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Parenting In The 21st Century

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The liberal standard of society today with its radical shift of values, attitudes and changing life styles has made both parents and children flounder in a sea of uncertainty. Constant exposure to consumerism, violence, promiscuity, sexual preferences and paedophilia through the audiovisual media, has a confusing effect on impressionable minds. Erosion of authority, fragmented families, broken marriages and unsafe neighborhoods are causing an increase in mental and behavioural disorders, suicides, drug and alcohol addictions.

“Things are happening to our children that should never be allowed to happen,” said Margaret Mead.

Children of Today:

In previous generations, childhood was a simple confident journey towards adulthood. Children had opportunities for play, day dreaming and healthy recreation.

Today they are growing up without a childhood. Many infants are left in Day-care centers either because mothers are working or are disinclined to be saddled with baby care.

Then from pre-school days onward, children’s lives are steered into a rigid routine of schools, competitions, tuition and other activities. Even playtime is so structured that the primary aim is to win. As a result, children become self absorbed and do not learn to be team players nor do them learn how to win or lose gracefully. Sport becomes a time of immense pressure, even violence.

The number of “latch key” children with both parents at work, is escalating. Each evening children return to empty homes, and are alone and unsupervised for any length of time. The TV or computer becomes their close companion. There are homes where children don’t get to see their fathers, as they leave for school early in the morning before fathers awake, and are fast asleep at night long before fathers come back from work. The story is told of a busy CEO of a company, who was surprised to see that his son had made an appointment to meet him.

“Hullo son,” he said, “Is there something important you wanted to discuss with me?”

“No Dad,” said the boy, “I just wanted to spend some time with you as I never get to see you.”

Many children who are left with care givers are sexually abused. In 80% of cases the abusers are family members or close friends. Children are vulnerable. They trust implicitly especially when they are bribed with chocolates or sweets. Many times they are threatened of physical harm if they dare to complain to their parents.

Children are maturing fast and reaching puberty earlier than before. Girls are maturing even as early as 8-9 years. The rush of hormones at puberty has its own dangers. The urge to experiment becomes stronger. Though they may be physically mature they are emotionally immature, and don’t know how to handle their feelings. This makes them vulnerable to abuse.

Modern Parents:

Many parents feel a sense of inadequacy and are ready to abdicate responsibility. Some hold teachers and the education system responsible for shaping the character of their children. Others expect the Church or religious organizations to instill morals in them.

Parents sometimes want to live vicariously through their children. They set unrealistic goals in studies or sports, which the children may not be able to achieve. Constant nagging breeds frustration and loss of self worth or a tendency to revolt. Parents should understand that failures and setbacks are learning experiences. They make children determined to try again.

Over protection and overindulgence stifles spontaneity and innovation. A child has to learn social skills and how to develop interpersonal relationships. He must learn to take care of himself instead of being mollycoddled. An over-protected child will always want someone to protect him. His tolerance and frustration levels will be very low.

Many working parents experience feelings of guilt. To compensate, they shower children with expensive gifts, money or toys. Someone said, “A lot of children have so much done for them that they miss the opportunity to become competent.”

Such parents also turn a blind eye to their children’s misdemeanors.

Material gifts must not be a substitute for personal involvement in their lives.

How to be a successful parent in the 21st Century:

• Effective Parenting. This is not some inherited skill. It is a process of learning and developing. It calls for a lifetime of patience, self discipline, stamina and faith for hard days. There will be episodes of discouragements bordering on despair. Faith in a loving and caring God who gives strength, makes the journey easier.

• Building a strong and balanced family environment. Homes are not places without problems. Even the best of families cannot live in perfect harmony. There are tensions and stresses. Parents should show wisdom in diffusing these tensions in a spirit of love and affection. The concept of dependence – interdependence- independence must be woven into the fabric of family life. Children should be made to feel that they are valuable members of the family. Those who are nurtured in love and affection grow up to be responsible and resilient human beings. Parents should be quick to compliment and slow to criticize. They should ask themselves every day, “Did I hug my child today?” It may be a literal hug, a smile, a kiss or a pat on the back. There should be no hesitation in showing affection. The child who is hardest to hug may need the most hugging. A child who is confident of the love of his parents will always treat ‘home’ as a shelter in the time of storm, whether emotional, physical or spiritual. He will know where to find understanding and empathy.

