They provide that choice to cater for the individuality of our children's feet, yet use targeted marketing to pitch specific products to girls or boys not based on their need, but on a very specific set of stereotypes. After all, what has sex or gender really got to do with school shoes, why have two ranges at all?
Children should be able to understand that feelings such as stress and worry are totally normal and are experienced by many others too. As well as being aware of the various issues they may experience, it's also incredibly important that children know how to access help in order to deal with those issues before they become deep-rooted.
I got absolutely no sympathy from my mother whenever I complained about her grandchildren. She would remind me with a smug grin that I was even worse. "You were a hundred times worse, Jac," she would say cheerily.
There was a moment when I knew, beyond any doubt, what it meant to be your mother. But it wasn't the day you were born. It wasn't the first time I knew about you, even - a long-awaited pink line forming in front of my eyes as I sat, perched on the edge of the cold bath, waiting.
Thanks to Homer (Simpson) and his circle, my kids learnt a little about a lot. When we took them to see Hamlet they already knew the plot. Similarly, Great Expectations held no surprises and they practically rolled their eyes when we slapped Spinal Tap into the DVD player.
In a diverse world such as ours, the use of alternative can be confusing. So ahead of Alternative Families Week 2016, what is an alternative family?
One of the best ways to support young people who may be stressed about their exam results is by listening to them. If they seem worried or anxious it can help if they have someone to confide in and feel that they have an opportunity to discuss whatever is worrying them.
They are no longer suffering, I can be thankful for that. However, now that I'm a parent I often find myself thinking, wondering about how they would react to my becoming a mum and the various ups and downs experienced.
As foster carers we are blessed to be able to count on the support of family and friends, who routinely sweep up the children who come into our care without skipping a beat. They open their homes to all comers, celebrate random birthdays with the same enthusiasm as their own and are generous with their time and their affections. And when it is needed they lend a shoulder to cry on.
As the world becomes increasingly digitised and cashless, with games like Pokémon Go grabbing the attention of children, there's a real danger young people are losing perspective. They may know the value of 500 Pokécoins, but do they know what else they could buy with the amount those coins cost to buy?
The pain of losing Eddie will always be with us. I don't believe grief every goes away, it just changes shape over time. We will always work tirelessly on Teddy's Wish to keep our promise to Eddie. He may not be here but he is here in spirit and I will always be a parent to both of my boys..
Vegans are used to having their beliefs challenged, to having to work harder to get other people and institutions to accept their child's needs. As it is this needs to change, but threatening parents who are trying to give their children the best start in life with imprisonment is unacceptable.
The dynamics of families can change, the dynamics will switch and I'm very lucky that within the Harper clan this has always been how we've worked. A family can only work if it adjusts itself to suit each person in it.
Ultimately though, despite some truly turbulent events in my formative years, there was always one constant in my life, and that was the unconditional love I received from my mother. I'm certain that this was the difference between me going completely off the rails as a teenager and the (I would hope) well-rounded, wise and emotionally developed person I am today.
A contract, though, can be a great idea in principle. Children will initially agree to anything in order to achieve their desired goal. But an animal, whether it be a pony, dog, cat or guinea pig, needs time, attention and looking after, with some being more demanding than others.
I discovered quickly that it can be hard work trying to teach our children to share and to think of others. Any thoughts of sitting back and enjoying a catch-up and coffee with another mum while the boys played happily together, sharing the contents of the box of cars, bricks or tub of Lego, generally remained a dream