Attachment Parenting International Announces New Parenting Education Program

April 2, 2008 | 1 Comment

attachment parenting internationalLast year on the show, I was honored to interview Lysa Parker, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International.

Attachment parenting was a word I heard a Mom say over 9 years ago at a meeting for parents who had taken Bradley Method childbirth classes. I thought it sounded so strange, but then I realized it embodied what I believed and what I had been doing with my young baby: cosleeping, nursing on cue, responding to baby’s needs, wearing him in a soft cloth carrier, etc. 

API has some exciting stuff going on right now to help parents learn and keep the principles of attachment parenting and I’m happy to help them spread the word.

What Is Attachment Parenting International?

API is a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. Some of the changes they would like to announce include:

  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment;
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program - a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out for yourself.

Breastfeeding and Yeast Infection - Taming the yeast beast

March 30, 2008 | 10 Comments

Now that it’s getting warm out, it’s time for me to write about an issue that might be affecting a nursing mommy out there: breastfeeding and yeast infection (thrush). Troubles with yeast are more common in the warmer months because yeast loves to hang out in damp warm sweaty places.

Thrush is one of those things that can creep up on a nursing mother and cause pain, even lead to her giving up breastfeeding. Sometimes women have no idea that a yeast infection is what’s causing their pain. It’s not understood very well and many women don’t even know that yeast infection of the breast exists. But it does!

I struggled with it for a long time when my oldest was born. At first it was just painful nipples, but because I didn’t know how to resolve it, it got much worse. The pain was very bad - I felt as if someone was sticking ice picks into my back. (This is because the yeast can colonize the milk producing glands high in the breast.) Even my shirt rubbing across my chest hurt. It felt like sandpaper.

I wonder how many moms have given up breastfeeding because they thought it was “supposed” to hurt like this?

I finally kicked it, but me, my baby AND baby daddy had to be treated. (Yes, it can be passed through THAT kind of contact too, and men are usually asymptomatic.) He and I took Diflucan, and that was enough to stop the cycle of transmitting it back and forth.

I have thrush and it really sucks!

As was mentioned before, sometimes a breastfeeding mother will suffer from pain during nursing which she thinks is “normal”. But breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. Repeat after me: pain with breastfeeding is common, not normal. If everyone knows what they’re doing and there are no anatomical anomolies (I just love saying that!), then there won’t be any pain. I had no pain nursing babies 2, 3 and 4 because we didn’t have this issue.

What often precipitates yeast troubles is that mother takes antibiotics around her birth (often in the case of a Cesarean delivery or a postpartum urinary tract infection) and comes down with symptoms. The baby may have thrush in his mouth, or he may not. He may have a diaper rash or he may not. But the baby and Mom pass the yeast infection back and forth. Baby may even be fussy at the breast. Mom thinks it’s “her milk”, and weans. This is a sad outcome.

While it is “normal” (again - in the sense of common) to experience some soreness with the initiation of breastfeeding, especially in the first time Mom, this should be little more than a temporary discomfort that goes away after the first few days or weeks. The tissue is becoming used to a new activity. It Mom is having PAIN, that is not normal and is a sign that something is wrong. Normal soreness typically only hurts when baby first latches on, then subsides as the feeding continues. Yeast hurts all the time, even when baby isn’t feeding and gets worse over time.If Mom has seen a Lactation Consultant or La Leche League leader and corrected any problems with latch on or positioning and baby’s anatomy is normal, she should suspect yeast.

This is especially true if Mom has had antibiotics, eats a high sugar diet, baby has any signs of thrush (white patches in the mouth, crying/fussing when feeding, diaper rash) or Mom’s partner suffers from yeast related symptoms (itching in the boy bits, although as I said, men usually get off scott free in this area).Keep in mind that weaning won’t make the yeast go away. It will just move to the vagina or gut if Mom weans the baby (it’s probably already there anyway), and the baby will have pain in his mouth when he bottle feeds also. Better to just get rid of the yeast altogether. Shall we?

Natural Treatments For Breast Yeast And Infant Thrush

Baking soda
Baking soda can be an effective treatment for thrush. It changes the ph of the skin, inhibiting fungal growth. You can make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to Mom’s nipples. Rinse off before feeding the baby. Baby can also take baths with a little baking soda sprinkled in the water, which will soothe any yeasty diaper rash (it looks bright red and hurts).

Vinegar also kills yeast by changing the alkaline/acid balance of the skin, in the opposite way that baking soda does (obviously you would choose one or the other, not both treatments!). It can be irritating to the skin however, so care is needed. One tablespoon added to a cup of water and applied to Mom’s nipples several times a day with a cotton pad can help.

Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
Olive and coconut oil are highly nutritious for lactating women and should be used daily in the diet. Both have antifungal properties and coconut oil in particular is excellent for immune system health. Coconut oil is delicious for baking, added to smoothies, used to cook eggs, etc. Olive oil is delicious in soups, casseroles, used to cook meats, etc. Olive oil and coconut oil can also be taken straight from the spoon.

Some moms have had success applying a bit of oil to their nipples. both for pain and to help heal the infection. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it on if the baby is a newborn, but it’s fine for older babies who are eating solid foods.

Don’t shy away from healthy fats if you’re in your reproductive years ladies. These two fats don’t make you fat. Nursing Mothers all over the world since the beginning of time have thrived on high fat diets. Low fat is not healthy for the lactating or pregnant woman. And eating cheap oils means the fat in your breastmilk is of lower quality.

Strict Hygiene
Fungus is very hardy. Good hygiene is important if you want to prevent reoccurence. Wash your nursing bras and pads, panties and cloth diapers in hot water and do a double rinse. Add vinegar to the first rinse to help kill yeast and prevent irritation from detergents. Wash your hands well with hot soapy water after using the toilet or changing diapers.

If you’re using any bottles or pacifiers, boil them before use. Throw away nipples and pacifiers after treating the thrush and buy new ones. Or better yet don’t use them if at all possible. Be sure to sanitize your breast pump parts too if you use one.

Avoid plastic backed nursing pads. They create moisture and heat which yeast loves. Use cloth nursing pads instead. Go braless when you can to let the breasts air out. And don’t use any type of soap on the breasts, ever.It’s a good idea for Mom and baby to use their own towels and washcloths for awhile. Launder them separately, using the vinegar rinse mentioned above. If it’s hot and sunny out, hang them in the sun to help kill yeast.

Wipe baby’s mouth with a clean wet washcloth or cloth napkin after feeding.

Garlic and Pau d’Arco have antifungal and immune building properties. Native Remedies is a good source of these and other anti candida supplements. Caprylic acid and oregano oil are also antifungal, and they’re found in Yeast Assassin.

Another thing that will help is supplementing with probiotics. Eat plenty of plain yogurt, kefir and cultured veggies like homemade sauerkraut. These kinds of foods contain lots of beneficial bacteria that help keep the yeast in check in the gut. It’s also very important to eliminate sugar while treating yeast infections. This will be hard because you’ll crave it something terrible! But stay strong and remove sugar, white flour, all junk food and simple carbs (white rice and even fruit) for awhile. Eat plenty of meat and protein, and tons of vegetables while you’re clearing the infection.

There are some prescription medications that you can get for yeast troubles from your baby’s Pediatrician or your OB/GYN. One is Nystatin. It’s commonly prescribed as a liquid suspension. It’s sticky and full of sugar. I hated using that stuff. It didn’t work, and it only made me and the baby and my clothes stick together like glue. And the sugar content - hello!

Another old fashioned remedy is Gentian Violet, sold in some pharmacies. I tried this one too and it’s messy to work with because it stains everything bright purple. I couldn’t take my baby out for a week because he looked like Papa Smurf. And I had to wear an old purple T shirt so as not to ruin my entire wardrobe. But it is pretty effective. There are some concerns about Gentian Violet being carcinogenic with long term exposure, but it typically only has to be used for a day or two to work so most people who care about babies and mothers say it’s ok for this short term use. It’s also very inexpensive and available without a Doctor’s prescription or even a visit to the office.

Diflucan was the ticket for me. Along with the nutrition and other self help measures listed above, we finally kicked it for good. The thing with Diflucan is that a lot of Doctors who are ignorant of how breastfeeding works will tell you that it’s not safe for nursing moms. That’s pretty ridiculous because Diflucan is prescribed for premature infants! Medications and Mother’s Milk is considered the authoritative source on the safety of various drugs for breastfeeding women and Diflucan gets the ok. As for me, we had tried everything else first and the meds helped me get relief, fast so it was worth it.

Have you ever had breast yeast and what did you do about it? Do tell!

Chores And Your Kids

March 27, 2008 | 1 Comment

How many and what kinds of chores do your kids do?

Yesterday I met a friend at the park so our kids could play and we could chat (we Moms know we get together just as much for ourselves as for them!). One of the things my friend talked about was how her kids don’t do enough chores. She made the statement:

We (meaning she and her husband) do everything for them. They just don’t know what it means to work.”

It kind of shocked me to hear her say that. I’m pretty laid back about a lot of things with my kids. But one thing I insist on is them working around the house.