• Discipline. In every home, there must be clearly marked boundaries of behaviour. The child should be aware that he cannot fight against parental authority. Parents should not buckle under defiant behaviour. This will give children the idea that they can be manipulated. Consistent discipline will earn respect, as children want parents to lead. However, if a parent has unjustly treated his child, he must be quick to apologize. The book of Hebrews says disciplining children is an essential part of fatherhood. If he does not correct his child he is treating him as an illegitimate son. Parents must lead by example. They are role models. A child learns by imitation. Everything he sees, hears and understands has an impact on his emotional growth. Faulty and inconsistent discipline is confusing. When punishment is given it should be specifically for a particular misdeed. This will register in the child’s mind as unacceptable behaviour. Similarly, good behaviour must be rewarded, achievements should be praised, and a child should never be ridiculed in the presence of others.

Discipline should involve training to respect other people’s feelings, to deal with hurt as it arises, to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions. Facing and learning to solve problems is vital to growth. He must understand that failure and success are two faces of the same coin.

Parental authority does not mean oppression or inappropriate display of anger. It should not crush the spirit of the child but should mould his character, so that he submits to loving authority, learns to respect those around him and imbibes moral values.

• Listening skills need to be honed. Questions should be honestly answered. Listening is an act of love. It involves caring and empathy. A listening parent understands, enjoys and learns more about the child. It also generates trust and security in the child. Parents need to be appreciative and positive in their attitudes.

• Emotional needs of the child should be given priority. Emotions influence every part of his life. He should be encouraged to express his feelings without fear or embarrassment. His emotions should not be trivialized. Such a child will not only be emotionally secure but will learn to respect the emotions of others. The ultimate goal is to help the child to live and function independently. A child is a total person with physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. He needs parents who know him intimately and treat him like a person. He must be assured that parental love is unconditional.

• Sex Education. Sexual awareness is a sign of passage from childhood to adulthood. The audiovisual media is quite explicit about sex. The sexualization of children begins very early, so that even at the age of five, some children think of themselves as sexual beings. Young children are dressed in sexually suggestive clothing. Behavioural patterns treat sex as a recreational activity just like any other game. One young high school student said, “It’s a physiological need. Quench hunger with a hamburger. Satisfy sex with a girl who is willing.”

The transition between childhood and adulthood is a turbulent period marked by restlessness and an eagerness to live one’s life on one’s own terms. Many parents are embarrassed to discuss a subject as delicate as sex. But they must not allow their children to turn to their peers or the ‘moral terrorists on TV or Internet, or through personal experimentation. Parental responsibility in educating their children cannot be shirked. Irrespective of what they see in today’s liberal society, children should be taught about the relational aspects of sex within the context of marriage. It is the quality of the relationship that gives meaning to the sex act – a way of communicating love, tenderness, caring and commitment.

Questions about sex should be answered honestly commensurate with the age and comprehension of the child. At no time should it be inferred that sex is sinful, but its place within the context of marriage must be emphasized.

The perils of indiscriminate sex leading to illness, disease, unwanted pregnancies and stealthy abortions should be explained. They should understand that wrong behaviour leads to emotional pain and guilt.

The responsibility of parenting in the 21st Century is overwhelming. There is no substitute for parental love and leadership. A mother who lost her fifteen-year old son advises, “Embrace them with a little added rapture and a keener awareness of joy.”

As the Book of Proverbs counsels, “Train up a child the way he should go and when he is old, he will never depart from it.”(Prov 22:6.)

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Hindu Car Blessings on Penang Island

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When you are in Penang you can sometimes witness a unique Hindu Car blessings ceremony. The ceremony is conducted by a Hindu priest at the Temple ground itself. This blessing ceremony is widely practiced by the Indians and Chinese. This is multicultural harmony played out in daily routines.

A popular place where this ceremony is conducted is at the Temple on the road leading to the Botanical gardens. This temple is open from seven in the morning till half past six in the evening. The newly delivered car is first driven straight to the temple.

The ceremony begins by first you seek blessing from the Temple Deity. You then pay a few ringgit to the priest. The priest then goes around the car, chanting mantras, ringing a bell and sprinkling holy water. Colored ash is rubbed on the number plates and some blessed words are written using colored ash onto the windscreen, flower petals are thrown over the car. A coconut is then smashed in front of the Car. Inside the temple you are also given some colored ash to put on your forehead. After the ceremony the priest will hand you a blessed half of a coconut filled with betel leaves, bananas and flowers and a tiny packet of ash.

As you get to drive away your spanking new car, you will need divine protection right away as the Temple is located right at a busy traffic junction and most probably you been blocking half of the road for twenty minutes.

