Parent Advice For Everyone

-A life worth living-

-A life worth living-

 

Take a trip down motivation lane!

First off, Believe not only in your self but what you are doing. Feel like giving up? Can’t go any longer? STOP what your doing and say “I CAN and I WILL!” Find your inspiration . Find your motivation and run with it. No matter what you go thru in life always motivate yourself to be a better you. Always remember YOU matter to someone on this world. You are important & you are beautiful! Things are gonna mess up, and yes getting up at 7am for work is hard. But, guess what? You will survive. You will make it! All you have to do is have motivation

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LEAAA

20 Quotations To Inspire  Mothers

1. There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one ~ Jill Churchill

2. Mothers are all slightly insane. ~ J.D. Salinger

3. My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. ~ George Washington

4. Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone

5. The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~ Honoré de Balzac

6. There was never a great man who had not a great mother. ~ Olive Schreiner

7. In the man whose childhood has known caresses, there is always a fiber of memory that can be touched to gentle issues. ~ George Eliot

8. Mothers have as powerful an influence over the welfare of future generations as all other earthly causes combined. ~ John S C Abbott

9. There is no influence so powerful as that of the mother. ~ Sarah Josepha Hale

10. The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until the children are in bed. ~ Author Unknown

11. No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement. ~ Florida Scott-Maxwell

12. Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved. ~ Kate Samperi

13. If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

14. Having someone else to blame when there is a rude smell in the air. ~ Jane Horrocks

15. The story of a mother’s life: Trapped between a scream and a hug. ~ Cathy Guisewite

16. Our children are not going to be just “our children” – they are going to be other people’s husbands and wives and the parents of our grandchildren. ~ Mary S Calderone

17. That feeling is so nice as a child’s hand in yours? So small, so soft and warm, like a kitten huddling in the shelter of your clasp. ~ Marjorie Holmes

18. There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap. ~ Carrie Fisher

19. A mother’s love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, and it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking. ~ Helen Steiner Rice

20. It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear. ~ Dorothy Evsli

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WHAT TO PACK IN THE HOSPITAL BAG

For the Mother
First, pack the amenities: personal soap (if you want it), shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, makeup, brush, comb, whatever – the things from home that make you feel like yourself. Second, you’ll need a gown of some sort, a robe, and slippers (or sandals if you’d prefer) since you will probably be spending one night there, and really, really don’t want to wear their version of a nightgown anymore. If you’re nursing, make sure that you pack a nursing bra and a gown that is easily opened or accessible to the baby. If you’re not nursing, pack a bra that fit you while you were pregnant, making sure that it has lots of support. The milk will still come in, and your breasts will feel very, very heavy.

You’ll need some kind of outfit to wear home. Believe it or not, you won’t be wearing your favorite prepregnancy clothes when you leave the hospital. Most of that weight will still be with you for a while, so you might want to wear a loose fitting dress or even maternity pants and tops. That will probably rub you the wrong way, because no one wants to wear maternity clothes after delivery; however, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. You need to be clad in something to escape the hospital confines.

                                           For the Baby
Packing for the baby is a lot more fun than packing for you. If you know the sex, you can obviously choose something that is a suitable color (if you put boys in pink, don’t be offended when they’re mistaken for girls). It’s good to have some kind of gown or sleeper set for the baby. The hospital will supply you with diapers until you leave. An undershirt is a necessity, and they’re so cute and tiny. Booties are fun. Forget shoes – babies at that age don’t do shoes. If the weather is bad, make sure you have the appropriate attire to wrap the baby in (what’s that bundling thing called?). It’s always good to bring some baby blankets to wrap them up like a baked potato.

Most importantly, take a car seat. You can’t take the baby from the hospital without one. Oh, and don’t forget your camera or video cam. By the way, if your husband or significant other is even marginally competent, he can bring anything you’ve forgotten to the hospital.

                                  The Absolute Minimum
When your first baby’s birth is imminent, every little change in your body becomes a “real” (at least in your mind) symptom of birth to an expectant mother. In truth, there are some pretty decisive ways to tell whether or not you’re in labor. If you match any or all of the criteria listed in this chapter, then you should be having a baby fairly soon.

