Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Real Mom’s Resource Guide

College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It, by Richard D. Kadison and Theresa Foy Di-Geronimo (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004). Sure, your kids may still be toddlers, but every parent should be aware of this book, and the sooner you read it the better. Written by the chief of the Mental Health Service at Harvard University Health Services, the book warns us of a mental health crisis in college students today. With the rising numbers of stressedout, depressed, suicidal students who cannot cope with failure (that is, their first B grade), parents need to understand the crisis now to better prepare their kids for life later.

The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman, with Joan deClaire (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). A renowned psychologist teaches you the five steps of Emotion Coaching not only to help you tune in to your children’s emotional needs but also to help kids become better at soothing themselves when they are upset.

“Help Me, I’m Sad,” by David G. Fassler and Lynne S. Dumas (New York: Viking, 1997). This book is full of solid advice for parents on recognizing, treating, and preventing childhood and adolescent depression.

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon, by David Elkind (New York: Perseus, 2001). The title says it all. Now in its third edition, this classic is still pertinent today.

KidStress, by Georgia Witkin (New York: Viking, 1999). This book talks about what causes kids’ stress and offers practical ideas to alleviate it.

The Over-Scheduled Child, by Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001). The authors make a compelling argument against what they consider “hyperparenting” and the impact it has on kids. Put this book on your “mustread” list, Mom.

Parenting by Heart: How to Stay Connected to Your Child in a Disconnected World, by Ron Taffel, with Melinda Blau (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 2002). In this book based around a long-standing series of parenting workshops, Taffel aims to debunk the most damaging myths of parenthood and replace them with a flexible set of solutions that can be easily adapted to different situations. This book presents a variety of innovative ideas that can boost our sensitivity to our children’s needs. Taffel, as always, is practical and affirming.

Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child, by Jim Taylor (New York: Hyperion, 2005). Dr. Taylor shows that achievement and happiness can be mutually inclusive. By providing active guidance and positive support, parents free their children to seek out and pursue true success and happiness in life.

The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life, by Michael Thompson, with Teresa Barker (New York: Ballantine, 2004). This book helps sensitize parents to the real pressures that new cultural norms impose on kids at school these days and offers advice to parents and educators on how to help children cope. It is based on interviews with children, parents, and teachers and—most revealing—shadowing students at school.

What Do You Really Want for Your Children? by Wayne W. Dyer (New York: Avon, 1985). This book offers straightforward advice about raising children and increasing their self-esteem.

Your Anxious Child: How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety inChildren, by John S. Dacey and Lisa B. Fiore (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000). This book describes proven ways to help kids handle stress and cope with difficulties more confidently.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting ready to get pregnant : Are you anemic?

If you are anemic, the hemoglobin in your blood is insufficient to carry the amount of oxygen required to reach all of the cells in your body. This can cause serious problems during pregnancy by reducing the amount of oxygen your baby receives. If your anemia is significant, there is an increased risk for intrauterine growth restriction and also fetal hypoxia during labor. In addition, the mother will be less able to handle the blood loss associated with delivery (vaginal or cesarean) if she’s already significantly short on blood. Also, anemia that hasn’t been adequately evaluated may turn out to be a symptom of a more serious genetic or systemic disease.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Urge to Be Super-mom

The result is that many moms today are suffering from what can only be described as a kind of frenzy—an abnormally high level of busyness, tension, stress, speediness, anxiety, heightened awareness, and even panic. Many moms can’t get enough sleep; they can never keep up or do enough for their kids and are feeling guilty and inadequate about it. They’re overwhelmed

trying to be Super-mom, to fulfill the expectations placed on them. They overcompensate by taking on more and more until you might as well admit that they’re in a state of Motherhood Mania. Of course, we accept those expectations. Isn’t that what a good mother does?

We know it’s not for a lack of love and good intentions. Yet it’s painfully obvious that things are bad, and we’ve got to find the reason. There’s no one easy answer, but here are eleven issues to consider:

1. New knowledge about child development.

We know a lot more about child development than we used to, and everyone agrees that parents do make a difference. What we say and do and how we behave with our children have a huge impact on their development. It’s not just nature, its nurture.

