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Log onto and select ParentChat or use IRC software to connect to and enter channel ParentChat

This channel is part support group, part lounge, and part haven. Parents and parents-to-be come in to share the joys and frustrations that go with the job and trade ideas on raising children of all ages. In a couple of typical hours the conversation might cycle through overcoming bedwetting, nighttime reading, handling know-it-all teenagers, the merits and demerits of baby beauty contests and parental support for teachers. But conversation is hardly limited to parenting topics. There are those who, delighted to be in relaxed grown-up company for a change, relish the opportunity to chat about everything from sports to current affairs. A number of women in the room comment that it's one of the few places in cyberspace where they can chat freely without being hit on. People will often drop by looking for advice, but the regulars there, as one of them put it, try not to give advice so much as to help the questioner talk things through. The group isn't shy about giving their ideas and opinions, but they stop well short of setting themselves up as experts with all the answers. The room is always open for free-form chat, but there are scheduled moderated discussions on parental involvement with education, single parenting, and topics for new parents. The channel can be accessed by any Web browser equipped to handle Java-based chat, or through IRC software. - E.L.

subject matter: families, general conversation

regional affiliation: global

format: chat

language: English

cost: no cost

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