Tag Archives: moms

Oh Say can you see?: The American Dream

8 Dec
Courtesy of activerain.com

Courtesy of activerain.com

There is economic stress in my family (I am referring to my fiancé and I) and it relates exactly to the safety and education goals identified by Warren (Family in Transition-16th edition).

“Within the middle class, and even the upper middle class, many families experience an almost threatening pressure to keep up, both for themselves and their children.  They are deeply concerned about the rigors of the global economy, and the need to have their children attend “good” schools.  This means living in a community with relatively high housing costs.” (Warren & Warren Tygai, 2011).

I’ve mentioned this before, but next year I am getting married.  We are both saving money every month in preparation for the milestones that are rapidly approaching—specifically, wedding costs and a down-payment on a house.  I do feel the pressure to “keep up” sometimes.  Do my fiancé and I want to live the American dream?  Of course we do.  We want a big, beautiful home on a lovely block with green grass and friendly neighbors.  We want healthy, happy, well-educated children that are able to walk to the school bus stop without a care in the world.  It’s the simple life, yet difficult to achieve these days.

As mentioned in the quoted text above, we all want our children to attend good schools.  This means living in a community with high housing costs.  If we are using the words “high costs”, then that usually means prices one cannot afford.  If the house was not recognized as a “high cost” then it most likely wouldn’t hurt my bank account.  What I am trying to say is that many Americans will purchase a home in a nice area with great schools—but it’s those same Americans that are spending more than they can afford.  We cannot afford what is known as the ‘American dream’ and yet we will sacrifice our financial stability in order to achieve it.  A bit of a contradiction, no?  This discussion has really made me come to grips with reality.

Hey, I will admit it.  I am constantly insisting that my fiancé and I view homes with the best schools and in the safest neighborhoods.  Can we afford this financial burden?  Absolutely not right now.  It’s funny though, how Americans just like us are willing to take that blow to the bank account, or commit to a 30-year mortgage (30 years, jeez!), rather than settle for what we could afford based on both of our incomes.  We’d rather spend what we can’t afford then afford what we are spending because of safety and education.  I am being honest, but considering all things, it sort of makes me feel foolish.

(I’d like to thank my Professor at ESC for initiating this fantastic discussion board)

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Prenatal Influences: Yay or nay?

19 Nov

I believe that the knowledge discussed in the article: “How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life” is beneficial to expectant women.  As the author explains, “no woman who is pregnant today can escape hearing the message that what she does affects her fetus”.  I personally work with pregnant women on a daily basis and this statement couldn’t be more accurate.  There are so many doctors, family members, and books telling them what to do, what not to do, and what sort of terrifying consequences can result from their actions as a mother.  However, as I’ve said, I agree with Paul’s position.  “The power to change behavior” and the “excitement of discovery” can be helpful in educating pregnant women.

“We’re used to hearing about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy, but as these researchers are finding out, it’s frequently the intrauterine environment that makes things go right in later life” (Paul, 2010).

I’ve mentioned that scientific knowledge can help women to change their behavior once they discover that they are with child.  One of the most important tasks of a mother is to maintain a healthy weight during their pregnancy.  The study on obesity conducted at Harvard Medical School found that a child will most likely be overweight by the age of 3 if their mother had gained too much weight during the pregnancy.  When researchers compared women who had average weight gain during their pregnancy with women that gained weight excessively, the results concluded that the child would most likely be obese during the stage of adolescence (Paul, 2010).

These findings can open the ears and eyes of overweight women—not only for the sake of their unborn children, but for their own health as well.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are women out there that aren’t eating enough.  David Barker (the Barker hypothesis) suggested that when an unborn child is malnourished, then most of the nutrients is does receive will go to the brain.  When the child becomes an adult, he or she will most likely survive to middle age—but the unbalanced nutrients will then result in increased chances of heart disease and other illnesses (Paul, 2010).

According to the Levine and Munsch text, the goal of a newborn’s weight is between 7 and 8 pounds for Caucasian babies; this number is slightly less for African and Asian children.  The research mentioned on page 159 states that when a mother’s diet is inadequate and the infant grows in a household where there is an abundance of food, then this child is more prone to obesity.  It also states that malnourished fetuses are born with a lower basal metabolic rate.  These infants will burn calories slower after they are born, which puts them at higher risk for obesity and maybe even diabetes in their future (Levine & Munsch, 2011).

