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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jeremy MoodyNobody likes sex offenders. It's a simple truth. But a South Carolina husband and wife team charged with killing a sex offender and the criminal's wife aren't exactly heroes either. 

    Cops say Jeremy Moody and his wife, Christine, shot and stabbed Charles Parker and his wife, Gretchen, simply because Parker was on the state's sex offender registry. Scarier, still? Moody allegedly planned to go on a spree, killing every sex offender he could find.

    I know, it's tempting to do the same. As I mentioned before, no one likes a sex offender, least of all me.

    But if you can't see what's wrong with killing Charles Parker, a man who technically was free to go about his life and who wasn't actually doing anything wrong when he was murdered, at least you can see the problem with killing Gretchen Parker. She wasn't a sex offender. She hadn't hurt anyone.

    All she did was end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cops say she was killed only because she was in the house.

    Now just imagine the Moodys hadn't been caught, if they'd been able to continue with their alleged plans to travel the state taking out sex offenders, one by one. If they cared so little for Gretchen Parker's life, just imagine how many other innocent victims would have been left in their wake? People who don't carry the stain of having done something horrible to other people.

    Vigilante justice sounds like it's heroic. It's been romanticized by countless books and movies.

    But the sad truth is, there's nothing heroic about taking lives. At the end of the day, it's still a crime, and it still hurts countless people.

    Do you support what the Moodys are accused of doing? Have you ever pondered doing something similar?

     

    Image via police


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  • 07/25/13--11:24: 11 Myths About Only Children
  • Post by Jeanne Sager

    one If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that my child was doomed because I haven't given her siblings, I'd probably have enough money to adopt at least a dozen more kids. The number of only children in America is on the rise, due in no small part to the fact that it now costs $295,560 to raise a kid to their 18th birthday. But the fact that there are more onlies out there hasn't stopped the myths.

    Stereotypes of what it means to grow up without siblings abound, and with an 8-year-old daughter who is brother- and sister-free, I have heard them all. And every single blasted one leaves me sputtering.

    Let's just say that if you believe ANYTHING on this list, it's time for you to get educated about onlies!

    1. They can't make friends. Actually, a study of middle and high schoolers presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2010 found that children without siblings are just as likely to be selected as friends by their classmates as those who grew up with brothers and sisters.

    2. They're miserable. Scientists at the Institute for Social and Economic Research shot this one in the foot in 2010. One of their chief bits of evidence? Kids with siblings cited myriad problems with them. Over half of the children surveyed said they had been bullied by a sibling, and one in three said they had been hit, kicked, or pushed on regular occasions. Others complained of name-calling and having their belongings stolen.

    More From The Stir: 15 Classic Sayings Moms of Only Kids Never Get to Say

    3. They're spoiled. Do I really need a study to say this isn't true? Just look around you at the excess that is the average American child's playroom or bedroom these days. This is not a problem singular to single child households. Also of note? The number of only child families in America rose during the Great Depression ... because parents couldn't AFFORD more kids. So much for that spoiling 'em theory.

    4. They're self-centered. Studies of selfishness in kids have shown it has less to do with siblings (or lack thereof) and more to do with the development of the brain over the years. Turns out MOST young kids are selfish, not just onlies.

    5. They're accidents. This is one of the rudest myths out there, and one I can debunk pretty easily. My husband and I actively tried for a baby for six months. Just saying.

    6. Their parents don't love them. This one goes hand-in-hand with the accident theory. There's an assumption that parents who stop at one are unhappy to be parents at all. This isn't just nonsense (check out the 20 unselfish reasons parents have stopped at one), it's rather ironic consider the next myth.

    7. Their parents hover. While there is evidence to prove a benefit of the one-on-one time that it's easier for parents of an only child to bestow on their kids, the helicopter parenting trend is so much bigger than the 1 in 5 families with one kid.

    8. They need imaginary friends to keep them company. Studies show 65 percent of ALL kids make up imaginary friends to keep them company (I have a brother, and I'm one of them), and there's no indication that more of them are onlies.

    9. They're bossy. My only child is, indeed, a little bossy. But then so is her mother ... a sister of a brother. My husband, on the other hand, is also an only child, and he's extremely passive. Pretty conclusive, I'd say, but you can also consider this: studies have found that the personalities of onlies are "indistinguishable" from their peers'.

    10. They mature too quickly. I have heard this one quite a few times from people concerned that my daughter spends much of her time with adults rather than kids her age. Anecdotally, many of the parents of onlines who I've spoken with say the opposite -- because there is no older sibling to introduce them to age inappropriate concepts, they've warned me my daughter could mature more SLOWLY!

    11. They can't succeed without their parents. Chelsea Clinton, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Condoleezza Rice, and Frank Sinatra would also disagree with you on that one. Yes, they were all onlies.

    What only child myth drives you up the wall?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle Evans mugshotGood news for Jenelle Evans. At least one of the charges pending against the Teen Mom 2 star has been dismissed. She won't be headed to jail for cyberstalking. But what about her heroin possession charge?

