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?