I believe that kids NEED and WANT to work hard. It makes them feel good about themselves. It shows them that, in a very tangible way, they’re essential to the running of the household. Instead of being a burden, they’re important helpers!

When my show was very new I interviewed a woman named Kelly Nault. She wrote a book called “When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You.” (You can read one of her articles on my site here: proactive strategies for preventing behavior problems.)

One of the core principles in her book was that kids WANT and NEED to do chores. In our interview she pointed out that years ago, young kids were entrusted with valuable tasks. For example, a child of 10 may have been operating the family tractor - something more costly than the home they lived in! It helped them develop self esteem and self worth, among other benefits.

chores and kidsWith my own kids, I like to talk about what life was like for early American children. I’m not above reminding my kids that Laura and Mary Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder went to the breakfast table HUNGRY in the morning because they had already done chores for an hour or two before they got there (after arising at sunrise or earlier!). There was no pickiness at the table back then. When you’re hungry you don’t care what’s put in front of you!

My boys have chore charts on the refrigerator, and before they are allowed to do something like play on the computer or watch a PBS show, they have to have their chores completed.

They have daily chores (like putting their dishes in the dishwasher, helping me unload the dishwasher, feeding the cat and the chickens and gathering eggs, taking out the trash, picking up their play areas before dinner) and they have weekly chores (things like mopping the floor, vacuuming, helping me clean out the car, sweeping the front porch). The oldest cooks a lot too. And they all put their laundry away afer I fold it (sometimes they help me fold the easy stuff).

The girls don’t have chore charts yet but I expect the 5 year old to pick up her toys twice a day, to keep the mountain of artwork she creates in check, to put her laundry in the hampers, and pick up her closet area. She also likes to help wash dishes. And anything that has to do with spraying a cleaner and wiping anything.

And the baby “helps” me pick up toys. Sometimes. LOL! She has a little kid size mop and broom that she loves to use whenever one of the older kids or I are sweeping or mopping too.

Maybe because my friend has her husband to help, and also doesn’t work from home every day, she can handle it all herself. But I can’t. If I had to do everything I would lose my mind, and I wouldn’t have any time to get work that earns money done either! Even if I could do it all, I would be doing my kids a disservice by not expecting them to work.

And you know what I’ve noticed about kids? They resent being told what to do but love to join you in whatever you’re doing. It’s natural and normal for kids to want to mimic adults. That’s why they’re always getting in the way trying to help when you’re doing something.

How many times have you been doing a chore and had one of your kids ask if they could help? Of course they don’t do a very good job but who cares? I’ve always tried to be a little more patient and lower my expectations. Helping is how they learn and I don’t want them turned off of cleaning or cooking because I always shooed them away.

Aurelia, miss Real Life Coach extraordinaire sent me this article today and I decided to publish it here. Let me know what you think and how chores are handled in your house.

Children and Chores – Do You Delegate?

A few generations ago, children were commonly expected to help around the house. When society was mainly based on agricultural endeavors, children were expected to help around the farm as well. Our society has changed and so has our expectation of our children. Learning to delegate household chores to children can benefit both the children and the parents.

Let’s admit it, mom and dad work hard all day. Facing household chores in the evening can take away time that should be spent with kids, stress you out or just add another burden to your otherwise overloaded to do list. Delegating household chores between all the occupants of the house seems only fair. There are jobs around the house even the smallest child can do.

Chores are great for the kids as well. Though they may complain, forget or otherwise try to find ways out of chores they do benefit from them. They are taught responsibility, essential life skills and even some reasoning skills. Learning to do dishes or laundry is essential to any child. They need to be able to do these on their own some day so they may as well start doing these at home. It also gives them a feeling of accomplishment.

What chores kids can do, really depends on the age and the ability of that child. You may want to do the chore with them to begin with. Show them the correct way, then let them try it with your supervision. If they do ok, assign them this chore. Always follow up and make sure their chores are done and done correctly. Remember they are kids and are just learning.

Preschoolers can perform the basic chores. They can learn to pick up after themselves. Take care of their toys, make their beds and this kind of chore is ideal. Older from 6 to 9 children can do all this plus learn to take care of the pets, fold and take care of laundry and even learn to vacuum and sweep floors. Children for 10 to 13 can take on even more responsibility. They can do dishes, clean the bathrooms and even learn to cook simple meals with supervision. Once they have reached the age of 14 consider more responsibility. Laundry can be done by older children as well as car care, preparing meals or any other chore that parents feel they are capable of doing.

Some children are more adapt at helping around the household than others. Children who want to learn to cook and clean should be encouraged. Supervising young children around the stove and other hot appliances is essential, but they should be allowed to try these things when they feel they are ready.

