MAY: Postpartum Depression Awareness Month

MAY Postpartum Depression Awareness Month

After having their baby, new moms may experience intense feelings of long-lasting sadness, or postpartum depression. Postpartum Depression isn’t synonymous with being a weak or bad mother. It is a medical condition and, like other medical conditions, can get better with treatment. Remember that many new moms experience a range of emotions from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety about bonding and bringing home a newborn.

Some signs that what you may be experiencing is more than the “baby blues” are feelings of intense and severe depression, thoughts of impending doom, withdrawing from family and friends, confusion, trouble bonding with your baby, fearful to be left alone with your baby, and contemplation about hurting yourself or your baby. We are still unsure as to what causes this, but the good news is that we can treat it!  Untreated postpartum depression can last for several months or years.  If you notice any of the signs above, tell someone and/or inform your doctor immediately.  He or she will be able to link you with counseling, support groups, and medication.

With a whole month dedicated to awareness around postpartum depression I hope this will encourage more mothers to speak up and get the help, care and support they deserve.

Parenting in the Age of Entitlement

parenting

The self-efficacy beliefs of parents and collective efficacy of teachers transcends to adolescents and their belief systems. The need for attention and recognition is a rising problem in the US culture. Adults modeling good behaviors and attitudes produce more productive results in the mimicked behaviors from the children without expectation of praise and rewards. The social environment that adolescent’s respond more correctively to are ones that are active in life activities. This cultivates in the child an interest for productivity and enabling the self-beliefs of being competent. These are seen as personal resources that allow the child to make the most of unexpected situations.

Teaching a child the value of money is important to fight the entitlement in this affluent society. Children used to have to work for what they wanted to purchase. Those children are now the parents of children. Parents have over compensated for the lack of privileges they had in their youth and have given without thought that their children are not learning how hard it is to make money needed to buy the material goods. Material goods have risen in cost and the affluent families have set standards for all socioeconomic groups. Showing adolescents how money is distributed to financial obligations that are required to pay to keep the family going and how much is left afterwards is important. Many parents have been found to hide money problems from their children so that the children do not feel less than others in their peer groups.

Children that are worried about what they want to purchase and personal gain for their selves are found to lack self-control and manners needed to maintain a healthy environment. Teaching a child manners, how to be patient, and considerate of other peoples feelings are less likely to show constant selfish behaviors. Parents from all socioeconomic groups are finding that their children can be harsh and even bullies in their peer groups. This leads to isolation for the adolescents due to losing friends and peer groups. These children are likely to be manipulative and covert instead being overtly healthy in behaviors.

Kids have been found to develop healthier schemas if they have responsibilities and limits placed on them. Parents are working long hours and gone on business trips. This partnered with the high number of extracurricular activities takes away all available family time. Contributing to the success of family in ways such as chores or taking care of siblings provides the child a sense of contribution to the family. Less activities outside of the family unit and more time spent as a cohesive productive member of a family has provided positive outcomes in research in treatment for anxiety and depression in adolescents in the US culture.

Turning off the television has been another strategy used to help fight the entitled beliefs. Commercials and reality television have set a standard above even the more affluent families. Commercials that imply a person is better with consumption of a certain product lead a child to feel they are at a disadvantage if they do not have it. Electronic devices such as phones are one of the biggest markets targeting younger populations. Reality television shows display the elite socioeconomic class or a group that is fortunate to be interesting enough to broadcast and be instantly famous.

Allowing a child to find his or her own autonomy is important. When children are ready to go off to college, it is ideal for them to be able to manage and organize their own daily lives, have the ability to prioritize, and manage social relationships. It has been found that the more affluent the family is, the more involved the parent is in planning the child’s days. Affluent parents seem to want to protect their children from failure more than other groups of parents.   This is a problem because some of the best learning and character building comes from failing and learning from the experiences.   Staying consistent in discipline teaches the child that autonomy does not mean they can do what they desire at all times. It teaches the child that there are boundaries and repercussions if those boundaries are not adhered too.

