Simon Law Firm September 2019


september 2019

How to Get Your Teen Talking About Grades, Friends, Bullies, and More 'So, HowWas School Today?'

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve likely had one particular conversation a million times. It goes something like this:

You: “So, how was school today?”

Teen: “Fine.”

That’s it — that’s the whole conversation. It’s a cliché dialogue played out to exhaustion on TV and in movies, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate. And now that school has started back up again, you and your teen probably have it at least once per week. While the curt reply seems inevitable, it seems worse not to ask and risk missing something important in your child’s life. Also, you don’t want to seem disinterested; all you really want is to make their adolescent years as smooth as possible. So, is there a better way to communicate? According to the experts, yes. Here are a few tactics teachers and psychologists recommend trying to get teens to open up about school and tough issues like friendships, grades, and bullying.

be careful not to sound accusatory when you’re commenting on their behavior, even if it’s suspicious or concerning.

Listen and Learn

It can sometimes feel like pulling teeth, but try to let your teen do most of the talking. If they bring up a problem they’re facing at school, don’t take over the conversation and start lecturing about how to fix it. Instead, ask what they think they should do and work together to develop a solution. If all else fails, do a little research. Both Psychology Today and Life magazine have excellent lists of questions to ask your teen instead of “How was school?” Questions like “If your day at school today was a movie, what movie would it be?” and “If you could be invisible for the day at school, what would you do?” are guaranteed to yield interesting information, even if it’s not the kind you were looking for. “I taught either junior high or high school for almost a decade, and I get that communication with that age group is an art,” Liz Evans wrote for HuffPost. “But when you get dialogue, engaged dialogue, with a teen, it’s never disappointing. It’s guaranteed to be interesting; sometimes it can be very enlightening, and it’s always worth the work. Always.”

Get Comfortable

The first mistake is the immediacy of the standard conversation. If you want your teen to talk, don’t ambush them when they come through the door. Instead, wait for a comfortable, casual setting when you’re both relaxed. Don’t make the conversation feel like a big deal, and don’t even make eye contact if you don’t have to. Car rides, shared chores, and dark rooms before bed are ideal times and places for tough questions.

Start Slow

Instead of jumping right in with a blunt question — like “How was school today?” — you’ll probably have better luck if you talk around the subject. Try leading with something new you’ve noticed about your teen’s behavior (a new book, a different kind of music playing, etc.) or something you’ve heard about a teacher or peer. That way, you can set up a discussion rather than an interrogation. Whatever you do,

–Christopher Simon | 1

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Bark Lets Parents See Potential Online Threats to Their Kids


Our advanced technological age, with its plethora of online platforms to connect people all over the world, is riddled with obvious benefits as well as unfortunate side effects. Nearly 60% of children ages 8–12 have a smartphone, so cyberbullies and online predators pose a legitimate threat. Parents now wonder what they can do to preserve their child’s safety without completely invading their privacy, and many have turned to Bark for help. According to Bark’s website, the app was created in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts, and law enforcement professionals to deliver a research-backed way of safeguarding families using technology. Once purchased, the app connects to 24 platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) to monitor text messages, emails, and social activity for signs of harmful content and interactions.

When Bark’s algorithms detect potential risks, it alerts parents via email and text and sends them snippets of flagged content paired with recommendations from child psychologists on how to talk to their kids about it. Since its launch in 2016, Bark has scanned more than a billion messages from 2 million children and claims to have helped prevent dozens of potential suicides, school shootings, and bomb threats through its detection of problematic language. While the app’s claims are certainly advantageous, many parents wonder if they are infringing on their child’s privacy. According to Jasmina Byrne, a child protection specialist at UNICEF, the privacy concerns get exponentially worse if parents don’t inform their kids about the app. Other experts claim parents should let their child know they are using the tracking app, but, as a result, the children might

feel forced to express themselves differently, which poses a threat to their online freedom.

While there has yet to be 100% consensus among child psychology experts regarding parental smartphone-monitoring software, all seem to agree that if a parent deploys these types of apps, the experience can lead to better family communication if they let their kids know about it, and Bark might be the safest and least invasive option on the market thus far.


In 2002, the quaint town of Reed Springs, Missouri, declared bankruptcy. The hard decision came after the town was forced to pay $100,000 to Sally Stewart, a woman who sued Reed Springs after she tripped over a pothole during a shopping trip. News of a greedy woman ruining a small village to make a quick buck sparked outrage across the country. But Stewart wasn’t the real villain of this story. A little digging into this case reveals a much deeper conspiracy.

Stewart had been visiting Reed Springs in 1998 when she tripped on a pothole hidden beneath some overgrown grass on the sidewalk. But this was no small stumble. Stewart tore two ligaments in her ankle and had to undergo surgery. To help pay for the medical bills, Stewart, who’d never sued anyone before, initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the store in front of the pothole. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals determined the city of Reed Springs was liable for Stewart’s injuries.

