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Boys will be Boys! #003 - Make Time for Yourself
February 17, 2009

Boys will be Boys! Newsletter, Issue #003 - Make Time for Yourself

February 17, 2009

This monthly newsletter is brought to you by the Parenting Boys website. Each issue brings you the latest additions to the site, a parenting tip of the month, interesting parenting news, a quote or joke of the month and some food for thought.

What's in this issue?

  • What's New at Parenting Boys?
  • Corinne's Parenting Tip of the month: Make Time for Yourself
  • Parenting News
  • Parenting Quote of the Month
  • Food for Thought: Organizing the Perfect Birthday Party

    What's new at Parenting Boys?

    New Template
    We are currently working for you on a brand new template to improve the site. I hope you will like it and I can't wait to introduce it to you! :)

    Corinne's Parenting Tip: Make Time for Yourself

    I have a feeling what you are thinking right now might be along these lines: "right, sounds good, but impossible!"

    As parents, we all have very busy schedules and daily life revolves more around getting things done on time and, generally, just surviving amongst the chaos than taking time for ourselves. But, amongst all that, we tend to forget that we need to nurture ourselves too!

    Sure we can go on like that for a while and we survive. But... that is what it is, we survive! As a result, we are constantly exhausted, irritated and, let's face it, not very pleasant to be around...

    In view of this, I believe that it is very beneficial for everybody, your children included, for you to take time off from time to time and enjoy some me time, on your own or with friends, but without kids. Believe me, you'll be a better parent afterward. Now, you are going to tell me it's impossible, you are surely too busy!

    I think this is something we must make a priority, not just something "I'll do if I find the time". I believe it's even more important for single parents who have the burden of raising their children single-handedly.

    How to do it? It has to be scheduled, just like all of your family's activities are carefully scheduled. Unless it is, let's face it, it's not going to happen! If you want it, there are ways! Of course, you can enroll your spouse/partner to "babysit" one evening while you go out with friends to pamper yourself. Even if you are a single parent, you can find a way, you can ask a relative, a good friend, hire a babysitter. No money to pay for a babysitter? Try and organize a babysitting swap with another mother you know, maybe someone you organize play dates with...

    I think you get the idea, a regular time for yourself needs to be a priority in your life, it is as important as the rest of your parenting, a happy parent makes a happy child; a miserable parent... well, maybe not a miserable child, but the child can definitely feel the tension.

    Parenting News

    Love Makes Kids Smarter

    Kim Bard of the University of Portsmouth in England and her colleagues demonstrated In a recent study of 46 baby chimpanzee orphans that primate babies that have tight relationships with mother figures do much better on cognitive tests than babies who receive only the basics of food, shelter, and friendship with peers.

    But this is not breaking news. In fact, it's old news.

    In the 1950s, Harry Harlow conducted a series of experiments with baby rhesus monkeys that showed, without a doubt, that lack of love and comfort makes for a crazy monkey.

    Harlow constructed a cage that included a wire monkey "mother" topped with a plastic face. In this wire Mom he inserted a bottle. The cages also held an alternative to the wire mother, the same wire and plastic contraption but covered with terry cloth. The baby monkeys spent all their time clinging to the cloth mother and only went to the wire mother to feed, demonstrating that a soft touch beats something to eat any day.

    But even more interesting, Harlow's experiments produced really nutty adult monkeys, females who were unable to mother themselves because they had no idea what mother love might be.

    Further, Harlow and pals put little monkeys into contraptions that isolated them from others, visually, physically, and even out of hearing, and the babies became despondent. The good news was that the researchers were also pretty successful at reversing the psychological damage done to these animals by slowing introducing happy little touchy-feely peer monkeys into their cages as therapists.

    Harlow's monkey work was important because, at the time, pediatricians, child care "experts," and everybody's grandmother had a "no touch, no comfort" policy toward children. They adamantly advised parents not to respond to crying babies, felt infants should sleep alone to grow up independent.

    But Harlow's work changed all that. Mothers were soon permitted to have their newborns next to them in the hospital, and these days no one looks askance at a baby in a sling.

