Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wishing You Peace

I haven' t written much lately but I wish for you and every family peace at heart and at home. Give your children your time and attention, allow their imaginations to flourish and instill in them compassion for all living things.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New research on breastfeeding- It's more than just nutrition

Here's an interesting article on breastfeeding research at LaTrobe University that examines other aspects of breastfeeding other than nutritional value or the physical mechanics. The research found a phenomenon that describes the mother and baby's relationship as "interembodied, an intense connection in which they exist as one entity rather than two separate entities. (We moms could have told them that) They observed that when an infant cried, the mother's body responded because it knew just what to do, produce milk! Breastfeeding moms have long known about the "let down" reflex that happens when they just think about their baby, the milk gushes forth- with the sole purpose of keeping baby nearby. Mother nature is incredible and so wise. If only we humans would listen and respect her design.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Homebirth on the Rise!

I have to say I was a little bit shocked and pleased to see a story about home birth on Good Morning America this morning. The journalist doing the report disclosed that she was born at home in the 70's but certainly that "trend" did not continue much past then and has been openly discredited by the medical community for years. However, in just the last couple of years, the documentary by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein called "The Business of Being Born" has had a major impact on birth in America. More than promoting home birth, the documentary began as a journey of discovery about birth in hospitals and at home showing very different experiences by the mothers- not in favor of hospitals I might add. It's a documentary that informs parents about how birth is big business for hospitals and sheds light on why there is such a dramatic increase in c-sections. Hospitals are run by risk-management teams and insurance companies so it doesn't leave much flexibility of choices for women.

I believe it's time that that women had a choice in birth in America and I'm happy that we, as a society, are talking about it again. Either out of fear or ignorance (or both), we have given up our rights to have choices in birth. To experience birth is a right of passage for women and should be considered sacred and handled respectfully, as should the newborn child. We all agree that we want our babies born safely, every mother wants that regardless where she gives birth. Every woman should give informed consent for every procedure that is done to her or her baby.

How has giving birth changed you?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Study found spanking in real time on audio tapes

Here's an interesting story on ABC News of a study done by Dr. George Holden at SMU in Dallas. He was the coordinator of the Global Summit to End Corporal Punishment and Promote Positive Discipline. The study was actually trying to find out how many times parents yelled at their kids during the day, only to find out after listening to the audio tapes that they also captured when parents spanked or slapped their children. What was shocking to the researchers was that parents resorted to hitting for very minor infractions frequently; like one child was insistent about turning the page of a book that the mother was reading to him and she became annoyed so she slapped him. To me, it shows such a lack of understanding of children and a need to dominate the child's spirit. As you watch, let the commercials run because there are other little clips of related stories.

I have a confession to make. There was a time thirty blah, blah years ago when I used to believe spanking was necessary. Of course I would believe that, I was spanked...a lot... and everyone I knew growing up was spanked. However, I found it very interesting that before my mother passed away, and before I had children, she said " Now don't spank my grandbabies!" I thought, wow, after all the times she spanked me, something changed in her and what she said always stayed with me and it changed me too.

Now this little mantra runs through my mind and I don't know if it came from me or I heard it somewhere but here goes: "Humans aren't for hitting and children are human too. " We have laws to protect adults and animals from being hit but there are no laws to protect children. What does that say about us as a society?

If you spank now it's never too late to change and repair your relationship with your child. There are many other alternatives that begin with being more empathic with your child and seeing the world through their eyes not adult eyes and realizing they have precious little spirits that need to be respected and nourished with love, even more so when they seem out of control. At the heart of positive discipline is your relationship! So rather than overreact, assume your child's behavior is reflecting how they feel inside and try to understand her feelings. Is she tired, hungry, frustrated, feeling disconnected from you? Give you and your child time to cool off before talking about what happened. It is the perfect opportunity to reconnect and to teach boundaries and feelings of self and others. When you punish you miss all these opportunities. Contrary to popular belief, young children do not yet have the brain capacity to control overwhelming feelings; they learn how to regulate these powerful feelings from you, the parent, which means if you are calm, it will help calm them. Then when they are older, over the age of five, they have better developed capacities to self-regulate.

Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Breast Milk Cure

There was an incredible op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday by enlightened author Nicolas Kristof about using breast milk as the cure for so many children's deaths in third world countries. It really was rather shocking to read that too many of these countries have very low breastfeeding rates; they are too poor to buy artificial milk and yet somehow they do, using contaminated water. How did this happen? Breastfeeding is free, easily accessible and breast milk protects children from numerous diseases and infections. In fact here in the U.S. nearly 1,000 babies lives would be saved from breastfeeding.

While I admit that there are a variety of reasons for this, I can't help but be a little suspicious and cynical because breastfeeding has been undermined by big business for decades here in the U.S. and abroad. Breastmilk is free, natural and can't be patented (at least not yet) which may be one of the reasons it's not been its not being promoted. The West has tremendous influence on the rest of the world and until we as a society are committed to breastfeeding we will continue lose the lives of millions of children every year. So read the article and judge for yourself.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

I was spanked and I turned out OK!

It's a familiar argument. Yes, I was spanked and I did turn out "ok"but I think I turned out ok in spite of being spanked. My mother had no other tools to discipline an active child. My father said he remembered being spanked nearly every day of his life until he was twelve. His parents believed that was the biblical thing to do. Yet the research is unequivocal; spanking, smacking or otherwise hitting a child can cause emotional and psychological problems down the road. Even in an otherwise loving home, spanking can breakdown the relationship of trust and feelings of safety with the child's parents. One child was quoted as saying to her parent, "If you love me why did you hit me?" Children clearly understand the mixed messages of love and pain; that the only way to resolve a problem is to hit. It is a curious phenomenon to me that we have laws in our country that protect adults and animals from being hit but not our children.

Spanking (otherwise known as corporal punishment or hitting) was the key topic at the first ever, international Global Summit to End Corporal Punishment held in Dallas, Tx in early June. It was an honor for me to attend because I finally met many people with whom I've been communicating and following over the years. They are movers, shakers and staunch advocates for children; researchers, professors, educators, parent educators and parents.

What inspired me most was hearing two children speak at the conference, one eleven year old girl form Dallas and a seventeen year old young man from New Zealand. They were so empowered, articulate and awe-inspiring. Having "fought the good fight" for many years now, the older generations are encouraging and welcoming children's voices on this pressing issue. I would love to hear from young people about their thoughts and feelings about spanking.!

It is appalling to me that the American Psychological Association and other national organizations that promote the welfare of children will not take on the issue of corporal punishment, although the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement against its use. It has been described as a "conspiracy of silence" in this country and yet other countries are far more ahead in their progress to abolish CP in the schools and in some cases in the home. Amazingly, twenty four of those countries were represented at the conference.

If you're interested in learning more, check out these video interviews on YouTube from the conference of some of the leaders in the abolishment of corporal punishment movement or go to the website End Corporal Punishment to learn what's going on worldwide . I've included a picture of me with Raffi, the popular children's song troubador, advocate for child honoring and Nadine Block, founder of The Center for Effective Discipline.

You can make a difference by choosing positive discipline strategies over corporal punishment in your own home. You can start right now, today. I made the change in my family and I know you can too! If you need ideas or have ideas to share, write a comment .

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coming Soon! Attached at the Heart parenting curriculum

A colleague in family life education and child advocacy, recently told me that she felt that our book, Attached a the Heart, was the best parenting book she had ever read. She told me that few programs focus pre-birth all the way through the first three years (as we have also found), so we're excited to fill that important void. The major emphasis of our evidenced-based curriculum will be to help parents become more sensitive and empathic to their children which is at the root of so many parent-child relationship problems.

Our next big step is to enlist the help of a select few universities and agencies to help pilot the program this fall and help us gather data. Anyone interested?