Mom Enough: Parenting tips, research-based advice + a few personal confessions!
Summary: Dr. Marti Erickson, developmental psychologist and her daughter Dr. Erin Erickson, women’s health nurse practitioner and specialist in maternal-child health, are co-hosts of Mom Enough®. They explore the many facets of motherhood in today’s world – from confronting the daily joys and struggles of helping kids grow up well, to balancing work and family, to considering the big questions of how society views and values mothers and mothering. Marti & Erin use research-based information and a few personal confessions as they and their guests discuss what it means to be "mom enough." As moms, most of us worry at times about whether we're doing things right, second-guessing our parenting approach and blaming ourselves if our children stray or fall short. We worry that we might not be "mom enough". But what does it really mean to be "mom enough"? And is it possible to be "mom too much," to the extent that our kids might not have a chance to build their own skills to navigate life's ups and downs? A new, free audio show is posted every Monday with expert guests who address topics related to children’s heath, development and learning. Listen to Mom Enough at www.MomEnough.com. Informational sheets on parenting, health & wellness, child development and safety are available under Resources on our web site.
Does your child struggle with homework, seem fidgety much of the time, or look dazed when directed to do something? Perhaps you (and your child’s teachers) need help in figuring out the optimal ways your child learns. Are auditory skills strong? Does your child learn best with visual cues and demonstrations? Or maybe touching things and going through physical practice (kinesthetic learning) is necessary for success. Are there subject areas in which your child shows a strong interest and learns easily? Then maybe it is time for you and your child’s teachers to pull together to create more opportunities for your child to experience success, both academically and socially. Granted, some children struggling with schoolwork have a learning disability and need (and have the right to) special intervention. But this week’s Mom Enough guest, Dr. Elaine Fogel Schneider, knows there are individual differences among kids who do not meet criteria for a learning disability but who could benefit from extra support and analysis of the ways they learn best. And that kind of support is likely to help them find the confidence and joy they deserve. Think of a time when you were learning a new and challenging subject. What strategies were most effective for you? How is that the same as or different than the way your partner or a good friend learns? Now think about your children and how they learn best. In what ways do you and your children’s teachers accommodate their differences and build on their strengths? In what ways could you? Related Resources: Confidence and Joy by Dr. Elaine Fogel Schneider Creating a Home Environment that Promotes School Success tip sheet by Dr. Marti Erickson Ways to Help Children Think About Better Solutions for Difficult Behaviors tip sheet by St. David's Center Bright But Different article by Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain & Dr. Elaine Fogel Schneider
How does a mom rise above a harsh childhood to carve a very different path in raising her three highly successful daughters? This week’s guest has an inspiring story filled with practical tips! Esther Wojcicki, educator, writer and mother of three highly successful daughters, had to overcome a challenging, hurtful childhood and find a way of parenting that was strikingly different than the way she was treated. This involved a great deal of careful reflection (what Marti often talks about as “looking back, moving forward”). Along the way, Esther discovered the T.R.I.C.K.* that she believes propelled her daughters to where they are today. Esther brings this wisdom to her new book, Raising Successful People, and to her heartfelt discussion with Marti & Erin in this week’s Mom Enough episode. * Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, Kindness Think carefully about each of the five components of TRICK. In what ways are you addressing each of those in your relationship with your children? Which components come most easily for you? Which components are most difficult for you and what steps would you take to improve? Related resources: Being a Reflective Parent, Raising Reflective Children tip sheet by Marti Erickson Learning to Play, Playing to Learn - Notes from A Night Out for ME® presentation by Marti Erickson and Erin Erickson Parent's Role in Brain Development tip sheet by St. David's Center Article on Esther Wojcicki
Being a moral person – a person of character – sometimes is defined as “doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” As babies, we all are ego-centric (self-centered), focused on our own immediate needs and feelings. Gradually, we develop the ability to recognize the feelings of others and discover the impact of our own actions on them, laying the foundation for the earliest stage of moral development, when we behave in a certain way to please our parents and other caregivers. So, what do parents and other caring adults need to do to help children move through higher stages of moral development, learn to discern right from wrong and discover the value for self and others in being a person of morality or character? This week’s Mom Enough guest, therapist John Driggs, brings a humble, reflective perspective to this important topic in human development, offering much-needed encouragement and hope for our children’s future. What did you hear in this conversation that prompted you to reflect on how you are supporting your children’s moral development? What factors in today’s world make it hard to teach your children right from wrong? What have you found to be most effective with your children? Related resources: Character Matters: How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity and Other Essential Virtues, book by Thomas Lickona Discussing emotions with children tip sheet from the University of Minnesota Fostering Compassionate Children tips from St. David's Center The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Emotional and Moral Development, book by Richard Weissbourd
