Scribit Veritas

Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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Backwards Parenting


Many spouses talk about what they want their baby to be like when they find out they are expecting. My husband and I did. We talked about how we would like to have a boy first. We even discussed how cute it would be if he had dark hair. But when we ended up having a daughter with light hair and my husband’s features, we couldn’t have imagined a more perfect child. Most parents experience the same feelings when seeing their babies for the first time.

Unfortunately, in our world of modern technology and medicine, many parents now have the ability to special order babies and choose the features they want their children to have, and they are taking advantage of that. A prime example comes from the story of Melissa Cook who chose to be a surrogate for a 50-year-old man. The man chose to have three male embryos implanted but when all three embryos successfully developed, the man wanted one to be aborted because he didn’t want three children (read the full article here). This story is a sad example of the idea that children are there for parents rather than parents for children.  So many children around the world are left unloved and uncared for because they don’t fit the description of a perfect child.

  • Demographers estimate that 126 million women are missing due to gendercide (also called femicide). That is as many deaths as WWI, WWII, and AIDS combined.
  • Every year, we lose 2 million baby girls to sex-selective abortion and infanticide. That’s 4 girls per minute.
  • In the UK alone, every 10 days, a child is killed by his mom or dad

Noting that it is no coincidence that children are unhappiest in countries such as Britain where the “pursuit of individual success and material goods are paramount, and where child poverty levels remain high,” in 2009 the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan said the following:

“Traditional beliefs have been weakened over recent decades and excessive individualism has filled the void.

The quest for personal success and personal happiness is too often gained at the expense of others.”

Dr. Morgan highlighted the findings of the Good Childhood Inquiry, published earlier this year, which concluded that the root cause of children’s problems was Britain’s “me-first” culture. He goes on to say,

“We may all know the real needs of children, but we frequently refuse to recognise that these often come at a personal cost to ourselves and our own needs and desires – be they compromises in our earning capacity or career development, or commitment to and the need to work at a less than ideal relationship…we need a huge change in our thinking. Parenthood should not be embarked on lightly. It is the commitment of two people both to one another and to the child.”

Though having a child can help make someone’s life more fulfilling and full of savor, it’s important for us as parents to remember: our children aren’t here to give us self-gratification.

We, the parents, are here for our children to love, serve, and teach them.

Our society, as well as others around the world, could learn a thing or two about what it takes to be a parent from Dr. Morgan. Policy makers and child healthcare professionals owe it to society to help “teach young people that parenthood is an awesome responsibility that requires both love and self sacrifice from parents committed to the child and to one another.” It’s true that we need to be teaching “these basic concepts as well as parent-craft, in our schools from an early age, particularly to those who have not experienced it first hand, and not simply informing them about the mechanics of a sexual relationship and contraception divorced from the basic concepts of love, responsibility and self-respect.”

For more information

The Roles, Responsibilities and Rights of Parents

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Personal and Family Goal-Setting


With the start of each new year, many people contemplate the goals they want to accomplish. A journal is a great place to write down our goals. There are several different areas in your life in which setting goals would be beneficial to you and your family. Some examples include

  • Education
  • Career
  • Financial
  • Family
  • Attitude
  • Physical
  • Service

Sometimes goals can be stressful or we don’t think we will complete them. If we take it one day at a time we can complete them, we have to also work on them. Education goals could be finishing up school, or starting college. For one of your children, an education goal might be to raise his or her grade point average. Career could mean you want to get promoted, so you could see what you could do to earn that. Switching jobs also might be an option. Financial goals might be to pay off your debt in a certain amount of time, or create an emergency savings account. Psychology today says, “Research shows that actually setting a specific goal makes us more likely to achieve the things we want, and is important especially when we want to make a change.”

Family goals can be things you want for your family to achieve with each member having the opportunity to contribute. The ACPeds Lead Your Family to Good Health page is a good place to start looking for family health goals you may want your family to to beging working on. Examples include

  • Strengthen your family by nurturing your marriage. Invest TIME with your spouse: dates, walks/strolls, talk time, etc. Your child will benefit.
  • Teach good sleep habits by having a regular bedtime routine with a reasonable “lights out” time. No TV in the bedroom, please!
  • Teach and practice healthful family eating habits. Limit fast food. Serve vegetables and fruit at meals and snacks daily. Model healthful eating yourself.
  • Turn the television off often and limit total screen time (TV, video games, computer) to no more than 1-2 hours per day. You’ll be pleased with the conversations that develop.
  • Get outside with your child. Take a walk in the neighborhood, go fishing, go cycling, play a recreational sport, plant a garden . . .
  • Be involved in your child’s life. Coach a team, drive car pool, be a room mom or dad, teach Sunday School, get to know his/her friends . . .
  • Protect your child’s mind. Monitor TV programs, scrutinize movies (even at a friend’s home), and place an Internet filter on your computer.

