else. If you can get through the initial phases of poverty, find government assistance to get you through that phase, find people who will agree to take care of your children (you could take care of theirs in exchange), you can find something that will bring you out of your conditions and into something better. (By the way, the government's retirement benefits are amazing.)

Even if the job is not what you had planned on doing with your life, you can train for other positions while you work. Eventually you can live the life you want to live. It will be tough, but aren't your circumstances tough now?

So is any job really better than no job? No. But planning and researching for a better way of life, and then implementing the strategies necessary for getting a better life is better than doing nothing.

Find USA JOBS by clicking the link.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Are You Responsible for Your Child’s Unhealthy Lifestyle? Fight Fat with Food!

“Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.”

“The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.”

Above quoted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

What are we doing to our children and how can we help them live healthier lives? And how can we decrease the amount of processed foods our kids eat and replace those foods with foods that contribute to their overall health?

Recently, I watched a video of a man who was burning what looked like a slice of cheese. It wouldn’t burn, though, and it burned more like plastic than it did food. I wondered how that cheese product would digest in a small 3-year-old’s body, and knew immediately why, when I was providing daycare, the State of Illinois specifically stated that the type of cheese childcare providers were allowed to feed children had to say, “cheese” on the label – not cheese “product.”  

Cheese is a staple in so many diets among so many children – are we feeding our children plastic or real food? Are children experiencing gastrointestinal problems because they can’t digest the food we’re feeding them?

Before women decided to (and in many cases had to) go to work, moms were left at home to care for the family. When Dad and kids came home from work or school, Mom had a meal prepared for them. Today both Mom and Dad work and the kids are scheduled for so many after-school activities that the only option is to grab a hotdog as they race to the car or to run to the concession stand for a plate of nachos. 

But what might be a better option?

According to ABC News, whole, unrefined foods force our metabolisms to work harder than they do when we fill our bodies with processed foods. What that means is that if your food item lists no other ingredients beyond say, bananas, beans, etc., and the food you are about to ingest has no additives, no preservatives, and absolutely no other ingredients, you are looking at a potential fat buster.

Foods in their natural forms are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, probiotics, or essential fatty acids. Can we get our concession stands to offer healthier alternatives? Can we come together as parents and grandparents to offer our children better food choices?

It’s not too late to make changes. We can no longer use the no-time excuse or the too-many-activities excuse. We MUST make changes, and we must make them now, because if we don’t make changes NOW, our kids, when they become adults, will suffer from heart disease at alarming rates and we, their parents and grandparents, will bury our children.

Is offering healthy food options at concession stands impossible? Why can’t restaurants (even fast food restaurants) offer healthy – but also tasty – alternatives to the high-sugar, salt-laden foods they now offer? Let’s switch out the salt and sugar for some of the spices listed below. We really do have many choices. We just have to MAKE time to take advantage of them.

What follows are the best healthy foods for fighting fat and contributing to the overall health of all of us:

FISH, including Flounder, Sole, Tilapia, and Salmon – omega 3s, found in fish, build muscle which then metabolizes more fat because muscles burn more calories than does fat.

FRUITS, such as Apples, Blueberries, Cherries, Grapefruit, Oranges, Pomegranates, and Avocado (which speeds metabolism, helps inflammation, clears blood vessels, and provides fiber and essential fatty acids). Even though they are packed with sugar, they are packed with “natural” sugar.

LEGUMES, like Beans, are “high in resistance” starch and fiber.

VEGETABLES, including Arugula, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Leeks, Onions, Romaine lettuce, Scallions, Shiitake mushrooms, Spinach, Tomatoes Chili Peppers (the capsaicin in chili peppers is thought to burn fat)

NUTS AND SEEDS (raw, unsalted) include Almonds, Flaxseeds, Sesame seeds, Walnuts, and others

BEVERAGES that are unsweetened, such as Blueberry juice, Cherry juice, Pomegranate juice, Vegetable juice, Green Tea (caffein, antioxidants, and catechins stimulate the nervous system and lead to a reduction in body fat), and Coffee, which perks up metabolism

HERBS AND SPICES: Basil, Black pepper, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Garlic, Ginger, Parsley, Turmeric

MISC: Egg whites, Yogurt (plain, nonfat) – the probiotics and calcium in yogurt are supposed to have slimming effects.

