Author Archives: Jessica

Polyamory and Children: Should I tell my kids about polyamory?

Several additional years of experience has only strengthened my original opinion–so no major changes here. I haven’t gotten around to updating it yet, but for those interested here is a post on how to tell your kids about polyamory. Revised 3/19/17. Sorry for the late post.

Probably one of the hardest choices polyam parents face is whether or not to tell their children about their relationships and lifestyle.

When it comes to older children, I firmly believe they should know age-appropriate information about their parents’ relationship choices. They are exploring relationships for themselves and figuring out how they want to live their lives. Your kids (and if they know you, your partners’ kids) will see you as an example of how to live. Not being honest about your experiences and relationships is like sending them out in a rowboat with only one oar. They may decide to take a different path from you, but they deserve your help, support, and advice. And kids are smart – they will know if you are hiding something, and they are not going to be honest with you if you are not honest with them.

Following up on ’kids are damn smart,’ if you are in a relationship with your kid’s other parent, you do not want your kid to think you are cheating. (And they likely will if they discover you are hiding other relationships.) I can’t begin to list all the reasons that would be a BAD THING, but let’s just mention them feeling forced to choice between keeping “your secret” (and lying to their other parent) or telling their other parent (and possibly destroying your relationship and their home). That is a 100% fucked up place to put your kids.

That said, and with the best of intentions, the world doesn’t always work the way we want, and there may be situations where telling your children of any age is a bad idea. For instance, it is generally recommended that polyam folk in a custody agreement with a monogamous co-parent stay in the closet. Being polyamorous can get your custody taken away. Laws on this one vary (and let’s take a minute out here to root for the overturning of Canada’s anti-polygamy laws, judge’s decision coming up the end of this month [note: judge’s decision on that case was a mixed victory but definitely a step forward]), but in general if you think of the situation gay and lesbian parents were in 20-30 years ago, you have the right idea. (More on polyamory and custody)

With younger kids, it gets a bit more complicated. Basically, if you are out to the world there is no real reason to hide from little kids, as long as you keep it at their level. ’Mommy has a boyfriend/Daddy has a different boyfriend.’ However, if you aren’t out about your relationships, at least to close friends and family, telling a young child is a recipe to be outed – ’Granma guess what! Daddy and I had special time last night while Mommy went out with her boyfriend!’ More than one polyam family has been outed that way.

It definitely is not fair to ask little children to keep your relationships a secret. The hypocrisy of teaching them to have open and honest relationships, and lie about them with not be lost on them, and will seriously confuse their world view. Nevermind the fact that asking kids to keep grownup’s secrets just isn’t fair and is placing way too much on the kid’s shoulders. If you don’t want your little kids talking about your relationships, don’t tell them.

That said, this can be a place to teach kids about privacy. Little kids are always taught there are some things we don’t talk about. We don’t announce to the world at large that Aunt Salma had a miscarriage—that’s up to Aunt Salma to share if she wants to.You can treat your polyam relationships the same way. “Our relationships are private and it is up to us who we tell about them.” This approach MAY allow you to thread the path of being in the closet, being out to your kids, and not modeling being ashamed or secretive about your relationships.

Of course, you kids may still out you by accident, so that’s still a problem.

Now, the oddball here is children born into a polyam relationship. A child born into a quad or triad that is living together, or born when a pregnancy occurs in a relationship that is not cohabiting will know about it. When the family is living together, this is pretty obvious. When the parents don’t live together and are involved with other people you get ‘Mommy and Daddy are my parents but Daddy is married to Auntie and he and Mommy go out together sometimes.’ In this situation definitely be honest, don’t try and hide anything, and answer questions in an age appropriate way.

Children view whatever they experience as normal, and adults who were raised in polyam families have mentioned feeling sorry for other kids who only had two parents. So the younger a child is when they learn about your relationships, the easier, and more normal it will be for them. Older children, who already have a clear idea of societal norms and how things ’should’ be, may have more difficulty adjusting – especially if the see outside relationships as a betrayal of your marriage.

This post is part of a series on raising children in polyamorous families.

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Fiction Friday: Gu– Dragon!

First entry

The hundred-person security team hit the steel doors and spread through the first floor of the 50 story building. It looked like it had been choreographed because it had. Hundreds of hours drilling in a virtual mock-up. Behind and above them came the dragons and gryphons who secured the airspace before and delivered additional security personnel on the World Government Building roof in a well-coordinated relay.