I know I may be contradicting myself here, but upon completing these readings I have realized how much stress expectant mothers are REALLY experiencing.  I do believe that learning about these findings could potentially provide mothers with helpful knowledge for the duration of their pregnancy.  However, I could also see how it may have a tendency to overwhelm some women.  These hypotheses/discoveries are somewhat scary, but they exist for preventative purposes as well as to raise awareness—that’s a positive aspect that we cannot ignore.

Sources:

Levine, Laura E., and Joyce Munsch. Child Development: An Active Learning Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2011. Print.

Paul, Annie Murphy. “How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life.” Time. Time, 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2012 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2021065,00.html&gt;.

Photo courtesy: everydaypeoplecartoons.com

Toddlers: Explorers By Nature

30 Aug

Let’s say that there’s a mother of a boy named Christopher.  Christopher is a toddler and since getting ‘into everything’, as toddlers do, his mother has been keeping him in a playpen for most hours of the day.  Here is my response for my Infant and Toddler Development class based on Erikson’s theory of development….

I would try and help Christopher’s mother to understand just how important it is to keep her child out of the playpen.  Toddlers are explorers by nature; they are extra curious in discovering how the world works around them.

Parents and caregivers should allow children to become familiar with the environment.  Children require stimulation, ie: sensory and the manipulation of objects.  Allowing them to explore is also vital to their physical growth (University of Illinois).  By crawling around and grabbing onto furniture a child is slowly enhancing their gross motor skills.

This would be best explained to a person like Derek’s mother through Erikson’s first three stages of psychosocial development:

1.) Trust vs. Mistrust, where parents should interact with their child in order to instill an element of trust.

2.)  Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, where it is important to introduce independency in order to instill confidence.

3.)  Initiative vs. Guilt, where children assert power and control through play and interactions.  This instills the feeling of social cabability to lead others (about.com).

As previously mentioned, allowing toddlers to explore their natural surroundings is necessary to their social and physical development. Most importantly, toddlers require parental interaction and improval to enhance their confidence, thus shaping the people that they will become in the future.  This will not only assist them in developing confidence with people, but with their world surrounding them as well. So in reality, a playpen is not the best place for Christopher.  As he grows, it may affect him in negative ways, socially.  His mother may find that he does not trust others, or that he has developed a fear of exploration.  According to Erikson, Christopher could also have feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, as a result of not having control over certain choices such as food, toys, or clothing, which is vital to the beginning stages of independency (about.com).

In my opinion, toddlers are some of the most interesting human beings on earth.  When parents provide them with the freedom to explore is when they will discover how joyful it is to watch their child grow during a crucial stage in development.

Sources:

http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/psychosocial_2.htm

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/toddlers/exploring.cfm

When I become a Mother…

18 Jul

I interviewed my mother for my Infant & Toddler Development assignment.  After the interview, we were required to reflect on it.  Here are my thoughts…

My mother has three children including myself, age 25, my brother Steven who is 15 and my brother John who is 12.

She had me when she was just 17 years old, so I came as quite a shock to my family.  My mother did not have another child until I was 10 years old.  She said she hoped to have at least two children.

Her decision to have three children came because she had felt sorry that I had gone 10 whole years without having a sibling.  Then, when my brother Steven was 3, I had become more of a mother figure to him (after all, we were and are 10 years apart).  I was becoming a teenager and like most teenagers are, I was constantly wanting to be around my friends.

That’s when my mother decided that it was time to have another child, my brother John.  She wanted Steven to have a “buddy”, as she puts it.

My mother’s motives did match some of the motives on page 92 of the Berk text.  She had more than one child because she thought we should have siblings.  One aspect that was interesting was that Yolanda’s grandmother mentioned how if she had settled with only one child, that child may have become spoiled.  She also mentioned that she did not think about having children because everyone had them.

I’ve already mentioned this in my response to another student’s post, but I will repeat.  I feel that people years ago had a lot of children.  My mother is one of 6.  This day in age you have the modern mom.  I feel that the 2012 modern mother thinks A LOT about having children, how many children she should have, and what sort of direction she should take as far as parenting tactics go.  There is nothing wrong with this; mothers just think more carefully now as far as family planning goes, than they did in the past.

I do not have any children of my own yet.  I am getting married next year and excited to start a family as soon as we are settled in a home.  When I am pregnant someday, I can imagine that I will be pretty confident about the kind of parents my husband and I will be.  Some concerns will be involved with the birthing process, as it is a scary thing.  I am sure every women is a bit nervous before they give birth though.

