Are we raising wimpy kids?

Sitting in the urgent care waiting room this weekend, I had some time to read part of an article in a back issue of “Psychology Today” about whether over-parenting is resulting in “wimpy” kids. I didn’t get to read the whole article (it was rather lengthy), but the jist of it was that by over-protecting our kids, we may make them rely on us too much and result in “wimps.”

The summary of the article, called “A Nation of Wimps,” is as follows: “Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they’re breaking down in record numbers.”

It talked about how many parents today start their kids wearing helmets as soon as they are old enough to ride a tricycle; how many kids don’t know how to play by themselves because their parents are always right there showing them what to do, what not to do, etc.; how sports are so organized and kids are so used to having someone tell them what to do that many kids don’t even know how to start a pick-up game of softball or basketball on their own. We could be raising kids that don’t really know how to play?

Another point was that there are many cases of grade inflation going on in schools across the country – from elementary to university. Parents don’t like to see their kids do poorly so they call and complain when Jr. gets a “C” in math. When enough parents complain, the teacher or school may feel pressured into padding the grades so that it looks like everyone is doing well. The article said that of a recent graduating class from Harvard, 94% graduated with honors. I know it’s Harvard, but still that number seems awfully high. Kind of scary to think that even a school as prestigious as Harvard may be guilty of grade inflation.

It also focused heavily on the use of cell phones in children and adolescents and hypothesized that the use of cell phones means that kids don’t need to learn to plan ahead. If they get out of class and feel like hooking up with a friend, they call them on their cell phone. If they forget their homework at home, they can call mom on their cell phone. The point was that these kids are then used to instant gratification and expect results right away. When they don’t get results right away, it can lead to depression.

Another topic of the article was that when these children – who are so used to being coddled and told what to do – go off to college, they don’t know what to do with their new-found freedom. “The perpetual access to parents [via the cell phone or, as the author says, ‘eternal umbilicus’] infantilizes the young, keeping them in a permanent state of dependency. Whenever the slightest difficulty arises, ‘they’re constantly referring to their parents for guidance,’ reports Kramer. They’re not learning how to manage for themselves.”

“What’s more, cell phones–along with the instant availability of cash and almost any consumer good your heart desires–promote fragility by weakening self-regulation. ‘You get used to things happening right away,’ says Carducci. You not only want the pizza now, you generalize that expectation to other domains, like friendship and intimate relationships. You become frustrated and impatient easily. You become unwilling to work out problems. And so relationships fail–perhaps the single most powerful experience leading to depression.”

What happens to kids who are suddenly set free after having been controlled for so long? Along with depression, other problems affecting college students are binge drinking; substance abuse; an increased number in cases of obsessive pursuit, otherwise known as stalking, leading to violence, even death; and an increase in cases of eating disorders in women.

The connections between all of these things makes a lot of sense to me. Of course we want to keep our kids as safe as possible, hence the helmets, supervised play, etc., but what happened to harmless bumps and bruises, letting kids use their imaginations and come up with their own games, an occasional bad grade and letting kids learn from their mistakes? The psychologists in the article argue that letting kids make mistakes and fail builds character and helps children learn independence. Whereas if they constantly have things handed to them or are told how to do everything, they aren’t going to learn how to fend for themselves, and they won’t know how to deal with disappointment.

It’s something I definitely want to keep in mind as my child gets older. Sure I want to keep her safe, but I also realize that she can’t live and thrive in a bubble. I don’t know if this means I will pass on the bicycle helmet or not, but I do hope to be aware that as much as it will be hard for me to see her in pain over a scraped knee or disappointed because she didn’t get an “A” in biology, it will make her a stronger person. And the jury is still out for me regarding whether or not she will have a cell phone (and at what age). I definitely like that I’d have access to her whenever I want, and she access to me, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing. Like most everything in life, I believe moderation is the key.

The article ends with the following: “Parental anxiety has its place. But the way things now stand, it’s not being applied wisely. We’re paying too much attention to too few kids–and in the end, the wrong kids.”
“There are kids who are worth worrying about–kids in poverty, stresses Anderegg. ‘We focus so much on our own children,’ says Elkind, ‘It’s time to begin caring about all children.'”