As he stepped out of his armored and shielded air car, Trevor wondered again why no had come up with a more original name for it.

Wu, in late 20th Century grunge, flanked him, scanning the gathering crowds. Dissatisfaction with the former world government was high, but it only took one person willing to become a martyr. Behind him, hidden by her sheer tininess, he heard Deborah’s quiet chanting as she evoked the NAMES of her God to bring peace and safety. A half dozen strides and the security team called the first floor clear as he stepped through the door.

Gunshot!

Trevor dropped to the ground. Forty feet of golden dragon suddenly surrounded him. Just outside the coils, words of fire hung in the air, trapping the bullet. Deborah said something and the words faded, taking the bullet with them.

“Hold here,” Wu hissed. Trevor wasn’t going to argue. Going further into the building for cover meant walking into a possible ambush. Going back to the street would be foolish.

He, Wu, and Deborah held position while security scrambled. Within minutes, the shooter was found and quarantined. More time passed, long enough that crowd came out of their shock and started getting loud. Security called an all-clear.

Wu shimmered, his golden scales fading and reforming into the human-seeming Trevor was familiar with. Wearing the ancient garments Wu called “hanfu.” Why always hanfu when he transformed? And what happened to the grunge gear?

Pushing aside the inanities, Trevor examined the groups of people gathered around him.

Outside the building were citizens and magical beings, most local, a few from other parts of the world. Protesters, mostly ‘human’ citizens, on one side. Supporters, mostly magical beings, on the other. Both groups increasingly agitated.

Inside the building, he saw humans and perhaps a few in human-seeming. Uncertainty, fear, resentment, and a surprising amount of relief.

His own people were split, Some remained outside to help with crowd control. Some followed him prepared to spread out and start the worked they’d spent a decade preparing for. And the security teams were everywhere—or trying to be.

Hovering camdrones waited just outside the legal privacy limit. It was as good a moment as any. He waved the drones forward and signaled Deborah. She stepped back, blending in with the surrounding government bureaucrats and staff.

“Not how I wanted to start my first day on the job, but first days tend to be shit anyway.

“All of you,” he took in the bureaucrats, “are probably wondering what to expect. There are going to be a lot of changes, and you aren’t going to like some of them. But I hope some of them you will like. For now, keep doing your jobs and focus on making sure food and energy keep moving to the people who need them. You’ll have plenty of time to gawk at me later. Promise.”

He refocused on the cams. ”To my supporters outside: thank you and go home. We have a lot of work to do, so don’t wear yourself out here. The real fight hasn’t begun yet.

“To the protesters, I’m not going to silence you. I’m not going to arrest you. I’m not going to attack you. As long as you stick to making noise in the street, you can knock yourselves out.” He paused. Then deliberately pulled his hair back into the style still sometimes called a “warrior’s braid”—as if warriors only had one hairstyle. When he finished, he relaxed into a loose fighting stance, letting the lines of his pants emphasize his readiness for action.

“Any of you thinking that rebellion or armed resistance might be a good idea—back down now. Or you’ll join your friend with the gun.”

As he finished speaking security called in to report the upper levels clear.

“For real this time?”

“Ah… yes, sir. For real this time.”

“Good.”

He signed forward and he, Wu, and the rest of the team that had gathered behind them moved for the lifts.

It was going to be a long day.

Next Entry

AMaP Call for Presenters

Accessible Multi-linking and Polyamory is a new online conference that will debut in Nov 2017. The goal of AMaP is to provide a place where people who cannot attend conventional polyamory conferences or who do not feel welcome at conventional polyamory conferences can come together to connect, to learn, and to build community.

AMaP will be using Zoom, the audio-visual conferencing app, to connect presenters with attendees. Zoom works on all major operating systems and can also be accessed by phone. Because of the nature of the conference, presenters and attendees will be able to remain anonymous while participating as much or as little as they want.

We invite you to submit a workshop proposal and share your experiences, insights, projects and ideas related to multi-linking in all it’s forms. The conference will take place in the cloud Nov 3-5.