My main concerns will have to do with what will occur when the baby comes home.  Can my husband and I be on the same page?  Will I be an extremely paranoid mother?  What sort of changes will my body go through mentally and physically?  Also, will I be a better parent than my parents were to me?  My biggest fear is becoming my mother.  She was not a terrible mother, but she was not the kind of mother that I want to be to my kids.

As it states on page 121 in the Berk text, many parents look to negative experiences from their own childhood in order to understand how they can do it differently.  I really do appreciate the idea about the marital workshops for expectant parents.  That is something I would love to get involved in when my fiance/soon to be husband decide to have a child.

References

Berk, E., Laura. Infants and Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood. 7th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. 2012.

The Dangers of Consuming Alcohol While Pregnant

10 Jul

This is my latest research for a written assignment I completed for my Infant & Toddler Development course.  I thoroughly explain the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.  I honestly believe it is not that difficult to wait 9 months to have a cocktail.  Think before you act Mommies…

Fetal alcohol syndrome has caused devastating effects in children, causing abnormalities in brain functioning.  This includes, but not limited to, activity that’s associated with transferring messages from one side of the brain to another (Berk, page 109, 2012).  As a child with FAS becomes of age to attend school, they tend to have poor motor coordination, and difficulties processing information.  In many cases, this means extremely hard times for these children, as they exhibit poor performances in their studies.  Couples that wish to be parents, or at least mothers expecting should avoid drinking alcohol completely (Berk, 2012).

The following studies confirm the long-term effects FAS has on school children.  It is with hopes that those planning a pregnancy will not only take this information seriously, but utilize it when faced with the decision of whether or not they should have a drink while pregnant.

Abusing alcohol is a dangerous habit, but when a mother is drinking for two, it does pose additional risks to her unborn baby.  According to a PubMed Health article on ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’, when a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol easily passes across the placenta to the fetus.  With reports of 25 percent of U.S. mothers drinking during their pregnancies, it is more likely that there are many children out there whom are diagnosed with developmental disorders as a result (Berk, 2012 page 109).

Alcohol is one of the many teratogens that can cause damage to a child during a prenatal period.  Table 3.4 on page 109 in the Berk text shows that children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are given one of three diagnoses: fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), partial fetal alcohol syndrome (p-FAS), or alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).  These diagnoses differ in the severity of symptoms such as: slow physical growth, brain injury, and some, if not all three of these facial abnormalities—short eyelid openings, a thin upper lip, and smooth or flattened philtrum.  The diagnostic p-FAS contain two facial abnormalities and some brain injury.  ARND only contains some brain injury, and FAS, the most serious of the three diagnoses, contains slow physical growth, some brain injury, and all three facial abnormalities (Berk, 2012).

The brain injury which results from FAS can affect areas of functioning that are imperative for children that are trying to learn—for example, memory, delayed language development, poor attention span, difficulties planning and reasoning, poor motor coordination, and minimal social skills (Berk, 2012).

But why exactly are children so affected by exposure to alcohol while in the womb?

A journal from the Fetal Alcohol Disorders Society explained how FAS children may have learning disabilities in these four areas: input of information, integration, memory, and output, all of which are crucial for completing simple tasks.

A case study proves that a child with FAS having difficulties processing and outputting is quite normal.  For instance, let’s say a child is asked to transfer toys from the living room into the toy box in her bedroom.  The expected behavior of this child would be to either: go into the bedroom and forget what to do, or go into the living room and arrange the cushions on the couch.

These actions of a FAS child are the result of changes to the central nervous system.  A study was conducted at UW-Madison where they exposed a chick embryo to alcohol.

“We found that calcium released by alcohol has an immediate and devastating effect on certain neurological cells,” says Susan Smith, a professor of nutritional sciences in UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “In this study we show clearly the source and the target of the calcium, and we also show that the pathways of cell death overlap with some of the pathways that give the addictive and rewarding properties of alcohol.”

The finding that alcohol acts through similar pathways to both kill embryonic cells and affect adult brain function suggests that researchers may be able to predict how alcohol will affect neurons, Smith says. And she adds, “The shared signaling is consistent with concerns that prenatal alcohol exposure could increase a person’s desire for alcohol rewards later in life.” (UW- Madison News, 2005).