2. Competition.

Parents today want their children to excel— to do better than they did. There’s a feeling that kids have to win and do better than other kids, and there’s a big fear of failure, as if only the strong or successful can flourish in this age of anxiety. Moms find themselves fighting ruthlessly with other moms for slots in nursery schools or ice time on the hockey team.

3. More options.

Entrepreneurs have created so many attractive choices and opportunities for kids today. Parents find themselves bombarded with seductive appeals for everything from music, athletic, and academic training to adventure camps in foreign locales that are guaranteed to enrich their children’s lives or teach them a second language.

4. More media.

Here is just a one-week sampling of some of the cover stories in national magazines: Atlantic Monthly: “Stop Being a Slacker Mom”; New York Times Magazine: “Mommy Madness”; U.S. News & World Report: “Mysteries of the Teen Years”; Newsweek: “Babies and Autism”; Time: “What Teachers Hate About Parents: Pushy Dads. Hovering Moms. Parents Who Don’t Show Up at All. Are Kids Paying the Price?” During that same week, many TV and radio talk shows focused on parent-child crisis issues. Over eight hundred books on the concept of motherhood were published between 1970 and 2000; of those, only twenty-seven were published between 1970 and 1980. My mom had just one parenting “guru”: Benjamin Spock. These days it’s as though a new study comes out almost daily advising parents how to optimize their children’s potential.

5. Financial pressures.

It’s more and more expensive to be a parent. School materials, sports equipment and tournament travel, special lessons, tutoring, computer equipment—the demand for cash seems never ending. Then there’s just the “normal” stuff—clothing, food, books. With downsizing and layoffs in our roller coaster economy, parents are also concerned that their kids won’t be able to find a job unless they go to the very best schools and have better skills than anyone else. It all adds to the stress and mania.

6. Guilt.

We’re working. We’re striving. We’re often away from home more than we’d like. We’re trying to do the best for our kids, but it also means that sometimes we’re tired and cranky and don’t do everything we think we ought to be doing for our families. So we’re wracked with guilt, shame, remorse, and more guilt.

7. Wanting to be liked.

Many moms want to be their children’s best friend. They can’t stand the idea of making an unpopular decision, saying no, or (heaven forbid) disciplining their kids if doing so might cause their kids to resent them or say, “You’re mean, Mom.”

8. Outdoing their own moms.

And then there are some moms who are still dealing with unresolved conflicts from their own childhood. The last thing they want to do is repeat the same mistakes their mother made. “I’m going to be a much better mom than she was and show her how it really should be done.”

9. Lack of confidence.

Some mothers feel as though they’re being graded every day and may be flunking the Motherhood Test. They lack confidence in their judgment and are constantly second-guessing themselves.

10. Wanting a trophy child.

Have you ever seen a mother whose child is just her favorite possession—a living representation of her own worth, an accessory? Her kid’s achievements give this mom “bragging rights.” This type of mother is so self-centered that she thinks of her child only as a reflection of her own achievements.

11. The test craze.

These days there is no child left untested. Standardized tests. Achievement tests. Aptitude tests. PSATs. SATs. A child’s current worth and potential for success are coming to be dictated by a portfolio of numbers. From the preschool admission tests to LSATs— they’re making us crazy worrying that our kids aren’t going to be good enough.

And is Motherhood Mania worth it? Is it worth all the time and energy and money we’re spending? Do our kids really benefit from all these splendid extracurricular activities and stimulating experiences?

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting ready to get pregnant : Do you have any chronic health conditions?

Women who suffer from serious medical conditions — such as epilepsy, lupus, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, PKU (phenylketonuria), or kidney disease — require special care during pregnancy. Here are some examples of the types of issues that women with these types of conditions must confront during pregnancy:

Women with poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes are four to six times more likely to give birth to a baby with birth defects than non diabetic women. That’s why it’s so important for diabetic women to ensure that their blood sugar is well controlled both prior to and during pregnancy.

