Telling The Truth

“Tell your children the truth.”  I saw this quote yesterday and it made me pause. How do you decide when to tell the truth? When do you leave a few things out? And when do you just lie?

My 8 year old started asking questions about how babies get out of their Mom’s belly. (Thankfully, he didn’t question how they were made).  Apparently, it was the topic of the third grade lunch table.  (I may have misjudged the bathroom talk that I loathed and wish it would come back.)

My husband looks at me and says-“Well Mom, what’s the answer?”  Great, in the blink of an eye I have to decide how to respond. Just what I wanted to do after a long day at work. This wasn’t the first or the last time I will face this dilemma.  We reframed the topic and asked him what he thought the answer to the question might be.

As children grow up they seek answers. It helps them grow. When are we obligated to give truthful answers to help them expand their knowledge base?  How do you decide how much information to share?  I think it is often a slippery slope and each parent has their own opinions on this topic.  The interesting factor that you can’t know is the amount of information that peers have to add to the discussions.  We don’t live in a vacuum and our children are continually exposed to other information outlets.
Personally, in most cases I give real information (except the typical tooth fairy, Santa, and other magical beings).  I talk about birth and death.  I share information about disabilities.  And I discuss world events in an age appropriate way.  But it is tough!  The decision to share information and truth is subjective.  Yet it is necessary.

What truth have you agonized over lately? 

 

Being Mindful of Other’s Parenting Styles

I recently had the experience of responding to a thread on a local parenting site. A mom posted a question and asked others for their opinion and experiences to help her solve her parenting dilemma. I responded to the question with my own thoughts and offered suggestions. A few other parents responded to me and questioned my opinion/theory, calling it “nonsense.”

I am a professional in the field of child development AND a parent. While this is not new, I am still struck by how differing parenting styles collide. In an age of social media, where you can state your opinion on most any topic, people sometimes clash. And it stings when you are involved (at least in my world.)

I was really bothered by this exchange and I could not figure out why. I mean, it is not like these mothers are in my immediate social circles. They are certainly not my friends. And I am fully aware that no one needs to share my opinions, let alone agree with them. Then the light bulb came on-public shaming on Facebook is just like bullying on the playground-it’s not right.  
Parents come in many shapes and sizes. There are the free-range parents, the bed-sharers, the type A/strict rule folks, the tiger Moms, and the list goes on. But can’t we all just get along? Do we have to attack another’s point of view just because we don’t agree? I think we should all try a little harder to be mindful of others, don’t you agree? Especially because we are modeling for our children.
Biting your tongue and agreeing to disagree quietly are an art form that is getting a little lost. Just because you have strong feeling about sleep training doesn’t mean you have to “lecture” someone who chose to do it. Or feel the need to defend your own choices in the process. When social media is involved, the social nuances get lost. You don’t get the tone of voice or facial expression as part of the conversation. Reactions can be harsh.

  
Parenting is just like starting a new job. You go in with so much energy and enthusiasm. You enter the profession with certain beliefs based on current reading, life experience, or advice from friends or family. You learn things immediately. The process of gaining new knowledge, makes you more confident and less defensive. And with even more time, you realize that there many ways to do things, not just your own. Your community provides a framework for learning and expanding your viewpoint. You gain wisdom.
I try to be mindful of others in all aspects of my life. I want to be respectful of someone else’s culture and beliefs. I bite my tongue a lot for the greater good. So instead of attacking a conflicting viewpoint, think first. Walking in someone else’s shoes is hard. Everyone has a story. And we all need to co-exist in this world regardless of our beliefs. This creates a more positive learning environment for all, especially our children.
So even if you think my parenting theories stink-THINK!

It’s Cold and Flu Season

As cold and flu season continues to bear down on us, here are a few things to keep in mind.
-The common cold last 10-14 days and most medications do more harm than good.  The best treatment options include use of a humidifier, making sure your child is well hydrated, and saline nose drops.
-If your child is over the age of one, honey is great for coughs.  Steamy bathrooms are too.
-Keeping Tylenol and Pedialyte in the house is always a good idea.
-Antibiotics cannot cure the common cold.  Let me repeat that, antibiotics cannot cure a cold.
-Make sure you are giving the correct medication dose.  Both under dosing and overdosing can cause problems.
-Fevers are a body’s way of fighting an infection.  If your child seems comfortable you do not have to treat the fever, especially low grade ones.
-And if you are in doubt, call to speak with the nurses at your pediatrician’s office.  They are a wonderful resource and should be able to reassure you regardless of the illness.
Here is a great article about recurring illness in kids.