I think that’s an excellent point. We as parents spend so much time worrying about our own children, yet there are so many out there slipping through the cracks who need our attention much more desperately.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Side note: For those of you wondering why I was in urgent care this weekend, it was because Ava was running a really high fever (over 104 at one point), crying inconsolibly and then her knee started popping out. (When it rains, it pours, eh?!) Anyway, it seems to be just a cold and she’s doing a bit better today. And as for the knee, the doctor thought it was a fluke thing since it was fine when he examined her, but it’s popped out a few times since we left there so I’ll be making an appointment with her ped to have it checked out.

Right and Wrong?

Something I read recently in a book called “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler” really struck me. The jist of it is that even though many people chose to parent differently from you, there doesn’t have to be a “right” and “wrong” way.

The quote comes from a section about “Coping with Pressure from Outsiders” and goes like this:

“Other people nearer your own age may need to put down your decisions as defense for their own parenting choices on the assumption that one of you has to be wrong. (How much better it would be if we could, every one of us, think through what seems right and feels right for our own families and then be neither threatened nor threatening when the neighbors do not make the identical decisions!)”

It made me think about some of the discussions going on here lately and how I and others might come across. While it’s true that I write about things that I believe in here, I would never say that my way is the “right” way or only way. Don’t get me wrong, I feel very strongly about many things, but I’m not going to tell anyone they are wrong because they don’t do things the way I do.

I hope that those who do not parent the same way I do, do not feel like I’m saying my way is the only way. It is not my intention to threaten anyone. I also hope we can continue to have intelligent, thought-provoking and respectful discussions here.

Thank you.

Where do I stand?

A friend of mine recently brought into question the fact that I follow and espouse the AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations and guidelines regarding television viewing (and other things), yet I do not follow their recommendations regarding vaccinations.

I’m glad she brought it up because this is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately and trying to figure out exactly where I stand. After all, how can I say “yes, the AAP is right” regarding one thing, and not another?

This is the conclusion I’ve come to:
I follow the AAP’s recommendations on all of the things that make sense to me and where there is not obvious conflicting information available.

Some examples of the things I follow are:

— “Until more research is done about the effects of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children younger than two years of age. For older children, the AAP recommends no more than one to two hours per day of quality screen time.” — Television — How it Affects Children
— I don’t know of any studies that say that television is beneficial for very young children, so I choose to heed the AAP’s recommendations.

— “Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” — AAP Releases Revised Breastfeeding Recommendations

— Again, I don’t know of any studies that say that breastfeeding is bad for a child (quite the contrary), so I follow their recommendations. (Not to mention that breastfeeding just feels natural to me.)

— “While scientific studies show some medical benefits of circumcision, these benefits are not sufficient for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to recommend that all infant boys be circumcised.” — Circumcision: Frequently Asked Questions

— I haven’t had to make this decision yet as we have a daughter, but if we were to have a son in the future, he would not be circumcised.

Now onto the topic of whether or not to vaccinate and/or whether or not to vaccinate on the AAP’s recommended schedule. There is a plethora of information contradicting what the AAP recommends.

The National Vaccine Information Center is one place to gain information to help make an informed decision on whether/when to vaccinate. From the website, “Vaccination is a medical procedure which carries a risk of injury or death. As a parent, it is your responsibility to become educated about the benefits and risks of vaccines in order to make the most informed, responsible vaccination decisions.”

Another website that gives food for thought with regard to vaccinations is on Dr. Joseph Mercola’s site. The article is Tell the Truth About Vaccines – Or Keep Away From My Children.
Dr. Mercola’s comments on the article are:
“If the average American were aware of the common components of vaccines, they may think twice before considering them. Now they have replaced mercury with equally damaging toxins, aluminum and formaldehyde. But the list of vaccine fillers doesn’t end there. Here is a partial list of some of the other fillers that vaccines could contain:

* aluminum hydroxide
* animal tissues: pig blood, horse blood, rabbit brain, dog kidney, monkey kidney, chick embryo, human diploid cells (originating from human aborted fetal tissue)
* monosodium glutamate (MSG)
* phenoxyethanol (antifreeze)
* sorbitol
* sucrose

These additives are often more dangerous than the viral component of the vaccine. If you are a parent and are considering vaccinating your child, please read up on the potentially devastating side effects of vaccines before doing so, it could mean the difference between life and death.”