  • Both you and your partner should monitor the spacing and regularity of your contractions. Chart them, if at all possible.
  • Your doctor will tell you what specific symptoms to watch for, but if you break your water, call your doctor.
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions can make a pregnant woman’s life hell, just from the confusion they cause. They can feel very, very real. Don’t be afraid to go to the hospital to get checked. Better safe than sorry.
  • Pack and prepare in advance as much as possible. You won’t be thinking of last-minute details when you’re in real labor.

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         Weight gain and adjusting your eating

Nutrition should always be a priority, but when you’re having a baby it becomes even more important. At this period in your life it is vital to stick to good health habits. Ensuring you receive all of the nutrients your body needs will help to promote a safe pregnancy and a healthy environment for your baby.

Pregnancy and Weight Gain
Proper weight gain is vital to a healthy baby and a safe pregnancy. A baby’s birth weight is directly related to the weight you gain throughout your pregnancy. A woman who is at a healthy weight at the onset of pregnancy should expect to gain anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds during the course of the pregnancy. Women who are underweight are advised to gain 28 to 40 pounds, and women who are overweight are advised to gain 15 to 25 pounds. If you are expecting twins, your doctor may advise a weight gain of 35 to 45 pounds.

Essential: Restricting weight gain can result in a baby with a lower birth weight. Babies who are born weighing less than 5½ pounds are at greater risk for developing difficulties and illnesses than babies who weigh more.

Not only is gaining a healthy amount of weight important, but the rate at which you gain is also notable. Woman should expect about a two- to four-pound weight gain during the first trimester and about a one-pound gain per week for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Baby 7-8 pounds
Placenta 1-2 pounds
Amniotic fluid 2 pounds
Breasts 1 pound
Uterus 2 pounds
Increased blood volume 3 pounds
Body fat 5 or more pounds
Increased muscle tissue and fluid 4-7 pounds
Total minimum 25 pounds

Pregnancy and Calorie Needs
Calorie needs increase during pregnancy to help support a woman’s maternal body changes and the baby’s proper growth and development. The RDA for energy intake during pregnancy is an additional 300 calories per day for the second and third trimester, in addition to maintenance needs. For example, if you require 2,000 calories per day to maintain your weight, you will need about 2,300 calories during pregnancy.

All the calories you consume during pregnancy should be healthy calories that contain plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Complex carbohydrates such as fruit, whole-grain starches, cereal, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, and legumes should be the main source of energy.

ALERT! Dieting or skipping meals during pregnancy can have serious effects on the development of the baby. It takes more than 85,000 calories over the course of a nine-month pregnancy, in addition to the calories the mother needs for her own energy needs, to produce a healthy, well-developed baby.

Protein Power
Protein needs increase when you are pregnant, to help develop the body cells of the growing baby. Other changes that are taking place in your body during pregnancy also require protein, such as the building of the placenta. You need an extra 10 grams of protein above your extra daily calories, or about 70 grams of protein daily, compared with 60 grams for women who are not pregnant. Ten grams of protein is equivalent to a an ounce-and-a-half serving of lean meat, about 10 ounces of fat-free milk, or 1½ ounces of tuna canned in water.

Most women do not have a problem meeting their protein requirements. Consuming plenty of lean meats, fish, tuna, eggs, and legumes, as well as increasing your dairy servings, will ensure you meet your protein needs. If you are a vegetarian, consume a variety of legumes, grain products, eggs, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, vegetables, fruits, and soy foods to ensure proper protein intake.

Adjusting Your Eating Plan
Getting the extra calories your body needs for pregnancy just takes a small adjustment in a healthy eating plan. Adjust your eating plan using the following guidelines for the minimum number of servings in each food group:

  • Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group: 6-7 (or more) servings daily
  • Vegetable and fruit groups: 5 or more servings daily
  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese group: 2-3 servings daily
  • Meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs, and nut group: 5-7 ounces daily
  • Unsaturated fats: 3 servings daily

Also be aware of increased fluid needs. Water is an important nutrient and is essential for the nourishment that passes through the placenta to the baby. Drink at least 8 to 12 cups daily, and more if you are thirsty. ALERT! Raw foods can increase your risk for bacterial infection. Avoid anything raw, including sushi and other raw seafood, undercooked meat or poultry, beef tartar, raw or unpasteurized milk, soft-cooked or poached eggs, and raw eggs (possibly found in eggnog).