Fewer Wars

How about using the term “Wars” a little less often. 

I surf the net looking for insightful articles to post relevant to parenting. I think about what I want to read, what moves me, and the questions that I hear others asking in my life. So as I sat looking for inspiration, I noticed a theme- “Mommy Wars,” “Daddy Wars,” and “Let’s Have a War on Football.” These were some of the headlines I read. I know it’s a catch phrase that lures readers in, but with all of the turmoil going on around the world maybe we should pick a new word. 

 

The rise of social media has caused many to speak their minds in new ways. But the truth is sometimes it makes more sense to keep quiet. Remember when your mother told you “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Or simply “Bite your tongue.” The dialogues have become so heated and at times hurtful. It makes me cringe. And I think, we are modeling appropriate ways to interact with others for our children. Let me say that again-WE ARE MODELING APPROPRIATE WAYS TO INTERACT WITH OTHERS FOR OUR CHILREN.

 

As we get ready to say good bye to 2015, let’s all make a pact to be a bit more thoughtful. Let’s be kind to others both in person and in print. Let us show our children how to create opportunities for peace in our communities. And let’s try to end “the Wars” because it is simply not necessary.

Advocating For All Families

There has been a lot of attention paid to Breastfeeding in the media this week. And for the most part, it has a negative slant, at least in my opinion. Let me be clear, I am a supporter of families first. I support families who choose to breastfeed. I give them the information and support they need to achieve their goals. I also know that some families are not interested in breastfeeding or not able to do so. I support them as well. Every new family deserves to be supported as they begin a new phase of life. You know my motto-Guilt is a useless emotion so check it at the door. 

The first article about breastfeeding was an editorial piece in the New York Times titled Overselling Breastfeeding.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/opinion/sunday/overselling-breast-feeding.html?_r=1

“Yet the moral fervor surrounding breast-feeding continues unabated, with a steady stream of advocacy and education campaigns, hospital initiatives, social pressure and workplace and insurance regulations designed to push breast-feeding numbers still higher.”

This piece talked about guilt and pressure from the Breastfeeding community directed at pregnant and new mothers. It goes on to talk about the big money pay out for breast pump supplies as part of this increased push towards breastfeeding. 

 Seriously! Formula companies are making more money than I will ever see in my lifetime. They continue to develop new formulas on a regular basis to confound new parents.  While the supplies sold to breastfeeding families are truly geared towards the ridiculously short maternity leaves we have in the United States. 

 If we gave mothers more than the average 12 week maternity leave, the need for a lot of equipment would be lessened. So maybe we should look at the bigger picture-the Lactivists are helping in any way possible because they know the Mama’s time at home is short. However, I want to be clear that breastfeeding is a choice and no one should feel pressured into nursing.
 The second article was a rebuttal from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine titled Promotion without support-a reply to editorials that attack breastfeeding advocacy.

https://bfmed.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/promotion-without-support-a-reply-to-editorials-that-attack-breastfeeding-advocacy/ 

“I am therefore saddened that media discourse on breastfeeding continues to undermine women by putting forth articles supporting the notion that a battleground exists between mothers. This classic patriarchal technique, of pitting women against each other, keeps the focus away from the systematic factors that undermine women around the world, including unequal access to paid maternity leave, evidence-based birthing practices, postpartum lactation support, breast milk banking, employer support of breastfeeding, and misleading advertising from infant formula companies. It is also the result of insufficient funding for public health infrastructures that therefore focus on breastfeeding promotion, without addressing breastfeeding support.”

The author also says “it is clear from every medical expert panel in every country in the world that the benefits of breastfeeding for health of mother and baby, decreasing economic and health inequities, and supporting a healthy environment, are well established.”

This piece it talks about the false information shared about the medical benefits of breastfeeding mentioned in the NYT op-ed piece. It is a continuation of the Mommy Wars. There is a great of evidence that supports the medical benefits of breastfeeding.