Our debut conference theme is Silenced Voices. Whether you

  • have been silenced due to an unpopular opinion
  • from oppression
  • have been literally silenced by an injury or illness
  • struggle to communicate due to neurodivergence or mental illness
  • know about historical approaches to multi-linking that have been forgotten or erased

we want to hear from you!

Proposals not related to the theme of Silenced Voices are also welcome.

Full details and link to presenter application here.

Polyamory and Children: Where is the Research At?

Nothing I wrote here has changed substantially in the last few years. However, there was a great deal more research on children raised in polyam families than I was aware of when I wrote this. And more research has been done since then. Most of that research has been small scale and not longitudinal, so more research is still needed. But what we have gives us a generally positive outlook. Find the full polyamory and children research list here. Revised 3/5/17

Anytime you suggest doing something that is different, unconventional, and socially unacceptable the cry goes up ’think of the children!’ And society demands that people outside the mainstream prove our choices are not threatening to children.

Unfortunately, at the moment, that proof is a bit hard to come by. Studies on polyamorous relationships with children are few and far between. Research on polyamory is complicated by the fact that there are so many possible polyamorous arrangements. A primary couple who are part of a polyam network will have a different experience raising children in a polyam household compared to a group marriage. Several researchers are currently working to address this lack of information, but research is not a fast process.

If there has been little research into polyamorous relationships, there is a lot of research into a wide variety of other lifestyles. Taken all together, looking what we know about raising children in LGBT households, in alternative religions, in foster homes, adoptive families, single parent homes, cross-cultural studies of children raised in family compounds in Asia, studies of the matrilineal Musou who don’t have marriages, and so much other research that has been done, on so many aspects of life, culture, family and child rearing . . . The conclusion seems clear: children are raised in stable, loving homes, where healthy relationships are modeled, are not harmed by any non-conventional living arrangements. They will usually grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults.

In fact, children in non-traditional families are most harmed by the discrimination they and their families face, not their upbringing.

Alan of Poly in the News has drawn together the publically available info on the impact of raising children in a polyamorous household. As of when he published his compilation in February of 2010, polyamory is looking like it can be a pretty good way to raise children.

While we do not yet have “proof” for detractors that our lifestyle is safe for our children, what information there is looks promising. And there is no evidence that healthy polyamorous relationships are detrimental to children.

(Originally published Oct 2011)

Friday Fiction: The List

<—Introduction

Trevor Frederickson, who sometimes managed to forget for hours at a time that he had once been Ma’evoto of the Cheyenne, leaned back. The chair leaned with him, reconfiguring automatically. The holographic display shifted as well, so he could continue reading without interruption. “ ‘All naive, busty tavern wenches…’ whoever heard of a naive bar server?” A flick of his finger deleted the paragraph. “ ‘All non-instantaneous deathtraps…’ really? Note.” A new holographic screen popped up, adding a bluish-sheen to his bronze skin. “Wu, research old vids with drowning pools, trash compactors and/or gas chambers for next month’s marathon. Send.” The second screen winked out. “There’s gotta be something behind that one. Okay what’s next. “ ‘All slain enemies will be cremated as soon as possible…’ um, doh. Necromancers are rare, but annoying…” He skimmed down the next few entries. “1.45 MB file size? Padded? … oh, here’s a good one. Note,” another screen opened, “first level priority, hire architects and surveyors I can trust to make sure I have accurate blue prints of the…”

Light flickered at the corner of his eye. “Yes?”

“Sir, Mx. Lu is here to speak with you.”

He sat up, the chair following a few moments later. “Send hir in!”

The handle on the old fashioned door opened and Wu stepped in. The man in behind the desk allowed himself a rare moment of procrastination. It was always worth taking a moment to look at Lu Jia Wu.

Wu was a small person with what zi said were “classic” Han features. It was a matter of pride that hir family were the true inheritors of the Middle Kingdom. Trevor doubted that the scattering of golden scales across Wu’s face was really “classic,” but they turned hir already handsome face into a work of art. Or, at least, Trevor thought so. Wu’s dress, as always, was antique and androgynous. Today zi was wearing what zi called a “man’s Western business suit”. Like the scales, Trevor was pretty sure the pale yellow color wasn’t part of the ‘classic’ style. But it made a delicate contrast with Wu’s warm beige skin. In the modern world, the blatant lack of geometrics was a declaration of Wu’s lack of gender. Though Trevor was never quite sure—

Wu cleared his throat.

