—A Christmas adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13
If I decorate my house perfectly with holly, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls, but do not show love, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, sing carols in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the tree with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. DVDs will get scratched, toys will be forgotten, scarves and hats will be lost, a new PC will become outdated, but the gift of love will endure.
Courtesy of Activated! magazine. Used by permission. Photo: Krystine Lovett via Flickr
By Curtis Peter van Gorder
Not so long ago, the various members of our family had different schedules, and as a result, we were seldom able to eat together. I couldn’t help feeling that our family was drifting apart—especially since visiting an Italian friend who taught me what a joy “breaking bread” together can be.
A meal in an Italian home is an event. It’s not about grabbing a quick bite on the run; rather, it’s a time to swap stories, to chat, to debate, to share hopes and wishes. Then, just when you think the meal is finished, another delicious dish is set in front of you. Before you know it, two hours have gone by, and maybe many more. No need for any other evening entertainment; the meal is an event in itself.
We may not often have the opportunity to indulge in an Italian-style feast, but even in our busy lives, surely we can find a way to share a meal. There is a lot of research that supports the benefits of families eating together. The opportunity to talk over a meal strengthens bonds, creating warmth, security, and a sense of belonging. A home-cooked meal is likely to be more nutritious and cheaper than fast food. Younger members of the household learn manners—asking to pass food, not putting elbows on the table, and eating slowly all contribute to the pleasant experience. Language skills are reinforced as we listen and tell stories around the table. Eating together also increases the whole household’s awareness of food preparation—another great way of giving the children a good start in life.
No matter the composition of your household, taking time to stop and enjoy your food is going to be good for your digestion and emotional well-being. Meals are also a great time to pray for our specific needs and show appreciation to God for what He’s done.
My visit to Italy has inspired me to commit to calling our family together at mealtimes as often as possible. What we get is a lot more than just the food. We receive bonds of love, joy, and togetherness that will last.
Courtesy of Activated magazine. Used with permission. Photo: More Good Foundation via Flickr.
A compilation for parents and caregivers
The time that you spend with your children is prime time. You’re on stage, so to speak, influencing and teaching them by your words and behavior—whether you want to or not. So, in parent-child relationships, just spending time together is not enough. To make that time meaningful, it needs to be quality time. Careful thought and planning is a prerequisite for successful parenting. …
Quality time together is one of the most important factors in building healthy and wholesome parent-child relationships. Quality time together may be a noisy family celebration, a quiet evening at home listening to [your] daughter practice her music, a sleepless night nursing a fevered child, a holiday spent cleaning out the garage together, or an hour spent in animated discussion. Whatever the activity, quality time together should convey such important messages as: “I love you,” “I want to be close to you,” “I enjoy you,” “You’re fun to be with.” …
Every family benefits by setting aside a regularly scheduled family time. … When you begin to schedule quality time together, it is important that you and your child do things that have meaning. List your family’s favorite activities. Brainstorm them. Then rank these items from the most important to the least important. Finally, schedule the activities that you consider high priority. If you schedule only the easiest activities, or those that take the least effort or time, you might miss the most important ones.--Dr. Kay Kuzma
We can get so caught up in our state of endless busyness and frantic schedules and time-paced lives that we forget that what really counts most with our kids are those simple little things we do that make their homes fun, comfortable, and happy places. The following questions will help you reflect on how well you’re meeting that objective.
1. What would your child say is the best part of living in your home? What are the best traditions you do together that are so fun she’ll want to carry them on with her own child? The bottom line: What kind of memories are you creating for your children in your day-to-day existence?
2. What do you think your own kids would say is the one thing they wish they could change about your family? Could you make that change? What’s stopping you?
3. When is the last time your family sat and just giggled and laughed? When is the last time you remember your family doing absolutely nothing [together]?
4. What is one simple tradition or family routine you want to do to have fun with your family? Write it down. Then get ready to use it with your family.
Suppose your children were asked what one thing they really wish they could change about your family. That very question was asked of eighty-four thousand students in grades six through twelve who completed a USA Weekend survey. What do you think most of the kids said? (Chances are it’s the same thing your own kids would say, so think hard.)
