Wireless Motherhood: When Social Media is the New Village, by Isa Down

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Hey, mamas, anyone else awake? I’m having a really tough time tonight with anxiety, and have no one to talk to.

I wrote that when my son was five-weeks-old. It was 3 a.m. He was sleeping soundly on my chest, and I remember wondering why I couldn’t just enjoy this moment with him. It was so quiet, even the crickets had stopped their incessant chirping. My son’s breaths whispered across my skin with each exhale: it was a completely pristine moment.

Yet there I sat, anxious and alone. There were so many unknowns, and in the middle of the night, as a new single mom, I had no one to talk to. Within moments, women from around the world were commenting that they were thinking of me, sending positive thoughts, hoping everything was okay, there to talk if I needed. They were awake too, facing their own struggles.

In those early weeks and months, I remember feeling more than once that social media was my lifeline. The harsh glare off my phone was a beacon of hope, there in the dark with my son cradled against me.

Anxiety is just one of several perinatal mood disorders (PMD) commonly experienced by women during and after pregnancy. Postpartum depression is the most renowned, but PMDs also include psychosis, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, to name a few. An estimated 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression alone.

Despite their prevalence, women who experience these disorders can feel incredibly isolated. Depression, insomnia, and panic attacks do not fit the socially constructed mold of blissed-out new motherhood. This sets the stage for mothers to be riddled with guilt and shame for not being able to connect, or sleep, or leave the house. There were so many moments when I sat with friends, smiling and nodding, all the while wanting desperately to say: “I am so overwhelmed. I need help.” It’s hard to show the rawness of motherhood, because it still feels so taboo.

Perinatal mood disorders have been the dirty little secret of motherhood for far too long. It’s becoming easier to talk about, as celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, and Kristen Bell come forward and share their experiences. Actress Hayden Panettiere’spersonal struggle was even mirrored in her character’s storyline on the TV show “Nashville” last year.

And that does help. Yet hearing that these seemingly perfect women have also struggled doesn’t necessarily make a mama feel less alienated as she watches the hours tick by in the night, alone and anxious. This is true largely because our society is highly autonomous. We prize individual triumph and the ability to succeed on your own above a group mentality. This mindset has its benefits, but also tends to alienate new mothers. In fact, this has become such a big issue that psychologists have wondered if postpartum depression is a misnomer, and should instead be called postpartum neglect.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

parent.co/wireless-motherhood-when-social-media-is-the-new-village/

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“What are you going to do with yourself?” On Answering that Curly Question, by Sarah Wilson

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‘What are you going to do with yourself once all the kids are at school?’ – Sounds like an innocent enough question and one that I’ve been asked rather frequently in recent times. Sometimes it’s a statement rather than a question, such as ‘You won’t know what to do with yourself!.’ I put this question in the same basket with other curly questions that people often encounter, such as ‘Are you still single?’ ‘When you are going to have kids?’, ‘Are you going to have more kids?’ and ‘Have you lost weight?’ But ‘You won’t know what to do with yourself’ has been said to me a few times recently, and not wishing to sound too defensive, I usually say something along the lines of ‘There are always plenty of things to do.’ Because that’s what I’ve found – even though two of my children are school age now, it’s still really quite busy. It’s perhaps not quite as intense as when they were little. It’s a bit cruisier and I have a bit more down time, however mornings before 9 o’clock are frantic, and afternoons after 3 o’clock are full. Though we don’t do a whole lot of after school activities, the engagements increase as they get older, as does the homework. I have a preschooler at home on Mondays, Fridays and Wednesday afternoons and I have a little down time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But as it so happens, my preschooler is about to start school in September at the ridiculously young and tender age of four and a quarter. I’m not too happy about it. In fact I think I’ll go and have a good cry into my coffee when she starts school, but I know that she will be fine, and I’ve taken the approach of when in Rome, do what the Romans do. She herself, can’t wait to go to school! Thankfully the curriculum involves a large component of free play in the first year.

If you’ve been a stay-at-home mum with children reaching school age, how have you found that question? I know that it’s probably said in jest, but sometimes that question does feel like a pressure. And there is a lot of pressure for mothers to get back into the workforce. I feel like it’s acceptable to be at home with children when they are preschoolers, but society expects you to get a job once they are school age. Yes I’d like to get back into the workforce in a part-time capacity, and of course it will help the old bank balance, but there are weeks that I wonder how that is going to operate in practice. My husband works twelve hour days. Being in a new country, the children have come down with one illness after the another in the last few weeks, and I wonder how I would manage this if my husband and I were both employed. There are also twelve weeks of holidays a year to think about.

(Follow the link below to read more of this article…)

What are you going to do with yourself?: On answering that curly question.