With the question of chores comes the question of allowance. This is a very popular subject in many a child’s mind. There are different theories as to who should get allowance, how much and what for. Sit down and discuss with your child their responsibilities around the house. Talk to them about how much they think these chores are worth. Teach them that their time and effort is worth something, but they have to be realistic. Let them be part of the decision of allowances and what chores are parts of that.

Parents are responsible for teaching their children important life skills. Teaching them how to keep up a house and themselves should be included. Show them it is a team effort to keep the house running smoothly. Everyone pitching in to keep a comfortable, clean house will show them it is worth the effort.

Aurelia writes about Balancing work and family and avoiding the supermom trap.

Just When I Thought It Was Safe to Read Parents Magazine

March 21, 2008 | 9 Comments

My incredible waste of paper Parents magazine arrived in the mail yesterday. As I’ve said before, I didn’t subscribe to this publication. It was a incredible waste of trees gift from a well meaning friend. I thought there was hope for them after last year’s “Green” issue, but apparently not. I’ve thought of asking them to stop sending the magazine, but their dumb parenting advice is such great blog fodder. ;)

Their latest bit of bad journalism was an op-ed piece on cloth diapering. First they start with the usual refrain,

Cloth diapering is too haaaaaarrrrdddd!…”

Oh, whine me a river. Birth is hard. Parenting is hard. Relationships are hard. Life is hard sometimes. Get over it already!

While I do give the guy props for at least trying cloth diapering, I’m so very disappointed in his very (in my opinion) biased and inaccurate depiction of what cloth diapering is really like.

Parents magazine seems to have a real prejudice against everything involved with natural parenting. Of course, I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that their advertisers with the deepest pockets are formula companies, does it?) Breastfeeding is TOO hard. Don’t try to make it work. Natural birth it TOO hard. Don’t try to endure the pain (nevermind it serves a useful biological purpose and is better for you and the baby). Nighttime parenting to TOO hard. Don’t answer your baby’s cries, buy earplugs. Do not get me started on the circumcision article they published awhile back.

Women are too weak to endure the pain of birth, remember? My personal view was that if I couldn’t get through a few hours of pain to birth my kid, how was I going to get through its adolescence?

But then they got really stupid. They started attacking the environmental superiority of cloth over disposables. That’s when I got irritated.

The piece referenced a British study that claimed that cloth diapers were not more eco friendly than disposables, but anyone with any common sense could poke holes in this “scientific” study. First of all, they didn’t look at the way cloth diapers are typically used. (Did you know there is a study that said that single use disposable coffee cups were more eco friendly commuter mugs? I’m not kidding.)

Every parent I have ever known who used cloth diapers did some or all of the following:

  • They bought used cloth diapers (some or all of their stash)
  • They sold or gave away their cloth diapers when the kid was potty trained (instead of tossing them in the trash)drying cloth diapers on the line
  • They used their diaper stash for a second or third or fourth (or more) baby
  • They used their old cloth diapers as cleaning rags
  • They made or bought cloth diapers sewn from recycled flannel baby blankets

That one thing (the almost infinite reusability of cloth diapers) blows this study out of the water because it didn’t take that factor into consideration.

Many cloth diapering parents also hang their diapers out to dry (using the bleaching properties of the sun). Most cloth diapering parents also don’t rinse every diaper (flushing afterwards would point to more water use). Even if they only rinsed the poopies, they don’t do it until the poopies are solid (around 6 months) and by then, the baby is only pooping once or twice a day anyway, meaning one or two extra flushes a day.

And if you wanted, you could time your own potty usage with changing baby’s diapers. I always did this. When I changed baby, I would go afterwards so I only had to wash my hands once after all was said and done.

You see, there is this little invention called a Washing Machine. It works remarkably well for removing all kinds of soiled clothing and I highly recommend it! ;)

I love the quote on page 128 that says:

“Maybe, I thought, the disposable diaper is one of those inventions, like toilet paper, that the Western world just can’t live without - no matter the environmental impact. After all, if we really wanted to, we could wipe our own butts with cloth and throw the cloths into the wash every night.”

Ooh, what kind of freak would do a thing like that? ;)

Another issue that was never even mentioned in the article is the health and safety superiority of cloth. I blogged before about being praised by my baby’s Pediatrician for using cloth, because, to quote him, disposables contribute to asthma and are bad for baby’s skin. Cloth diapered babies experience less rash and less yeast infection, and also tend to potty train several months before disposable diapered babies. There is also a concern with our little boy’s privates being wrapped up in hot plastic for the first two years of his life (or longer).