It turns out that almost two-thirds of kids surveyed said they wished they could spend more time with their parents. In fact, more than two in five kids feel that time with their moms is rushed. What the kids said they wanted was not just more time, but more relaxed time. The kind of time a kid would consider as just plain “fun.” No expectations. No stress. No frantic pace. Just relaxed, good ol’ fun. It’s the kind of time that creates family togetherness. That relaxed, carefree time is also what our kids crave and need.--Michele Borba
One day before long, your children will be grown and gone. You’ll be thankful then that you gave them what they needed when they were growing up. … So during those hours in the night while you are keeping watch over a sick child, smiling when you want to cry, singing as you pray for patience, wiping little noses while you dream of someday doing great things for God, just remember that you are. You will never regret one prayer, one song, one loving word. Each small act of love reaches out to [your children] and touches them for eternity. After all the years of taking it all by faith, someday you—like me—will be blessed at seeing what they have become.--Derek and Michelle Brooks
As the saying goes:
“What I do today is very important because
I’m exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone, forever,
leaving something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain, not loss; good, not evil;
success, not failure; in order that I shall not
regret the price I paid for it.”
That’s doubly true for you who are caring for your children. It’s not only an hour, or a few hours, or a day of your life, it’s an hour or two or a day of their lives as well.
What are you filling their minds, hearts, and lives with? It’s not only about ensuring that they are learning their academic lessons. It’s about the love you show them, the example you impart, your manner with them, your attitude, your smile, and much more.
What will your children take away from this day? Will it add to the foundation of their life? Will you know in your heart that you traded that day of your life well, because of what it resulted in or added to the lives of your children? You may not always see that your efforts are making a difference. Some days you will, but other days are tough. In those times, look at your little ones. You are investing the days of your life in them. You are trading your time, your life, your love, your skills, for lasting dividends in their lives.--Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Courtesy of Anchor. Photo by Bill Branson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Barbara Moran, Web reprint
Our small moments can be our children's biggest moments.
As parents, we may feel pressure to compete with the high-tech variety of activities,
computers and videos for our children's brain space. It's easy to discount the gift of our time, no matter how brief or uncomplicated.
Think back to childhood.
The first time I saw a gold finch bird, I was about three. In the woods near our town's old boathouse, my mom suddenly whispered, "Look!-In that tree. See the yellow bird?" That small moment for her was one of my childhood's biggest moments. Though she had seen many gold finches, I had never seen a wild yellow bird before. The world was a beautiful, amazing place. That moment evolved into a memory.
The gold finch remains my favorite bird. I told the story to my son, who now takes charge of keeping our feeder filled with sunflower seeds. We await "our" migrating gold finches (and later, their young) each spring.
Think back to those who shared "small moments" with you. Chances are if you
mentioned it to them, their memories would go blank. But you remember how they shared moments of knowledge or kindness, and in so doing, shared a part of themselves with you.
Let us never underestimate how the genuine gift of our time, no matter how much or
little, is part of our legacy to our children. It is how we make deposits into their memory
I don't remember if that walk with my mom took an hour or five minutes. I just
remember her excitement. And her smile.
And that's enough for me.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Used under CC-SA license.
By Beverly K. Bachel, adapted
Most of us think about what we want to accomplish and set goals for our
lives. But are our kids doing the same? It’s fun for kids to imagine the
amazing things they might achieve someday—but are they doing anything
right now to make their dreams come true? There’s no better time than
the present to help our kids become real goal-getters. Anyone can learn
to set goals, and research shows that kids who set goals feel better about
themselves; have increased motivation; get better grades; and are more
satisfied with their lives.
Here are 10 tips to help kids get on the goal-setting track and into the fast lane to
reaching their dreams:
1. Make them SMART. Make sure kids’ goals are:
Not-so-SMART Goal: “Get an A+ in math.”
SMART Goal: “Boost my math grade by at least one letter by the end of the semester.”
Not-so-SMART Goal: “Get a new bike.”
SMART Goal: “Save up for a new bike by the end of the year.”
2. Write them down. Have kids write their goals and the date by which they want to
achieve them on a piece of paper. Have them post it on their wall, on the computer, on the refrigerator, or somewhere else where they’ll see it often.
3. Think positively. Attitude is everything when it comes to kids’ future success. Help
them make a list of their good qualities, remember compliments, and appreciate what
they have. Also remember that if kids see a good example of a can-do attitude, they’ll be more likely to think positively.
4. Find time. Help kids cut down on time wasters, like watching TV, surfing the
Internet, or talking on the phone, so they can free up time to focus on their goal.
5. Take 10. Set a kitchen timer or stopwatch for 10 minutes and encourage kids to use that time to work on their goals. They may find themselves motivated to keep working on their goal even after the 10 minutes are up.
6. Give a reward. When kids take a step toward their goal, reward them with a movie,
their favorite meal, a weekend off from their chores, or another affordable incentive that will keep them motivated.
