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HEALTH   -   HEALTHY & HAPPY
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All children deserve the chance to have a healthy mom and all moms deserve the chance to enjoy their babies. However, postpartum depression can take that chance away. It's a very real type of depression that occurs after pregnancy. Unfortunately many women don't or won't tell anyone about the symptoms of postpartum depression because they feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty. It can happen to any woman. I know. It happened to me.
All children develop at their own rate, including infants and toddlers. They have their own timetable for toilet training, sippy cups, crawling, walking, and starting to talk. The people around them and the events they experience influence the how and when they begin. As parents we help our children develop when we respect their rates of development and don't push them.
Okay, the title was really just to get your attention, but in all seriousness, I received a sincere query to last month's article entitled "Behind the Bedroom Door." For those of you who didn't read the article, I basically spoke to women about taking care of their husbands; it ruffled a few feminist feathers. I was told "to get my head out of the 1950's - did I think that a wife should be waiting at the door with her husband's slippers and a drink?"
Psychiatrist D.W. Winnicott came up with the phrase, "good-enough mothering." That phrase could be changed to "good-enough parenting." Winnicott said that parents can't expect perfection from themselves and that they will make mistakes. Normal parental mistakes will not prevent a child from developing into a healthy adult. Knowing that we'll make mistakes doesn't mean that we shouldn't work to build our children's self-esteem. In fact, one of the biggest parenting mistakes we don't have to make is forgetting the three most empowering words we share with our kids: I love you.
Spanking - what a controversial subject! Talking about it rouses as much emotion as discussing religion or politics. Parents make valid arguments for each point of view. Whenever I'm queried about this particular parenting tool I ask the question: "What are you trying to teach?" If the answer is, "I don't spank when I'm angry, I'm use spanking as a tool to get my child's attention," then I would challenge you to consider other options.
How was your Valentine's Day? It's interesting how February 14 is equally feared by both men and women. The pressures and the expectations for romance all rolled into one 24-hour period can really put a damper on things. And so many relationships hang precariously based on what happens during the "holiday." Did flowers come? Was dinner reserved? Was a gift purchased? Were the right words whispered softly? Did they remember a card? Wow! No wonder it's a multi-million dollar industry.
As a parent I'm sure many of you have had the experience of being involved in some type of volunteer group; Brownies, soccer, football, baseball, cheer, Awanas... the list goes on, you fill in the blank! And I'm also pretty sure many of you have stood back and observed in fascinated horror certain parents who just lose it when they get involved in these activities.
The toughest times as a parent are the times when you can't change it, fix it or make it better for your child. You can only be there beside them and love them through. A crucial part of growing up is learning how to deal with adversity. No one talks about how it's also a crucial part of parenting. Learning how to be there and how to let your child go through the tough times is probably the most difficult lessons for a parent. Most parents I talk with feel that they've failed if they can't fix things or make them better when their children are struggling or hurting.
In any relationship, raising any type of family, probably the slowest, hardest lesson to learn is that regardless of what side of the relationship we're on - we're part of the problem. When was the last time that you actually went home and said to your partner/spouse/child: "I learned something today - I was wrong..." and then you actually stated how you were wrong? Nothing helps build a bridge more than letting the other person know you're willing to work. It also takes away some of the stress you're feeling. Being angry, mad, and defensive takes a lot of work and creates a lot of stress.
After last month's article regarding "What's Happening to Moms," I had the best conversation with a mother of six children - four boys and two girls. She told me that thing that made the biggest difference for her was learning to laugh - at both herself and her children. Her stress level went down and her enjoyment in her family went up when she stopped taking everything so seriously and learned to laugh more. That conversation really got me to thinking about the laughter level in my own household. When was the last time I laughed so hard at something it made me cry?
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