None of this was mentioned in the article. Then at the end, this little jab:

“And while I think it’s extremely important to make sacrifices for the environment, I need to be sure that my sacrifices are making a difference - especially when the thing I’m sacrificing is the most important time of all: time with Isaac.”

Oh please! Now the author gets to feel superior as a parent because he does two fewer loads of laundry a week than me. Yes, I admit it. I had to take my attention off my babies (who were usually strapped in a sling while I did laundry) to do those two extra loads a week. Poor things! The emotional pain and suffering they must have endured. ;)

I came across this “Project Educate Parents” thread on Diaper Swappers. It’s worth a read if you want more info on why this argument is so very sillbig cloth diaper butty. Here’s another great article tackling why cloth is so much easier on the environment. Read some of the comments from cloth diapering parents to the article online.

All I’m sayin’ is, if you don’t want to do cloth diapers, at least be honest about it and admit you’re too lazy or grossed our by dealing with your kid’s poop and would rather pass along TWO TONS of biohazard waste and plastic in the landfill (per kid). Don’t come up with junk science and incredibly silly excuses already.

But, you can always make up for that by taking their recommendation to buy a diaper bag made from recycled materials. LOL!

My 5 Year Old on Baking

March 18, 2008 | 3 Comments

white flour is badI had to share a funny.

Earlier today my 5 year old daughter and I were playing “garden”. Her garden grows flowers, and when they all popped up and we were done picking them, she wanted me to help her make “flower pudding”.

We put the flowers in a big dish and after I stirred my pudding for a bit I saw a small white toy on the floor so I threw that in, thinking it would be the milk and sugar. Apparently that was the wrong move. 

She looked at me aghast and said:

“Was that WHITE FLOUR? I don’t eat white flour, it’s not good. It makes it bad stuff and it’s very bad for your health so don’t do it.”

Hmm… I guess my indoctrination about whole grains is sinking in. LOL!



Vax Makers Under Investigation, Belgian Parents Face Jail

March 17, 2008 | 1 Comment

948669_blue_syringe.jpgVax makers under investigation - French authorities have launched a formal investigation against two vaccine companies in reference to the Hep B vaccine.

Did you hear that Belgian parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids with the polio immunization may face jail time?

Belgian polio prison

You know my favorite part of this article? This part:

“Dr. Steve Cochi, an immunization expert at the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…  

He said that unlike other medical problems, in which rejecting treatment only affects the individual, refusing a vaccine for a transmissible disease like polio puts others at risk as well.

Most of the time, polio outbreaks do spill into the general population,” Cochi said.

(Emphasis mine all mine.)

Does this statement make any sense? If the polio vaccine was responsible for ending polio in this country (the facts show it wasn’t, and most cases of polio in the 1990’s in this country were caused by the OPV, the live polio vaccine), then wouldn’t unvaccinated children only be a danger to themselves? How does polio “spill into the general (vaccinated) population unless it doesn’t work?

“It is commonly believed that the Salk vaccine was responsible for halting the polio epidemics that plagued American children in the 1940s and 1950s. If so, why did the epidemics also end in Europe, where polio vaccine was not so extensively used?” — Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, I may not be a smart woman, but I know what junk science is!


Mommy Brains

March 11, 2008 | 2 Comments

662734_moms_love.jpgEvery Mom has noticed this phenomenon I call “Mommy Brains”. Forgetting a word you’re looking for, leaving the house without your wallet … I always assumed that some of this is probably just the amazing amount of stuff that moms have to keep up with moment by moment.

That, and a bit of God-given amnesia. How else could you explain that a woman could go through pain for hours to birth a baby, then the moment he’s born forget it instantly? (Some even go so far as to turn to their partner and utter, “Let’s do this again as soon as possible!”)

Turns out there may be something to this whole Mommy Brain thing. Researchers have found that Momnesia is real, and due to several factors, including plummeting estrogen levels, sleep cycle changes, and change in focus (mom can notice when something is “off” in her infant before anyone else can).

I am finding that I have a hard time finishing sentences lately. It bothers me a little because I used to consider myself to be a good conversationalist whereas how I feel somewhat insecure because of my inability to find the right word quickly.

What about you? Have you had a funny (or not so funny) Mommy Brain moment? Has Mommy Brain gotten better for you as your kids get older?

To The Young Mother at Wal-Mart Today

February 22, 2008 | 15 Comments

thinking about a young mom behaving badly at WalMartFirst, a bit of background.

Today my Mom decided to go to Wal-Mart. My Mom doesn’t drive much, so I drove her. First I dropped her and the kids off (brave woman she is!) there and went down the road to Curves to grab a workout while she shopped.