    Could she skate on that one after admitting on national television that she was a heroin addict? Well, yeah, maybe.

    Jenelle's now famous lawyer Dustin Sullivan told WetPaint he doesn't foresee his client having to return to court. He wants to get all of Jenelle's felony charges dropped out of court.

    Well duh, of course he does. That's a lawyer's job.

    More From The Stir: Jenelle Evans' Scary Emergency Surgery Is the Real Deal

    The question really is: should prosecutors in Brunswick County, North Carolina play hardball here? Or should they let Jenelle off ... again?

    If you'll remember, police allegedy found 12 bindles of the illegal drug in Jenelle's car. Both Jenelle and husband Courtland Rogers were charged with possession with the intent to sell, manufacture, and/or distribute. Courtland had a court date of his own this week, and it's rumored that he pleaded guilty on the drug charge, as well as assault on a female.

    By saying he was guilty of the drug charge, Courtland does leave room for Jenelle's lawyer to pin it all on him, but her tearful confessions on the Teen Mom reunion show about using drugs aren't exactly helpful to her case.

    Worse, look at her track record. Jenelle has been in and out of jail so many times it will make your head spin. Every time they've gone easy on her, she's spit in their faces! And she's progressed from the pretty low-key marijuana to hard-core heroin use!

    Her smart lawyer may be able to work the system for Jenelle again, but if they let her go, what can we expect NEXT time she's arrested? Actually selling drugs? Hurting someone when she's high? Who knows.

    But her track record tells us it probably won't be pretty.

    Do you think they should go hard on Jenelle or has she straightened up enough that the felony charges should be dropped?

     

    Image via Brunswick County Sheriff's Office


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    hot dayIn heartwrenching news, police have reported that another person has been found dead inside a hot car this summer. Only this wasn't a young child. Arlington, Texas police say it's a man in his late 20s or early 30s, a man with special needs who had the "mental capacity of a young child."

    Different from most of the stories we hear about these sort of tragedies? Of course. But his death is no less tragic.

    And the person responsible for such a tragedy should be made to pay.

    Cops say the man -- whose identity has been withheld pending family notification -- wasn't left in the van by a forgetful family member but an employee of a company called Fundamental Living, a for-profit organization that provides services for folks with special needs. The man lived at one of the company's group homes, and he reportedly entered the van to be taken with other residents to another location.

    Unfortunately, he never made it to that location. Instead he remained in the SUV, and he was discovered, still in the car, back at the group home by another employee.

    A tragic accident? That depends on how you look at it. The employee was charged with getting this man from Point A to Point B, a duty he did not fulfill. He (or she -- we don't have an ID, but to make it easier, we'll stick with he for now) knew this man had the mental capacity of a young child and thus needed to be watched intently to ensure he made it safely to his destination. He didn't do that.

    He didn't do his job.

    And we're not talking about forgetting to make copies for the boss or not bothering to put TWO staples in the TPS reports. We're talking about a job where you're responsible for human lives, where you knew that families were trusting you to care for their loved ones

    You know what is on the line when you take a job like that. Failure is not an option.

    It may have been an accident, technically, but some accidents are so serious that they come with consequences. This is one of them.

    What do you think the company should do with this employee? Should charges be filed?

     

    Image via kenner116/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jacqueline LauritaJacqueline Laurita has gained a reputation for being a vocal advocate for her child. For the most part, that's a good thing. But TheReal Housewives of New Jersey star and husband Chris Manzo have proven you can be a little TOO vocal about your kids.

    In a preview of this weekend's RHONJ episode, Laurita and Manzo are seen out to dinner talking about son CJ becoming more like a man every day. And by that, I mean talking about his, ahem, manly habits.

    And by manly habits, well, I'll just come right out and say it. His parents did.

    They think CJ Manzo masturbates. After all, Chris admits he started at 11; Jacqueline in sixth grade.

    They're probably right about their son. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents that MOST kids masturbate and that it's completely normal. The doctors advise parents not to freak out, noting, "A child who masturbates is not oversexed, promiscu­ous, or sexually deviant."

    Good on Jacqueline and Chris for recognizing that their kid is just a sexually healthy human being, not a freak.

    But did they really need to discuss it on national television? Can't this kid have SOME secrets?

    Shouldn't all kids have the right to keep these matters to themselves?

    The RHONJ stars are in the unique position of being on television, but they are hardly the only (or for that matter, the worst) offenders. Parents like to talk about what is going on in their kids' lives with one another, often lamenting and/or bragging to friends.

    Go check out your Facebook feed, and you're bound to see at least 15 or 20 status updates on everything from "how do I get my toddler to poop in the toilet?" to "my daughter aced her karate belt test!"

    Talking about our kids is part of being parents. But protecting our kids is ALSO part of being parents.

    The older they get, the less we should share.

    Some information, when it gets out, can be used by bullies to target our kids. It can be used by their friends to tease them. It can haunt them in countless ways for a good, long time. Subjects as taboo as pleasuring oneself are at the tippy top of that list.