You know how essential regular exercise is for a healthy heart and strong body, but do you know that exercise and mental health are also closely linked? Discovering the energy and positive mood that exercise provides can become a powerful motivator to make exercise a habit. Dr. Beth Lewis, psychologist and Director of the School of Kinesiology in the U of M’s College of Education and Human Development, conducts research on how to motivate people to exercise regularly. And recently, she has been studying the effects of exercise on depression in pregnant and postpartum women. Drawing her research on exercise and mental health, Beth joins Marti & Erin for an informative and motivating conversation about ways to stick to an exercise program, how to help your children make exercise a regular part of their routine and how much exercise we need in order to reap optimal benefits for our physical and mental health. How much exercise do you get in a typical week? How about your kids? And how does that measure up to the most recent guidelines, described by Dr. Beth Lewis in this podcast? Think of three small steps you could take to enhance the way exercise is integrated into your family’s daily life. Related resources: College of Education + Human Development Exercise Pregnancy Study, Healthy Mom Program Physical activity guidelines for during pregnancy and postpartum Healthy moms article by Dr. Beth Lewis Maintaining Your Mental Health –For Your Sake and Your Children’s by Marti Erickson
Don’t let anyone tell you that stories about motherhood are boring! As writer and teacher Kate Hopper knows, a motherhood story can make us laugh, cry, nod in agreement and gasp in shock. It sheds new light on familiar experiences and calls us to new adventures. So, for 13 years, Kate has brought outstanding women writers to Minneapolis to read and discuss their work at her annual Motherhood & Words event. Marti & Erin are proud to bring this event to you again this year. Sit back and listen as Anika Fajardo reads from Magical Realism for Non-Believers, her memoir about connecting with her Colombian father, becoming a mother and creating her own kind of family. Enjoy the powerful poems of April Gibson, who wrote about her experiences as a teen mother in her poetry collection Automation. Hear Kate Hopper read from her essay about the power of music in girls’ and women’s lives, drawing together strands from her own recent experience learning to play bass, a groundbreaking all-girl band in the 1970s and a major depression in college. And finally, listen to Janine Kovac read from her memoir Spinning, which weaves together the births of her micro-preemie twins and her history as a professional ballet dancer. What did you hear in these readings that resonated with your own motherhood story and experiences as a woman? What in these readings inspires you to explore something new or to view familiar experiences in new ways? Related resources: Kate Hopper website Anika Fajardo website April Gibson website Janine Kovac website The 12th Annual Motherhood & Words Reading
Women are significantly more likely than men to have co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders, including eating disorders, with implications for how to engage and support women in getting the help they need. Dr. Sarah Wicks, a clinical psychologist at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, joins Marti & Erin in this week’s Mom Enough episode to discuss unique challenges faced by women dealing with addiction and, more broadly, how to approach a loved one (male or female) you believe has a substance use problem. She highlights how to approach the loved one in ways that will help the person be receptive rather than push away. Dr. Wicks also offers special advice for parents who suspect their teen may have problems with alcohol or drugs, pointing out the greater effect of those substances on the brains of people under 25. She introduces Marti & Erin to services tailored to teens and their parents, including outpatient services and phone coaching for parents. Have women or girls in your family or circle of friends faced substance use problems? Other mental health issues? How was that similar to or different from what you have observed with males you have known? What do you think would help to reduce barriers to women getting treatment for addiction and mental health disorders? Related resources: Connection for Families phone-based coaching sessions Teen Intervene education, support & guidance for teens & their parents Women, Alcohol Misuse and Keys to Prevention and Recovery featuring Carrie Kappel Women and Alcohol featuring Jill Seward
When Lenore Skenazy wrote about letting her then nine-year-old son ride the subway alone in New York City, she never imagined the uproar it would cause. But she didn’t let the cries of “bad mother” deter her from her mission of allowing her two sons to explore and flourish and build the life skills needed to navigate their world – to raise free range kids. Now, through her writing, speaking and working creatively with schools and communities, Lenore is leading a movement to back off from helicopter parenting and Let Grow, as she named the nonprofit she and colleagues created. Tune into her lively discussion with Marti & Erin and then reflect on how you can let the children in your life be free range kids! In what ways did you roam freely in your childhood? How are things the same or different for your children, and why? What do you think are the risks of protecting and directing kids so strongly in childhood and adolescence? Related resources: Let Grow Let Grow blog Let Grow schools Free-Range Kids book Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone article by Lenore Skenazy Unleashing the Instinct to Play featuring Peter Gray Supporting Your Child’s Gradual Development of Healthy Independence by Marti Erickson