When I went back in the store and caught up with her, at least 35-40 minutes had passed. I heard a young toddler (maybe 10 months to 15 months) screaming. The sound hit me like a brick across the head almost as soon as I entered this large Super Wal-Mart. It was disturbing and distracting, so much so that I had a difficult time even concentrating on what I was doing (finding my mom and children).

When I finally caught up to my party, my Mom looked rather shell shocked. Not by my kids mind you - by the screaming tot.

“That baby has been screaming since we got here. It’s making me sick. Can’t she just pick the baby up?”

Now, the screaming was already getting to me and to have been listening to it for 40 minutes must have been too much. Even my kids were talking about it.

The screaming came closer, and I said out loud to my kids,

“Sometimes, the baby just wants to be held.”

Yeah, I admit it. I said it a little too loudly, hoping you would hear and feel some shame. Because I don’t think you’re cool. I don’t think it’s peachy that you’re “showing that baby who’s boss!” or some other parental b.s. that must have been running through your head.

And then it became obvious that you were making no attempt to comfort your child. You slowly saunter by the row where I’m standing, stop and say:

“You’re being rude. You try doing this alone.”

And that’s where your assumption would be wrong litle missie, because my reply was:

“Actually, I DO do it alone. And I have FOUR. And they’re not screaming.”

Another day, I might have responded differently. What I should have done is offer you some assistance. I should have approached you and said something along the lines of:

“You must be having a hard time. Is there anything I can do to help? I know what it’s like. I’m a mom too.”

It’s just that when you let your baby cry for over 40 minutes and make no attempt at all to comfort him, my compassion and empathy for your helpless young child overrided the part of my brain responsible for rational thought. 

My mammalian/reptilian brain took over. The momma bear in me came out. You’re lucky I didn’t give you a big swack across the head with my big momma bear paw and run off with your cub. 

You see, I have this instinct that runs as deep in me as the blood that courses through my veins (as you might have guessed, I think I inherited it from my mother. My big sis, also a mom of 4, inherited a similar affliction). When I hear a baby cry, it’s like a bolt of electric shock being applied to the base of my spine. I have to get up and DO something to comfort that baby.

And at the very least, I wouldn’t take an unhappy/sick/overtired/hungry baby into Wal-Mart and then ignore his cries. If it was an emergency, that’s one thing. But you weren’t acting like that. You were acting like you just couldn’t be bothered to attend to his needs. The fact that it was so obvious that your baby’s feelings didn’t matter was what bothered the rest of us so.

Of course, maybe I’m assuming too much.

Maybe the baby was sick. Maybe you were there waiting for your baby’s prescription to be filled and that’s why you were taking your sweet time sauntering through the aisles for 40 friggin minutes like you were on a jolly holiday waiting at WalMart. Maybe your baby has some neuorological issues that cause her to scream like that. Maybe you don’t have anyone you trust to watch your child while you fill this prescription for said life saving medication.

But I doubt it.

Because if any of those things were true, you would have said that in your defense. Instead all you could come up with was that I was being rude.

p.s. Today I was leaning into the ”I don’t care what you think” continuum of motherhood styles. Maybe it was because the topic of people who shouldn’t breed was on my mind after co-hosting Mom’s Morning Show today, in which Kelly spoke about a young couple who were telling their hospitalized tot to shut up and were fighting like cats and dogs.  Kelly handled another, similar situation far better than I did.

What about you? When you see negligent or bad parenting in action, what do you do?

Tuesday Tidbits: Cloth pads for African girls, Beef recall

February 19, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Tuesday Tidbits is where I publish little bits of news and info that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else. If you want to play along, grab the code for the graphic (I host it and all cause I’m cool like that) on the right sidebar.

1- Barbara of Mom2Mom Lounge interviewed me asking questions about working from home and enjoying passive income while raising your kidlets. There’s some valuable advice in there so go check it out.

2- Have you talked to your kids about the choking game?

3- Have you seen those Proctor and Gamble ads encouraging you to buy their tampons so that African girls can get free tampons? Don’t do it. Crunchy chicken has a MUCH better idea. Tampons, waste incinerators and voodoo=bad. Washable absorbent cloth pads=good. Ok?

She’ll be featured on the show in a few weeks so stay tuned, but in the meantime see what awesome nonprofitness she is doing for these girls who often miss school during their monthlies. Rock on sista.902652_cows_in_field.jpg

4- The U.S. has announced the largest beef recall in history. This is so sad, considering the meat was earmarked for use in public schools. I’m thankful that sitting in my freezer are organic grass fed beef, pork and chicken from a small Tennessee farm who does monthly deliveries to Atlanta. I feel much safer knowing the people who handle my meat.