    Just think of it this way: would YOU have wanted the whole school knowing you liked to flick the bean or whack off when you were a teenager?

    Then don't do that to your kid!

    What subjects have you decided to stop talking about now that your kids are older?

     

    Image via Bravo


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Lincoln MemorialThe Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. was vandalized in the wee hours of Friday morning. Splashes of green paint were discovered all over the legs of the giant statue of our 16th president. Is nothing sacred anymore?

    We aren't talking about some chalk on a sidewalk or even graffiti on a railroad car, here, folks. We're talking about a symbol of America!

    Warning: I'm about to sound a good 60 years older than I actually am. Next thing you know, I'll be stocking my grocery cart with blue hair rinse and prunes.

    But what happened to respect?

    Respect for things that don't belong to you. Respect for the hard work of people who maintain memorials like the monument that overlooks the National Mall. Respect, gosh darnit, for America?!

    The Lincoln Memorial is a tourist attraction, maintained by the National Park Service, but open to all, free of charge. It's a place where we can go to marvel at the artwork of the sculptor (his name was Daniel French, in case you're wondering) of this majestic structure and reflect on the forward-thinking of a man raised in a tiny one-room log cabin who rose to the highest office in the land. It's a place the Park Service says is symbolic of our nation and of our ideals -- that all men are created equal.

    When I last stood there, I was a teenager. I was on my senior class trip, spending time doing teenage things with more than a dozen of my classmates. Still, I was awed. Still, I was moved to quiet reflection.

    The Lincoln Memorial is so vast, its meaning so powerful, that its hold was impossible to deny, even as a teenager with fun on the brain.

    That a person (or people) could stand in the face of something so powerful and be intent on destruction is puzzling to me. But more than that, it's sad.

    It's sad that someone could not feel the overwhelming sense of good fortune we have as Americans.

    The monument is being cleaned, the vandals sought. They will likely be called to pay for their crimes, but there's no way to make them feel what it is they should feel when standing there.

    Check out the clean-up efforts and some of the paint damage:

     

    Have you visited the Lincoln Memorial? What was it that you felt standing there?

     

    Image via PetCoffr/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kate Middleton Prince William Prince GeorgeKate Middleton and Prince William have had one heckuva week, haven't they? Monday, they welcomed Prince George to the world. Tuesday, they introduced the royal baby to the world AND entered their first mommy war. Wednesday, they gave him a name! And now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have settled in at Michael and Carole Middleton's house to bond with the royal baby.

    In other words? Now the really hard part begins.

    I'm not trying to downplay how tough it must have been for the Duchess to have to walk out in front of the entire world -- in heels no less! -- just a day after giving birth. Kate Middleton is -- and I mean this with every bit of my being -- one of my heroes. She's the princess who makes me comfortable with my daughter idolizing princesses. She's one tough cookie to have done so well with such a challenge on her plate. 

    More From The Stir: Royal Baby Makes His First Public Appearance (PHOTO)

    But speaking purely from a mother's perspective, I remember what the days immediately after my daughter's birth were like. They were exciting!

    We got phone calls and visitors and flower deliveries! It was busy, busy, busy. And then, just as suddenly as it all happened, it all stopped. The calls. The visits.

    We were alone with our daughter, alone to try to keep this teeny, tiny little human alive.

    This is what life is going to be like for Kate Middleton and Prince William. Sure, they're in her hometown of Bucklebury, living with her parents, so she won't be completely alone, but the new parents have made it very clear that they want to do things on their own.

    More From The Stir: Royal Baby’s Debut Captures Our Hearts -- But What About Our Wallets? (PHOTOS)

    And parents in the house or not, they likely will. My in-laws came to visit soon after my daughter was born, but it was still my husband and I waking all hours of the night, still me breastfeeding (or trying to anyway), still the two of us doing the bulk of the care.

    It's when it quiets down, when you are alone at night with a screaming newborn, that the weight settles on your shoulders: you realize that you are responsible for this little life. You brought them into this world, and now YOU need to protect them.

    It may be the single most terrifying -- and wonderful -- feeling in the whole world.

    But it hits everyone, no matter how rich, no matter how famous, no matter how many royal nannies they may have. Because the more time you spend with your new baby, the deeper in love you fall. The deeper in love you are, the more desperate you are to make their life perfect.

    As hard as it may have been to have the whole world talking about her "vaginal birth" or debating her "mummy tummy," trust me ... nothing is harder than that. 

    Do you think the royal couple have it any easier or harder than the rest of us?

     

    Image via Getty Images/Chris Jackson


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    sleeping bagThere's a photo on my fridge from my daughter's first ever sleepover that always cracks me up. In it, she and a little boy are making funny faces at the camera. Did you catch the fact that I said little boy? We have rocked the co-ed sleepover in our house.

    Movies. Popcorn. Ice cream sundaes. You name it, it's come out.

    I guess this is where I should 'fess up to the fact that her very first sleepover friend was (is?!) her cousin. He's just shy of a year older, and they have a lot of fun together.