I’ve met people (via the Internet) who’s children have had bad reactions to certain vaccines. Reactions that were bad enough, in fact, that their doctor told them their child should NOT have any more of the vaccinations in that sequence and that any other children they may have should not receive any of those vaccinations (that caused the reaction) either. That’s frightening to me.

I’ve also read stories of children who’ve had severe reactions to vaccinations – some paralyzed, some died. While there isn’t conclusive proof that the vaccinations caused these things, the coincidences with the timing of the vaccinations and the onset of the problems seems way too close to ignore the possiblity that they could’ve resulted from the vaccinations.

I know that the risks involved with getting vaccinations are small, and one might argue that there is a greater risk of my child getting one of those diseases by not having the vaccine. But that is a risk that I’m aware of and, until I feel comfortable with vaccinating my child, I will hold off on it.

There are a few reasons why my child is not at a high risk of getting one of those infectious diseases at this time in her life, which make me more comfortable with my decision to hold off on vaccinations for the time being.
1. She is breastfed.
2. She is not in daycare.
3. We do not travel outside the country.
While my doctor is definitely in favor of vaccinations, she admits that my child is not at high risk (because of the aforementioned reasons) and therefore is ok with me delaying vaccinations at this time.

One other thing that comes to mind regarding why I question the AAP’s recommended vaccination schedule is that I’ve had doctors tell me that the reason the schedule is set up the way it is is not because having shots in those time incriments is best for the child or will achieve optimal results. Rather that it is set up that way because it is most convenient since parents are already bringing their children into the doctor for well-child check-ups at those times.

Because I have not felt 100% (or even 90%) comfortable with getting vaccinations as of yet due to the amount of conflicting information available, I have not followed the AAP’s recommendations. I do, however, have plans to start selectively vaccinating my daughter in the very near future.

I thank God that I live in a country where I have freedom of choice to pick and choose what makes sense to me and decide what I feel is right for me and my family. :)

I hope that answers the question of why I support some of the AAP’s recommendations and not others. As always, if you have more questions for me, let me know.

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” — Malcolm X

HBO targets baby audience? Puh-lease!

Children’s Coalition to Parents: HBO’s Classical Baby is a Classic Hoax

WASHINGTON — May 10 — The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is warning parents to keep their infants and toddlers away from the upcoming HBO television special Classical Baby which will air on Saturday, May 14. According to HBO, the program is beneficial for infants and young children.

Psychiatrist Alvin F. Poussaint of the Judge Baker Children’s Center challenged HBO’s claims about the show’s benefits for babies: “There is no scientific evidence that demonstrates watching television is beneficial to infants. In fact, because of possible risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two shouldn’t watch any television at all.”

Read the entire article here.

First Baby Einstein, now this HBO special. Oy! Why is it that the AAP says no tv for kids under 2 and yet there are more and more tv shows and dvds coming out that are supposed to be “good” for children’s development?

Because of all the advertising and hype, some parents may feel guilty if they can’t afford dvds (or HBO) to “stimulate” their children’s brains, when all they really need to do is interact and play with them (and that doesn’t cost a cent!).

I especially like this quote at the end of that article:

CCFC’s Susan Linn, psychologist and author of Consuming Kids, countered, “Babies do not need HBO or any television to bond with their parents or enjoy music. Turn the TV off, put on your favorite music, and spend some time rocking, singing, or dancing around the room with your baby. Now that’s bonding.”

If you disagree with HBO’s targeting our children, please consider
taking one or all of the following actions:
(The following actions were taken from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.)

–Go to HBO’s website and let them know your concerns about Classical Baby. You might write something like this:
“Why is HBO showing Classical Baby when the American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends that children under two not watch any
television? There is no evidence indicating that television is
beneficial to infants. Stop exploiting parents’ desire to be good
parents and stop putting our most vulnerable children at risk. It’s
time to put Classical Baby to bed.”

–You can also voice your concerns by calling HBO at (212) 512-1208.
Tell them that you are concerned that Classical Baby is being
marketed as beneficial to babies when the American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends no television for children under two. Ask
them if they have any research that supports their claims about the
show’s benefits for infants. They may tell you to do an Internet
search; you can let them know we’ve already done that search – and
there’s no evidence that television is beneficial for babies.