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When Your Children Are Little

(sleeeeeeep)

There’s an old saying: The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and the journey to health starts with sleep. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep each day; a person with a hardworking, stressful life – like a mother – usually needs even more, and it is vital to make sure you’re getting enough. Insufficient sleep can lead to gastrointestinal troubles, a weakened immune system, and slow repair of strained or sore muscles acquired through routine activities like hauling children out of car seats. It also causes poor concentration and memory, lowers mood, and shortens a person’s fuse.

If you’ve got a baby or toddler, these steps should help you get more sleep:

Ask Dad. There’s no good reason why a father shouldn’t cover a significant portion of the nighttime parenting – half, if possible. Apart from breast-feeding, a father can feed, walk, or settle a baby just as well as a mother can.

Unfortunately, some dads try to make the case that they have to function at work so they should be let off the hook at night. But you also have to function during the day. If you work for pay, your job performance matters as much as his does, and if you stay home, your hours are probably more stressful than his are. Besides, the stakes in any day of parenting – the mind and heart of a precious child – are usually more significant than whatever is on the table at work. Twenty years from now, those projects and career moves will be long forgotten, but a happy and productive person will be walking the earth, thanks to all the caring – and well-rested! – attention his parents were able to give him. So, if anything, you need more sleep than your partner does.

If he doesn’t understand this on his own, your best chance of getting your message across lies in feeling clear in your heart that he should pull his weight at night, and making your case in a serious and determined way. If he still won’t help, that suggests larger problems.

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                                     –When to go to the hospital-
                              Fake Contractions (Braxton Hicks)
Most women will experience “fake” contractions sometime in their pregnancy – not all women, but most. Fake contractions, more commonly known as Braxton Hicks contractions, are real, honest-to-goodness contractions of the uterus. They look real on a uterine contraction monitor. They feel real. But they’re not called real. The difference being that they are irregular contractions, and they don’t cause your body to go into labor or your cervix to dilate. True labor is contractions with cervical changes.Usually, you’ll start feeling Braxton Hicks contractions sometime in the second trimester, getting more pronounced the farther along you go in pregnancy. They can feel like a tightening of the stomach, as your abdomen (or rather the uterus) gets hard for no reason. You’ll know it when you feel it. If you touch the stomach with your hand while one of these contractions is occurring, it feels like a tight drumhead. There is no way to control the contraction. It will usually pass in a few seconds. In the meantime, just breathe your way through it. Or try changing your activity or drinking some water to alleviate the tightness.Braxton Hicks contractions can be triggered by something as simple as the baby moving or someone merely touching your stomach. Although they are often called practice contractions, they don’t actually play a part in dilating or effacing the cervix, like real contractions do.Typically, Braxton Hicks contractions are not especially painful, but more uncomfortable than anything. These contractions may vary from a few seconds to half a minute, and you can’t predict when they will occur. You may have a run of three or four contractions an hour, and then they will just stop for no reason. They might not come back for weeks, or they could come back an hour later. Go figure.

                           From the Doctor’s Perspective…
Since people have different pain thresholds, some women do describe Braxton Hicks as being very painful. When I ask a first-time mother to rate the pain, she may say it’s a “10.” Because she hasn’t experienced labor yet, that pain is indeed a 10 to her. Usually, when that same woman goes into labor, she’ll say that it hurts worse than Braxton Hicks, ergo the pain is now off the charts. Be aware that other factors may contribute to the intensity of your perception of “painful” contractions, anxiety being one of those conditions. Try to rest and minimize the stress in your life.

Having said that, the caveat is to always consult your care provider if you’re in extreme pain. The pain could be coming from another source, like the bladder, yet feel as if it’s in the same location as the uterus. Or it could be coming from a pulled muscle or a gastrointestinal problem and needs to be investigated further. Don’t live with unnecessary pain. Make sure that nothing else is wrong.

                                  Real Contractions
In comparison to Braxton Hicks contractions, real contractions are regular in duration and regular in their interval spacing. As labor progresses, they get more intense and last longer. For example, they may start off lasting a few seconds and occurring 10 minutes apart, but every hour they get closer and closer together and last longer. On average, a real contraction lasts from 30 seconds to one minute each. Typically, you’ll start off with four to six contractions in one hour. When you have four to six contractions for two hours in a row, it’s time to call the doctor. Chances are good that you’re in labor!