    Still, he's a boy. She's a girl.

    I never thought twice about letting him sleep over, even letting them sleep in the same bed.

    Bad mom? To hear some of the mothers 'round the web talk (type?), yes. Admitting you've thrown a co-ed sleepover is just this side of saying you've dosed the kids' bottles with antifreeze (now, I have NOT done that) in some circles.

    I don't get it. At least not when it comes to young kids (teens are a whole different story).

    They're little kids! Little kids barely notice gender. And the risk of any hanky panky is 0. They are KIDS.

    Little. Kids.

    I'm not an ostrich with my head in the sand here. I know there are some kids who act inappropriately very early.

    Those are the scary facts that keep moms up at night. But what allows me to actually fall asleep is reminding myself that those kids are few and far between. Most little kids are pretty, shall we say normal?

    At 8, my daughter is pretty normal as are her boy friends, boys who frequently come over for playdates. As I type this, I can hear peals of laughter from my front yard where she and her friend, M., are digging for earthworms in dirt they've soaked with the hose.

    The other day she asked for another co-ed sleepover with one of them. Some moms -- the moms I mentioned above -- would say "no" immediately.

    I didn't. I said I'd talk to her father and to the little boy's mom -- the same answer I give when she asks to have a little girl sleep over.

    At 8, I'm perfectly fine with her having a boy friend sleep at our house should the other adults say it's OK. The rules won't be much different from having a girl (although the girls often change clothes in the same room ... that will be different). They'll probably have pizza and sundaes, they'll play in the backyard until it starts to get dark, they'll be allowed to watch a movie before bed, and then they'll have to go to sleep.

    They'll do kid stuff because they are still kids.

    Do you let your kids have co-ed sleepovers? When will you stop?

     

     

    Image via gabriel amadeus/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    praying I can think of plenty of things to do when my daughter leaves for school in the morning. Throw myself a party and actually find time to brush my teeth among them. Setting up shop on the steps of my kids' high school and loudly praying for their safety has never crossed my mind, how about you? That's what just got a mom banned from the front steps of her kids' high school in New Hampshire.

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against Lizarda Urena and her displays on the front steps of Concord High School. It was enough to end Urena's daily prayers at school. But I can't help but wonder: did it really take a foundation to tell her this was a bad idea?

    I'm not here to bash Urena's faith. If she really thinks that prayer can keep her kids' school free of gun violence, more power to her.

    But I have to wonder what kind of mom thinks it wise to stand outside her kids' high school and do ANYTHING that draws attention to her. Gun violence is scary, sure, but it's -- thankfully -- rare in our high schools. Bullying, on the other hand, is at epidemic levels (or at least reporting of it is). 

    And there's nothing like being the kid with the freaky mom to put a giant target on your back.

    Because Urena might see her faith as beautiful, and as an adult, as a mom, I CAN see the love behind it. But most teenagers won't see it that way. Think back to when you were a teenager. What would you have thought if you saw some random woman praying on the steps of an American high school every morning?

    Now what would you have thought if she were your mom?

    As much as I want to stand up and say that we all need to let our freak flags fly, the truth is, as parents, we can't. We have to hide some of it, at least when it comes to our kids. We need to respect that they have enough going on in their lives without having to defend us against a bunch of hormonal, short-sighted teenagers.

    It's hard enough being a teenager, navigating the perilous halls of high school without dragging your parents' baggage with you on your back.

    I understand the temptation to stand outside your kid's high school and do anything you can to keep violence at bay -- be it praying or standing as an armed guard or whatever -- but if there's one place our kids should be allowed to just be themselves, without us causing trouble, it's at school.

    Do you think Urena was out of line?

     

    Image via Ian Sane/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Deanna BallmanIf you think it's hard finding a job in a rough economy, try being pregnant and looking for work. It's a scary world out there. And the murder of pregnant mom Deanna Ballman, who answered a Craigslist ad to clean a doctor's house last year, doesn't make it any easier.

    Ballman was working odd jobs until she gave birth, when she hoped to find something steady. But that never happened. Deanna Ballman was raped and murdered with an injection of a lethal dose of heroin. Her unborn baby, Mabel, also died that day.

    Ballman left behind two older children.

    Her sister, as executor of her estate, is now suing the doctor who allegedly killed her, along with Craigslist and the hospital where the doctor worked before his medical license was suspended, for $40 million. The money could take care of her kids, kids whose mom was killed in part because of the work that she was doing to care for them.

    Not that any of this is Deanna Ballman's fault. Not by a long-shot.

    Cops say that is on Dr. Ali Salim who is charged with two counts of murder as well as rape, felonious assault, corrupting another with drugs, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.

    But the choices she was stuck with, that she was so desperate for work, certainly hurt her in the end.

    Whether her alleged killer -- Dr. Salim's case is still working its way through the criminal courts -- was able to overpower her because of her pregnant state or not, we don't know. But there's no doubt here that her pregnancy played a role in her death. It made her desperate, desperate enough to take a job in a private house, a job that wasn't tied to an agency or service.