Vow now to be your child’s advocate for a healthy lifestyle. If you eat foods that are unhealthy, make a conscious decision to change your eating habits, too, not only for your children, but also for yourself. Make sure you and your kids get plenty of exercise, drink lots of fluids, and eat foods that contribute to your overall health. You’ll find you will all feel better, look better, and have more energy!

Above information was taken from these three sources:

Photo – by Seemann from Morguefile

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Protect Your Children’s Skin With More than Just Sunscreen

In May, 2010, I received radiation treatments for 36 days. After lumpectomy surgery the previous winter, chemotherapy continued throughout radiation treatments and extended beyond radiation treatments. Like other cancer patients who experienced radiation, I learned that I needed to avoid the sun for one full year following radiation. Why? Because radiated skin blisters easily.

But so can baby’s tender skin. So why not protect it? 

Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer today. According to, “Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.And according to, “Many of the more than 3 million skin cancer cases that are diagnosed annually could be prevented by protecting skin from excessive sun exposure and avoiding indoor tanning.

Because incidents of skin cancer are rising each year, we must be vigilant about sun exposure. Though the article I link below is targeted toward cancer patients receiving radiation, all of the information found within the article explain what YOU can do to protect yourself – and your children – from the sun’s more dangerous rays, even if nobody in your family has cancer or is receiving radiation. 

From different types of sunscreen to protective clothing (yes, you can protect your clothing from the sun’s rays too!), you will find lots of useful information.

“Knowledge is power!”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Great Tips on Finding Jobs, Keeping Jobs, Leaving Jobs, & Reporting Jobs With LOTS of Job-Related Resources

Originally published on the Yahoo! Contributor Network Aug 27, 2009 and revised for 2015

Finding a Job

With so many resources available on the web from craigslist to monster to your local newspaper and more, finding a job should be easy, right?

Well, yes and no.

Gone are the days when you could walk into any company with even the slightest desire to work and walk out with a promise of employment. Today not only would you have to send a resume and fill out an application, you might possibly have to agree to no less than three interviews as well. The extensive interview process allows employers to "weed out" undesirable applicants, and with the number of applicants willing to fill positions these days, employers are in no rush to fill vacated spots, especially when loyal employees are willing to take on additional burdens without complaining.

Assuming your resume is perfectly prepared and that you have an employment coach to escort you through the process, you still might not get the job. Competition today is fierce. Don't think you can skate by with only a passing knowledge about what is required of you in the position you hope to fill, because somebody else more qualified than you is more than willing to step into that spot - the jobless rate is staggeringly high.

If you don't feel qualified to work in your desired profession, hone your skills or keep looking for something more suitable to your talents while you further your education. But if expertise in your desired field has prepared you for the job hunt, read on.

If you're looking for something local, look online through the classifieds section of your newspaper. Other online job searches will take you to forms asking you to list your skills, education, and desires. If you post your resume online, prepare yourself for an avalanche of job opportunities that has nothing at all to do with your capabilities. If your email inbox becomes filled with job opportunities for which you have no experience, and your objective is to find a job that matches your talents and abilities, refine your preferences - it will help you to better target your job prospects.

And if you're looking for a job that always offers benefits, check out government jobs at USA Jobs.

When employers request a cover letter from you that requires information about a previous salary, make sure you address every single question asked of you in your cover letter. For instance, if the employer wants to know why you left your previous employer, make sure you mention your reason(s) in your cover letter. Following directions correctly from the start ensures that you will be at least one step closer to getting that interview.