Hey! Why not, if this divine helps in the safety of my car and the driver. Driving on Penang roads you need extra special emotional skills. So these days you will see Lorries, motorcycles, vans queuing up. Some vehicles are not new, so I guess it is to Top up the blessings.

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8 Steps To Buy A Used Car

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If you are going to purchase a car for the first time, it can be a difficult task for you. For most people, buying a car is a big purchase. Therefore, you may want to be careful, especially if you are going to consider a used car. Given below are a few steps that you may want to take before making this purchase. Read on to find out more.

Step 1: Set your Budget

First of all, you may want to set your budget. This will help you to create a list of vehicles that fall in your budget range. This step is quite important, which is why you may want to finalize this step after a lot of homework.

Step 2: Do your Research

While you are doing your homework, make sure you don’t rely on your emotions. Instead, you may want to you decide on the features you want in the vehicle. Apart from this, you may want to consider other factors, such as maintenance costs, mileage, replacement parts value and availability, and other relevant factors.

Step 3: Create a list of Vehicles

Now, you should search for the available cars online and contact the owners. Afterward, you should consult an expert or friend for a deeper insight into the type of used cars that can meet your needs.

Step 4: Have the Car Inspected

As soon as you have decided on a car, you may want to contact a trusted mechanic to have it inspected. The inspection service will perform a physical inspection of the vehicle to help you get a much better idea of the physical condition of the vehicle. They will check the vehicle for any noise, especially the noise coming from the engine bay. Apart from this, they will try to find out if the car was involved in an accident.

Step 5: Take a Test Drive

If you are satisfied with the steps given above, you should go for a test drive to ensure the car is exactly what you are looking for. A few kilometers of a test drive can help you find out if you should buy this car or continue your research.

Step 6: Payment Method

If you are happy with the car, you should go ahead and make the payment. It is much better that you pay through a bank so that the record of the transaction could be maintained for legal purposes.

Step 7: Ownership Transfer

Once you have parked the vehicle in your garage, know that the process is still incomplete. It will only be considered complete after the vehicle has been transferred under your name through a legal process. You just can’t drive a vehicle on an open letter.

Step 8: Change Engine Oil, Air Filter and Tire

Before you take your vehicle on a long drive, make sure you change the engine oil, tires and air filter if needed.

In short, these are 8 steps that can help you purchase a used car to meet your needs.

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Select Your Best Web Designer for It Can Make or Break Your Online Business!

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It is negative thinking to say that as of today more than 1 billion websites have been floated; and thus Internet Marketing has become heavily competitive. Instead, the positive side is there are billions of consumers out there, spread in all the countries of the world, as never before. This excellent opportunity can be used to your business advantage. How formidable it is?

If you are really bent upon meeting with success online, and stave off the challenges posed by your competitors, you have to act smart and select the right web designer, from among the numerous web development services. Only this will create your website that fulfills the objectives of a successful website.

Selection criteria for a best web designer:

There are lots of web designer services online. So you should determine first what you are looking for. If you want a demographic-specific web developer, start your search accordingly. For example, if you want to locate a website developer in any part the world, narrow down your search only to that country. (Here is interesting information relating to web development. Singapore Government offers liberal Grants under Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme – PIC – for business community, to offset the expenses relating to designing and development).

While making the search for web designer services, the main focal points should be –

– Whether they are affordable?

– Can they create websites that stand out?

– Will their designs perform?

– Will the website be found by visitors?

– Whether the Website Design will reward expected results?

– Whether the website development services provides comprehensive services?

Now let us see each of the above questions in detail.

Affordability of web development:

In any business, including online business, cost consideration is vital. You cannot pour out money blindly in the initial stages, if you want to be successful in any business. Online business starts with designing an eye-pleasing, clutter-free, purposeful and technically-sound website. Your website is your online business address; a shop-front; it is the place where you have to take back your Return on Investment (ROI) from.

The web designer you select should be able to create a website, which has all the above qualities; and yet the prices charged should be comparably competitive, if not cheap. You cannot compromise on quality for “cheaper” web designer. So check and compare the cost the prospective designer is charging, with other website designer services and select the best.

Your website should stand out:

Anything that is out of the ordinary catches attention easily. Instead of drudging into the old and worn-out path, your website should be innovative, consumer-oriented, and should be truthful and down-to-earth on its approach and activities. Simply put, your customers should love your website.