Women who are epileptic need to carefully consider the risks of taking anti seizure medications during pregnancy. Although some medications increase the chances of birth defects, seizures can themselves be harmful to the developing fetus.

Women with lupus — an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own tissues — are at increased risk of experiencing miscarriage or preterm labor. As a rule of thumb, women who have been symptom free for six months prior to conceiving are likely to have a healthy pregnancy.

Women with chronic high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing pregnancy complications, including placental problems and fetal growth restriction. A change in medications may make it possible for a pregnant woman with chronic high blood pressure to manage her condition without harming her baby.

Women with heart disease or kidney problems may require a change of medications as well as careful monitoring throughout their pregnancies.

Women with phenylketonuria (PKU) — an inherited body-chemistry disorder in which the body is unable to process a particular type of amino acid (a building block of protein) — must follow a special diet in order to prevent mental retardation and birth defects in their babies.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Friday, October 17, 2008

Four Simple Strategies for Firm Discipline

1. Use the rewind method. To be absolutely sure your child knows what you want, state your request and then ask her to “rewind” (repeat) what you just said back to you. It takes only a few seconds and eliminates any chance of misunderstanding.

2. Try the “Ten-Second Rule.” Limit your words to exactly what you want your child to do. If you can’t state your request in ten seconds, you’re saying too much.

3. Lower your voice. Sometimes the fastest way to get kids to comply is by lowering your voice tone. Nothing turns a kid off faster than yelling. Teachers have used this strategy for years because it works.

4. Keep it short. Kids are more receptive when they know they don’t have to hear a lecture, so keep your request short and to the point: “Please make your bed before you go outside.” Sometimes saying one word does the trick: “Homework!” “Chores!” Or just write the word on a Post-it and stick it on the TV while your kid is still watching: “BED!” “GARBAGE!” He’ll get the hint. (If not, push the power button off.)

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Real Mom : Are You Ready to Make a Change?

Here are a few more questions to help you realize it’s time to get your family out of the fast lane—to slow down and make a few different parenting choices so that your kids will be happier and more confident, develop stronger values, and become self-reliant. Do any of these ring true for you or your family?

  • Do you feel guilty about not living up to your own image of the perfect mom? Do you second-guess your mothering or think you’re not doing a good-enough job?
  • Do you worry about your child—about whether the workload and schedule is too much?
  • At your parent-teacher conference, do you find yourself asking more about your kid’s grade and how he’s competing with the rest of the class than about whether he is happy and how he gets along?
  • Are you frequently stressed or exhausted or impatient with your family? Does the littlest, tiniest thing get under your skin? Are you quick to anger? Are you yelling more?
  • Are you on the coach’s case complaining that your child isn’t getting enough game time or respect on the team?
  • Has success become such a huge commodity in your family that your kids are afraid to let you down or disappoint you with a poor grade?
  • Do you worry that your kid seems really anxious or depressed? That she’s not having any fun?
  • Do you worry when your kid seems to have nothing to do, and feel as though you have to educate or entertain him every second of the day?
  • Do you always compare yourself frequently to other mothers and worry that they’re doing a better job than you are?

If you answered yes to any of the questions, it’s time to you make some changes for your kids, yourself, and your family.

We’ll work on simple changes so that you stop trying to do it all and instead focus on what really matters in giving your kid what she needs to be happy and successful on her own.

Yes, it will involve a little work—but we’re talking about simple changes. I’ll show you how to make easy adjustments that can have a dramatic impact on your family. And if you stick to your commitment and do make those changes, you will be happier and more content in your mothering, and your children will have a much better chance of being successful not only in school but also in life. And that’s because you’ll be raising your kids so they can survive and thrive without you.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fifteen Reasons to Quit Smoking Before You Start Trying to Conceive

1. Smoking makes you less fertile.

Women who smoke are 30 percent less fertile than other women.

2. Smoking increases the odds that you will experience a miscarriage.

Smokers are almost twice as likely to miscarry as nonsmokers.

3. Smoking increases the likelihood that your baby will be stillborn.

Babies of smokers are twice as likely to be stillborn as babies of nonsmokers.