Attitude goals can include trying not to get upset or angry at your family or  finding more ways you can be nice to your family. If your family does not serve you, you can choose to always be the one to be nice and serve them. This could be making their bed, or doing something to help them out. Physical goals could be to see a specialist to treat your acne, lose weight, get a gym membership, eating healthy, and taking better care of your health. Research shows that having a positive atttitude can have a positive affect on goal achievement.

When it comes to goals, as well as other pursuits in life, we need to have a positive attitude. Aim to always acknowledge the positive sides of things. 

Service goals can be helping your family or those in your community. You can choose to serve others year round. This can also benefit your mood. Writing down how you feel after serving is a great way to see how you made a difference in the community for that year. It is also important to take care of your mental health so consider making mental health goals that can help you better yourself and your family.

Goals are great for the new year, and discussing goals with your spouse and children is a great way to bond.

Be sure to write them down and refer back to when necessary. It’s important that you and your children work toward goals together whenever possible. Not only will it build character and resilience in your children, but the relationships within the family–between spouses, between siblings, and between parent and child–will also grow closer as a result. 

For more information:

Developing the Right Attitude to Support Goal Achievement

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The Importance of Gender


These numbers are from a National Health Service clinic in the UK that helps those who believe they were born the wrong gender (1).

  • 167 children under 10 years old received transgender treatment in the past year
  • The number of young children being seen has nearly doubled from 87 in the previous 12 months
  • 3 pre-school infants are among those who were referred to NHS clinic

That is depressing!

There is no way a three year old is developmentally able to make a life changing decision as serious as changing genders. Three year olds are barely able to understand the difference between males and females. Why do adults allow their children to do something so drastic before they can even tie their shoes?

Last year, the Obama administration sent a letter to all the public school districts in America demanding that they “allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity, as opposed to their birth certificate” (2). The letter is clarifying the expectations of how to comply with the Title IX provision that “prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal funding.” The letter further states that “there is no obligation for a student to present a specific medical diagnosis or identification documents that reflect his or her gender identity, and equal access must be given to transgender students even in instances when it makes others uncomfortable.”

This threat is adding to the gender confusion that is swarming society.

There is a great article that is titled and then outlines “21 Reasons Why Gender Matters”(3). It states 4 foundational principles. These principles are:

  • Gender differences exist; they are a fundamental reality of our biology and impact our psychology. Our maleness and femaleness is a key aspect to our personhood.
  • Acknowledging, rather than ignoring (or worse denying), gender differences is the only intellectually honest response to this reality.
  • Gender differences are complementary; individuals, our collective humanity, and society as a whole, all benefit from masculine and feminine characteristics. We are better for having men with a clear understanding of their masculinity and women with a clear understanding of their femininity.
  • Gender identity confusion does exist in a small minority of individuals. It is a painful pathology and warrants a compassionate response. However it is not the ‘normative’ experience and is not therefore a paradigm upon which to drive social policy and institutions.

 Gender does matter!

Though the world we live in may try to blur the lines of gender and confuse children and adults on the importance of their own biological gender, we must continue to help our children see the importance of their being male or female. Gender is not something that should be changed; it is something innate in ourselves.

It is an essential characteristic of our identity as human beings.

For more information:

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10 Potty Training Tips

potty-trainingPotty training is another milestone in your child’s life. It is important to make sure your child is ready for potty training.

Through this long process it is key that you as a parent remain patient.

Although every child is different, most children are ready to begin toilet training between 2 and 3 years of age. However, parents should never force a child to sit on the potty seat or toilet, which might cause the child to resist being toilet trained. It is very important that parents let the child decide when he is ready; and then parents can encourage his attempts. When your child begins telling you when he is wet or dirty and that his diaper needs to be changed, and he is staying dry for more than 2 – 3 hours, you can encourage his learning by using the following tips.