Real contractions can be anything from a dull ache and a tightening of the uterus (à la Braxton Hicks) to all-out, excruciating, gut-wrenching, eye-popping pain. Believe me when I say that you’ll know it’s the real thing when you experience them.

When contractions start, you should time them with a stopwatch to see how long they last. Then time them again to see how far apart they are. The doctors, nurses, and hospital personnel will all ask you these questions. “How far apart are they? How long do they last?” Get your partner to keep a chart of the contractions. This will often help the doctor determine over the phone if you need to get to a hospital, and if you’re close to delivery. Nobody wants you to have that baby in the car, least of all your partner.

Be prepared for the contractions to change quickly, meaning that they can go from easy and manageable pain to over-the-top and unremitting, wrenching pain in what seems like an instant. When this happens, it means that the baby is progressing down the birth canal.

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Mothers Raising Daughters: 30 Critical Tips

Woman to Woman

Competition has the potential to be a very constructive experience. Among high-achieving women, one third of those studied mentioned that they could recall positive experiences centered around competition.

Let’s be a little more definitive on what moms can do to raise women who will achieve self-sufficiency in adulthood. The following list is compiled from research studies conducted by Dr. Sylvia Rimm (based on 1,000 successful women) and information from Sondra Forsyth, author of Girls Seen and Heard (Putnam, 1998).

You might be interested to know that in Dr. Rimm’s study, 83 percent of the mothers of these high achievers were home full time when their daughters were of preschool age. By the time they entered high school, 67 percent of these girls’ mothers had established careers outside the home.

Based on Dr. Rimm’s findings and those reported by Forsyth in her book, here is a comprehensive list of things you should do to nurture high achieving women:

  1. Provide a healthy ex.
  2. Allow your daughter to see fully who you are.
  3. Show your daughter that you are proud to be a woman.
  4. Make sure you give your daughter as much direction and time as are given to sons.
  5. Help your daughter to discover the things she likes to do, wants to try to do, and doesn’t like to do.
  6. Reinforce how wonderful and worthy your daughter is of her own life.
  7. Allow your daughter to be her own person.
  8. Let your daughter be free to make her own solid choices.
  9. Help your daughter to remain strong and happy through the period of adolescence by holding onto a strong self image.
  10. Try to focus on her strengths, intelligence, and problem-solving ability; don’t dwell on her inadequacies.
  11. Encourage your daughter to develop dreams, focusing primarily on those that are obtainable.
  12. Help her to develop traits that are considered primarily masculine traits—assertiveness and proficiency in math and science—that will help her in life.
  13. Make sure your daughter stays productive, not idle and wasteful of time.
  14. Encourage your daughter to speak up for herself and not let her back off from difficulties.
  15. Encourage your daughter to be realistic about her strengths and weaknesses.
  16. Help her to bounce back after the unexpected.
  17. Teach your daughter to find the value in qualities that separate her from others or make her different.
  18. Teach your daughter to familiarize herself with women who are active, productive contributors.
  19. Encourage her to seek leadership opportunities.
  20. Be determined for both of you to think outside the box.
  21. Set high educational expectations.
  22. Make education a high priority and stress the need for her to stay academically challenged.
  23. Teach your daughter it’s possible to be smart without being the smartest.
  24. Introduce many and varied activities into your daughter’s life and help her learn to balance them.
  25. Encourage competitive activities.
  26. Broaden your daughter’s horizons through travel.
  27. Stress the unimportance of popularity and the value of independence from peers.
  28. Help your daughter to see the value in creativity, challenges, and contributions.
  29. Be opened-minded about your daughter’s career path, whether it is traditional or nontraditional.
  30. Encourage your daughter to select a mate who will respect her choices.
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                                      BREASTFEEDING 101

             Breastfeeding vs. Bottle-Feeding


This is the “mother” of all sore subjects for new moms. Some mothers breastfeed for years, while others do it for months or weeks, and some don’t try nursing at all — and that’s all okay. Breastfeeding has great health benefits for babies, but pediatricians still say formula-feeding is a fine alternative. If breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding comes up in conversation, be open to everyone’s point of view and personal experience.