“Yes, I’m delaying.”

Zi bowed, but kept hir eyes on him. “May this humble one give hir report?”

“Kay-kay, I’ll be good! Just tell me we have good news.”

“Your servant has the best of news. They have conceded. As of 1142 Greenwich you are officially the ruler of the world. May your reign last 1,000 years.”

“We did it!” He ran across the room and Wu caught him a bear hug.

“You did, my friend. You led the way and won the prize.” Wu’s voice rasped in his ear, heavy with grief and memories. “Even when this one thought it impossible, you persevered.”

“Not alone, Wu. And I couldn’t have done it without you at my side. And everyone else at my back.” He stepped back. “Kay. We planned for this. Is everyone ready?”

“Of course. The transition team is prepared, notification has gone out to all team leaders, and this one has confirmation that the military is standing down, awaiting your orders. We move at your word.”

“Perfect!” Trevor threw a formal robe with interlinking black-and-red circles on over his casual office outfit. “Let’s go.” Halfway to the door he froze and dashed back to his chair. “Computer, order poster-sized print out, framed, of edited document ‘Evil Overlord list’.”

A yellow ‘acknowledged’ light blinked.

“Now I’m ready.”

“Evil overlord list?”

“It’s for my new office. Something to entertain visitors.” Wu just looked at him. “You’ll like it I promise!”

Wu sighed. Zi tapped the sigil temp-branded on hir wrist. “All units, move out.”

They left the office. Five minutes later a convoy emerged from the underground bunker, headed for the headquarters of the World Government.

Next scene–>

Everything You Need to Know About Polyamory and Pregnancy

Not much to change here. Just your standard link list. Obviously, I’ve found a great deal to add since wrapping up this blog series, since I wrote a whole book on polyamory, pregnancy, and everything that goes along with. But you can still find the basics here. Re-posted March 9, 2017.

So, over two months of posting, and a week to think it over, I really think I’ve covered everything related to polyamory and pregnancy. If something occurs to me later that I have missed, I’ll add it here. In the meantime, here is a link list of every post in this series.

Polyamory and Pregnancy – the introduction

Planning for a Pregnancy

Prenatal Care – dealing with doctors and hospitals (you might also want to check out Educating Poly-Friendly Professionals)

Legal Stuff – filling out the birth certificate and determining paternity

Picking Names – who is involved and how do you decide

Polyam Partners getting pregnant

What Makes a Parent – being a parent can be much more then biology

Taking a Break–  sometimes, taking a break from polyamory to focus on pregnancy and a new child may be the right thing

And for a more in depth (and portable) read, check out the Polyamory on Purpose Guide to Polyamory and Pregnancy

A Personal Digression: Custody Case

I’ve fixed a few typos here and changed one instance of “polies” to “polyam folk.” Otherwise this is exactly as I posted it in the fall of 2011, including signed with a name I no longer use. My ex’s lawyer did in fact print this post out and ask me, while on the witness stand, to read my letter to the judge. Sadly, the judge was exactly as bigoted as I was afraid, and, well, the case ended badly. Though some long term good did come of it. Re-posted (but NOT revised) March 1, 2017.

I have nothing to say about pregnancy today. I’m having a bit of trouble focusing on much of anything at the moment.

You see, the fact that I write this blog is being used against me in a custody case. Posts from this blog have been printed out and brought into hearings to prove that I engage in polyamory and am therefore an unfit parent.

In a few weeks, I will be going into court for the custody trial. A court that will not care about all the research proving that polyamory is a healthy and ethical lifestyle, the published studies by Dr. Elizabeth Sheff, Dr. Geri Weitzman, and so many others. A court that will have no interest in the paper by law professor Ann Tweedy the Michigan University College of Law examining polyamory and its possible status as a sexual orientation and/or embedded personality trait (ie not a choice but a part of a person). A court that will be prejudging me – the root word of prejudice – based on nothing other then an assumption that anything other then monogamy is wrong, even though there is no evidence, no basis, no reason, other then knee-jerk ‘that’s not the way things are supposed to be’ emotional reaction behind the judging.

My saving grace is that for over a year I have only been in a relationship with my fiance, Michael. That I have previously written, on this blog, that that is the only relationship I am in.