    There is ALWAYS a risk when you work in someone else's home. You're on their territory, for one, and you're in a private place, where things can go on sight unseen. Going in on your own, without the backup of some agency, makes it riskier. There's less of a paper trail making the client feel like they could get caught.

    Not to mention the client could be anyone -- there's no one taking a credit history back at the office.

    Not every Craigslist ad is suspect. There are hundreds (thousands?) of people making transactions every day on there that are perfectly safe and good for the economy.

    But the more desperate you are for work, the more willing, it seems, you are to take risks ... risks that could put you in a Deanna Ballman-like situation.

    Have you ever taken a job in someone's home without being sent there by an agency? Would you do it again?

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Abigail BeutlerUsually, I hate stories about sick babies. I can't even read those fundraising letters from the March of Dimes; they make me want to cry. But the story of a little girl who was just born with no kidneys is one of the most inspiring I've ever heard that I just had to share it. She's the first ever baby to survive with no kidneys!

    How awesome is that?

    Heck, doctors say Washington State Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler's new baby girl was saved by her premature birth. How often do you hear that?

    Obviously it would be more awesome if Beutler had an uncomplicated pregnancy and an unremarkable birth.

    But life rarely works out as we plan. And the Beutlers' story is so remarkable that it's one to remember every time things go a little haywire.

    Hope is our best asset in a fight against adversity. Hope is the point of those March of Dimes pamphlets I can't bring myself to read.

    Hope is what every new baby represents, but especially a kid like Abigail Beutler. Because our kids are coming into a world where amazing things can happen, like a baby being born with no kidneys and surviving -- for the first time ever.

    Abigail was born at Johns Hopkins at 28 weeks after her mother found out her child had Potter's Syndrome, an often lethal complication that means a fetus has very little to no amniotic fluid, causing them to be compressed in the womb. Her mom had several procedures during pregnancy where doctors inserted saline into the womb to act as amniotic fluid. Then they delivered her early -- very, very early.

    That enabled doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in California to start dialysis (basically letting machines do what the kidneys usually do). They expect that will keep the little girl alive until she's big enough for a kidney transplant.

    Amazing, right?

    Absolutely miraculous.

    And so darn full of hope that she should give all of us out here hope for a better tomorrow for our kids. If medicine can help a baby with no kidneys live, what else can it do?

    Are you inspired by Abigail's story?

     

    Image via Lucile Packard Children's Hospital


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kyron HormanUgh. Kyron Horman's mom has been dealt another horrible blow. Remember the sweet-faced little boy who went missing sometime after attending a science fair at his Oregon elementary school in 2010? The then 7-year-old is still missing, and now a lawsuit against stepmother Terri Horman is dead in the water.

    Kryon's mom, Desiree Young, has officially pulled the $10 million suit against Terri, the woman Young suspects knows what happened to her little boy. Kyron's mom says she can't move forward unless cops release information necessary for her case. The problem? The cops can't release that information because it's part of the investigation into Kyron's disappearance.

    Talk about a catch-22!

    Terri Horman was the last person to see Kyron alive. Kyron's dad, Kaine Horman, has allegedly filed for divorce because he too thinks she was somehow involved in the child's disappearance.

    And Young has said her lawsuit wasn't about the money. It was about getting answers about what happened to Kyron.

    But she can't get answers because the police can't give her information. But the police can't give her information because they don't have the answers either!

    Jeez Louise, can this woman catch a break? I'm not questioning the cops here; they're just doing their jobs. I don't really know that they can do anything BUT what they're doing. They just need a break in this case so they can help this family.

    That's what makes this so frustrating. The cops, the professionals, can't get anywhere in three years.

    A lawsuit seemed like Desiree Young's last chance to actually get answers about what happened to her little boy. Now that chance is gone.

    Quite frankly, the only chances that remain are someone screwing up and getting caught -- which is pretty unlikely after three years -- or that the new attention to the case from the dropped lawsuit will prompt someone, somewhere to come forward. That's probably just as unlikely, but for Desiree's sake, for Kyron's sake, I hold out hope.

    There's only so many devastating blows a mom can take.

    Have you followed Kyron's case? What's your hunch?

     

    Image via National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Gwyneth PaltrowIncoooooooming! Gwyneth Paltrow is moving back to the United States, and she's bringing the kids with her! Nine-year-old Apple and 7-year-old Moses will get the chance to learn what it's like to go to school with kids who talk more like mom than dad.

    But they shouldn't get used to it. Gwynnie reportedly won't be letting her kids go to high school here in America. They'll be heading back to jolly old England when it comes time for that.

    Yes, you got that right. Paltrow is moving two kids across the world, making them leave behind friends and start at a brand new school, only to pick them up and make them do it all over again in a few years.

    And I can't help but feel a little bad for her kids.

    I'm well aware that kids move all the time. Just look at children in the military. They're lucky if they get two years in one place.