High structure parenting practices is an important strategy to help facilitate healthy developmental growth during adolescence.   Besides having regular chores and responsibilities, an adolescent should be required to sit down with the family several times a week for a meal or activity that does not require money to do. There should be limited privacy allowed instead of kids thinking that they have the same rights as adults do for privacy. This is due to the adolescents desire to be an adult but not having developed the skills to produce adult decisions. Serving the public is something the family can do together as an activity to demonstrate being humble and caring for those less fortunate.

High warmth parenting practices for adolescents has shown significant changes in a child’s belief system and self esteem. A child needs to feel that they are loved unconditionally. This needs to be demonstrated not only by words but actions. A parent being available to listen to the children without judging the experience is key for future communication and less isolation from the parents. Having opportunities to have fun together relates to the developing child that they are as important as responsibilities and pulls from outside the family structure. There are so many critical and negative voices a child will hear at this age. It is important for parents to express faith and confidence more often than the children hear the negative feedback from peers.

Christy Ragle

Who’s The Parent?

5 ways to provoke your children

Recent events have caused me to question who is the parent in certain situations. A week ago I encountered a mother and her son at the grocery store. The son could not have been more than 8 years old if that.  He wanted his mother to buy him something and I am assuming she said no. As I turned onto the isle, the little boy began to throw a fit. Yelling things like “I want it…..I want it!” The little boy was so frustrated he laid out in the floor on his side and screamed as he twirled his body around in a circle (sort of like something you would see on a sitcom). The mother tried reasoning with her son. The more she tried the louder he got. Clearly, embarrassed by the situation she tried to lift her son off the floor and he resisted with every attempt. So then the mother begins to slowly walk off. Her son quietly sits up and watches her. When she left the cart to go get something off a shelf, the little boy runs to the shopping cart and uses the shopping cart to charge his mother. Wham! He rams the shopping cart into his mother. The mother yells for him to stop. The son backs up and rams his mother with the shopping cart once again. The son gears up to ram his mother a third time but the mother grabs the cart. She goes back down the isle where her son’s tantrum began grabbed something off the shelf and yells “happy now!”  I on the other hand was having a WTH moment. I sooooo wanted to say something but instead I just watched the scene play out.  If you know me this was an extremely difficult task for me. In what alternate universe is it okay to ram your mother with a shopping cart, not once but twice? The even bigger question, what realm do you live in that you cave to the demands of an eight year old. At some point kids are going to be disappointed. We as parents are not able to cater to their every whim. Well, some of us may be able to. But monetary gifts do not make for a productive citizen. Reinforcing negative behavior reinforces negative behavior.

Influence of the Father

Influence of the Father

I had the privilege of attending a seminar about the influence of the Father.  The speaker was talking about the influence of our Earthly and Heavenly Father.  The speaker encouraged the attendees to write a list describing our earthly father (i.e. dad); then the speaker asked us to write another list describing our relationship with our heavenly father (i.e. God).  He encouraged us to really take time to think about each and resist the temptation to write what we know others expect to hear from us.

I was amazed at the similarities in my list.  I certainly used different words to describe the relationships of each; however there was a common theme among these lists.  It made me begin to think about how much influence does our relationship with our fathers and men on earth influence our perception of God.

If our earthly father tended to be gentle, caring and loving, are we more readily able to accept and believe in God’s gift of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace?

If our earthly father tended to be critical, harsh, and strict, do we see God as our accuser ready to send us to Hell?

If our earthly father is absent, do we readily believe God loves us and will never leave us?

Much of the literature will say that our relationships and attachment with our parental figures does impact our sense of self and relationships with others so it doesn’t seem like a large leap that it would also influence our relationship with The Father, Our God.

My hope and belief is that if we have a negative perception of God and can change our perception of God, this would significantly impact all our other relationships, including our relationship with our self.  I would encourage you to create the same list as I created at the seminar; notice if there are any themes. Then search the Bible to find evidence of how God truly is.  Write those verses down and use them as a daily reminder.

Childhood Anxiety

Childhood Anxiety

Did you know childhood anxiety is not uncommon and it’s actually a normal part of growing up?   I don’t know about you but it’s been a minute or two since I was a kid. I remember getting stressed but compared to adult-level stress and anxiety that we adults experience, I have a hard time keeping my children’s anxiety levels in perspective at times.