Part of me is disgusted at my cowardice. That I am willing to hide behind that fact and not stand up in court and openly denounce their prejudice and hypocrisy. That I am not willing to fight for a lifestyle that is in no way unsafe or dangerous for my children.

But I can’t risk my children. And if the court demands that I live monogamously from now on I will do so.

Because I am judged guilty without benefit of trial.

I’ve seen the arguments in the community about whether polyam folk should push for legal rights, become politically active. So many say that ‘we shouldn’t rock the boat’, that ‘as long as keep our heads down we will be fine’, that ‘there is no point in exposing ourselves’.

Well, the courts will not educate themselves. The laws will not change themselves. And until other people stand up and say this is wrong, the attacks that are being made on me will keep happening to other people.

And what the hell, since I know people are printing out my blog to show the judge:

Your Honor,

If you should happen to read this, I will say here that to allow polyamory to be used against me in court, without knowledge of the nature of the lifestyle, or research which has been done on it is wrong. That there is no basis or reason to believe that polyamory is dangerous to my children, and that regardless of anything else, if I did choose to have other relationships when my children are with their father it would not affect them at all and should be nobody’s business but my own and my fiance’s.

Maybe this post will be used against me as well. Will you judge on my beliefs, your Honor? Does my willingness to say openly that there is nothing wrong with alternative lifestyles automatically make me an unfit parent, whether I engage in those lifestyles or not?

I will continue writing this blog, your Honor. I will continue to support everyone’s right to pursuit of happiness and freedom of expression – those grand words that are so often trampled in the cry of ‘shame! immoral! shame!’ with no basis other than the righteous indignation of those who think there is only one right way.

I just wish I was brave enough to stand up in court and say all this there.

Sincerely,
Jessica Burde

Introducing Fiction Fridays: How NOT to Save the World

Okay, the blog is branching out a bit.

For a number of reasons (largely related to my time and spoons) I’ve been slowly adding my fiction work to Polyamory on Purpose. Because keeping up the marketing for two websites and two blogs is for people with WAY more time and energy than me.

As the next step in merging my two online personas, I’m adding some regular fiction to this blog. This fiction will be in addition to posts about polyamory and won’t count towards posting goals for Patreon. (Unless people want it to, bc I’m totally down for people supporting my fiction as well as my non-fiction ;D )

Starting next week, I’ll be posting scenes from a new web serial on Fridays. This is a story I’ve been wanting to write for a couple years but always thought was most suited to an episodic format than my usual short stories or novels. It’s got an evil overlord, a kinky polyamorous dragon, a truly diverse cast of characters, and an impending alien invasion.

How NOT to Save the World

They are a plucky band of rebels, fighting against a tyrant who overthrew the rightful government and is supported by an army of monsters. The only problem? They think they’re the good guys.

They are family, grandmother and granddaughter. Students of Kabbalah in a world where someone could really create the Golem of Prague. They are done sitting back while injustice takes place around them. The only problem? They’re on opposite sides.

They’re just a kid, trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this crazy world their father just took over. And their new mentor is trying to kill their father. The only problem? Everything!

They are coming to usher humanity into a new galactic society. They have the best of intentions, amazing technology to sell us, and know exactly what will fix all our problems. The only problem? If someone doesn’t stop them, they are going to destroy the world.

He has a prophecy foretelling his success, a dragon sidekick, and plans for the biggest battle station ever built. He’s going to save the world. The only problem? He’s the bad guy.

Start reading:

When Communication is a Bad Thing

I’m amused by the first line of this post. I’ve realized over the years that actually, 90% of what I do is give relationship advice. It’s just a broader variety of relationship advice than you’ll find in books and blogs that are focused on ‘fixing’ relationships or how to have a healthy relationship. Major change here is I originally talked about “good communication” and “bad communication”. I’ve changed that because communication is sharing information and ideas. Not all types of talking (or writing, or signaling) are communication. Sometimes telling someone something is just nagging. Sometimes it’s abuse. Sometimes it’s venting. And those things aren’t ‘bad’ communication. They plain aren’t communication. (Okay, sometimes venting can also be communication. Grey areas. They are a thing.) This is also the first post where I am using “connection” in place of a generic “partner”. Revised 2/20/17

I am straying dangerously close to relationship advice today, but what the hell.