20 things to say to your daughter before she’s grown, by Jenna McCarthy

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I always wanted to have daughters—and I got them. I love every minute of it, from the tea parties and pedicures to what we affectionately (mostly) call the “hair wars” in our house. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy. From a very young age our girls are targeted with messed-up media messages (think “Thin is beautiful, and beautiful is everything, and if you want to be happy, you need these shoes!”) and exposed to all manner of temptations, online and otherwise. As a parent who can shape who they’ll become, there are many life lessons that I’d want to teach any child of mine. But there is also some specific advice for daughters. Here are 20 girl-centric things I want them to know.

1. Learn the word NO. Sure, I don’t like it one bit when you say it to me, but in the big, scary world out there you will be faced with endless tough choices. From boys to beers to inappropriate Instagram photos, potential trouble will lurk everywhere you go. You know that little voice you have inside, the one that tells you something doesn’t feel right? Listen to it. Respect it. And most importantly, use it to say NO. It won’t be easy a lot of the time, but I assure you, you’ll almost always be glad you did.

2. Spend more time worrying about how beautiful you are inside than outside. It’s fine to take pride in your appearance and want to be pretty. But if how you look is all you care about, you’ll pay for it down the road. Yes, you are beautiful—magnificently, achingly so—but never forget that you didn’t do anything to create or even deserve that. True beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you’re ugly on the inside, you’re ugly. Period.

3. Stuff won’t make you happy. Oh, in the moment—when you’re pining for that headband/skateboard/Fijit Friend/designer purse—you will truly, madly, passionately believe that they will. But things break. We lose them. They run out. They go out of style. They become uncool(the worst!). Happiness comes from appreciating the things you do have, not acquiring more.

4. Some girls are mean girls. Be extremely careful when you choose your friends. At the risk of throwing our entire gender under the bus, girls can be nasty and petty and jealous and cruel. Some of them will lie to you or pretend to be your friend or stab you in the back, and it will hurt like hell every single time. If you’re totally unprepared for it, it will crush you even more.

5. Girlfriends will save your life. Yes, girls can be awful, so when you find a loyal, true friend, hold onto her for dear life, and do your best to be loyal and true right back. Boys will come and go, but a good girlfriend will be your steady through the peaks, the valleys and everything in between.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.today.com/parents/advice-daughter-her-mom-I532617?cid=eml_tpp_20160404

International Women’s Day… so important for children of both genders too! By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Here at “The Forever Years” we feel it is important to have a post acknowledging this special day, as the lives of women children are so closely linked.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. 

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International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  On this day we honour and celebrate the progress of women in the past, but also look towards the future and examine how things can be further improved for women (and the children they care for) around the globe.

Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.  Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them.

Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the UN. The majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York.  The day has since become recognised internationally and is also the focus of annual United Nations Conferences, addressing issues which affect women (and, so very often, their off spring).  A recent report  in the USA found that 80.6% of single parents are women and this is thought to be similar across the globe.  With the improvement in the situation of women and a focus on this by both male and female there is, by definition, also an improvement in the lives of all children, both boys and girls.

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International Men’s Day is also celebrated on November 19 each year.

Related Links:

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

http://www2.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-womens-day

 

Bragging about your kids: When is it cool and when not, by Lalita Iyer

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There is always a certain kind of behavior that may slot parents down as unpopular or ‘unliked’. Most parents do have a tendency to spill the glory (seldom the gore) about their kids, to an extent that it can come across as unpleasant, annoying or sometimes even obnoxious to others who didn’t sign up for this when they decided to include themselves in your social media. There is a Yiddish word for it, “kvelling”. It’s when a person is bursting with pride or pleasure. For want of a better word, we call it boasting or bragging.

While there is a line people draw at bragging about themselves, there seem to be no holds barred while talking about their children. When you’re a parent, you’re bound to be fascinated with each and every achievement of your child, whether it’s eating on his own, using the pot for the first time as a toddler, or being a carrot at that fancy dress competition. Every move a child makes for the first several years of his or her life is celebrated with applause, pride and yes, updates on social media to make the achievement all the more official.

I often wished that my parents bragged a little bit about me when I was a child, given that I was an accomplished one by conventional standards, but they didn’t. Perhaps they didn’t want others to feel left out, or maybe they just didn’t think it was nice, but they didn’t. I still don’t know if it was right or wrong.

“Parenting is tough enough,” Bruce Feiler wrote a few years ago in the New York Times, “can’t you take a victory lap every now and then?”

Sure you can. Just make sure you follow certain guidelines:

1. Make it about effort, not about accomplishment

It’s one thing to say your kid loves reading and quite another to say that she reads books meant for eight year-olds at five. Of course you can praise your child’s ability to read books and read them fast, don’t take it to the next level by quantifying it and saying he finishes reading all the library books by the time you reach home. When Re was a toddler, I used to constantly cancel out parents in my head who said their child could speak 12-word sentences. Not cool.

