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Valuable information from the mouths of babes

Published Oct. 12, 2005

On his 51st birthday, H. Jackson Brown Jr. jotted down a few things he has learned. Then he asked people of all ages and backgrounds to contribute to what became his book Live and Learn and Pass it On. Among them:

You can love four girls at the same time _ age 9.

Goldfish don't like Jell-O. _ age 5.

Establishing house rules

The keys to any successful long-term social visit are planning and communication. Here are some suggestions for adult children and parents to keep in mind:

Set time limits before the visit starts. Both generations should try to set a time limit, if only to see how different your expectations are. Those limits should include not only the total length of the visit but daily matters of how much time you'll spend together.

The hosts should maintain their family rules and basic schedule. Sometimes attempts at relatively minor changes, such as insisting that music be played at a lower volume, can lead to big arguments because of the symbolism and power struggle involved. By acknowledging and abiding by those house rules, the parents are showing that they recognize their children as mature adults.

Plan ways to avoid feeling trapped. Assume that there will be times when your skills at diplomacy may be stretched to the limit. "Work out with your spouse a set of non-verbal signals ahead of time when one of you needs the other's help with a visiting parent," advises Dr. Diana Adile Kirschner, a family psychologist in Gwynedd Valley, Pa.

Acknowledge the extra pressure any visit puts on the son-in-law or daughter-in-law. "Cut a deal with your spouse offering to help in other areas in exchange for help with your visiting parents," Dr. Kirschner said. "When my mother-in-law would visit, my husband and I arranged to reserve special times when he'd be just with me in exchange for the extra work involved in making her kosher meals."

Follow the bouncing ball

"Play ball" means different things to different kids, according to the stats.

Baseball is still king with the Little League set at 7-12, just ahead of basketball.

Basketball is way out front with the 12-17 crowd.

The number of kids playing football almost doubles among older kids.

Soccer is almost as popular as baseball and basketball with younger kids, although it's still lagging with the over-12 crowd.

Special delivery

Sarah Holloway, a St. Petersburg lawyer who spent the last months of her high-risk pregnancy in the hospital and was featured in PG+ several weeks ago, has safely delivered her baby. Eleanor Clark Hoffman was born Sept. 22 at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces.

For Holloway, the excitement of the birth was matched by the thrill of leaving her hospital bed after a three-month confinement. "The first time I sat down at the dinner table with my family, I just cried," she said.

Call KidsLine

Too busy to write to "Parental Guidance?" Call KidsLine, 893-8985, and leave your message on the recorded phone line. Call with advice or a question for "Parent Exchange," perhaps a story tip, a "Special Memory," or to let us know what you think of PG.

_ Compiled by CHRIS SHERMAN