Mother’s Day and more

I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, but I wanted to say happy belated Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mothers out there!! I know there are at least a handful of moms who periodically check my blog and I hope you all had a great day yesterday. :)

I had a nice day myself. After Jody made me breakfast and gave me cards from him and Ava, we went to Boulder to the Mother’s Day Parade put on by Mothers Acting Up. There was a great turnout and we had a good time walking in the parade and even ran into someone from Jody’s work who was there with his wife and children. (I had my suspicions that they were a pretty crunchy/AP-kinda family and that confirmed it.)

At the conclusion of the parade, there was a rally held in front of the courthouse. A few different moms spoke, as well as some children. It was especially touching to hear from the kids who have real concerns about the futures of children much less fortunate than themselves worldwide. I signed a petition for clean air regulations and donated some money to send postcards to Condoleeza Rice about reducing defense spending and increasing spending for children’s educations.

I knew that parades and other events celebrating Mothers Acting Up and Mother’s Day were taking place in various U.S. states, but was excited to hear that even Jerusalem was having a parade yesterday! How cool that this group that started in Boulder a few years ago has spread so far across the world!! :)

I was also excited that, thanks to yours truly, our local paper ran a story about the MAU organization and parade. I sent an e-mail to one of the reporters a couple weeks ago to let her know about MAU and the parade and suggested she write a story on it. Well, she said she was in need of a good story for Mother’s Day and was very happy to get my e-mail. So that worked out perfectly!

After the parade, we hung out in Boulder for a bit (it was a gorgeous day), then picked up some lunch and headed home where Jody spent a good chunk of time hauling dirt. (We had a pile of dirt/compost delivered in the street in front of our house earlier in the weekend and Jody had to move it all to the backyard, where we’re getting ready to lay sod.)

And as for my Mother’s Day present, I got a Dyson Animal vacuum!! :) I’ve been wanting one for a while now and since we managed to finagle a really good deal this weekend, we decided it was time to take the plunge and get it.

Now if you are sitting there with baited breath, waiting to hear the details of my good deal, I will indulge you (because I can’t stand keeping a good deal to myself). ;)
Kohl’s had the Dyson Animal on sale last week for $404.99, down from $449.99. They didn’t have any in stock, so I got a raincheck. I also had a coupon for an additional 15% off that I planned to use (provided one came in while the coupon was still good). So on Friday, I made some calls to 4 different Kohl’s, finally finding one that had the Animal in stock. We drove about 35 min. to the store to get it and I found out that not only would I get the sale price, plus 15% off, but they were giving away $10 gift cards for every $50 you spent. So the vacuum total (before tax) came to about $340, so I got $60 in gift cards (which are good this week). So all in all, we got the vacuum for about $370, plus $60 of other merchandise for “free.” Not bad at all considering when we were at Home Depot last week, we saw the same vacuum selling for $499!! Yay for deals! :)

That’s all for now, except I need to say Happy 26th Birthday to my dear sister Carrie!!! I love ya and am really looking forward to seeing you in a little over a week! :)

30 years. Has it really been that long??

Today I celebrated my 30th birthday. It’s hard to believe I’ve been alive for 30 years already now. Sheesh! That sounds like soooo long to me.
But then when I think about the things that I’ve accomplished in my life thus far, it feels about right. I’m pretty darn happy with where I am today. :)

I had a really great birthday. After we went to Ava’s Music Together class this morning, Jody took us out to brunch at one of my favorite restaurants – Lucille’s Creole Cafe. Then it was off to the spa at a swanky hotel for an 80 minute massage that Jody booked for me as my birthday present. That was fabulous and very much needed after I spent a lot of the day yesterday hoeing up our backyard in preparation for the sod we’re going to plant. After the massage, we went home for a bit, and then out to dinner to an Italian restaurant in town. I got some tiramisu to take home and Jody sang to me and Ava helped blow out my candle. :)

Not a bad way to ring in the new decade if you ask me. ;)

Words to live by:

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln

(Side note: I have a few things on my mind to write about lately, but no time to write. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on my thoughts this coming week.)