    The current chimp research builds on Harlow's work by showing that mother love doesn't just make for a psychologically well-adjusted child, it also makes for a smart kid. Bard and colleagues evaluated the cognitive abilities of the chimps when they were 12 months old with standard human tests for children of that age, tests that ask little kids to imitate squiggles on paper and pick up a cup to find a rock.

    The highly nurtured chimps did better than the ones without a history of attachment, and what do you know, the well-nurtured chimps did even better than human kids on this pint-sized IQ test.

    And so we hear it once again. We are primates, social animals which need attachment and love . We need to be held and talked to and made to feel that at least one person wants to be with us all the time. And if we get that kind of connection, we are bound to be fine, even better than fine.

    Childhood Beach Vacations May Boost Melanoma Risk

    Researchers from Denver evaluated 681 children born in 1998 in Colorado, asking their parents about childhood vacation destinations and then conducting skin exams when the children were age 7 to look for nevi -- commonly known as moles. These moles are a risk factor for developing malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

    "Moles went up 5 percent for every vacation they took [beginning at age 1 year]," said study senior author Lori Crane, an associate professor and chairwoman of community and behavioral health at the Colorado School of Public Health.

    The American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 62,500 new cases of melanoma in 2008, and about 8,400 deaths.

    Crane said that, while daily sun exposure at home wasn't found to be related to the number of moles that developed on the children, there was a link to the number of vacations by the water. And the moles seemed to increase despite sunscreen use. "Ninety percent said they used sunscreen most or all of the time," she said.

    Crane, like other experts, said parents often believe sunscreen is a safeguard against skin cancer. While sunscreen does offer some protection, children who wear it may stay out in the sun longer -- long after the protection from the sunscreen has subsided, she said.

    Another skin cancer expert said the new study confirms what many dermatologists have long known -- that increased sun exposure, especially intermittent exposure in childhood, increases the risk of melanoma later in life.

    While other skin cancers, such as squamous cell, are linked to cumulative sun exposure, "for melanoma, the story is a little more muddled," said Dr. Clifford Perlis, director of MOHS and dermatologic surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "It's not always linked to cumulative exposure, but to intermittent. The reasons are not clear."

    "What this study does support is what we have been saying for a long time -- limit sun exposure during peak hours. Wear protective clothing," Perlis said. Sunscreen is also advised.

    The message of the study isn't to stop taking beach vacations, Perlis said. There are "lots of healthy things" about them, he said.

    Crane's suggestion is more strident. She advises parents to skip or curtail waterside vacations when their children are young. "Wait until the kid is 10 or 12," she said.

    When parents do take children to the beach, they should be cautious, Crane said. "They should not rely just on sunscreen. They should get water shirts for their kids. They should try to avoid middle-of-the-day outside activities," she said.

    Better yet, avoid outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's ultraviolet rays are strongest.

    The study was published in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

    Blood Test May Predict Postpartum Depression

    Measuring the levels of a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy might predict whether a woman is likely to develop postpartum depression, a new study suggests.

    Approximately 13 percent of women will experience postpartum depression, a condition that holds significant consequences not only for women but for their infants and families as well, experts say. Once a woman has had postpartum depression, she is more likely to have future bouts of depression, and that puts infants and children at risk for cognitive, behavioral and social problems.

    "If we know early on that a woman is at high risk to develop postpartum depression, then we can implement interventions before symptoms actually occur," said lead researcher Ilona S. Yim, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine.

    "By means of a simple blood draw, we could correctly identify 75 percent of women who would later develop postpartum depression," she said.

    The report is published in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

    For the study, Yim's group looked for a link between placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH) and postpartum depression. The researchers took blood samples from 100 pregnant women at various stages during their pregnancy and tested for levels of pCRH.

    They also assessed the women for signs of depression during pregnancy and about eight weeks, on average, after delivery.

    In all, 16 women developed postpartum depression. In each case, the women had had high levels of pCRH at 25 weeks into their pregnancies, the study found.

    The blood test, which was found to have a high degree of both specificity and sensitivity, could identify about 75 percent of women who would develop postpartum depression, Yim's team found. The test misclassified about 25 percent of the women.

    When the blood test was combined with assessing symptoms of depression during pregnancy, Yim noted, it was even more predictive of postpartum depression.