The court ordered Reed Springs to pay Stewart $100,000, over half the city’s annual budget. Despite the high price tag, in normal circumstances, this verdict wouldn’t have forced Reed Springs to declare bankruptcy because the town’s insurance would have covered the bill. Unfortunately, at the time of Stewart’s accident, the mayor of Reed Springs was a corrupt man named Joe Dan Dwyer. Dwyer left office while being investigated for insurance fraud, child pornography, statutory rape, witness bribery, and perjury, and he was later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Among his many indiscretions, Dwyer also let the town’s insurance policy lapse. Reed Springs didn’t have insurance when Sally Stewart got hurt, which is why they had to write a check out of their own budget and ultimately declare bankruptcy. In this case, what started as a simple pothole accident quickly unveiled the lasting damage of an unscrupulous politician. Perhaps this case serves as reminder about why it’s important to vote in local elections.

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SHOULDYOUTALKTOTHE INSURANCEADJUSTER? Law in Real Life Talking to an insurance adjuster is an intimidating task after your vehicle accident. There are two adjusters you will face after an accident, and these include the one from your own insurance and the adjusters from other parties. They will decide what kind of claim you have and how much you are owed. Understanding how to attack each of these conversations is vital, so let’s break them down. Your Adjuster You are legally and contractually obligated to speak with your insurance adjuster. In our experience, you will likely be prompted on the following topics: Preparing for this conversation with a lawyer will give you the best chance with your claim. At The Simon Law Firm, we have decades of experience helping clients navigate through the complicated insurance process. We have seen how understanding the insurance adjuster’s approach can help you avoid falling into a trap. The Other Insurance Adjuster It’s not uncommon for the other party’s insurance adjusters to ask you for a recorded statement. However, you are NOT obligated to give them a statement. But sometimes it can be beneficial and can expedite the claims process to talk to another party’s insurance adjuster. If liability is obvious and you can provide clear details, you won’t do any harm. You can discuss your medical care, but you have every right to tell them that you are not comfortable going into the details of your care or condition. Ultimately, when talking to this adjuster, you’re going to want to avoid discussing “the big three” components of the accident. These are speed, time, and distance. Mentioning any of these will allow the adjuster to twist your words and shift the blame away from their client. Remember, insurance adjusters are working for the insurance company, not you. They are trained to manipulate responses to put as little of the blame on themselves or the client that is insured through them as possible. Always consult with a lawyer prior to giving a recorded statement. The Simon Law Firm can help you prepare to talk with the insurance adjuster. Learn more, or schedule a free consultation by calling 404-259-7635 1. Your prior medical history 2. Your defenses to liability 3. Coverage issues, such as your vehicle use frequency





Cacio e Pepe Italian for “cheese and pepper,” cacio e pepe is like a refined version of mac and cheese. It’s crowd-pleasing enough to satisfy the pickiest eaters and refined enough to sate the foodies. INGREDIENTS

6 oz pasta, ideally spaghetti or bucatini 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and divided 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, ideally Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/3 cup finely grated pecorino

Kosher salt, for pasta water and to taste


In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stopping 2 minutes short of desired doneness. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. 2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add pepper and cook until toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. 3. Transfer pasta and remaining butter to pan and reduce heat to low. Add Parmesan cheese and cook until melted, tossing pasta throughout. Remove pan from heat and add pecorino, continuing to toss until cheese is melted and sauce coats pasta. 4. Transfer to bowls and serve. | 3

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How to Talk to Your Teen About School 1 Do You Know Who Your Kid Is Talking to Online? A Surprising Reason for Bankruptcy 2 Navigating Conversations with the Insurance Adjuster

Cacio e Pepe 3 An Excursion in the Pennine Alps 4

An Alpine Excursion TOURMONTEROSA

Nestled between Italy and Switzerland, Monte Rosa is the second highest peak in the Alps, making it one of the best views in either country and one of the more physically demanding ascents in the mountain range. In the late summer and early fall, tourists and locals alike tour Monte Rosa to pay their respects to the peak and to be challenged by the cross-country trek over the mountain. The full tour of the mountain is a nine- day journey that starts in Switzerland and crosses quickly over into Italy, winding its way through both countries before eventually returning trekkers to their starting point. The out-and-back path is the most popular route, though there are other ways to approach it. However you go, you’ll encounter massive glaciers, rigorous 1,000-meter ascents and descents, and breathtaking views that are sure to make this journey memorable.

Unless you’re traveling with an experienced mountaineer, a guide is recommended for touring Monte Rosa, even if you only plan to traverse a small section of the mountain. Weather can vary greatly and change quickly in this region, so you never know when you’ll encounter ice or snow, which can lower your visibility. Towards the top of the peak, you’ll even have an opportunity to cross a sprawling glacier, and having a guide will ensure you have the necessary equipment for a safe trip.

For accommodations, opt for charming mountain huts to immerse yourself in the true Alpine experience. You can book them in advance to guarantee your bunk and a dinner of spaetzle or lasagna, depending on which country you’re in that night.

On top of the spectacular views, you can expect a beautiful blend of cultures and an experience unlike any other on your tour of Monte Rosa. Plus, you may even get to see a few Swiss cows or mountain goats along the way!

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