Create a Performing Website:

The website’s performance is gauged by its simplicity and functionality. Your web designer should take care to see that your website functions well after uploading online, and should continuously monitor its performance always. Fixing up defects and glitches should be done then and there and consistently. They should be available for contact 24 hours every day.

Accessibility of web visitors:

Today Responsive Website is the buzz-word. It means visitors from all countries through sophisticated servers and computing devices, including billions of Smart Phones should easily access the website, in macro-seconds. Only the web designer can make it possible by proper coding and programming the website design efficiently and effectively.

Result-oriented Design:

Web-visitor traffic is diverted to your site through Search Engines. The crawlers of popular Search Engines pose many challenges to web designer services, in creating a website that gets the immediate attention of these crawlers. Then only they award high ranking, pick the website-link and publish it on the top-page of Search Engine Indices.

Visitor enjoys good experience from a well-designed website, easy-navigation, trouble-free functionality and availability of all required details. This happy consumer-experience is vital for growth of volume of any business.

The web-visitor traffic in crowds, conversion of the visitors into buyers first and then becoming loyal customers permanently, as also bragging about their happy experience with their friends and relatives – everything depends upon innovative, technically-sound, well configured software-rich and functioning website design. This is how a web designer can make or break your online business success.

Web Designer providing comprehensive services:

The web designer you choose should be able to take up and deliver, all the other related services to web design. Their professionals should be well-versed in implementing and configuring latest technology applications, like eCommerce software solutions, SEO Services including consultation, On-page SEO, technical audit, key word research, content development and link-building etc.

Go and find a web designer who rises to your above standards and specifications – you will ensure your website’s success 100%.

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How to Choose a Web Design Company for Your Small Business?

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Choosing the right web design company is crucial for your small business. You need to do enough research before you choose a web design company, because a well structured website that has a good design and layout attracts, engages and retains visitors; whereas a poorly designed website can drive away your prospective customers. Therefore, you need to be sensible while choosing a web designing company for your business.

In this article, we discuss some of the things you need to consider before you hire a web design company for your small business website.

Technical and marketing skills:

A good company will have skilled professionals in web design and development, SEO and content. These are very important apply while designing your website. While these are the minimum set of criteria, creativity is an important thing to consider when choosing a company. Check for the company’s portfolio (list of websites designed already).

Designing SEO friendly websites:

Creating an attractive website and being online is not enough. It needs to be such that search engines find your website and rank it. For this, the website should have solid content and good images, limited use of Java, easy and simple navigation buttons, etc. These features are essential to create optimal user experience. Unless the company has some knowledge on SEO and how it works, it cannot design SEO friendly websites.

Designing according to your specifications:

Every small business has its own needs and specifications. Unless the company is professional enough to consider your specifications, you cannot get what you expect. The web design company should be able to tailor the service for you. Also, note their way of communication – how promptly, effectively and appropriately they are communicating.

Budget constraints:

Budget is always a constraint for small businesses to expand their marketing. So, while choosing a web designing company, make sure that they are offering services within your budgets. Some companies offer special packages to small businesses, you may get better services at lower prices from them.

Repute and experience:

There are thousands of service providers. Identifying a good one is often a tricky task. Research online thoroughly. It is important to consider repute and experience of the company.

Trust between the designer and business is important. Mutual trust is important as one party collaborates with the other.

Delivering results on time:

Getting your website completed on time is very important. For this, the service provider needs to provide service optimally. On-time delivery of results is indicative of professionalism on the part of the service provider.

Hope these things help you choose a good web designer company. You can also recruit an in-house designer, provided you have some knowledge on web designing to guide him in a right way.

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New to Web 2.0? Here is a Book Review of a Great Book For You

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Exploring Web 2.0:Second Generation Interactive Tools-Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis, Networking, Virtual Worlds, and More

By Ann Bell Katy

Crossing Press 2009 Copyright

Web 2.0? Whatever happened to Web 1.0? For that matter what’s the difference? And even more to the point, who cares?

According to the author, Ann Bell, an Online Instructor and Course Developer For the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Web 1.0 faded away shortly after the Dot Com debacle at the beginning of the new millennium. Before that, she says, the information paradigm was “publish and browse;” the web was there to be read from, not interacted with. Today, in Web 2.0 data streams from every conceivable source are continually mixing and combining. As to who cares, knowledge, as they say, is power; any businessperson planning to make a living on the Web would be wise to pay heed to some of this stuff.