    I am not here to tell a military mom that she's bad at what she does. She's doing what she has to do, and my hat is off to her (and to military dads too, of course).

    But Gwyneth Paltrow is not a woman whose living depends on moving every two years. She's a woman with a gazillion dollars at her disposal who could very, very easily afford to let her kids stay in one place for a good long time.

    And everything I've read about moving kids around frequently indicates you shouldn't do it unless you absolutely have to. 

    Frequent moving can affect everything from a child's self-esteem to their ability to get along with other kids, from their academic success to their ability to form relationships down the road.

    I don't say this to scare parents, but I do say it with some authority. At least one adult I know -- I'll call him M -- was moved around a lot, including around Apple's age and at the start of high school. Already on the shy side, the moves were agonizing, the effect on his relationships a lifelong problem. The problem with the moves at these stages in particular is that it's hard enough to be a tween and then a young teen, add in being the new kid, and you can seriously traumatize a kid.

    Why would you do that if you didn't have to do it? If you aren't moving for something absolutely necessary?

    Gwyneth is moving to Los Angeles with the kids to be closer to her aging parents, their grandparents -- a completely understandable reason -- but her reasoning for moving back to England in a few years is reportedly because the education is so much better.

    As if she can't afford to hire tutors for her kids here in the states? As if she can't find some way not to unsettle them all over again?

    I confess I didn't move as a child. My parents still live in the home they purchased before my mother got pregnant with me. So I'll admit a bit of a bias against moving.

    I'll also admit that M's story and ones from other kids who moved frequently, coupled with the data I've read over the years about moving kids, has made me take very seriously the idea of what the next decade or so will be like with my daughter. If I can help it, we won't move.

    We aren't rich -- not Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin rich for sure -- but at least for now the only reasons my husband and I could see for moving are about our own personal comforts and desires. To us, that's not enough.

    Adults need to move sometimes, but they need to seriously think through their reasons for moving before dropping something so huge and unsettling on their kids.

    Quite frankly, I wouldn't be ragging on Gwyneth here if she was saying she was moving the kids once. It's that she already plans to move them back that really set me off.

    She's essentially telling her kids NOT to put down roots, not to make friends or close relationships because, sorry kids, you'll have to leave them in a few years and go through the same exact trauma you've just been through.

    For adults, that is hard enough. For kids, that's just cruel. 

    Do you move frequently with your kids? How often have you moved?

     

    Image via Pacific Coast News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Catelynn Lowell Tyler BaltierraIf you want word to describe tonight's episode of Couples Therapy, here it is: bleep. The f-bombs were flying so furiously that for about five minutes, the censor sound was pretty much all we heard. As usual it was Flavor Flav and girlfriend Liz plus Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis and girlfriend Abbey Wilson causing the bulk of the drama. 

    But living with all this drama seems to be especially hard for Teen Mom stars Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra.

    After police had to rush into the house to convince Flav's pregnant girlfriend Liz Trujillo to get into an ambulance for treatment, celebrity therapist Dr. Jenn Berman sat the whole household down for a chat. Her first concern was how Tyler and Catelynn were holding up.

    Some of the details the youngest members of the cast had revealed from their childhood led Bermann to worry that the struggle between Liz and the cops might bring the issues flooding back.

    More From The Stir: Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra's Cancelled Wedding Doesn't Sound So Cancelled

    Turns out, she was right.

    Tonight we got yet another reminder of why it was so smart for these kids to choose adoption for daughter Carly and how amazing it is that they're standing on their own two feet making such smart choices for them today.

    Said Catelynn: 

    I have a lot of memories of cops always rushing in my house, taking my mom's boyfriends to jail, you know kicking down doors to get in there. 

    Tyler's confession was similar. He recalled noticing someone shining a flashlight into his home, then watching the mysterious person -- who was apparently looking for his drug addicted dad -- smash the window of his home and come in side.

    I ran to my sister, and we just kind of held each other while they were ransacking the house.

    And you thought it was bad when Catelynn's mom got beat up by Tyler's dad on Teen Mom? That was only the tip of the iceberg, folks. These two have been through some hardcore stuff, and tonight's episode showed that even today, even with how far they've come, they can so easily be thrown back there.

    We're all haunted by a certain amount of baggage from our past, be it emotional or physical. But while some people spend childhood licking popsicles and splashing in mud puddles, for others the formative years are chock full of so much trauma that moving on is almost impossible.

    Each time Catelynn and Tyler reveal another piece of their past, it's hard not to marvel at how well they manage to separate themselves from the drama that surrounds them. Whether it was not falling prey to the scandal-plagued lives of some of their Teen Mom co-stars or not allowing themselves to be thrown off by Flav and Joe, these kids continue to amaze me.

    Did you have a rough childhood? Any advice for Catelynn and Tyler on how to move beyond it?

     

    Image via VH1


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Shana SuggsLice. They're the last thing you want your kid bringing home from school -- worse than an F on that report card even. So what do you do? Well, take it from an Oklahoma mom who just got arrested for setting her 5-year-old daughter's hair on fire. Don't use gasoline!

