White Collar Criminals and their Wide Path of Destruction

01.30.12

Last year when Los Angeles’ jails and California’s prisons were overcrowded non violent offenders were paroled. In the mix were white collar criminals, grifters and con artists (perhaps the three are synonymous?). Last year I listened complacently to the news and nodded, thinking to myself, “That makes sense”.

This year I see it differently.

My friend Daphne Brogdon had her world turned upside down when she became (or rather realized she’d become) a victim to the Madoff Scam. I met with another lady last week who told me about a dear friend and business partner who had robbed everyone blind, and we both whispered about all the finance gurus online who live in their mother’s basements and don’t pay any of their bills. She is involved in crowdfunding. I told her in broad strokes about the grifter blogger here in Los Angeles.

With all of this swirling around the discussion becomes a question of how to trust people. How do you know that you won’t be continuously hurt, stolen from or punished?

After bouncing tens of thousands of dollars in checks (possibly hundreds of thousands), stealing cars and lying pathologically about her income, relationships and businesses, the grifter mom was arrested (not for the first time). An officer from the LAPD told me that she was, “The most coldhearted and evil woman I’ve ever encountered.”

As a direct result of this grifter mom-blogger’s actions my son has lost three friends. This absolutely kills me. She’s made dozens of people financially insecure, almost bankrupted a taco truck guy. Who doesn’t pay the taco truck? Who? There may or may not be sex with someone’s husband but certainly there was money and in all of this there are kids. Her kids, neighborhood kids, school kids… a lot of kids whose parents are made to feel like they might be crazy.

I’m not sure how these experiences have shaped me or if they will continue to shape me. I’m very interested in crowdfunding but the obvious obstacle is trust. I’m not sure that I’m ready to declare trust in the world.

Facebook, Teens, Privacy and the end of COPPA

12.28.11

Recently I wrote about why I won’t be friending my children on Facebook and the rules of our house. I wrote about why kids don’t need adult friends online and access to our children.

The backlash was swift and severe. People just don’t agree with me and, as usual, I’m totally okay with that.

I have one suggestion for y’all while reading my blog. Understand that this is one document written by one woman. I’m not a lawmaker or a teacher at your child’s school. There’s a very good chance that I’m not even your neighbor. So before you get angry and offended that I’ve likened friending your child on Facebook to helicopter parenting take a breath and think about why I might have struck a nerve. If it doesn’t apply to you, move on.

In any event if your teen is on Facebook it’s the end of COPPA for you. Your children officially have identities that are being bought and sold. This is the price of free. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just saying the sky is blue and my daughter’s data is being bought and sold. It’s a big and profitable business.

Now, for those of you who got very upset with me on G+ and Facebook and told me that I was a horrible negligent mother because I don’t friend my daughter on Facebook I’d like to talk to you about some other ways you can effectively parent your children though the murky waters of social media.

You can sit with your children and go on Facebook with them. Point at the kids and say, ooh isn’t that Leah from Pre K? My daughter loves looking at everyone’s pictures and giving me updates on the kids, their lives, schools, camps and sports. It’s nice spending real time with kids.

You can be your child’s admin. This can take many forms from spot checking to screen sharing. When Jane was setting up her Facebook account she was upstairs on her computer and I was in my office with a computer set to screen share. She knew I had to see how she was setting the site up but she also knew she had to be supervised. Screen share is an AMAZING tool during the week for homework when two kids are asking for your help and you have just one working printer. It’s only creepy spying if your kids don’t know you’re using it… which is frankly just fine at younger ages.

You can add your child’s logon to your devices and check in periodically. You can parent 80 gazillion ways and do so very effectively.

What you cannot do is expect to see your child on Facebook and have a complete picture of who they are. Pay attention to them at home, at school, in the company of friend and, yes, on Facebook too. Parents aren’t “finding out” that their kids are depressed from social networks, parents are finding out that their kids are depressed/anxious/afraid/happy/successful from parenting.

Hopefully your child has been on the internet with you a lot and knows not to give away a ton of personal information. Don’t fill our family trees, enter home addresses, fan their school, friend anyone they haven’t met in real life… there’s a very long list.

Sitting with your child in front of a screen full of their peers might bring about interesting discussions like, “Oh I didn’t know she was a bikini model, that’s an interesting after school activity for a 14 year old.” or “Why don’t you spend more time with Hannah? She’s really turned into a sweet girl.”

Your children (and all of us) will enter too much data. It’s what we do, it’s a mistake everyone makes (expect my brother who could put the NSA to shame). Recently I hosted a luncheon for MyInfoGuardian.com and a few friends. Here are some great posts about how to get your information (and your child who is now sharing) off the internet.

Mamavation is giving away subscriptions…. HURRY!

JoAnn is not quite sure why anyone should worry.

Kim got chills when she saw the information that was being bought and sold around her identity.

Sarah makes a great point about changing passwords (and no “password” is NOT a password)

Romy reminds us that simply registering to vote releases our data.

Julie talks about dating and cybersecurity, something every man and woman should think of. 

Daphne has a great post about how much of her info is out there and mentions the money they lost to Maddoff

Redshirting Boys for Kindergarten: What did You Do?

12.7.11

This is my very favorite momversation. You can see that we’re all in Daphne’s kitchen and the really nice thing is that Rebbeca, Daphne and I are friends. This is exactly how we chat together.

In any event I know that not all kids are ready for kindergarten, just as I know academically that some kids could skip a grade. I still think it’s a bad plan, and if you watch the video you’ll see why.

What do you think? When will you send your kids to kindergarten?

Rebecca Wolf’s Spawntourage: A Different Momversation

11.9.11

This episode of Momversation was so much for all of us. I’m very curious to see if you enjoy the format as much as we enjoyed filming.

Oh also… what do you think of large families? Watch the video and you’ll see what I think of them.

If you want to find Rebecca and Daphne they are here and here.

Have You Ever Wanted a Refund from Your Kid’s School?

05.10.11

My daughter went to a Temple nursery school. It was sweet and at the time it was a good place for her, but it wasn’t worth the money. When my son was ready for Pre School I sent him to an SRLDP program through LA Unified and  he thrived. I think I donated a few hundred dollars to the PTA over the course of a year.

Recently a New York City parent sued her daughter’s pre school because she didn’t feel like her daughter was prepared for the ERB tests. I get this. I really do. My kids are doing the writing portion of the ERBs today and tomorrow and had their school not prepared them at all for the test I’d be losing it too. I get that the world likes to make fun of moms who want to give their kids every opportunity. I know that we spend too much on school, sports and camps. I know that I’ve morphed into a parody of my former self, that I’m not quite a Tiger Mom but I’m not at all relaxed about my children’s futures.

So I feel torn. I’m sure there’s more to this story than we will ever know, but I understand wanting to get my money’s worth. This Momversation should entertain you, Rebecca and Daphne clearly do not agree with me.