1. Educate your toddler. Before you start potty training your toddler it is important to educate them. Borrow potty books from the library. Show your child by using the bathroom yourself; and then do a potty dance to show your enthusiasm.

2. Buy a potty seat if you don’t already have one.  You can use a potty seat that fits on the toilet, or a potty chair. There are also portable toilets for toddlers to use when you are out and about.

3. Allow your child to choose big kid pants with his or her favorite character; and ditch the diapers. Continuing to use diapers may only confuse your child at this point. Even pull-ups are a better option because they are different from the diapers which signifies to the child that they must use them differently (i.e., not relieve themselves in them)

4. Use pull ups and mattress covers for night time.

5. Use positive reinforcement. Consider giving your child a positive reward (stickers or toy) for successful attempts. Rewards can really help a child overcome any resistance to toilet learning. Let your child help choose the reward so it is something she will want to earn.

6. Show your child that bowel movements from his diaper go into the toilet. You can let your child flush the toilet as part of his learning.

7. But be careful as some children feel fearful of toilets flushing. Some may think they have “lost” a precious part of them; while others may fear the loud noises a toilet makes. If your child is afraid of the big toilet, get a small size toilet.

8. Don’t get upset with accidents. Instead say to your child, “It’s ok, accidents happen” and clean up the mess. Remind your child to use the bathroom in the morning, before going to bed, and before getting in the car.

9. Be prepared. Always have an extra outfit, and underwear when going out.

10. Leave the rest of the learning up to your child. If you see any resistance, immediately stop talking to your child about any aspect of toileting and wait until she is interested.

Potty training is an entirely new venture for little ones. They’ve just begun to get used to this new world and now they must change everything they once knew about going to the bathroom, an act that is second nature to most adults.  While some parents may be successful at the “diaper free weekend” approach, potty training may take a week, a month or more for some families.

If your child is resisting using the toilet, remember that this is one area of her life that she alone can control. You can never force your child to use the toilet – so it is best to just stop trying! Approximately 75% of children have attained daytime control of their urine and bowel movements between 3 and 4 years of agel, but 25% of children are still not interested in using the toilet.

Be patient with your child and try not to compare him to others. Every child is different and will potty train in his or her own time.

For more information:

2 Year Olds

Potty Training

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Learning to Manage the Family Money


In a sense, today’s culture is all about spending money. We all have to have the newest phone, the designer clothes, and the fastest car. Many people spend more money than they have and the families and marriages suffer because of it. Money issues are the third leading cause of all divorces according to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis 1 and research shows that parents can pass bad money habits to their kids.2

The following are good principles and practical ideas to help parents manage the family’s money.

  1. Learn to manage money before it manages you3
    • Learn self-discipline and self-restraint. “Do not confuse wants with needs… If we are not careful, it is easy for our wants to become needs. Remember the line ‘There, there, little luxury, don’t you cry. You’ll be a necessity by and by.’”4
    • Financial peace of mind is not determined by how much we make, but is dependent upon how much we spend.3
    • Heber J. Grant has said: “If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means, and if there is any one thing that is grinding, and discouraging and disheartening it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet.”4
  1. Use a budget3 (This link is to a budget worksheet)
    • Every family must have a predetermined understanding of how much money will be available each month and the amount to be spent in each category of the family budget.
    • A budget helps you plan and evaluate your expenditures.
    • Budget for a specified period (such as weekly, biweekly, monthly), according to your pay schedule.
    • Balance income with expenditures, and spend less than you earn.
  1. Pay off your debts (This link is to a debt elimination calendar)
    • Once you pay off one debt, use that money to pay off another.
    • Work toward home ownership3
    • Home ownership qualifies as an investment, not consumption. Buy the type of home your income will support.3
  1. Build an emergency fund
    • Start with $1,000 and work towards having enough savings to cover 3-6 months’ worth of expenses.3
    • It is most important to have sufficient medical, automobile, and homeowner’s insurance and an adequate life insurance program.3
  1. Teach your children
    • Fred Gosman has said, “Children who always get what they want will want as long as they live.”4
    • Teach children while they are young the importance of working and earning.
    • Help your children save for their futures (college).
    • Teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend.1
      • Based upon appropriate teaching and individual experience, children should be responsible for the financial decisions affecting their own money and suffer the consequences of unwise spending.3
  1. Save for continuing education
    • This is money well invested. Based on potential lifetime earnings, the hours spent in furthering your education will be very valuable indeed.3
    • College tuitions and housings expenses continue to rise. Don’t let college sneak up on you. Saving now will put you ahead of the game when your kids graduate from high school.5
    • Teach your children to save for college.
  1. Be generous in giving and sharing with others
    • C.S. Lewis said: “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. … If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, … they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”
    • Simply put,