Ahem. Seriously folks, organic meat is worth the added expense. If you haven’t found a source of safe meat yet, try EatWild or LocalHarvest.



Children and the Urban Environment

February 18, 2008 | 1 Comment

en Espanol 

Carrie: I am joined this week by Monica Salazar all the way from Quito, Ecuador. Hi, Monica.

Monica: Hi Carrie, how are you?

C: I’m very good. We were chatting before, that this is the first time I’ve called South America. This is a treat!

Our topic today is Children and the Urban Environment. You are an Urban Geographer, and I’m not really familiar with what that term means. So before we start would you mind explaining a little bit more about what that means?

M: Urban Geography is the study of all the activities and everything that happens in an urban environment. I made my thesis on spatial-socio-economic segregation in my city, in Quito. Then I got interested in age segregation that is present now in the urban environment.

C: Ok, so from that background, you became a Mom. You got interested in natural parenting and babywearing, and so that obviously had a big impact on how you thought about the city and urban areas and the way that we operate in the city. So how did you make that leap – and how did that affect how you felt about the urban environment – becoming a mother?

M: I got pregnant in the beginning of my Master’s studies in Urban Geography. So as I was studying about the city, its structure, problems, activities, I was also living my pregnancy and a few months later was taking care of my baby. So I was also very interested in parenting issues. The information I was processing was a mixture of the Continuum Concept, scientific articles on Geography, breastfeeding videos and babywearing instructions. So I started to realize that – it became so obvious to me that if we solve children’s problems then the problems of society will be solved as well.

So as I resolved to become a natural parenting advocate, to warn not only parents but everyone in society about the importance of showing respect for children, of including them in our lives and of being aware of their needs.

C: You talk about age segregation. That’s obviously something that goes on in most of industrialized society, we kind of cordon off children to preschool and school and playgrounds and certain areas and adults in the workplace. What is your opinion of that in a culture and society? Do you see a problem with that?

M: Yes, the study of segregation among people in general has proven that segregation is the cause of conflict, misunderstanding, violence, lack of communication. But in my opinion when the segregation is among the young and the aged it could be even worse because if adult people, mature people cannot stand segregation; young people who are needing our care; they are more vulnerable to this situation.

So in my opinion the consequences are already present in the astonishing amount of cases of child violence and family conflicts, all of the problems relating to young people nowadays. Some teenagers having been alienated from urban life from early years often show behaviors as if they just came from Mars! They don’t know how to observe almost any urban rule, they don’t know how to greet, they don’t know how to talk to adults, they don’t seem to care about the environment or other people’s needs. So I think this is what could be generalized if we continue to segregate young people.

C: Ok, and that makes sense to me . Because as a homeschooling mom I can see that there is a lot of misunderstanding in the community about homeschooling. One of the issues that are brought up against homeschooling is the socialization issue. Which to me seems - it seems ridiculous- to me that my children would not be socialized well by spending time with me and with other adults. In my opinion, that would help them to socialize and learn appropriate behaviors. But for some people they think that that is a problem. So what you’re saying to me is backing up my own belief about that, that having children integrated with adults helps them to learn social skills. Would you agree?

M: Absolutely. When you take your child with you and for example with babies, one way to integrate them to the urban environment is to hold them in arms or in a sling, so they can see what is happening in real life. Instead of leaving them at home or carrying them in strollers where they cannot be totally aware of what is happening. And then you meet another mom and you greet and say “Hello” and “Thank you”, and you help other people or check out a book from the library, and they are observing us, they are learning us. I would say that this is the best classroom, the best way to teach them how to be good citizens in the future.

C: I totally agree. You sent me a beautiful report, or a file from your website, and I’ll make sure that I have that available on the website. (Note: You can download it here.) You show yourself and other mothers going through their daily activities with their babies and their children on their bodies, and it’s just a beautiful example of that. Anyway I totally agree with what you’re saying.

So what are some of the benefits – you talked about some of the negative things that come from this age segregation – but what are some of the benefits to society as a whole of integrating children into the urban environment?

M: In my opinion some of the benefits to avoid segregation and encourage interaction between people of all ages are to encourage understanding and respect among people. A great benefit of having kids and their parents around is that, parenting skills can be taught to younger generations.

And this can be confirmed by any breastfeeding advocate. They will tell you the fact that a mother who has had the opportunity to observe other breastfeeding mothers will make the whole breastfeeding experience easier, right? That’s the same with most parenting practices. The more we see parents with their kids, the better are going to be our parenting skills because we have more information. So if you don’t know about baby slings for example, the more you see a happy mom with a happy baby in a sling, the more chance that you will babywear.