7. Visualize success. Minds produce what they dwell on. If kids see themselves
reaching their goals with ease, they’ll be far more likely to succeed. Ask questions at
dinner or while driving them to school to get them talking about their goals.
8. Set “anti-deadlines.” These are the opposite of rewards. Have kids tell
themselves, “If I don’t do it by 5 p.m. I can’t go out with my friends tonight.”
9. Ask for help. Let kids know they don’t have to do it alone and that people in their
lives (family, friends, teachers, coaches) will want to help in whatever ways they can.
Offer to introduce them to a role model or take them on a field trip to learn more about a career they’re interested in.
10. Be a role model. If we talk to kids about our goals and the steps we take to
accomplish them, and they see us following through on our commitments, they’ll be
more likely to do the same.
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission.
Good character consists of knowing the good, desiring the good, and doing the good—habits of the mind, habits of the heart, and habits of action. All three are necessary for leading a moral life; all three make up moral maturity. When we think about the kind of character we want for our children, it's clear that we want them to be able to judge what is right, care deeply about what is right, and then do what they believe to be right—even in the face of pressure from without and temptation from within.--Thomas Lickona
Since our children grow up to be their own persons, free to choose their own path, we can't be sure what long-range impact our moral teaching will have. But when we begin early to teach the values we cherish, and when we do so over many years, our potential influence, I believe, is very great indeed.
Even if our children don't fully understand what we tell them when we tell them, our words may have lasting value nonetheless. They may echo in our children's minds in years to come. And as they look back through the lens of a more mature stage of development, our words may take on new and deeper meaning. As a parent, I find hope and comfort in that possibility.
So talk to your children about what you believe.--Thomas Lickona
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.--Proverbs 22:6
If you continue to hold your child accountable over a period of time, the habit he is trying to develop will become ingrained in him. He will no longer need to be reminded, but he will carry out the habit naturally without much thought.
There are a lot of habits I would like to see my children develop, like making their beds when first rising in the morning, saying please and thank you, drinking lots of water throughout the day. Those habits don't really have any impact on their relationship with the Lord, but they do make a difference. I also want them to develop habits that please the Lord.
I challenge you to examine your children. … Discover what lifelong habits you want your children to have and cultivate them. They won't develop a good habit by being nagged into it, but by constant encouragement. … If we give our children nothing else in life but a love for the Lord Jesus Christ and strong character, we will have succeeded as parents. Character will get him a job. Character will get him up in the morning when he would rather not get up. Character will hold his marriage together someday. If we as parents build strong, godly character traits into our children, they will have the potential to bring about powerful change in our country in the future.--Terri Camp
These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.--Deuteronomy 6:6–7
Before we had children of our own, my husband and I found ourselves teaching a class in a Learning Center with another couple. For two and a half hours each Sunday, we were responsible for about 50 energetic six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds while their parents attended the church service and fellowship hour. At the beginning of each week, we met for dinner with the other couple to plan our lessons and design complementary activities. These sessions sometimes lasted more than three hours, since we had to formulate goals and objectives, prepare teaching agendas, and create evaluation techniques.
Several years of mothering transpired before I realized that my life revealed a huge dichotomy. When I had been in charge of training someone else's children, I spared no amount of time or effort. However, I put very little planning or preparation time into the teaching and transforming of my own kids.
Without realizing it, I had developed the attitude, “If I can just hang in there long enough, my job will eventually be over—by default if nothing else!” … “Somehow,” I reasoned, “they'll inevitably make it to adulthood. Someway they'll mature and make a contribution to society. Someday I will have completed my task.”
But when I took the time to notice, I realized that the “somehow, someway, someday” attitude I had maintained was not working in our society. … Too many children are wandering around (or sitting around kicking the bark off stumps with their heels like mine did) without a clue as to where they are headed in life, because mothers like me have never pointed them in any direction. We can't just hang in there, hoping that somehow, someway, someday our kids will succeed. We need to start taking our child-raising assignment more seriously—making it our top priority. In order to do this, we need to take time to set character goals for our children.
* What five characteristics do I want to distinguish my child's life by the time he leaves home?
* How am I going to steer my child toward one of these goals today?--Gwendolyn Mitchell Diaz
Take [your children] by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.--Ephesians 6:4
Discipline means training your children—training them to lead a disciplined life, and eventually to discipline themselves. If discipline is something that you only do “to” children, the end result could very well be that as soon as they get out from under your control, they go wild. But if you discipline them in the sense that you teach them and train them to lead disciplined lives, then the end result is that eventually they're able to discipline themselves for the most part.--Maria Fontaine
Toby Leah Bochan
Why extra-curriculars matter
After-school activities benefit your child in ways that might surprise you. According to a recent study by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, children who participate in after-school programs are more engaged in and have a better attitude about learning, perform better academically, and enjoy an increased sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-esteem. Participation also lowers children’s risk of becoming depressed, using drugs and alcohol, and experiencing other behavioral problems.