    Cops say Shana Suggspoured gas on her child's head to kill the creepy crawlies she brought home from school. But then things got scary, and fast!

    A space heater nearby caught both Suggs and her daughter on fire. Her live-in boyfriend, Dylan Webster, apparently put the flames out, and after dropping off the four other kids who were at home with relatives, they rushed the little girl to the hospital.

    Now the little girl is in CPS custody after a visit to the burn unit, and mom has been arrested and charged with felony child abuse by injury.

    Come on now!

    If anything, this mom is guilty of being an idiot.

    But felony child abuse?

    It sounds more like a horrible accident to me. One that happened because of her stupidity, granted, but still, the story laid out by the cops doesn't stink of abuse.

    They were dealing with the kid's lice! They rushed her to the hospital!

    They didn't leave her to deal with the itch on her head, nor did they leave her covered in burns in her bed.

    Unfortunately, gasoline is a lice remedy used by many Americans and has been since the olden days. It's not a good one; I'm not suggesting anyone copy Suggs' alleged crime here. But it reminds me of bourbon being rubbed on the gums of a teething tot -- it's a bad idea but one that is handed down from generation to generation.

    So again, I have to ask: is it really criminal to follow granny's advice? Or just plain stupid?

    From the sounds of it, Suggs and her daughter have both suffered here. Both were caught on fire, mom and child were separated. There's been a CPS investigation, there's been the public outing of her dumb move.

    I'd say this family has been punished enough, don't you?

    What do you think should be done with this mother?

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kate Middleton Prince William Prince GeorgeHere we are getting used to the royal baby's name, and it's already changing! Yes, ladies and germs, Kate Middleton and Prince William's itty bitty boy already has a nickname. But don't blame Mom and Dad. This one is on Grandpa!

    Prince Charles -- who was one of the first to meet His Royal Highness after the Duchess gave birth -- hasn't been able to stop talking about his new grandson at public outings since the birth, and he let slip the new moniker this week.

    The royal baby is now Prince Georgie!

    Ah, yes, nicknames. Good enough for us common folks. Good enough for the royals!

    Of course His Royal Highness' Prince George Alexander Louis, er, Prince Georgie's parents have nicknames of their own -- Kate is really Catherine, and the Duke has been referred to as Wills since he was a little boy. But the latter, at least, came from the prince's own mother, Princess Diana.

    More from The Stir: Kate Middleton's Parents Will Likely Be Closer With the Baby Than Charles & Camilla

    Prince Charles is pretty gutsy to come out with his own name for the little guy. What if Mom and Dad didn't approve? Grandpa could be in the doghouse!

    But I guess it's too late, now, huh?

    This is one of the lessons you learn VERY early as parents: you can't control what people will call your child. Not only did my husband and I find ourselves giving our daughter silly nicknames (some of which I'll never share, lest one of her friends Google her in a few years), but everyone we were close to had their own version. A few have asked us if it's OK to call her something different from her real name -- a gesture I appreciated -- but most don't. And that's life.

    Trust me ... if you're upset about the nicknames people are using for your brand new baby already, just wait until they start school. You ain't seen nothing yet!

    The good news for Kate and Wills is the now very public nickname for their son is absolutely adorable. If I had a George, I wouldn't be able to resist calling him Georgie myself. Well done, Grandpa!

    Does your baby have nicknames yet? Have the grandparents pulled a Prince Charles?

     

    Image via Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    playgroundFree-range parents, get your claws out. A mother in Ohio has been arrested for leaving her 10-year-old in the playground at a McDonald's for 15 minutes while she did laundry. Nanny state run amuck?

    Maybe ... then again, maybe not. A 10-year-old might be old enough to be left alone in a fast food restaurant for 15 minutes without tearing the place apart. But that doesn't make it OK to do it!

    McDonald's employees are not freebabysitters. For that matter, librarians, pool attendants, and retail clerks are NOT babysitters.

    Oh, and volunteers who sign up to coach your kid's soccer team? They're not free babysitters either. They signed up to work with your kid during practice and games, but you could at least hang around and lend a hand when your kid is acting like a little brat so they can work with the rest of the team.

    In case you hadn't noticed, this story hit a nerve and not only because Tiara Jones also allegedly left OTHER kids sleeping at home alone during this little fast food fiasco.

    Even if we left those kids at home out of this, I'm still going to say she was wrong here.

    You don't drop a 10-year-old off to play at a public place and run out to do your laundry. It's not fair to the other adults.

    My kid is still a bit too young to be left alone anywhere, but by 10, I could see her being responsible enough to go into a McDonald's-like place and place an order, pay her money, even sit and eat without me hovering over her. I would like to think I'm raising her to be responsible enough to do so.

    That said, there's a difference between "not hovering" and leaving my kid somewhere to play while I drive off to do laundry.

    The first indicates I'm somewhere in the vicinity should something go wrong. The latter is expecting someone else to play parent in an emergency, and that's wholly unfair to the employees who are being paid to flip burgers and make change.