4. Smoking causes birth defects.

Smoking 10 cigarettes per day increases the odds that you will give birth to a baby with cleft palate and cleft lip by 50 percent.

5. Smoking disrupts the flow of oxygen to the baby.

Your baby receives less oxygen because nicotine restricts the flow of blood through the blood vessels in the placenta.

6. Smoking can harm the lungs of your developing baby.

Exposure to secondhand smoke while in the womb can leave your baby more susceptible to respiratory disorders and infections during early childhood.

7. Smoking increases the odds that you will give birth prematurely.

Babies who are born prematurely tend to experience more health problems than those who are carried to term.

8. Smoking increases the odds that you will experience certain types of pregnancy-related complications.

Women who smoke during pregnancy are also more likely to experience placental abnormalities and bleeding.

9. Smoking reduces the likelihood that you will eat properly during pregnancy.

Smoking acts as an appetite supressant, and if you’re less hungry, you’re less likely to seek out the nutrient-rich foods that your body needs to grow a healthy baby.

10. Smoking interferes with the absorption of vitamin C.

Because vitamin C plays an important role in iron absorption, smoking can indirectly contribute to iron-deficiency anemia.

11. Smoking can interfere with breastfeeding.

Because smoking can decrease the quantity and quality of breast milk, smoking can lead to early weaning.

12. Smoking is linked to a number of childhood health problems.

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, bronchitis, and ear infections. And, according to some brand-new research, they are also more likely to be obese.

13. Smoking increases the odds that your baby will experience serious, even fatal, health problems during infancy.

Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die of SIDS and to develop certain types of childhood brain cancers.

14. Smoking is linked to childhood behavioral problems.

A recent study found that the toddlers of mothers who smoked during pregnancy were four times as likely to be diagnosed with behavioral problems as the toddlers of nonsmokers.

15. Smoking increases the odds that your baby will develop lung cancer later in life. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than children who are not exposed to secondhand smoke.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Five Steps to Boosting Your Sensitivity

Step One: Match Your Expectations to Your Child's True Self.

To make sure that the expectations you set for your child are ones that stretch her potential without unintentionally zapping her self-worth, ask yourself this: Are my expectations

1. Developmentally appropriate.

Is my child developmentally ready for the tasks I’m requiring, or am I pushing him beyond the limits of his internal timetable? Learn what’s appropriate for your child’s age, but still keep in mind that developmental guidelines are not etched in stone. It’s always best to start from where your child is.

2. Realistic.

Is my expectation fair and reasonable, or am I expecting too much? Realistic expectations stretch kids to aim higher, without pushing them beyond their capabilities. Be careful of setting standards too high. Putting your child in situations that are too difficult puts her at risk of failing and lowering her feelings of competence.

3. Child oriented.

Is what I’m expecting something my child wants, or is it something I want more for myself? We all want our kids to be successful, but we have to be constantly wary of setting goals for our kids that are attempts to fulfill our dreams and not those of our kids.

4. Success oriented.

Am I setting the kind of expectations that tell my child I believe he’s responsible, reliable, and worthy? Effective expectations encourage kids to be their best so that they can develop a solid belief in themselves.

Don’t get so wrapped up in your hopes and dreams for your child’s future that you lose sight of what matters most in the here and now. After all, what could be more important than your child’s knowing that you love and cherish her for who she is—not for what you want her to be and what you hope she will become?

Step Two: Tune In to What’s Really Going On with Your Kid.

Put down that cell phone. Don’t worry about the dust. Be intentional. Take time every day—I’m not talking hours, just a few minutes—to take a good look at your child’s life and how things are going.

Step Three: Check Your Kid’s Vital Signs.

First the face: Are his eyes sparkling or flat? Is he scowling or smiling? Next the body language: Is she relaxed or stiff? Slumped down or coiled up? Finally, the voice: Is it tense and edgy or warm and resonant? Are you hearing whines or laughter? Any sudden changes in behavior: Clinginess? Anger or temper tantrums? Avoidance of situations? Negativity? Loss or big increase of appetite? Too little or too much sleep? Remember, your child isn’t going to come up and say outright, “You’re making demands on me I can’t fulfill,” but there are many ways, if you’re sensitive, that you can see it for yourself.