And this is a fine book for someone who wants to learn more about the Internet but doesn’t want to get bogged down in the technical morass. Author Bell doesn’t torment us estimating kilobytes or explaining domain name servers. Web 2.0, she says, depends on sharing among users, and she sets out to show us how we all can benefit from this collaboration. The chapter on RSS Feeds, for instance, gave the clearest explanation of what RSS is and how to use it of anything I’ve yet read on the subject. Information diced and sliced and delivered to your plate to suit your needs. She also gives us a list of valuable links to use in building our own RSS system.

For those of us that have always gone blazing by such nonsensical words as metadata and folksonomy, there is an interesting section explaining these terms and showing how they are important in Social Bookmarking, another system any businessperson who hopes to succeed on the net should be aware of. Are you on delicious.com yet? Good, then you understand tagging. Of course there is still Podcasting, Vodcasting and ScreenCasts, Wikis, Mashups and Virtual Office applications to be discussed.

Virtual Office applications, or cloud computing as it is called by many, is a valuable addition to any business office. Free software and free storage that is well beyond the reach of your crashed hard drive. You don’t know where to find this valuable stuff? No problem, Ms. Bell lists several of the better-known services: Google Docs, Microsoft Live Office and Zoho. (I tried Microsoft Live Office for the first time and found it overly complicated; I’m back to Google Docs.)

Some readers might find this book a bit on the light side. Ms Bell spends very little time on technical questions. Except for the section on RSS she tends to be more descriptive than helpful in using the various items she describes. But the book does serve as an excellent introduction to the new interactive resources of Web 2.0.

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What is Marketing? Employing the Marketing Mix in Your Small Business Start Up Strategy

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As a Start Up Business Consultant, I am often asked the question: “What is marketing and how do I employ the marketing mix in my small business start up strategy?” In answer to this frequently asked question, I would like to begin by explaining what marketing is – and what it isn’t.

What is Marketing Anyway?

To understand marketing, you need to grasp the “big picture” of what marketing really is. Here goes. Marketing encompasses the entire planning process (from conception to delivery) of taking your product, service or idea to a targeted audience — ready, willing and able to make a buying decision. This exchange between buyer and seller satisfies the mutual needs of both parties, and therefore defines the ultimate purpose and goal of marketing — your product or service for my hard earned cash.

What is the Marketing Mix?

The combination of your product or service, pricing structure, the delivery system for getting your product or service into the hands of potential buyers, and the promotional activities required to satisfy your target are essentially the marketing mix.

What Isn’t Marketing?

Now that we’ve discussed what marketing is, let’s take a look at what it’s NOT. Many of us have heard the term marketing used to describe a number of activities related to promoting your small business start up. The most common piece of misinformation is, that marketing is advertising or promoting your small business start up’s products or services. This explanation is far too limiting and does not give you the full picture of what marketing really is. You owe it to yourself to learn all that you can about marketing, because every business decision you’ll ever make will have a direct impact on some form of your overall marketing activities.

Marketing Terms that Every Small Business Start Up Should Know…

…and understand!

marketing concept: The business philosophy of your company’s management team that expresses your sole purpose for being in business and achieving your sales goals. Satisfying customers and meeting their needs is at the heart of the successful marketing concept.

marketing strategy: Your goals for satisfying the needs of your target market through the planning and implementation of the marketing mix.

marketing mix: The combination of your product or service, pricing structure, the delivery system for getting your product or service into the hands of potential buyers, and the promotional activities required to satisfy your target.

target market: A segment of the market that a company selects in which to direct its marketing efforts.

marketing campaign: A coordinated plan of action for promoting your product or service to a targeted market, which ties in all aspects of the marketing concept, your marketing strategy and marketing mix.

Employing the Marketing Mix in Your Small Business Start Up Strategy

Now that we’ve successfully answered the “what is marketing?” question, let’s move on to looking at the development of a marketing mix, based on your start up’s goals and objectives, for satisfying the needs of your target market.

Employing the marketing mix in your small business start up strategy requires a recipe of four ingredients, which are necessary to satisfy your intended target.

These ingredients are:

(1) your product or service,

(2) your pricing structure,

(3) your delivery system for getting the product or service to its intended target; and

(4) all of the promotional activities involved in attracting new customers, such as advertising, publicity, sales promotions and personal selling.

Coupled together, your target market and marketing mix are what make up the marketing strategy for your small business startup.

Did You Find This Article Helpful?

If so, please post a comment. Your feedback is very important to me!:-)

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