    Still not clear on the distinction? OK, consider this: this boy didn't walk from home to Mickey D's to play. He couldn't just up and leave and go home should the need arrive. Mom took off in the family car.

    Even when our kids old enough to be alone without their parents for a period of time, we still need to consider their options should something happen that requires parental intervention. They always need access to a responsible adult who can do things kids simply can't because of their age (like drive to a hospital). 

    If you leave them at home, for example, they need to know how to call 911. If they're going out, they need to be able to either get home quickly or use a cellphone to call 911 or have a responsible adult within reach.

    The trouble comes when we put the burden of being that responsible adult on people who have no reason to do that for our kids, people who aren't being paid to do it (think a camp counselor or a dance teacher). Sure, it's NICE if the friendly Mickey D's clerk calls 911 for your 10-year-old, but she shouldn't have to!

    Do you leave your kids alone in public places? Where do you draw the line?

     

    Image via jdog90/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle Evans Nathan GriffithYou guys! Have you seen Jenelle Evans' latest craziness? The Teen Mom 2 star recently had emergency surgery on her appendix, leaving her with stitches on her tummy. So what's a fame-hungry girl to do with a bunch of stitches? Thinking .....

    Oh, I know! Why don't you let your boyfriend consult a YouTube video on how to take them out ... then tweet about it so the whole world knows you're taking your life in your own hands?

    But Jenelle didn't JUST tweet about it y'all. She went one better.

    The reality star posted a Vine video featuring a close-up of her stomach, a set of medical scissors, and of course Nathan Griffith checking out that YouTube video on removing stitches. You know, just in case we were worried that she was lying about letting a graduate of Google University medical school do what medical professionals spend years in college learning.

    Come on! Girlfriend can't be THAT broke OR dumb. She can't be so needy that she'd actually risk her own health just for attention ... right?

    I said, right?

    Sigh. The truth is, stitch removal is pretty easy, but it's important for a doctor to assess your healing before they're removed. Remove them too early, and you risk the wound not healing correctly and complications down the line. There is a REASON this is a medical procedure and not something you let your boyfriend do on a whim one night.

    If she can afford tattoos, she can afford a doctor to remove her stitches. The only reason to do this -- and to tweet and Vine the whole thing -- is so people will react. Period.

    More From The Stir: Catelynn & Tyler Reveal Heartwrenching Stories From Their Pasts

    As bad as I was feeling for Jenelle over her brush with death -- appendicitis can be fatal -- this stunt screams "pay attention to me" so loudly that it's pretty much popped a hole in that sympathy balloon.

    She needs to grow up and stop playing games with her body just for attention. One day it's going to backfire ... and how.

    Would you let someone take out your stitches after watching a YouTube video?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Mean GirlsSometimes I watch the Disney Channel with my daughter (because she's 8 and I'm a glutton for punishment), and I wonder whose idea of teenagehood I'm watching. Even the most entertaining things I watch on television or in the movie theaters tend to look nothing like the real high school years I went through.

    Sadly, kids think they do. They watch High School Musical (wait, am I dating myself?) or Ferris Bueller's Day Off (REALLY dating myself here) and think, "Man, oh man, high school sounds AWESOME!"

    So what movies do reflect high school? What movies should our kids be watching?

    I don't think any of them are perfect -- they are MOVIES, after all -- but here are a few I want my daughter to see before she starts high school. Some of them are fun, some sad, but all have some lessons worth learning.

    What is your favorite high school movie?

     

    Image via Amazon


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Tiffany DavisA mother in Maryland could be facing some serious jail time after her mentally disabled daughter was found wandering around a North Carolina hotel this weekend. Tiffany Davis was at a wedding at the time, and it seems she didn't want her teenager, who has the mental capacity of a 3- or 4-year-old, along. Cops say she'd handcuffed her daughter to the hotel bed!

    Kind of makes you wonder why she brought her along for the trip to North Carolina at all, doesn't it? But thank goodness she did.

    Imagine, for just a second, if Davis' 19-year-old daughter had been left back home in Maryland.

    Not only would a mentally handicapped girl have been left alone -- as she was at the hotel -- but who would have found her?

    It's sad when this is the bright side of a story, but the fact is, there is some good here. The girl managed to get loose of her shackles, cops say, and she left the room. She was found, taken good care of, and mom was arrested.

    Davis was jailed in Gaston County Jail on a $100,000 secured bond. Cops say they found handcuffs and a dog leash in the hotel room, and they have the witnesses from the hotel who shared enough info to substantiate a neglect charge against the 37-year-old Maryland mother.

    A perfect ending?

    No. Not even a happy one, necessarily, but this is life, not a fairy tale.

    The fact is, if this poor girl hadn't been left in that hotel room, who knows what would have happened to her with a mother like that. This was, in essence, her ticket out of there, her chance to be rescued.

    And from the sounds of the charges against her mom, it was about darn time.

    What do you make of this horror story?

     

    Image via police


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