I think that the number one benefit to have happy kids around is that our urban environment will be enriched with such teachers because we know that kids have such enormous potential, they have such innocent minds. You as a mom will confirm that the things that we learn with our kids are amazing. When I was not a mom, I would not think the way I think now. That benefit could be also transmitted to society as a whole.

C: Yes I agree. That’s very true. And one of those things that we learn when we become a mother is how to slow down and enjoy the moment. And I think we struggle with that, as adults we focus on producing all of the time whereas children are very into their moment to moment experience of life. And sometimes we struggle with that internally to slow down and stop and smell the roses so to speak the way that children do. And the more we adopt that way of being in the world, the easier we find that transition to motherhood.

I can definitely agree with what you’re saying – that can benefit society as a whole. It’s a different dynamic when you bring children into a space. I was just reading on the internet yesterday about a group that is taking babies into the schools, and they’re saying that it has an impact on bullying. That when older children spend time with babies and toddlers, it helps them to overcome bullying. Isn’t that interesting?

M: Absolutely. Being around kids makes your behavior better, because when kids are there, your language is better. Everything is – you try to be your best do your best, especially when young kids are around. The presence of kids could make us aware of the importance of creating a good environment for all of us. Because if kids are there, we are going to be aware that they are going to be the future leaders of the society, and we have to take care of them. It’s not only a theory that kids are the future of our cities. Because we are going to see, and we will try to respect that. We will try to take care of the environment and make a better place for them and their health… and we will benefit from that better place as well.

C: You mentioned breastfeeding earlier and how children who are raised with breastfeeding as their normal experience are going to have fewer challenges if they decide to breastfeed their own children. Or in the case of a boy, he normalizes breastfeeding. That’s the normal thing. My sons talk about how when they get married, they want their wives to breastfeed their babies!

One of the issues we have here in this country, and I don’t know if it’s so much an issue where you live, but we give lip service to the concept that breastfeeding is best for mother and baby and the world. But, women often have issues when they’re out in public, meeting the needs of their babies. So what can we do when we’re with our child, to make sure they have a healthy experience in the urban environment? Public breastfeeding would be a big part of that – what are your thoughts on that?

M: I think it’s useful to ask ourselves, “Does my child know my friends?” “Does he know my workplace?”, “Does he know what my job is about?”, “Does he visit regularly the same places that I visit?” So, with small children I recommend that they be carried as much as possible before they are able to walk and even later, so that they feel that they are a part of this environment. And as well, whenever children start learning through their parents, especially the mom, so to give them the opportunity to see the adults, greeting other people, saying hello, is a way of teaching them, of making sure they are having a good environment.

But it’s as simple as making sure that our children are going with us as much as possible, and to observe the behavior that we want to teach them: to be good citizens, if you want. I don’t mean to suggest to be extremely aware of making them participate in the activities of the city.

It’s not even necessary to encourage them to greet or to tell them how things work unless they ask you, because the simple fact that you are interacting with the urban environment, and the fact that you are taking your child along with you, will make him or her assimilate the urban customs. Like the culture, the good manners, throughout the adult participation.

C: What you’re talking about reminds me of the work of Jean Leidloff, who wrote a book called The Continuum Concept. Are you familiar with her work at all?the continuum concept.jpg

M: Yes.

C: That was definitely an eye opening book for me, it was one of those things that once you read it, you view everything differently afterwards. It was just amazing to me how the parents that she observed behaved with their children. Things that we kind of take for granted – that they did not have to teach their children because their children were with them, and the children just learned how to be in their culture.

Just the example of when the parent would take off walking through the forest, they never stopped to wonder if the child was following them. They took that for granted and the child always did follow them! And they just seemed to understand that that was the thing to do, it is the thing that is done. And that was so interesting to me, that they didn’t have to train their children “Ok, you need to follow me now…” .

M: Actually by reading The Continuum Concept and at the same time, studying segregation in cities, that’s when I started thinking about this problem in the cities. I took The Continuum Concept and just linked the two kind of studies.

C: Yes it’s a fascinating topic to discuss, and this has been a really interesting conversation Monica. And we’re actually going to be having you back on the show in a couple of weeks to talk about your pot-in-pot method of keeping food cool. And I’m not going to give it all away now, we’ll save it for the next conversation, but for those who are interested in saving money and reducing their impact on the environment by lessening the amount of electricity they use, that will be an interesting discussion and I’m looking forward to it myself. Thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

M: Thank you Carrie.


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