We all feel anxious at times, worrying about a stressful situation and maybe letting our feelings spiral out of control as we imagine a worst possible outcome. This is true for children, as well as adults; in fact, many studies show that anxiety in kids is on the rise, and at least one in twenty experience serious anxiety, including panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive behavior. When anxiety is persistent and severe, children need professional help. But, whether a child’s anxiety is severe or relatively mild, how parents respond makes a difference. Psychoanalyst Dr. Laurie Hollman has taught graduate courses at NYU and is author of two new companion books, The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anxiety in Children and Teens and The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anger in Children and Teens. She joins Marti & Erin to talk about her 5-step approach, which is very compatible with the “reflective parenting” Marti & Erin speak about so often. One of their favorite parenting nuggets from Laurie is, “The louder you feel like talking, the softer you need to speak.” Listen for more words of wisdom on this important topic! What were Dr. Hollman’s five steps for responding to your child’s anxiety? Think of a recent situation in which you tried to soothe your child’s anxiety. What would you have done differently if you had followed the five recommended steps for responding to anxiety in kids? Related resources: Books by Dr. Laurie Hollman Blog by Dr. Laurie Hollman School Anxiety tip sheet by Marti Erickson Separation Anxiety tip sheet by Marti Erickson Being a Reflective Parent, Raising Reflective Children tip sheet by Marti Erickson
When parents have a child with special needs, they often find that much of their time and energy goes into caring and advocating for that child. And they often experience a wide range of emotions about the daily challenges, hopes and uncertain future for their child. But what about siblings of a child with special needs? What are the common emotional challenges for them? And what are the possible benefits of living with – and learning from – a sibling with special needs? In this Mom Enough show, Lori Brown-De Alba and Angie Bellefeuille from St. David's Center bring years of experience working with children with special needs and their parents and siblings, offering practical tips and helpful resources for parents and other caring adults. Think of a family you know who has a child with special needs, as well as at least one child who is typically developing. What do you notice about the siblings of a child with special needs? For example, does that child seem more caring, patient or mature than most children his or her age? Does the child appear embarrassed by the sibling with special needs or perhaps resentful of the attention that sibling receives? What new insights or practical ideas did you get from this Mom Enough show? Related resources: Autism Resource List with suggested books & websites from St. David's Center Playing with Children with Special Needs tip sheet from St. David's Center Autism Day Treatment Program at St. David's Center Sibling Squabbles tip sheet by Marti Erickson
Before contemplating how to be a happier parent, we should think back to when we decided to become parents. We probably envisioned the fun of playing with our children, laughter and conversations around the dinner table and pride and joy in watching our children grow and learn. But, for many of us, we find those images replaced by days of rushed meals (or just a snack bar in the car), hectic drives from one sports event or music lesson to another and exhausted family members spending more time with their tech devices than with each other. Writer KJ Dell’Antonia, former editor of the New York Times Motherlode blog, wanted to find out what had happened to happiness and what it would take for parents to find the joy they longed for. As she explains in her lively discussion with Marti & Erin on how to be a happier parent, KJ learned that joy comes with small changes – not by doing more, but by doing things differently. And she learned that when parents are happier, kids are too! When are you happiest in your life as a parent? When are you least happy – and maybe sad, angry or resentful? What small changes could you make in your daily life to try to create more genuine happiness for you and your children? Related resources: Book by KJ Dell’Antonia Blog by KJ Dell’Antonia When Parents Disagree about the Best Way to Raise Their Children tip sheet by Marti Erickson Encouragement: The Power Tool of Parenting tip sheet from St. David’s Center Loosening the Reins When Children Become Teens and Young Adults tip sheet by Marti Erickson Recognizing & Managing Parental Stress tip sheet from St. David’s Center
Have you shaken your head in disbelief when kids call the shots and parents allow their children to defy them, berate them or even bully them? Or have you been that parent yourself, allowing your child (tot or teen) to have that authority? Therapist Sean Grover has seen the consequences of this unfortunate parenting approach and, in his practice, has helped many parents reclaim their power, with healthy results for both children and parents. He has pulled together what he has learned in his book, When Kids Call the Shots: How to Seize Control from your Darling Bully and Enjoy Parenting Again. With compassion and clarity, Sean identifies the underlying issues of guilt, anxiety and over-involvement that often lead parents to give up their authority. And he offers practical steps for restoring a healthy balance of power in family relations. Don’t miss Sean’s important and helpful discussion with Marti & Erin! What did Sean identify as common reasons shared by parents for when kids call the shots? How have you experienced those issues of guilt, anxiety or a desire to make things easy for your child? How could it harm a child in the long run to be allowed to bully parents or to always have their way? Related resources: Articles by Sean Grover Effective Communication with Your Adolescent Child tip sheet by Marti Erickson Defiance article by Marti Erickson Dad’s a Softie article by Marti Erickson Demanding 2-year-old article by Marti Erickson
We love this new podcast from Gimlet media, and we think you will love it, too. It’s called Motherhood Sessions, and it is hosted by psychiatrist Dr. Alexandra Sacks. Listeners hear portions of Dr. Sacks' therapy sessions with women struggling with the significant life and identity shifts that accompany motherhood. In this episode preview, Dr. Sacks talks with a mother named Julia. Julia was born in South Korea, but was adopted and raised by a white family. Now that she has her own child—the first biological relative she’s ever known—she’s rethinking her relationship with her own family, and on a search to find her birth mother. Subscribe or follow Motherhood Sessions wherever you listen to podcasts!