Writing the Cover Letter
The cover letter is the employer's first impression of you. Is it neat? Is it well written? Does it convey a sense of professionalism? Have you addressed every issue raised by the employer?
Make sure you list your full name, address, phone number, email address, and any other relevant contact information. Have a friend or family member examine the cover letter before you send it. Word processing programs can detect misspelled words, but if you meant to write about your two previous employers, make sure you spelled it "two" and not "to" or "too".
Include only information relevant to the job and to your qualifications. Anything longer than one page might find its way into the trash bin even before it's read.
One resource for writing spectacular cover letters is Best Cover Letters which offers samples of cover letters specific to different types of jobs. 
And don't forget to attach your resume. A variety of resume samples targeted to specific employment types can be found at Resume For Jobs
Preparing for the Interview
Before the interview, research the company. Prospective employers will be impressed that you were conscientious enough to learn about the company and that you can speak intelligently and knowledgeably about it.
Unless you're applying to be a sumo wrestler, dress appropriately for the interview. Act confidently. You might have to tell yourself that you really don't need the job and that the interview is for practice to help you relax. Appearing too eager can make you look desperate.
Think of the job interview as a kind of date. First impressions are important. Look the interviewer in the eye, not in a Ted Bundy kind of way, but in a personal it's-nice-to-meet-you way. Shake his or her hand with a firm, but not too firm, handshake. The point is to demonstrate confidence, not aggression, desperation, or terror.
And when your potential employer reaches out to shake your hand, do not hand her a floppy fish-like extremity that feels like you've just had your bones removed. Learn how to give a proper handshake.
While you want the employer to hire you because of your skills, experience, and personality, exposing too much of your personality might not be the best route to take on your career path. Imagine Robin Williams interviewing for an administrative assistant job while he awaits his first big opening. Sitting on your head on a chair might not be the best approach in getting the job (unless you're applying for a crazy acting job, of course).
So if you are waiting for your "big break," and if you're really serious about getting a job, curb your desire to "be who you are" when sitting in the interview seat.
If asked about a previous employer for whom you have no kind words to say, mention no names. Your new employer can investigate if necessary. One reason you don't want to give negative feedback about your former boss is that you don't know if the person interviewing you at the new company is a relative or friend of your previous employer. Also, your new employer may look upon you as a gossip who gathers tabloid material and who might expose every disturbance you encounter if hired.
Ask questions. It shows you are interested about your position. Also - in a positive manner - ask about your employer's expectations of you. It lets him or her know you care about what your contribution to the company will be.
If you previously made vacation plans that will interfere with your expected start date, unless you are specifically asked about vacation plans during the interview, don't mention them until you agree to be hired. Once you agree to be hired, mention your plans at that time in a confident (not arrogant) manner and tell your employer you understand the time off will be unpaid.
For an amazing array of likely questions that will be asked during your interview, go to Job Interview Questions. They offer so much help in so many areas.
If you sincerely wish to work for one specific company, be persistent. Send a thank you note directly to the interviewer - by name - after the interview is over. Express your wishes again to work there. If you hear nothing by the decision date, call and politely ask if they've hired anybody yet, reiterate once more your desire to work there. Don't appear as a stalker, but do let them know that your interest has not waned. Again, present yourself as interested, not desperate.
Keeping Your Job - Or Not
You now have office buddies, you're happy with your new job, and you're making money. But what if the money isn't paying the bills?
What if you are the breadwinner in your family and you took whatever job you could find. The poverty level in 2009 for a family of 4 in the United States of America was $22,050. A minimum wage earner in 2009 working 40 hours per week made $15,080 a year BEFORE taxes.
If you work at a job that pays minimum wage, you will need to know if and how often your company gives raises. Some companies promise a 4% raise and a 4% bonus at year's end. Two years later, the raise and the bonus drop to 2% and eventually raises and bonuses stop altogether. While you feel loyal to the company, they obviously don't feel loyal to you.
Or do they? Would they be willing, despite their stated cap on wages, to offer you more money or a better position so you could keep your job? More likely, soon after you vacate your position, your workload will be slammed onto the back of another employee. How a company values its employees is shown in actions, not words. Maybe you should have paid attention to the turnover rate before you sent your resume.
And speaking of turnover, have you ever wondered why the turnover rate is so high at some places? Think about this: If you start a job at a rate of $9 per hour (which = $18,720 per year in a 40-hour week - higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour), and you work for a company that offers only a 3% per year raise, it will take you 10 years to reach $12 per hour. And it will take you nearly 25 years to double your pay (see chart).
Year1 - $9.00; Year 2 - $9.54; Year 3 - $9.82; Year 4 - $10.11; Year 5 - $10.41; Year 6 - $10.72; Year 7 - $11.04; Year 8 - $11.37; Year 9 - $11.71; Year 10 - $12.05 ($25,084.80/yr,); Year 20 - $16.16 ($33,612.80/yr.); Year 25 - $18.16 ($37,772.80/yr.).
At that rate you are doomed forever to live in poverty. But if you work for a company, making only $9 per hour for one year, by year's end you will have gained enough experience to find a better paying job somewhere else. The downside to frequent job changes is that you appear unstable, but if you maintain integrity at your current job by showing up on time and putting forth your best effort, you will garner enough support from your current employer to attract the attention of someone who believes you are worthy of your asking price.