                       Nutrition Recommendation

The period of lactation is a relatively brief and very special time in a woman’s life that is fondly remembered with a measure of pride. During this unique phase in the childbearing cycle, a breastfeeding mother will need to take some extra care to assure that she produces and provides to her infant abundant, high-quality milk. Unfortunately, many misinformed women decline to breastfeed because they worry that they don’t “know all the rules” or they fear they will have to make drastic changes in their lifestyle to accommodate nursing. Actually, most women find that few modifications in their daily life are required to breastfeed successfully. The few who do need to make significant lifestyle changes almost always discover that the rewards of nursing their baby far outweigh any temporary inconvenience in their usual routines. Once you survive the early weeks of new parenthood and get breastfeeding well established, you’ll begin to appreciate just how convenient it can be to fit a nursing baby into your life. And the healthy practices you adopt while breastfeeding can become the foundation for a lifetime of increased health consciousness.

           A Healthful Diet for Lactating Mothers
Because human milk represents the ideal food for young infants, it’s only natural to focus first on the type of diet a mother needs to consume in order to produce nutritious milk for her baby. Concerns about the adequacy of their diet cause many women to doubt the quality of their milk. But a mother’s diet doesn’t have to be perfect in order for her to make adequate milk and to nourish her baby well. Human milk produced by women all over the world is amazingly uniform in its composition. When mothers are poorly nourished, the quantity of milk they produce may be reduced, but the quality of milk tends to be fairly consistent. The process of lactation assures that human milk will have the right amount of nutrients-even at the mother’s expense, if she doesn’t eat a balanced diet on a given day.

              Keep It Simple and Build on Your Success
Since lactation follows pregnancy, chances are good that you already are familiar with the basics of sound nutrition. If you gained at least twenty-five pounds during your pregnancy and delivered a baby weighing more than about six and a half pounds, you probably already have an adequate diet. Just keep up the good work! Women who require additional nutrition counseling include those who gained less than twenty pounds during pregnancy or who gave birth to a baby weighing less than six pounds at term. Other women who should receive special dietary advice include those who are underweight with little body fat; who are on restricted or specialized diets; who have chronic health problems (such as diabetes) or medical conditions causing malabsorption (such as cystic fibrosis or inflammatory bowel disease); who suffer from eating disorders; or who delivered twins.

While your body is producing breast milk, it requires more calories than usual.

Most lactating women will need to consume about 500 additional calories above their normal prepregnancy food intake. An individual mother’s calorie requirements can vary widely depending upon her basic metabolism and level of activity. Nutrition experts recommend that breastfeeding women consume 2,700 calories per day. However, recent studies of healthy lactating women in the industrialized world showed their actual intake of food to be approximately 2,200 calories per day while breastfeeding, or about 15 percent less than the recommended value. Most nursing mothers will need to consume at least 2,200 calories per day to provide necessary nutrients and to maintain milk production. At this level of calorie intake, a lactating mother can still expect to lose weight gradually during the course of breastfeeding. This is because the body contributes an additional 500 calories each day from body fat stores to help subsidize lactation. Thus, it is nature’s plan to store up extra fat during pregnancy so it will be available to contribute to lactation after delivery. Body fat stores are decreased during breastfeeding, particularly in the thighs and hips.

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                  Symptoms of PPD

During your pregnancy, you knew from your reading to expect emotional changes, but now you may be overwhelmed by worry and sadness. Where is the happiness you know you should be feeling? The fact that it seems beyond your grasp makes you feel even worse.

Despite being exhausted from the responsibilities of new motherhood, you lie awake at night worrying about your baby’s health and your ability to mother him or her. During the day, you are constantly anxious about harm befalling your baby. You can barely think clearly enough to decide what to have for lunch, and the idea of making any kind of important decision about how to deal with issues that come up for your baby is more than you can stand. You realize that you must be suffering from postpartum depression.

Nearly every book on pregnancy and childbirth warns new mothers of the possibility of postpartum depression (PPD). In order to be diagnosed with PPD, you must suffer from depression, or lack interest in life, for most of the day, every day, for two weeks or more following the birth of a child. An estimated one new mother in ten experiences PPD. The level of depression may be constant, or it may be mild on some days and severe on others.

A diagnosis of PPD is not made unless at least four of the following symptoms are present:

  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
  • Excessive anxiety.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; doubting your own ability to mother or feeling as though you are already a failure at it.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Restlessness or lethargy.

