Q: As a single woman, how important is it that I have a will? Is this something I should be concerned about?
Jim: That all depends. Under most circumstances it's advisable for you to have a will, but the precise course of action you should follow will be determined by the specifics of your situation.
Obviously, if you're a divorced or widowed mother of dependent children, it's critical that you have a will. This determines not only how your children are provided for financially, but also who has responsibility for caring for them in your absence.
If you're single with no children, a will may still be important. For instance, if you own property of any kind, a will ensures that it will be distributed as you wish. The more assets you accumulate over the years, the greater the need for a testamentary document of some kind.
When you don't have a will prepared, you place the burden of distributing your property on someone else -- who may or may not understand your values and desires. That's why it's wise to make your plans now before it's too late. A single person without dependents can often make a significant impact through charitable giving with a wisely constructed estate plan ... but only if they have specified their wishes ahead of time.
Danny Huerta, Executive Director, Parenting & Youth: The most important factor is to model a positive outlook yourself. We've all seen cartoons where what's going on in a character's mind is portrayed in "thought bubbles." That's a great visual representation of what's happening inside each of our brains.
My own thought bubbles can get filled with negative stuff, especially when I'm worried or anxious. Negative thoughts are common because our brains are poor at making predictions. Instead of making accurate forecasts including good outcomes, we often project our worries onto the future. One of our goals as parents is to manage our own thoughts and be effective models for our kids.
Here are just three ways our thinking can mislead us, especially in times of stress, insecurity and fear:
1. Catastrophizing -- We can easily become convinced the worst is going to happen. Seek accurate perspectives and fix your thoughts on the present, not some vague, fearful future that likely won't happen.
2. Discounting the positive -- Sometimes our filters screen out positive input. If someone compliments you on being a great parent, it might be easy to say, "Well, you don't see me every day." Don't deflect affirmation! Accept the positive.
3. Personalizing -- You may assume circumstances are personal to you. For instance, when a friend fails to return a text, the immediate assumption might be discouraging. "Did I do something wrong?" We can train our brains to look at other possibilities: "My friends might be busy, or they might be spending time with their family right now." Don't assume everything is about you.
Thoughts are contagious. The better you become at corralling your own, the better you'll be able to model this for your children -- and you'll see the difference in their "thought bubbles."
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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