Extra-curriculars let your child enjoy himself in a fun, stress-free environment, get some exercise, and make friends outside of school. If he shows a special talent, it’s great to nurture that ability through lessons or classes. But don’t think that an early start in anything will lead to a career—remember that most children do not grow up to be professional musicians or athletes. Pushing your child into tons of tennis lessons or dance classes in order to give him a “head start” will most likely lead to him resenting both you and the activity. Give him other options and encourage other interests, so he doesn’t feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed at just one thing.
How to Find
Start your search at your child’s school. Ask his teacher or the principal what options are available there. It’s also important to talk to other parents about what their children are involved in and get recommendations for kid-tested classes and activities.
Also check out community resources such as:
You might also find listings in your phone book under “Child Care.”
How to Choose
After you have an idea of the possibilities, talk with your child about what he’s interested in. Give him some options that complement his interests—an artistic child might enjoy a ceramics class, while a boisterous one can work off energy dancing or playing a vigorous sport. But don’t overlook what might seem like unlikely matches. Shy children often enjoy expressing themselves on stage in a drama class; fidgeters can find a way to focus through martial arts. You can also target specific skills through different activities: music lessons enhance math aptitude, and team sports boost social skills. If your child will attend a daily after-school program, try to select one that offers a variety of activities, including ones that get him on his feet, as well as a quiet area to relax and do schoolwork.
Also consider your family’s schedule when planning extra-curriculars. Will adding an activity adversely affect family time? Will you, a caregiver, or another family member be available to chauffeur your child to and from classes and lessons? If not, consider activities that can be done at home, such as music lessons and crafts, or those that are held at school.
Review the “Grade-by-grade at a glance” (below) for guidelines on how often your child might spend time in an after-school program. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it’s important to watch your child for signs of over-scheduling. In younger children, this most often takes the form of irritability, avoiding eye contact, and tantrums. In older children, look out for mood swings, recurrent sickness such as stomachaches, and complaints about the activities themselves. At any age, if schoolwork begins to suffer, it is time to cut back.
Once you’ve narrowed down the options, visit them while they are in session so you can get a real idea about the environment, the staff, and the program.
When you visit, look for:
Grade-by-grade at a glance
Wondering how many days a week your 2nd grader should be practicing the guitar? Searching for good ideas for after-school programs for your 10 year old? Use the following guidelines to steer your decisions—but remember that you know your child’s maturity and temperament best.
Keep your kindergartener’s after-school life simple and free—one or two after-school activities a week are more than enough. Wait until he’s adjusted to the daily school routine. Then find an extra-curricular that involves his creative and/or physical side, such as an art, dance, or music program.
Balance your 1st grader’s schedule with play dates, playground visits, and one or two days of an after-school activity per week. Best bets are non-competitive sports and other physical activities since this is around the age when your child is starting to get a grip on the abilities of her own body. Plus, after being in school all day, she needs an outlet to play and run. Avoid sports with strict rules. At this age, she needs free reign to make mistakes and not worry about winning and losing.
Get your child involved in choosing extra-curriculars. He’ll probably tell you what he’d like to do anyway! Steer him towards activities that he likes and doesn’t get to do at school, whether it’s sports such as swimming or skating, computers, or art or music lessons. Many kids start learning piano or violin around this age. Make sure your child has at least one or two days free a week for alone time, which he is starting to need to unwind. If after-school activities are starting to interfere with schoolwork or if your child seems stressed, you need to drop an activity or two.
After sitting all day in a classroom, your 3rd grader needs to move and socialize after school. Team sports are a great choice—now she’s old enough to remember and follow rules and can handle losing (though she’s still not ready for anything ultra-competitive). Other good choices are activities that use and develop fine motor skills, such as painting, sewing, or learning to play an instrument. Let her explore different interests but make sure to set aside still-needed family time among the team practices and play dates.
Try to get your 4th grader involved in one or two extra-curricular activities that he is good at and loves doing. It will build confidence and help him manage stress, which is key at this age when cliques and social pressure in school are beginning to build.
Another thing that’s growing is his pile of homework, so make sure he has adequate time to complete his work without having to stay up late. Set limits on seeing friends and activities if he is often crabby and irritable, if his grades drop, if he has trouble sleeping or complains of mysterious illnesses, or if he shows other signs of stress like overeating.