 2. Make it about your good fortune and not about your parenting skills

Most of the time, bragging about your child is a backhanded compliment to yourself. When parents brag, they want you to notice their amazing parenting skills and not their child’s natural abilities. “See, I made this,” they seem to say.

As if it was all your doing and the child had little to do with it. But the truth is that his/her awesomeness is sheer luck anyway and has little to do with you or your parenting skills. I have seen many nice parents with obnoxious children and several obnoxious adults with really nice kids.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://mommygolightly.com/2015/10/05/bragging-about-your-kids-when-is-it-cool-and-when-not/

The 3 Most Important Things To Say If A Child Discloses Abuse, by Ginger Kadlec

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Finding the courage and strength to disclose abuse can be a tough thing for a child to do.

An estimated 73% of children don’t disclose abuse for at least one year. Another 45% don’t tell anyone they are being abused for five years… still others never tell.

A primary factor in children NOT disclosing abuse is that in the large majority of abuse and neglect cases, children know, love or trust the people hurting them. The child doesn’t want to get that person “in trouble” or may fear some type of retribution for “telling”. To learn more about why children suffer in silence, see “10 Reasons Children Don’t Disclose Abuse“.

If a child ever discloses abuse to you, here are the three most important things you can say:

#1: “I believe you.” 

These three simple words are a lifeline to a child. Many children are afraid they won’t be believed, often because their abusers have told them so. This is especially important for MOTHERS to know! Moms, please, please, please (… I beg of you!) always believe your child should s/he ever tell you s/he has been victimized, regardless of who the child alleges is the perpetrator. Children whose mothers do not believe their allegations will often recant and suffer in silence. In cases where abuse exists, it then continues leaving the child feeling unprotected and vulnerable with drastic lifelong implications.

One study showed that 52 percent of those who reported mistreatment to a parent were still being abused a year after the disclosure. ~Psychology Today

A 2012 article from Psychology Today states, “Some (abused children) who do reveal suffer negative consequences, such as being blamed for ‘seducing’ the perpetrator or being accused of lying. One study showed that 52 percent of those who reported mistreatment to a parent were still being abused a year after the disclosure.”

I simply can’t overemphasize the importance of mothers believing their children. The facts will come out in the end, but it is crucial that upon initial disclosure and until proven otherwise that we believe what our children tell us.

#2: “It’s not your fault.”

Abusers place a great amount of blame on their child victims, so children often feel they somehow “caused” their own abuse. They may also have been led to believe they will be in trouble because, again, they think the abuse was their fault. Taking the weight of blame off the child’s shoulders in one of the first steps in that child’s journey of healing.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

The Love of a Mother and Her 3 Year-old Daughter, who Were Attacked With Acid by Their Husband/Father

Similar incidents to this happened in Vietnam when I lived there… one by a boy who was rejected by a girl (and then threw acid in her face) and one by a “loan shark” who threw acid over a young baby when his mother was unable to repay her debts. Such incidents, anywhere in the world, are shameful, particularly when the victims are frequently young women and children. A worthy charity to support, as this kind of violence, and it’s life long scars, is not often spoken about.

There is an organization to help! If you want to help, please check into ASTI (Acid Survivors Trust International).  They seem to be one of the few charities dealing with this.  Please follow the link below to their website…

http://www.acidviolence.org/

Kindness Blog

Somayeh Mehri (29) and Rana Afghanipour (3) are a mother and daughter living in Bam, southern Iran.

They were attacked with acid by Somayeh’s husband Amir.

Somayeh Mehri (29) with her daughter Rana Afghanipour Somayeh Mehri (29) and her daughter Rana Afghanipour (3) give each other a kiss. Since their disfigurement in an acid attack, they say, others don’t like to kiss them.

Somayeh had frequently been beaten and locked up by her husband, and finally found the courage to ask for a divorce. Amir warned her that if she persisted in her attempts to leave him, she would not live out life with the face she had.

One night in June 2011, he poured acid on Somayeh and Rana as they slept. Somayeh’s and Rana’s faces, hands, and, in places, their bodies were severely burned. Somayeh was blinded, and Rana lost one of her eyes.

Somayeh Mehri (29) and Rana Afghanipour

Somayeh’s father sold his land in order to raise money to pay…

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‘A Monster Ate My Mum’…a book about Post Natal Depression… for kids! A Review from the UK blog “adventures with monster”

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‘A Monster Ate My Mum’ 

by Jen Faulkner

Illustrated by Helen Braid

Priced £5.99

We were sent this very special story book for review by the lovely Jen Faulkner, a sufferer of Post-Natal Depression,  who wrote the book for her children after finding it difficult to explain the illness to them in a way that they would understand and now hopes that the book will also help other families affected by PND. 