While it seems likely that many of these symptoms would be commonplace in sleep-deprived women with new babies and bodies on the mend, they can become debilitating in a mother with PPD.

Postpartum depression is often confused with a milder, more fleeting, and more common form of depression known as the “baby blues.” From half to three-quarters of all new moms get the blues in the first few days after giving birth. They may burst into tears for no apparent reason or be restless, irritable, and impatient (not so uncalled-for if you are dealing with a crying newborn and stitches in your most sensitive areas). This usually goes away on its own and is often attributed to the psychological letdown after the emotional high of giving birth. However, in many instances, the baby blues or a mild form of depression called dysthymia can be prolonged for months or even years postpartum if nutrient reserves are not replenished.

About one in every thousand women experiences postpartum psychosis, complete with hallucinations, delusions, severe insomnia, agitation, and bizarre behaviors. Rarely, women suffer from postpartum anxiety/panic disorder, which shows up as intense fear, rapid breathing and heart rate, hot or cold flashes, trembling, dizziness, and even chest pain. Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can also occur, although it too is rare. It is more likely to occur in women who have had OCD in the past.

A study of more than 35,000 women showed a sevenfold increase in the likelihood of being hospitalized with a psychiatric illness during the first three months postpartum. Of the approximately 11.4 million women who give birth each year in the United States, it is thought that about 40 percent have to work their way through some sort of mood disorder after giving birth.

Psychiatrists make distinctions among numerous forms of depression. Unipolar or major depression is a very serious form of depression, as is bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood swings. We do not at all suggest that those with these more serious forms of depression depend solely on the nutrients suggested. It is absolutely essential a person with a serious form of depression be under the care of a competent psychiatrist. We do look forward to the day that many more physicians will be educated in the use of the nutritional precursors to the brain neurotransmitters to help support such people nutritionally in addition to using pharmaceutical antidepressants.

Dysthymia, the more mild form of depression mentioned above, affects tens of millions of people, most of them women. Many of those who suffer from dysthymia can be helped by using nutraceuticals (nutrients taken in therapeutic dosages), either alone or as an adjunct to antidepressant drugs. The key here is to know that antidepressant drugs actually deplete the nutritional precursors the brain needs to make its own neurotransmitters and to find a physician experienced in the use of both nutritional and pharmaceutical protocols.

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Happily ever after or heading for divorce?

Get tips to keep the spark with your spouse–or to prepare for a split if there’s no turning back.

Preamble to Divorce

As the name implies, separation can be the first step along the journey to separate lives. Not quite permanent or irrevocable, separation enables the two individuals to get a taste of what it would be like to exist apart—to manage separate households, separate finances, and separate selves.

Red Alert

If you enter separation believing it is just what you need to heal your marriage, you may be kidding yourself. All too often couples who separate just to “get a little distance” find they like the distance just fine. The best way to work out marital problems is usually under one roof.

Most of the time, separation is a preamble to divorce—even if that was not the original intent. A Dallas couple we know opted for a long-distance relationship as a means of gaining perspective. The decision to separate was facilitated when the woman was offered a job in Des Moines. Unfortunately, her husband began feeling so resentful when she really left that, ultimately, he could not accept her back into his life. He felt this way despite the fact that he was the one who had encouraged her to leave in the first place.

Another example involves a woman who married the first boyfriend she ever had right after college. As the marriage went on, he became increasingly critical and angry. (Psychological abuse is the term that comes to mind.) Yet because she’d never really been alone, she could not imagine life without him. Finally, through therapy, she was able to take what she thought would be a short hiatus from the marriage. She never imagined that during this break she would experience a return of self-esteem, enthusiasm, and even joy. This “brief” separation was just what she needed to realize she could go it alone over the long haul.

As a step before divorce, physical separation has emotional and legal implications that you need to understand. Decisions made during separation often become stamped in stone, and anyone separating without the appropriate strategizing and protections can suffer unpleasant repercussions for years. Indeed, the legal arrangements made for separation often cannot be renegotiated for the divorce; those who decide to let things go, believing they will have another chance at a fairer deal later, are sorely disappointed most of the time.