 Finally, the last article was written to discuss the business side of being a Breastfeeding Mama. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/3051947/second-shift/the-business-case-for-helping-new-moms-pump-at-work

 This article talks about the support services created to help new mothers returning to the work force. It offers guidance and support to women who are trying to determine how to create a work-life balance that is so difficult to achieve. Some big companies are looking at work/life balance as it relates to mothers returning from maternity leave. They want to keep these women happy and productive. What a wonderful concept! It is hard to juggle everything, especially when a baby wakes you up every few hours!

  

  After reading all three articles here are my take home points:

  • We should support ALL new mothers. 
  • Maternity leaves are too short. 
  • Finding a Mommy village for support is difficult, just do it. 
  • We need to give families more when there is a new baby at home. 
  • Being a working Mama is hard work, especially in the first year of life. 
  •  The US maternity and paternity leaves policies are outdated and need major revisions.

 

 

Falling In Love

I meet new mothers every week. It’s a gift. I see wrinkled little newborns, exhausted parents, and excited grandparents. I listen to stories and answer questions in the hopes of offering insights in the world of a baby.  
The world of babies. It’s complex. They cry, they sleep, and they eat. And babies poop-a lot. (New parents are poop obsessed. They bring them to me. They show me pictures. They talk about the color in vivid detail. It’s slightly charming in an odd way, but I digress.)
The reason I love working with new families is because of the raw emotions. It is such a precious time and so fleeting. Yet that is what makes it so hard for parents-there is a sense of helplessness. In our society, we like control. When a baby enters the picture, control is lost.
To the new mothers and fathers I say- take a deep breath for this phase is very short. That feeling you gets when your tiny newborn curls up on your chest to sleep is magical. The feeling you get when you listen to their breaths against your neck is so special. They will never be this tiny again.
As a person you will grow. You will learn about unconditional love in a way you never thought possible. Your patience will be tested and you will have to solve new problems. (What is the trick to getting the baby to stay asleep when you put him down.). You will put your faith in others-doctors, nurses, caregivers-and hope they have your child’s best interests at heart too. You will meet new friends to help you navigate this new world.
And you will smile. You will glow when you see that beautiful face for the first time. You will try hard to elicit the baby’s “real smile” for the first, second, and thousandth time. You will smile when you realize you had spit up on your shoulder for your entire work day-and no one told you.
Fall in love with your babies. It will not be an easy journey. It will not be all hearts and flowers. But the gift of parenthood is amazing so enjoy the ride.

Maintaining a Fresh Perspective

It was a long summer of stress in our house.  A new job, packing up life to move to a new house, and a rather inconvenient injury that put one member of our household out of commission for a little while.  These were some of the events that took over my positive outlook.  While living it, it seemed like so many negative things happened in our little family, but the truth was they were not significant.  They were a collection of bad luck events that passed in time.  And yet, they made me into a “Debbie Downer.”  So for those of you who know me, I apologize for being “that person” who talked about HER problems every time she saw you.  I knew it was happening, but I just couldn’t stop it…

It has been more than a month since our luck turned and I got a new perspective.  I hate the person full of stress and worry that I was for several months.  You see, that person is not me.  Because I was stuck inside my own drama, I could not be available to others.  I don’t want to beat myself up too much, but the truth is that I was a bad Mom, a bad wife, a bad daughter, and a bad friend.  I am fortunate that my village is kind and understanding.  They offered words of wisdom to talk me through the craziest of situations.  I mean, it’s not every day you become the overseer of this-yes, it is a pool being filled in.

IMG_0643

Why did I talk to other incessantly about my drama?  I am a venter…telling the story helps me move on.  But boy is it annoying to the folks on the other end.  I knew it too.  Sorry…

So it is September-the month of many new beginnings.  The kids are off at school.  Several friends are awaiting the arrival of their first babies!  I am getting ready to teach some new classes  (check out http://www.StorkReady.com for details).  And after a long hiatus, I am writing again!  I am adopting a new perspective that I hope will enhance every aspect of my life.  I have decided that I want to stay positive and not get stuck in the challenges.

As a parent, I will not get annoyed that my daughter spilled her milk for the second time today.  I will enjoy carting my children around to their various activities.  I will not worry about the extra special treats my children consume as we all settle into our Fresh Perspective.  I will try not to roll my eyes as the complaints are launched at dinner time.  I will maintain a Fresh Perspective!

I saw a question the other day that has kept me thinking.  “What part of your day brought you peace and joy?”  I will let you know the  answers in a future post.  Join me as I become positive again!