Yes, I said it. I said it and I will stand by it. Communication is not always a good thing.

As heretical as it can sound, too much communication can be a bad thing. Or maybe it is better to say telling someone how you feel is not always communication.

Today, I read a post on Sex Geek by Andrea Zanin, about the 10 rules of non-monogamy. Overall, I think they are great rules. But this line:

Is there something on your mind that you don’t want to tell your partner? MAJOR warning bell… this is almost a guarantee that you should be telling them!

kinda jumped out at me.

Things I Don’t Want to Tell my Partner

I am sick today. Stuffed nose, sore throat, exhausted, and generally feeling like shit. My partner is disabled. He needs me to fix his meals, and help out with a lot of the day-to-day stuff that he ’should’ be able to do himself, but often can’t.

There are things that have been on my mind all day that I do not want to tell my partner. I do not want to tell him that I am sick of being the one who does everything. I do not want to tell him that he can take care of himself today because I’m done doing it. I do not want to tell him that I am sick and he can just suck it up. (Believe me when I say that if he could take care of himself on his own, he would, if only because he is a better cook than I am!)

I feel these things, I think them. But I do not want to say them to him. I’m pretty sure that Andrea would agree with me that this time, not wanting to say these things that are on my mind is a not major warning bell. Why? Because it is one thing to sit down calmly with my partner, discuss of my frustrations with his disability, and what, if anything, can be done to make things easier. (Which we have done. He is well aware of how frustrated I am and has taken the time, spontaneously, today, to tell me that it is okay if I can’t do everything, just do my best – throwing my own words back in my face :D)

It is another thing entirely for me to say these things that are on my mind, which would be very hurtful to him, would not provide any information he doesn’t already have, and that I am really only thinking because I am sick and miserable myself.

So When Is Talking NOT Communication?

What are some other times when telling someone how you feel isn’t a good thing? How about when you are crossing the line between communication and nagging/haranguing.

Say you don’t like your connection’s new girlfriend. It is important and good communication, to say ‘I really don’t like her, and this is why.’ But if every time they have a date with her you say, ‘I wish you would stop dating her, you know I don’t like her’. . .

Not so good. If their dating her is getting to you that much, then it may be time to have a long sit-down discussion to sort out how to handle the situation. But that kind of discussion is very different from making resentful comments as they are heading out for a date.

Similarly, it’s fine to say ‘I wish you weren’t going out tonight, but I hope you have a good time.’ or even (sometimes) ‘I really need you to stay home tonight, is it possible for you to reschedule?’

Txting every 15 minutes to say that you miss them and when are they going to be home is definitely not communicating anything. Except that you don’t respect their time with their other connection. And it’s guaranteed to cause resentment and problems.

So, what is the difference between communication and telling someone how you feel in an unhealthy way? I’d say that communication is when you are in control of and expressing your feelings to tell someone what they need to or should know. Bad communication is when your feelings are in control of you and expressing themselves in a way that is hurtful and shares no new information. Often in ways that are either aggressive, passive-aggressive, or just plain inconsiderate. (Yes, there is a gray area between the two. No such thing as human binaries-even, or perhaps especially-in how we communicate.)

It’s Okay to Be Human

I don’t know about you, personally, I am not a Zen master or any other form of super-evolved being. There are times when my emotions are in control when I am that stressed, that angry, that tired, and I say things I probably shouldn’t. It happens. But when it happens, I recognize it as harmful, something that shouldn’t have been said and I try to keep it from happening again.

Talking To Kids About Polyamory

I’ve been invited to take part in a series of interviews all about having difficult conversations with your kids. I’ll be talking about how to discussion polyamory and other relationships options with teenagers. Check it out!

talking to kids about polyamory

Anya Manes, a parent coach who specializes in helping parents talk to their kids about sex, has put together an amazing panel of TOP experts to help you openly communicate with your child about all the tough topics: sexual abuse, porn, sexting, and more! If you are ready to learn how to have these conversations so that they are calm and comfortable for everyone, register for this event. It’s free, and 30 experts (myself included) are sharing the most current information and simple steps you can take to protect your kids.

Anya’s mission is to ensure your kids have safe and healthy sexual relationships from the start, and this 30 day F*R*E*E interview series is packed with tips and strategies that you can begin to implement immediately.