Aimed at children from 2-12 years, this rhyming and beautifully illustrated story is written from a child’s perspective, a little boy goes on a hunt to find the parts of his mum that he misses;

‘her smile, her laugh, her spark’

(To read the rest of this review, follow the link below.  “Adventures With Monster” is a UK blog which reviews books and other products for families with young children).

‘A Monster Ate My Mum’…a review.

Dyspraxia, A Parent’s Perspective, by Tania Broadley

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I have four children, all girls.  Katie is 10, Emma 6 and my younger twin girls, Jamie and Alyssa, have just turned four. Three of my girls have dyspraxia.  Emma also has ADHD.  Jamie does not have dyspraxia.  [For more information about ADHD, attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, see The Forever Years post at the following link:  https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/understanding-kids-with-adhd-an-interview-with-a-mother-who-knows/  ]

Dyspraxia is one of many “hidden” special needs.  It is a neurological (brain and nerves) disorder in which messages from the brain to the muscles are disrupted, thus effecting physical and gross motor skills– movement and co-ordination.  Early intervention with occupational therapy, physical therapies and sometimes speech therapy help children with dyspraxia to reach their potential. [Source: Medical Questions and Answers, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Zealand Edition, February 2014].

Bringing up children with unique needs is mentally, physically and emotionally draining for me.  On the good days it can be very rewarding.  I feel a real sense of achievement when I overcome challenges.  Katie was diagnosed as having dyspraxia at the age of five and Emma at about four years old.  Alyssa is under Vera Hayward [Children’s Support Programme] and at this stage her dyspraxia seems to be mild.  I did not realise that Emma had dyspraxia until I was pregnant with the twins!

Some days can be overwhelming, juggling four girls, hospital appointments, dyspraxia and ADHD.  Other days I feel relaxed and confident.

My husband and I used to avoid a lot of social gatherings with the girls, because we found it too stressful and we felt judged because of their behaviour (like outbursts of temper).  Meeting other parents in similar situations to ours has given us the confidence to go back out on family social outings again.  It is also very comforting to know that there are other families out there with multiple (twins, triplets or more) children and unique needs, like ours.

Our girls are a true blessing to my husband and I.  I look forward to seeing what journey they each take in life.  They have made me a stronger, more confident mother and I’m so very proud of them all.

Thanks to Tania Broadley for sharing her family’s story with “The Forever Years”.

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Some Further Information about Dyspraxia…

Developmental Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder and the Clumsy Child Syndrome) is a neurologically based disorder of the processes involved in “praxis” or the planning of movement to achieve a predetermined idea or purpose, which may affect the acquisition of new skills and the execution of those already learned. More specifically, it is a disorder of praxis, or the process of “ideation” (forming an idea of using a known movement to achieve a planned purpose), motor planning (planning the action needed to achieve the idea) and execution (carrying out the planned movement).

Dyspraxia may affect any or all areas of development– physical, intellectual, emotional, social, language and sensory– and may impair the normal process of learning, thus it is also a learning difficulty.  It is not a unitary disorder (like measles or chicken pox, where all those affected share a common set of symptoms) and affects each person in different ways at different ages and stages of development and to different degrees.  It is inconsistent, in that it may affect the child one day, but not the next– as if information is sometimes put away “in the wrong drawer”.

Dyspraxia is a “hidden handicap” as, under normal circumstances, children with dyspraxia may appear no different from their peers, until new skills are tried or known ones are taken out of context, which is when difficulties may become apparent.

In many affected children, dyspraxia occurs with or as part of other neurological conditions, so defining common symptomsdownload may be confusing.  Therefore a diagnosis, naming the disorder is often very difficult and sometimes the closest may be “shows some dyspraxic tendencies”.  A major international, multi-disciplinary conference on dyspraxia was held here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand in 1997, making it easier for parents to find a professional who is confident in making a diagnosis. If you think that your child exhibits some or all of the symptoms of dyspraxia, talk with your GP or peadiatrition about your concerns.

The following is information for teachers and others interecting with children with dyspraxia to be aware of…

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Related Links/ Information

New Zealand Dyspraxia Support Group:  http://www.dyspraxia.org.nz/

Australian Dyspraxia Support Foundation: http://www.dyspraxiaaustralia.com.au/support-group

Dyspraxia USA, resources: http://www.dyspraxiausa.org/resources/

Dyspraxia Foundation, UK (has some great film clips about living with dyspraxia for adults and for kids:  http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/

Dyspraxia Association of Ireland: http://www.dyspraxia.ie/

Facebook Support Page for families: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DYSPRAXIA-Families-Support-group/115023848519242