And if you enjoy working for your current employer, maybe it's time to discuss upward mobility with your human resources director. Businesses usually post jobs on bulletin boards in the cafeteria or in other locations around your place of business. Many companies hire from within, looking outside only if nobody from within fills the position. By going directly to the personnel director you show your interest in maintaining allegiance to the company. It would be worth her while to monetarily reward you for your loyalty.
Asking for a Raise or for Time Off
As time goes on, many employees find their job description changing as they take on more and more work. When somebody leaves the department, nobody else gets hired to fill the position and you absorb her job. What has happened and what seems to be happening often today is that your work has doubled and you were never paid more for doing it. Your employer EXPECTS you to work twice as hard while not rewarding you with more pay.
If you feel you deserve a raise, or if you haven't received a raise in more than a year, here is some quality advice: NEVER ask for a raise. And NEVER ask for time off.
As an alternative, DECLARE your intentions. For instance, saying, "Can I take next Friday off?" usually elicits this type of response: "No!" But confidently saying, "I have to be off next Friday," usually accompanies this type of response: "Oh, OK." If your company has a policy that requires you to fill out a "request time off" form, fill it out, hand it directly to your employer or place it in the inbox, and let him or her know, by word or with a note, how important the time off is to you. Don't cower before your boss when you hand in the form.
The same holds true for raises. When you ask for a raise, you give your employer only two options, yes or no. Many bosses will say no, simply because they are bosses. However, it could also be because the company has put a cap on raises.
Instead of asking for a raise, ask for an appointment and have ready (in case they ask for one now) a list of everything you have accomplished, including any awards of recognition and whatever increase in workload you have been carrying since your last raise. Start writing your list weeks before you ask for an appointment and include EVERYTHING in your report from the moment you arrive at work to the minute you leave your job. Some bosses have no idea what you do, and a black and white clearly written job description makes your recorded description indisputable.
If your boss refuses to increase your salary, if you can't keep up with the growing economy, and if the cost of living keeps rising, it may be time to consider leaving your present job.
Quitting A Job
Sometimes no matter how hard you work, no matter how many times you declare your reasons for deserving a raise, and no matter how many hours of unpaid overtime you give to your employer, nothing you do is ever appreciated. Eventually you realize that your amazing work ethic is being ignored and you are being abused.
But how do you leave a company when you feel loyalty toward it? If loyalty is the case, consider this: is the loyalty reciprocated? Does your employer want you to succeed as much as you want the company to succeed? If the answer were yes, they would want to see you do better with your life. But if the answer is no, they don't deserve you.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have another job lined up before you quit this job. Etiquette requires you to give a two-week notice. Your resignation can state simply, "I will be leaving (this company) as of (date)." Sign it, date it, and place it in an interoffice envelope or directly on your employer's desk. Some companies conduct exit interviews so they can discuss with you any unpaid vacation time, 401K disbursements, insurance, etc. and your reason for leaving. Be honest, but remember, the person who asks you is probably going to be the same person who recommends you to your next employer.
Some companies treat their employees so disrespectfully no notice is necessary. Probably, if you check around the community, you will discover what everybody else knows to be true: the company has a terrible reputation and was never worthy of your time or your effort in the first place.
Red-flagging A Job
Pay attention to your own feelings about accepting employment. As a future employee, you too get to weed out the "undesirables" from the pack. Before women's lib became highly vocal in the 1970s, many women found themselves working for what can only be described as perverts. With no voice, many of them endured the pain and frustration of working in uncomfortable environments where sexual favors where forcibly imposed. Today women (and men) can report the abuses. This linked article gives lots of helpful information about how to report harassment at work.
In Closing - Improving Your Chances For A Better Job
Most of our days are spent working. Because the jobless rate is so high, we often hear that we should be lucky to even have a job, but a minimum wage job doesn't pay the bills. Low-income families can qualify for free classes to improve their chances of getting a better paying job. Some businesses offer educational grants applicable to job-related classes. Check with your employer to see if such benefits are available. Also check with local state agencies to find out what opportunities are available to you. Keep improving yourself and you will keep improving your income.
And finally, some work at home - or work from home - jobs are legitimate. Word of caution: check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been lodged against those businesses. And check out their rating.
So whether you're looking for office jobs, driver jobs, retail jobs, part time jobs, or work at home jobs, good luck with your search!
Compliance Assistance - Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.
National Conference of State Legislatures Minimum Wage by State in effect June 1, 2015. Washington, D.C., has the highest minimum wage at $9.50/hr. 21 states still (as of June 2015), require employers to pay only the federal minimum wage stated above.
United States Department of Health & Human Services THE 2015 HHS POVERTY GUIDELINES

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