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension with no discernible cause.   Anxiety is normal and is experienced by almost all children at times.   It becomes a concern only when it interferes with a child’s typical daily routine.   Anxiety is usually related to a perceived threat.   Whereas, fear is almost always associated with an external threat.   Anxiety disorders can have crippling effects on a child in school, at home and in social settings.   The causes of anxiety are many and research shows that a tendency toward suffering anxiety is at least partially inherited.   If you are a parent, you can help decrease your child’s anxiety simply by listening to your child.   Often a child will feel anxious about a specific situation and all he needs to do is talk to someone about it.   Of course the first step is that you as the parent realizes that your child is having anxiety, acknowledging that anxiety to the child (although you don’t have to use the word “anxiety”) and letting your child know what they are experiencing is normal. If possible attempt to change any unusual circumstances that may be contributing to the anxiety.  Give your child some ways to cope with it, like talking about it or drawing about it etc.   Perhaps talk with your child about what he or she thinks may help them cope with the anxiety.   Practice consistent discipline measures even you’re your child is anxious. Consistency helps children decrease their overall level of anxiety because sameness breeds a feeling of safety.   Stay away from excessive or unusual discipline practices.   Set realistic, attainable goals for your child.   Teachers should be aware of school phobia. Although school phobia is not an anxiety order per se, it is present when anxiety accompanies a consistent reluctance or complete refusal to go to school.   It may be accompanied by selective mutism, characterized by a child’s refusal to speak at school or in places where he fears the scrutiny of others.  Advocate for your children with the school when they are having phobias associated with school.   Talk to the teach and school counselor about ways to help your child with their school phobia.

In this age of school testing, test anxiety can cause school phobia in children. Recently my child was having test anxiety over timed multiplication tests. My child knew the math but knowing that she was being timed caused her to have test anxiety and her brain would lock up and she just couldn’t get through the test. This resulted in her having several crying spells. I communicated with the teacher about her test anxiety.   I worked with my child not so much on the math but on helping her learn to cope with the anxiety.  I gave her positive coping statements to repeat to herself.  I told her if she did not pass the test I would still loved her and be proud of her; and I only wanted to know that she was trying her best.  I had her do some deep breathing exercising before our practice tests at home.  I asked her to visualize something calming to her.  I had her say a short prayer for peace and mental focus.   The next time she took the test she got very close to a passing score.   The teacher allowed her to pass the test because she knew I was working with her and that she was working hard.  I assured my child that the next time she would probably not get a break on her test score.  But my child learned the most important lesson: that allowing anxiety to take over will cause decreased performance and that she can control her feelings of anxiety.

So if your child is having anxiety problems trying to incorporate the above suggestions. If those suggestions don’t help your child it may be time to seek the help of a professional counselor.

To learn more about childhood anxiety here’s a link to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Here’s another good resource, The Child Anxiety Network.

Financial Responsibility

Financial ResponsibilityI don’t know about you but financial responsibility was never taught to me.  I learned how to manage my personal finances through trial and error.  Some of those errors were hard lessons.  It would be such an invaluable lesson to teach our children about finances early because it is one skill that will benefit them over their lifetime.

Here are some tips to help teach your child financial responsibility:

  • Purchase a toy cash register with play money and play grocery store with your children, including purchasing items and checking them out.
  • Let them hold the envelope with the coupons and share how coupons can save money.
  • When shopping, give your child the money and let them pay for small purchases.
  • Purchase a piggy bank or open a savings bank account and encourage your child to save a percentage of their allowance or gift money for that special small and large wants.
  • Play Monopoly (or any other game that involves play money) and let your children be in charge of the bank
  • When grocery shopping, point or say aloud the prices of different items. Your child can see how you decide which item is a better buy.
  • Help your child decide which items are the best option when they are spending their own money. “You can buy one toy for 10 dollars? or you can get three different toys for the same price.” Let them then make the choice.
  • Take your child to the swap meet and encourage them to negotiate.
  • As they get older, have your child purchase their wants and you will continue to provide for their needs.
  • Practice what you preach! If you tell them that you can’t afford something, don’t later charge it on the credit card.  Let your children see you demonstrating financially responsible decisions.