The researchers examined the embryos under a microscope thoroughly to observe how the calcium released by the alcohol affected the developing neurological tissue.

“We immediately saw a flood of calcium, and within the first second we saw that certain brain cells were affected, and died shortly afterward – and those cells are not regenerated. It only took one dose of about .3 percent alcohol, which by human standards is high but achievable, especially for alcoholics,” explains Garic-Stankovic (UW- Madison News, 2005).

According to the UW-Madison, fetal alcohol syndrome is even more common than Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy.  FAS is the leading cause of mental retardation in much of the world, occurring two to three times in every thousand live births in the United States (UW- Madison News, 2005).

Recent research also implies that if an unborn child is exposed repeatedly to even low amounts of alcohol, problems can still occur.  This includes issues regarding learning, judgment, and attention disorders—many of which are unrecognizable until the child is four or five years old (UW- Madison News, 2005).

Thankfully, there are teaching tactics to help the development of children with FAS.  For example, strategies such as visual cues may enhance language development, rhyme and music for memory and integration, scripted plays to exercise social skills, and the use of videotapes to instruct certain concepts (Fall, 1991).

Although treatment for these children is available, it should be absolutely necessary for pregnant women to be educated on the genetic and environmental consequences that result from drinking alcohol during the prenatal period.  Hopefully if they become aware of these long-term effects, it could possibly cause a decline in mothers choosing to drink while expecting.

Sources:

UW-Madison News, S. S. (2005, August 9). Study suggests broader damage from fetal alcohol syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.news.wisc.edu/11394

Fall, D. (1991). A.d.a.m. medical encyclopedia.. Retrieved from http://www.faslink.org/j.htm

Vorvick, L. J. (2011, August 15). Pubmed health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001909/

We are Responsible for Who Our Children Become

13 Jun

After reading this chapter in my textbook for my Infant and Toddler Development class, it amazes me on how many factors can affect a child’s environment.  It is kind of frightening actually, as a child can be enormously affected by factors that they have no control over. According to the journal by Knafo and Plomin, a child’s prosocial behavior is heavily influenced from the parenting styles chosen by his or her mother and father.  This makes me want to be the perfect parent.

I believe this is a fear of mine, but isn’t it the fear of anyone who will be a parent someday?  I am absolutely petrified that I will not raise my children in the “ideal” fashion.  It’s kind of funny of how I am not ashamed to admit that in the least bit–how very vulnerable of me!

I strongly believe that genetics does affect the environment.  As explained on page 85 in the Berk text, passive correlation is when values are instilled in children when they have no control over it.  The book uses the example of a child inheriting athletic abilities or interests because their parent(s) had emphasized outdoor activities.  However, what if the passive correaltion is not so positive?  In some cases, violence is hereditary; it is sometimes passed down for more than one generation.  Children cannot control these unfortunate circumstances, which means there is a possibility that they may inherit this quality and become violent themselves.

The other side of this negative passive correlation that I speak of is the simple fact that not every child is affected by it, or they are not always a product of their environment, so to speak.  On page 86, it states that “accumulating evidence reveals that the relationship between heredity and environment is not a one-way street, from genes to environment to behavior”.  Both affect one another; it is biodirectional.  It was proven in the study on page 86 that unfavorable genetic-environment correalation can be uncoupled through good, caring, parenting strategies.  Through good parenting, positive experiences are bestowed among children, which “modify the expression of heredity”.  For example, a child may have had negative passive-correaltion from their biological parents.  Let’s say he or she was then adopted by a kind, loving family that treated them in a positive manner–this could very well result in prosocial behavior rather than aggression, or other unfavorable attitudes.

As mentioned in the Berk text, genes affect children’s behavior and experiences, but their experiences and behavior also affect gene expression.  So, I while I do agree that genetics affects the environment, I also believe in the biodirectional theory; that the environment affects genetics as well.  I am a walking example of this.  My childhood was not perfect, but who’s is anyway?  I made a huge promise to myself–my kids will have it a lot better than I did, and I strongly believe that I am the only one who is responsible for this outcome.

Berk, E., Laura. Infants and Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood. 7th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. 2012.

Knafo, Ariel, and Robert Plomin. “Prosocial Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood: Genetic and Environmental Influences on Stability and Change.” Developmental Psychology 42.5 (2006): 771-86. Print.

(http://pluto.huji.ac.il/~mshayo/Ebstein3_Prosocial_behavior.pdf)