Articles Posted in Children

Photo of a young boy looking at a map to navigate a city street as an example of free-range parentingGenerally speaking, a parent’s top priority is the safety of their children; however, how to go about keeping children safe can be an area of conflicting opinion. Even the child welfare laws that exist to protect children from abuse and neglect are subject to controversy.

Several years ago, the term ‘free-range parenting’ was coined to describe the parenting style of those who believe less supervision and more autonomy is healthy for children. This idea is in stark contrast to the ‘helicopter parents’ who closely supervise their child’s every activity. The problem is that, in some cases, this ‘free-range’ style led to parents being investigated for neglecting their children under child welfare laws.  Some argue these laws go too far and deny children opportunities to learn independence – and lawmakers in at least one state agree.

Utah recently became the first state to adopt a law supporting ‘free-range parenting’ provided the children in question were being adequately cared for, clothed and fed. What’s your take on this parenting style? Do you think more states should follow Utah’s example? To learn more, read “Utah’s ‘free-range parenting’ law said to be first in the nation.”

photo of child and parent hugging representing successful co-parenting effortsStudies have shown that, barring any abuse or neglect, children fare best when they have the influence of both parents. Unfortunately, relationships between adults sometimes deteriorate to the point where separation is the only answer, leaving the children caught in the middle. One thing most parents going through divorce can agree on, though, is that each wants what is best for their children. While what that best is can be a point of contention, many parents would admit that a life of alternate weekends, a couple of vacation weeks each year, and alternating holidays doesn’t exactly foster strong parent/child ties. That’s one reason why more and more parents these days are ditching these traditional custody schedules in favor of co-parenting arrangements.

In a co-parenting situation, exes work together to share their parenting responsibilities much like they did while they were still together. Sometimes that means working cooperatively with someone you may still harbor a lot of anger towards. Letting that anger get in the way can lead to counterproductive efforts that adversely affect your parenting. To figure out if you have this co-parenting thing down pat, read “Are You Co-Parenting or Counter-Parenting? Get It Right For Your Kids!

Attorney and Family and Divorce Mediator, Rosalyn A. Metzger, concludes her three-part article on the Mediation process with a discussion on how child-related issues can benefit from the process. To read the first two articles, see “The ABC’s of Mediation – Part I: The Process” and “The ABC’s of Mediation – Part II: Financial Issues.”

Mediating Parenting Time and Related Issues

Mediation of Child Issues - photo of young boy dressed in jeans and striped shirt holding hands with mother and father is following behindOne hot-button issue in divorce is often the children. Some people get stuck on “50-50” parenting time. However, you are well advised to consider all of the circumstances when trying to sort out the best parenting plan for your family. While New Jersey links child support to the amount of time the children share with each parent, in mediation you can separate those two issues so that money is not the guiding factor.

divorce precautions - photo of young girl in pink top holding yellow umbrellaNot all couples facing divorce do so amicably. Those who do usually fare better in the long-run; for those who don’t, however, a little preparation can help you avoid making serious mistakes both during the divorce process and in its aftermath.

Individuals involved in contentious divorces have found themselves left in dire financial straits, or have lost their homes or even their children because they failed to take precautions before proceeding with their divorce. A recent article on workingmother.com offered guidelines for preparing for divorce in order to protect both you and your children legally, financially, and physically. For details, read “How to Prepare Yourself and Your Children for a Divorce.”

custody - photo of baby's hand in parentsIt may sound like a Hollywood movie script, but actor Jason Patric is in a real-life battle for custody of his child.

Mr. Patric may have won the first round when California courts agreed that he was in fact the legal parent of the child who had been conceived through in vitro fertilization and born to Danielle Screiber, Mr. Patric’s ex-girlfriend. This biological connection, however, may not be enough to grant Mr. Patric custodial rights to the child. Ms. Schreiber has accused Mr. Patric of domestic violence in the form of physical and psychological abuse, causing the courts to reverse an earlier decision granting him joint custody of the child. The ultimate decision regarding Mr. Patric’s custodial rights will depend on completion of counseling by Mr. Patric and joint counseling by the couple. To learn more of this case, read “Jason Patric is Legal parent of IVF-Conceived Child, Appeals Court Rules.”

winter-coats-400-04545880d-224x300Now that winter has arrived and the temperatures are dropping, most parents want to make sure their children are bundled up against the cold. Be aware, however, that the same coats that keep children warm when outdoors in the winter months can inadvertently threaten their safety while in the car.

Bulky coats and jackets can produce a gap between children and their safety harnesses when the children are buckled in to their car seats. These gaps prevent the harnesses from doing their intended job, which is to keep children securely fastened in the event of an accident. So, what’s a parent to do? Read “NJ parents – This super-simple precaution can protect your child in the car” for some helpful tips.

gifted-child-400-07411176dFor many children, extra-curricular activities are a trial-and-error means of discovering their interests and talents. New Jersey’s guidelines for child support recognize this and generally take into account the costs associated with such activities in the basic child support payments. What happens, however, when a child is gifted in a particular area, requiring more extensive involvement to develop his or her special skills?

A New Jersey judge ruled recently that a parent could be ordered to pay additional child support to help cover the costs of his or her gifted child’s endeavors to improve the child’s talents. To learn more read the nj.com story regarding “Divorced parents of gifted children …

Halloween-dangers-400-08199921dIt’s that time of year again. Today while children everywhere will run excitedly door-to-door in search of treats, medical professionals will be busy manning phones for agencies like the New Jersey Poison Center 24-Hour Help Line and fielding calls from frantic parents. Most parents know by now to check their children’s Halloween bounty for the possibility of tainted candies, but the poison center warns us that there are other dangers far more common than tampered treats to watch for.

The poison center reminds parents to look for unexpected dangers this Halloween. Items like broken glow sticks, button batteries used in flashlights, cheap Halloween makeup, and food allergens can threaten the safety of children and pets alike. For more information and advice on what to do for your child in the event of an emergency, read “NJ Poison Center warns of Halloween dangers in unexpected places.”

co-parenting-400-06522675dIn a co-parenting custody arrangement, parents work together to maintain equal roles in raising their children. Proponents of this arrangement believe it provides a healthy environment particularly for the children by minimizing the disruption to their lives. There are other benefits, too. For one thing, children are exposed to positive interactions between their parents rather than negative ones. This type of arrangement may also put less of a strain on relationships with extended family members if no one feels pressured to “take sides.”

Co-parenting requires a level of cooperation not all couples can achieve, so it may not be the solution for everyone. However, because of its potential benefits, it is worth considering provided the circumstances of your divorce permit. To learn more about how co-parenting arrangements can work, check out “Mayim Bialik gets real about co-parenting: ‘Divorce isn’t the end of family’.” The actress, currently appearing in the television hit, The Big Bang Theory, explains how she and her ex-husband have made co-parenting work for their family.

Photo of child holding cutouts of family separated by divorceDivorcing couples may severe ties with each other but not with their children — once a parent, always a parent. Children depend on mothers and fathers to fill certain roles in their lives and they see their parents’ relationships with each other as a partnership. When children watch that partnership dissolve through divorce, the impact on their emotional and psychological well-being can be great.

How parents decide to approach their divorce can help lessen the negative affect the divorce can have on their children. Whether the divorce is cooperative or contentious can influence the type of parenting plan the couple can hope to have. To learn more, read Dr. Jamie Williamson’s blog, “Marriages Dissolve, But Parenting Partnerships Are ‘to Death Do Us Part’…