Don’t put too much pressure on him to excel at what should be fun activities. Otherwise he will end up resenting the time he spends doing them instead of playing and exploring. Last, don’t forget family together time is still essential. It may need to be scheduled in so your child understands that it’s important.
Over-scheduling is a problem you and your child will probably face this year. Your 5th grader is full of energy for everything and wants to spend all her time participating in activities and hanging out with friends. To ensure she’s completing her schoolwork and not becoming burnt out, you should make sure she has two free afternoons a week. While you’re at it, block out a once-a-week family time that you and your child stick to so she remembers that family is a priority. She should be guiding her own activity choices, but now is a great time to suggest community service activities like helping senior citizens or young children.
Try to steer your middle-schooler toward activities that reinforce learning and get him away from the TV. On average, middle-schoolers spend an equal amount of time every week watching TV and socializing with friends—about 20-25 hours apiece.
To improve academic performance, encourage your preteen to spend time volunteering, to join school clubs like band, chess, or foreign language clubs, or to sign up for extra-curriculars with a leadership element, such as the school newspaper or student council. It will help him feel more connected to the school community while forging friendships based in common interests and experiences. As always, keep an eye out for signs that he is over-extending himself with after-school commitments. As a general rule, he should be spending fewer than 20 hours a week participating in after-school activities.
The American businessman was at the pier of a small Mexican coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. In the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”
The American then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.
The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife Maria. Then I stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”
“I am a Harvard MBA,” the American scoffed. “I could help you. You should spend more time fishing. With the proceeds you could buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you would run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”
“Fifteen or twenty years.”
“But what then, señor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandchildren, take siestas with your wife Maria, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”—Author unknown
Almost two centuries ago, men followed the events of Napoleon Bonaparte’s march of conquest across Europe, waiting with bated breath for any news of the outcome of his various wars. All the while, babies were being born in their own homes. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles!
However, in that one year, 1809, there came into the world several babies who were destined to become stars of the greatest magnitude—William Gladstone, considered by many as Britain’s greatest statesman of the 19th century; Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s most famous presidents; Alfred Lord Tennyson, the celebrated poet laureate of Britain; and the Frenchman Louis Braille, the blind inventor of the widely used Braille system of reading for the blind. While they were being born, no one thought of babies, just battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809?
Some fancy that God can manage His world only with big battalions, when all the while He is doing it by babies. Whenever a wrong needs righting or a truth needs preaching, God sends a baby into the world to do it.
With all that there is to do in your busy lives, it’s sometimes easy to see your children as just one more thing you must take care of, and if you’re faced with a particularly hectic day, the simplest course of action can seem to be that of letting them entertain themselves with toys, videos, or games, while you take care of the business of the day.
What you need to realize is that the love, concern, discipline, and attention that you fill up your child’s life with is what helps them to mature into the person they’ll become. If you are too busy to give your children the time and love that they need, you’ll miss out on one of life’s best investments; while you may meet other expectations of your day, those things will not live on eternally. It’s what you pour into your children that lives beyond today.
You will always have work to take care of—the house to clean, a pile of clothes to launder, and bills to pay—but you won’t always have your children with you, and you won’t be able to regain the moments you lost “because you were too busy.” Every day, every moment, counts in helping to build your child’s future, and making them who they will become.
Text copyright © TFI.
Sandra J. Bailey
Research shows that successful single-parent families have the following
1. Parents accept the challenges presented to them as single parents and they are determined to do their best.
2. Single parents make parenting their first priority.
3. Discipline is consistent and democratic. Parents are neither permissive nor too
4. Parents emphasize open communication and expression of feelings.
5. Parents recognize the need to care for themselves.
6. Parents develop or maintain traditions and rituals for their families.
7. Parents become financially self-sufficient and independent.
8. Parents move forward with their lives in a positive manner.
9. Parents are successful in managing family time and activities.
The same characteristics that make single-parent families strong are found in strong families in general. In Secrets of Strong Families, John Defrain and Nick Stinnett identified six characteristics of strong families as follows:
1. Family members spend quality time with one another.
Find time to spend with your children each day.
2. Strong families are committed to one another.
3. Family members show each other appreciation.
4. Communication skills are good in strong families.
5. Crises and stress are viewed as opportunities for growth.
6. Family members value spirituality.
No family is perfect and there is no one right way to be a family. Think about what is important for your family. Assess your family and plan ways to strengthen it. Use the six characteristics of strong families as a guide.
Excerpted from http://singleparentsnetwork.com/Articles/Detailed/245.html