Step Four: Identify the Specific Misfit Between Expectation and Reality.

Is that accelerated class too hard? Is the coach too demanding? Are you too critical of your kid’s grades? Is that clique you’ve encouraged her to join too upscale? Talk to your spouse, the teacher, or your best friend.

Step Five: Take Action to Remove the Mismatch Between Your Expectation and Reality.

Find a better class. Take a break from soccer. Back off from stressing over grade-point average. Let your child choose her own friends. Remain vigilante and sensitive to your kid’s needs. Never stop checking for stress and overload, identifying the potential causes and taking action to provide the remedy.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Getting ready to get pregnant : Do you skip meals regularly?

If you’re in the habit of skipping meals, your body could be missing out on such important nutrients as folic acid, iron, and calcium. It’s particularly important to ensure that your diet contains adequate quantities of folic acid. Studies have shown that women who consume at least 0.4 mg of folic acid each day reduce their chances of giving birth to a child with a neural tube defect (for example, anencephaly or spina bifida) by 50 percent to 70 percent. Other studies have indicated that folic acid may help to reduce the risk of miscarriage as well as the odds that you will develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. There’s even some evidence that, when combined with an adequate intake of iron, folic acid may offer your baby-to-be a measure of protection against childhood leukemia.

To increase your intake of this important nutrient, you should consume foods that are naturally high in folic acid, such as oranges, orange juice, honeydew melon, avocados, dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, spinach), asparagus, bean sprouts, corn, cauliflower, dried beans, nuts, seeds, bran cereals, whole-grain products, wheat germ, and fortified breakfast cereals. You should plan to talk to your doctor or midwife about whether it would be a good idea for you to take a folic acid supplement as well. (Most women find that it is difficult to get enough folic acid through diet alone.)

Because neural tube defects can occur very early on in pregnancy, it’s important to ensure that you have adequate levels of folic acid in your diet before you start trying to conceive. That’s why most doctors recommend that you consume adequate amounts of folic acid throughout your childbearing years. After all, nearly half (49 percent) of pregnancies are unplanned.

It’s also important to ensure that your diet contains sufficient quantities of iron. During pregnancy, a woman’s iron needs double. The extra iron is required to create additional red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body as well as your growing baby.

If you find that you are tired all the time, it could be because you’re low on iron. Try boosting your iron intake by consuming iron-rich foods, such as whole-grain and enriched cereals, lean meats, dried peas and beans, dark green vegetables, and dried fruits. Because vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, consume these iron-rich foods with a glass of orange juice or other foods that are high in vitamin C, such as melons, strawberries, grapefruits, raspberries, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and so on Finally, you’ll also want to ensure that your diet contains an adequate amount of calcium. A woman who is calcium-deficient prior to and during pregnancy may end up giving birth prematurely to a calcium-deficient baby. Just don’t go overboard in the calcium department: consuming more than 2,500 mg of calcium per day from supplements and food sources (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese) puts you at increased risk of developing a urinary tract infection and it can make it more difficult for your body to absorb other important nutrients such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Six Core Principles of Real Mothering

Having traveled around a lot talking, interviewing, and surveying mothers across the United States and throughout the world these past few years, I can tell you with confidence that being a real mother is founded on just six core principles that these women knew all along. A responsible, caring woman

1. Loves her children deeply and is committed to raising them to the best of her ability

2. Knows the essential and proven parenting principles

3. Maintains a strong belief that no one understands or knows better what’s best for her child than herself

4. Recognizes her child’s and her own unique strengths and temperament, and customizes her parenting to fit

5. Has the confidence to act on these beliefs

6. Knows, above all else, that it’s the connection with her child that matters most

The true essence of real mothering lies in who you really are and how you connect with your child—and that’s what we’ve so often forgotten.

We need to get back to real mothering. The benefits of doing so are profound for you, your child, and your family—they last for always. And the sooner we return to basic, instinctive, natural, authentic mothering, the stronger our families will be.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006