The emotional tenor of your break-up and, by extension, your separation can impact the legal outcome of your divorce. Separation is such a naturally turbulent and overwhelming period that it lends itself to rash decisions driven by emotions like guilt and anger. In a cooler moment, you may have made a more strategic deal, but you will not generally have the luxury of negotiating twice. If you are separating, you should attend to the fine print of your future life now.

There are couples who treat separation casually and live apart without any formal legal agreement. If you and your spouse are quite certain that your separation is temporary, and that you will be using the time to reconcile, a casual attitude may work well. You can date your spouse, even have sex with your spouse—because as far as you are concerned, divorce is not in the cards.

But please be careful. If you have filed for a fault divorce, you may lose grounds for divorce in your state if you date or have sexual relations with your spouse during a period of separation. If separation is likely to be the first step in your journey to single status, we suggest you enter it seriously and formally—with a signed agreement and full awareness of the potential errors, many of them impossible to reverse later on.

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Uncovering the Realities of Motherhood

There is a general consensus among mothers, researchers, feminists, and nonfeminists that women and literature have dwelled on the fuzzy side of motherhood, keeping the negatives under cover. The problem is, the other stuff is what women need to know. In fact, a national study reported that only one out of four women had a realistic idea of what motherhood would entail.

Consequently, a new genre of books is coming to the surface that recounts the trials, tribulations, and tension of motherhood. The purpose is to let women of childbearing age in on the secrets before going through the initiation rites, and to alleviate the guilt one might incur reconciling the image of motherhood with the reality of it.

Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., in her book, “I’m Okay, You’re a Brat!” (Renaissance Books, 1999) touts the idea that women deliberately have been kept in the dark about how hard it is to be a mother. When one confronts her own misery or ambivalence towards the task, she becomes confused and silent, ashamed of her own feelings.

Now it is out in the open! You’re okay. It’s okay to feel frustrated, confused, and angry. Motherhood isn’t always a sunny picnic; but in most cases, the just dessert eventually makes up for the stormy days and rainedout celebrations.

In Anticipation of Motherhood

The problem may start as far back as what women say they anticipate about motherhood:

  • Nurturing a living being
  • Creating the ideal family unit
  • Intensifying a love relationship with a partner
  • Gaining pleasure and satisfaction in being needed
  • Cuddling that cute bundle and smelling that wonderful baby smell
  • Producing a biological being that will love you forever

“It is impossible to describe how big the whole thing is—it is all-consuming,” says Sara Jane Harris, a 30-year-old mother of an 18-month-old child living in Bethesda, Maryland. “It is the most enigmatic sequence of events. It has brought me to tears of both genuine elation and panicked horror. It is an almost tortuous job because my focus in life is to make this new person the happiest, strongest person alive—even if it drains my own soul to the core.”

“But knowing that I am the mother, the MOMMY, and that I am the only one that baby wants when truly in need, is the most satisfying, fulfilling, overwhelming gift that God could give anyone. As many times as I have nearly pulled entire sections of hair from my head or cried until there were no more tears, I wouldn’t trade my life with my baby for anything-not even for all of the answers to the questions that make this journey so convoluted. I want to be where I am. The nighttime hugs and squeals of sheer delight at rushing down the slide into my arms move the earth for me.”

The Shock of Motherhood

We’ve all heard and probably said it: “Why didn’t someone tell me being a mother was like this?” The shock of what we got was amplified by the discrepancy between what we had expected. Here’s what most moms say surprised them about motherhood:

  • The extent of nurturing required
  • The overwhelming sense of responsibility
  • The deprivation of sleep and personal time
  • A disorganized household frenzy
  • The feelings of alienation from the outside world
  • The guilt over not being able to perform up to the standards of a supermom
  • The physical exhaustion
  • The disruption in marital interest and harmony
  • How much they love and focus on this tiny new being in their lives

A Reality Checklist

Jeffers is deeply concerned over the myths and realities of motherhood. She admits, “There are some of us who adore our children but don’t adore the process of raising them.” Jeffers lists some of the reasons mothers find this to be true:

  1. Life changes after you become a mother and it is never the same again.
  2. You regret the loss of career opportunities and may become depressed over loss of sleep, mobility, privacy, and freedom.
  3. You love your children so much that you will worry about them all the rest of your life.
  4. You bear the blame for everything that goes right or wrong in your children’s lives.
  5. It is common for you to have some negative feelings about childrearing.

One thought on “Parent Advice For Everyone

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