Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Will I Ever Get Some Sleep?

In talking with numerous parents of young children over the years, I think the #1 question I get is "How can I get my baby to sleep?" Parents are sleep-deprived, struggling with exhaustion, and out of patience with their baby’s lack of sleep. And moms are hit doubly hard because they’ve just come through all the sleep problems that can be associated with pregnancy. Fortunately, there’s a great book available that can help expectant and new parents cope with sleep disturbances. Sleep Deprived No More: From Pregnancy to Early Motherhood—Helping You and Your Baby Sleep Through the Night shows that restful sleep can be achieved, both during pregnancy and after birth. Topics include:

An Introduction to Sleep, which explains how we sleep and tips for improving sleep.

Sleep and Pregnancy
, which explains sleep problems and solutions for each trimester of pregnancy.

Solving Common Sleep Problems
, which addresses issues such as restless legs syndrome, snoring, sleep apnea and more.

After the Baby Is Born
, which addresses the sleep problems of babies in the first six weeks, from 6 weeks to 6 months, and getting your baby to sleep through the night.

Author Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D., is the associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University. She has also written books on sleep issues with older children, including Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens and Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

Sleep Deprived No More
is an excellent resource that will give hope to all the expectant and new parents who are fearful they may never sleep well again. And the tips and advice are practical and realistic so that all parents can follow them. Every doctor should be handing this book to his or her pregnant patients!

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Teaching Our Children Real-World Skills

It seems like only yesterday that I was heading off to college. Now, I can hardly believe that my first-born son is doing the same. I attended orientation with him last week, and the parents were given a lot of materials and talks about how to help their child succeed in college. Fortunately, we live in a college town, and my son will be living at home, so we won’t have to deal with homesickness (although I don’t think that would be a problem with my son), roommate conflicts, too much partying, etc. But I’m sure there will still be some adjustment issues to deal with—both for him and for us, his parents.

Many college freshmen find it difficult to adjust to the lack of “hand-holding” in college. They’ll be expected to know the material in the textbook, even if the teacher doesn’t lecture on it. They’ll be expected to show up for class, even if the professor doesn’t take attendance. They’ll have to cope with being one of several hundred students in certain classes, and learn that if they want to get to know the teacher, they’ll have to take advantage of office hours. And, hopefully, they’ll embrace campus life by joining some clubs, hanging out in the Student Union, getting together with classmates, etc.

I’ve also found that today’s kids, mine included, need to learn about some of the essential life skills that they don’t learn in school. These might include:

Balancing a bank account, paying bills and managing money
Doing laundry
Getting their own household supplies, like toothpaste and soap
Juggling work and schoolwork
Taking care of a car
Seeking their own medical care
. . . and much more!

In many ways, I know that I could have prepared my son better for these things. With three kids after my firstborn, and as a single mother for nine years with my first two, it was sometimes easier just to do things myself rather than teach them to the kids. But I realize that this approach wasn’t very beneficial for them because now they are more resistant to learning these things! So, as I show my adult son how to order checks for his checking account, I resolve to do a better job of preparing my other three boys for survival in the “real world” . . . whether they like it or not!

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What Were You Thinking When You Named Your Child?

Selecting a name for your child can be difficult. Of course, if there are two parents involved, you’ll need to pick a name that’s agreeable to both of you. But beyond that, there are other things to consider. Will the name sound too “trendy” ten years down the road? Will it result in an undesirable nickname? Will your child’s name affect the respect that he or she receives as an adult? Do you want to carry on a family name? Most parents think very carefully before making this important decision.

Some parents, however, seem to take this task less seriously. Fortunately, the New Zealand courts have stepped in when parents’ brains have stepped out. One divorcing couple temporarily lost custody of their 9-year-old daughter until she was renamed. It seems that their child, Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii, was so embarrassed by her name that she refused to give it to her friends, insisting instead that they call her simply “K.” Justice Robert Murfitt ruled that the name “makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap.”

But Talula’s parents aren’t the only ones who have saddled their poor child with a horrible name. Other names given to children in New Zealand include Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay and Violence. There’s even a set of twins named Benson and Hedges. Fortunately, the registrar general of Births, Deaths and Marriages refused to accept the names Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, and Stallion. Names that are more than 100 characters, include punctuation or numbers, or are considered offensive “to a reasonable person” are also rejected.

The baby-naming game is big business now. Some parents even hire baby-naming consultants to help them select names that are somewhat unique but not in poor taste. Perhaps some day we’ll go back to giving our kids names like John and Mary and Thomas and Jill. But, until that day comes, the courts may need to decide if we’ve chosen our child’s name wisely.

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