Do you have a child or know a child who has been teased or bullied for being “different"? Or did you experience that in your own childhood? What did your parents teach you about embracing differences? Craig Pomranz, a popular New York singer, dancer and actor, saw this happening to his young godson, who had ADHD and also resisted many of the rough and tumble activities boys in his school preferred. But Craig’s godson found a creative way to establish his own unique place among his schoolmates, and Craig turned that true story into a delightful, inspiring children’s book, Made by Raffi, now published in eight languages. That story is just a starting point for Craig’s rich discussion with Marti & Erin about how we can help our children flourish in their individuality and how we can teach them to respect the rights of others to do the same. In what ways have stereotypes limited your own behavior and choices, both when you were young and as an adult? How is that the same or different for your children today? In what ways do you help your children move beyond stereotypes to learn the importance of embracing differences, both for themselves and in accepting other children who are different than they are? Related resources: Fostering Compassionate Children tip sheet from St. David's Center Putting a Stop to Bullying tip sheet by Marti Erickson
Every parent knows the heartache of hearing your baby or toddler cry when you leave them with a sitter for the evening or perhaps even head out of town on a business trip or child-free vacation. But the thought of separating children from their parents forcefully in a highly stressful situation, with no certainty of when – or if – they will be reunited, is almost unimaginable to most of us. Dr. Megan Gunnar, professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, has spent her career studying the biology of stress and the impact of stress hormones on children’s physical, cognitive and emotional development. She joins Marti & Erin today for an important and timely conversation about the biology of separations, highlighting the potentially devastating consequences of the kinds of separations happening to refugee children, while also providing helpful and reassuring information and guidance about more ordinary separations, as well as longer, more challenging separations any family can face. What are some of the unique elements of separating children from their parents at the border that put these children at such great risk for their future development? Considering more usual separations (or even especially difficult situations such as a long hospitalization or a military parent being deployed), what can help children thrive and adapt to those separations without undue threat to their longterm development? Related resources: College of Education + Human Development The stress of separation CEHD Connect magazine interview with Megan Gunnar Keys to Effective Parenting in the Face of Stress and Trauma tip sheet from CEHD Your Children’s Experience of Positive Stress and Toxic Stress featuring Megan Gunnar Separation Anxiety tip sheet by Marti Erickson Supporting Children Experiencing Separation Anxiety tip sheet from St. David’s Center
When your toddler throws a toy in anger – or your teen slams the door and refuses to talk to you – your first impulse may be to yell at them. But how effective is that? And what would be more helpful, both in this situation and for the child’s longterm development? Dr. Jane Nelsen, author of the well-known Positive Discipline book series (and a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother!) helps us move beyond a quick reaction to misbehavior, take a moment to consider the meaning of our child’s behavior and remember to help our child maintain a sense of connection and belonging. With practical examples drawn from her work and personal experience, Jane helps us move toward a new understanding of children’s misbehavior and arrive at discipline practices that support children’s growth and learning and helps us be the thoughtful, sensitive example our children need. Think about a recent situation in which you needed to deal with your child’s misbehavior. What would you say was the meaning of your child’s behavior? To what extent did your response preserve the sense of connection between you and your child? Are there positive discipline tools that you would like to try the next time you encounter a similar situation? Related resources: Positive Discipline Parenting Tool Cards The Whole-Brain Child featuring Dr. Dan Siegel Teaching Children to Be Accountable for their Behavior and Choices tip sheet by Marti Erickson What is a Parent’s Role in Brain Development? tip sheet by St. David’s Center