Monthly Archives: June 2013

our own voice

I’ve been thinking a lot about lullabies since my last post.  I had a conversation with a co-worker wondering if many of today’s parents felt  familiar and comfortable singing lullabies to their babies.

Then earlier this week, I saw on the national news that parents and volunteers are being encouraged to sing lullabies to the tiniest, most fragile infants in the neonatal intensive care nurseries.  The babies’ responses to this gentle, peaceful singing is dramatic and physical.

The singing not only slows down the heart rate of preemies, but oxygen levels increase and breathing calms.

How simple and how perfect that parents, faced with this feeling of powerlessness, watching their little one hooked up to all kinds of technology can know the difference they can still make just by the soothing use of their own voice.

That was one day on the news – another day showed babies under a year old playing with their “favorite” toy – an iPad. The parents were so pleased and proud that their little baby was so fascinated with this latest technology.  It showed a 9-month old choosing between crawling to her mother’s welcoming arms and voice or to her iPad – unfortunately choosing her iPad.

I looked into this development a bit more on line and sadly saw video after video of babies and toddlers pounding on their iPads.  One app called Smack Talk repeats what you say, so as this young toddler babbled into her iPad, the iPad repeated the babble back to her.

Another one-year-old slapped Apple’s My 1st words – a picture of a truck appeared, then the word truck was said, and so on and so on – a seemingly disconnected way for a little one to learn about the world she lives in.

Finally, I read about a physician in England  who is helping parents deal with their childrens’ separation anxiety – not from the parents but their iPads.

And then there was little Grayson on the national news – a 3-year-old boy who was born deaf.  After receiving the first ever auditory brain stem implant, we got to see his look of total amazement, shock and awe when the first sound he ever heard was the gentle voice of his daddy saying, “Daddy loves you”.

For me, I can only hope that little Grayson will have many more days and years to come of hearing his parents’ own voices  telling him the names of colors and animals and cars and trucks – and maybe even putting him to sleep by singing him a gentle lullaby.

Actually that would be really perfect for all children!

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the beginning

I’ve had several occasions recently to be at Gunderson Medical Center and have been charmed each time I hear the short lullaby that is played throughout the building announcing the birth of a new baby.  So joyful, it’s put a smile on my face every time.

I love this public sweet announcement of a baby’s arrival.  I thought about it on this Father’s Day weekend and realized that not only was there a new baby being born each time, but also a new dad.

A few weeks ago as I was leaving the clinic, a car careened into the circular drive in front, a young wild-eyed man jumped out and rushed through the revolving doors, excitedly repeating to the volunteer attendant,  “My wife’s having a baby!”.  They quickly yet quietly responded and went out with a wheelchair to get his wife, instructing him to slow down,  go and park the car, and they would wait for him right there.

Oh, did my heart go out to this young man – the reality of his impending fatherhood so apparent on his face.  “My wife is having a baby!”

Becoming a dad is quite a monumental event.  Perhaps along with the lullaby,  a majestic march should be played to propel newly-born dads forward or a symphony with four distinct movements performed to honor and inspire the decades of fathering to come.

For just as moms, dads grow into their positions of Dad one day at a time – one sleepless night, one crying child,  one sticky hug, one hand held, one piggy back ride,one set of wondering eyes at a time – till there is no imagining life without being someone’s dad.

Congratulations to all the new and old dads out there and thanks to my own dad, always alive in my loving memory of him.

For any dad out there looking for information, support, connection with other parents and children, give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125.

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fragile moments

There’s something that makes my heart sing at one moment and sink the next – parents who love a child so very much yet find themselves afraid, discouraged and out on a limb when it comes to trusting their relationship with their child.

I met with a couple recently who have a challenging two-and-a-half-year-old.  They believe that they have messed up their daughter for good – from loving her too much, and now feel like things are falling apart.

Just as their daughter has reached the age where she is seeking more control, independence and power in her life, mom and dad are frantic to own the control and power first and so the fireworks ensue.

But it doesn’t have to be about control.  In fact, why not make it be about connection?  For it is connection that grows and nurtures a sustaining relationship with our children that will see us through to young adulthood and beyond.  Ninety percent of interactions with your child should be about connecting so she can accept the ten percent that needs to be about correcting.

I understand the panic and the frustration.  A child who has tantrums, hits, and screams can put anyone into a state of fear. And it is this fear that makes us react to our child by meeting their outbursts with anger and outburst of our own.  However, the answer is not to be louder and angrier than your child but to acknowledge the emotion your child is displaying and show him you understand how he is feeling.

When we think about having a terrible day ourselves and a good friend “gets” it – knows exactly why we may be feeling/acting/speaking the way we are, we feel heard, understood, grateful and more relaxed and secure.

Children are the same. We often use the expression my child is “acting out”.  When a child is acting out, he is sharing with us emotions/upsets/stress that he is not able to express verbally.  But when  parents recognize and show understanding of the emotion or stress the child is experiencing,  it makes her feel validated, loved and safe.

Responding to the emotions a child is displaying is something all of us as parents can do.  But first we have to drop the idea that this child is “out to get us”.  Recognize the significance of empathizing with your child’s emotion first, letting her experience your compassion before beginning to address the situation at hand.

It is this sense of security and love that  heals the hurt and opens the heart and the mind to listen to a better way.

If you would like to talk more about how to validate feelings and connect with your child in their most fragile moments, give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8124.

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faith and trust and pixie dust

Lately we’ve been noticing quite a few children in our neighborhood – seven to nine-year-olds – riding bikes, scooters, playing catch, hula hooping, gathering together, chasing each other, eager to visit with all the dog walkers.

Several of these children really like our Tootsie.  They know the routine.  Sit down on the curb and she will gladly come to you.  One young boy and his friend were skate boarding down the street when he saw us approaching.  He immediately jumped off his board and told his friend to do the same. “Put your skate board behind your back.  Tootsie is very afraid of them.”  What a boy!

Two 8-year-old girls are very special to watch – so busy filling their hours which are theirs to spend.  They love to talk, to visit – then are off on their bikes, to check on the status of the baby robin recently fallen out of the nest, find some more treasures for their nature project, claim something from the junk piles awaiting trash pick-up, or seek out their next adventure.

Their adventures are only so because they are discovering them; they are simple and everyday, but they are theirs.

This new burst of youthful activity in our neighborhood has been so refreshing and reminiscent.  I vividly recall the freedom, the joy of getting on my bike, checking out my favorite neighborhood spots, looking for the next escapade, relishing this new-found sense of independence, even if only a few blocks from home.

I definitely get the feeling from these children that they are happy with themselves, their friends, even their moments of boredom.

And maybe it will only be until their summer programs begin and they are off again from early in the morning to dinnertime in structured activities. But right now – I sense their spirits high, their confidence and competence emerging as they manage this small gift of freedom, bikes, warm sunny days and longer evenings and “all the world made of faith, trust, and pixie dust”.  (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

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