    If the findings can be replicated, then testing the level of this hormone might become standard care, Yim said.

    "Postpartum depression affects so many women that it would be great to have something that would help to identify being at risk early on, and perhaps develop strategies to prevent it," she said.

    Women who know they are at risk for postpartum depression can take steps to reduce stress that might ward off the condition, Yim said. "They could take yoga classes and avoid severe stressors," she said.

    Postpartum depression generally begins within four to six weeks after delivery. Risk factors include a history of depression, stressful life events, a lack of social support, low self-esteem and depression, anxiety or stress during pregnancy.

    Postpartum depression expert Jeanelle Sheeder, a clinical sciences senior instructor of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver, said she was not sure that the blood test would add more than what can be gleaned from screening women for signs of depression before and during their pregnancies.

    "It is encouraging to have a prenatal biologic measure that predicts postpartum depression," Sheeder said. "However, I am not sure about the practicality of using pCRH as a screening tool. It has been shown that prenatal depression is predictive of postpartum depression, and it is easier and cheaper to do that type of screening than pCRH in most clinical settings."

    For Preschoolers, Even 'Play' Tends to Be Sedentary

    Even when they're playing outside, children tend not to be physically active at preschool, a new study says.

    In fact, the researchers found that 89 percent of so-called physical activity by 3- to 5-year-olds was found to be sedentary at community-based preschool programs, as were more than half of their outdoor activities.

    The children also received little encouragement from their teachers to be physically active, the study found. The results were published in the January/February issue of Child Development.

    The finding comes at a time when childhood obesity, especially at younger ages, continues to rise in the United States.

    "The low levels of children's activity and the lack of adult encouragement point to a need for teachers to organize, model and encourage physical activity," lead author William H. Brown, an education professor at the University of South Carolina, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher. "Because children's health and physical well-being are an important part of development, their physical activity needs to be increased in order to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly for preschoolers who are growing up in low-income families and who are at greater risk for poor health outcomes."

    The researchers did find that children tended to be more active when balls and other items were made available to them, especially when outdoors and when open space for play was available.

    Parenting Quote of the Month

    There are only two things a child will share willingly; communicable diseases and its mother's age.
    Benjamin Spock, “Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care”

    For more fun quotes, visit our parenting quotes page.

    Food for Thought: Organizing the Perfect Birthday Party

    This is probably going to sound like a rant! ;)

    It seems like there is a huge trend to organize more and more sophisticated birthday parties for our children. And this, not only for the older children, but also for the 1, 2, 3... year olds. It looks like many birthday parties are organized to compete with the other parents, rather than to be fun for the kids involved. This trend creates social pressure on everybody, not only the adults, but the children too. What happens to the child who doesn't get such a big party? Is he put aside, considered "not good enough"?

    Also, what is it teaching children? I believe parenting is about teaching balance, not that we must consume, consume, consume and spend as much as we can to impress our neighbors. We need to teach our children that happiness and contentment are not tied to money and I believe that lavish birthday parties teach the opposite.

    So, what is the perfect birthday party then? I think it's about moderation and remembering what we are celebrating. About not trying to show off how much money we have.

    There are free ways to entertain children, they don't necessarily need a clown show or a pony ride. If your child is old enough, ask him what he thinks would be fun activities to share with his friends. Also, make sure you ask him who he wants to invite, this is about him having fun, not you making sure you invite all the "right" persons. For young children, there is no need to plan many activities, they usually are pretty good at entertaining themselves with very little.

    Also, kids like a fun cake, but it doesn't require spending hundreds of Dollars to buy it. Make it yourself, you'll have fun in the process and your skills will improve over the years (mine definitely have!).

    A few inexpensive ideas:

  • Host a movie night. Rent a movie, or even a few selections, from your local video store, and send out for pizza or Chinese food.

  • If the birthday isn't in the winter, make the party an outdoor event, such as a hiking trip or a picnic in the park.

  • Host a game party. Invite people to bring over their favorite board games and set up tables all over your house for different groups to play them.

    I think you probably got my point by now, let's try and remember that we are celebrating our children coming into our lives and not trying to show off our wealth...

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