Build wealth, become insanely generous, and leave an inheritance for future generations.5


For more information see:
5 http://www.daveramsey/.com/baby-steps/
Budget worksheet:
Debt elimination calendar:
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Drafting a Family Mission Statement


A mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual. Therefore, a family mission statement is a summary of the goals and values of a family. It encapsulates the rights, roles and responsibilities of each family member in addition to the family as a whole. Important features of a family mission statement include

  • brevity: the statement should be precise and concise, getting the basic points across without using too many words
  • values: principles, ethics & standards of parent & child behavior; the important things in life
  • goal: purpose, objective, aim or desired result

“A family mission statement sums up what we believe and how we choose to live, giving clarity to children and parents alike.” – Wendy Speake

When life gets crazy, a family mission statement can act as an anchor that reminds a family where their focus should be. According to the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, a feeling of “connectedness”  with parents was the primary factor that helped protect teens from becoming involved in any high-risk behavior (including drug and alcohol use and sexual activity). A family mission statement can help foster a feeling of connectedness between members, decreasing the liklihood of behavioral problems from kids and marital problems between parents.

Our children and adolescents are listening, especially if we practice what we preach. Drafting a family mission statement can give parents an opportunity to explain and explore values with their children and the best way to do so is for all members to collaborate, from the youngest to the oldest.

Creating a family mission statement is easier said than done and it’s likely the process will take a significant amount of time. If necessary, dedicate a a couple weeks or even a month to having family discussions, jotting down notes, making a draft and finalizing the statement.

The following steps may assist you in drafting your own family mission statement.

  • Have a special family meeting with in depth discussion
    • Questions to ask include
      • What do we value most?
      • What do we need to be doing in order to be our
      • best selves?
      • What do we stand for?
      • What do we want our family to do?
  • Make a list of values and ideas that are important to your family
    • each member should participate in this process
    • examples include
  • Condense list into roughly 10 or fewer ideas that are most significant
  • Write out your statement, proofread & make final edits
  • Finalize and hang family mission statement in a prominent place in the house
  • Refer to statement daily & redraft if/when appropriate (rarely and with reservation)

Each step could take place on a different day during a different family meeting, or the whole process can take place in one day. It’s up to you; but remember, take as much time as you need because (hopefully) your family will look to the statement for years to come.

For more information:
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Family Activities for Winter Break Fun


Finding a way to keep children entertained during the holidays can be tough. We might want children to watch television so we can get to cooking or get other things done around the house. However, instead of keeping kids up in front of the television we can plan activities for the children.

Some ways to reduce screen time and get children up:

  • Set Screen time Limits and be an example.
  • Focus on family time during the meals and keep the television off. (Research shows that families who eat together tend to eat more nutritious meals)
  • Get outside and do activities such as sledding, ice skating, snowboarding. Or just play in the snow and build an igloo or snowman.
  • Spend time with family. This could include playing with siblings or cousins when visiting extended family. Playing a board game is another great way for kids to stay active and not be in front of the television. Another idea is to dance to the radio. Have a talent show for the family and include singing, dancing, or playing an instrument.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or another organization during the holidays.
  • Decorate the house together.
  • Go to the library and get books for children to read about the holiday.
  • Work on Art Projects. Examples from my childhood are colored Styrofoam. shaped like trees and snowflakes with markers. You could also find ideas on Pinterest.
  • Find a new recipe or decorate cookies.

For more information:

20 Christmas Games Your Whole Family Will Love

21 Things to Do During Christmas Break

14 Easy Christmas Crafts for Kids to Make

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Gifts for the Mind


The best gifts are those that give knowledge and experiences. Extracurricular activities such as dance, or a special science program are educational experiences that can benefit children intellectually and developmentally.

For example, “Studies have shown that dancing can improve memory and everyday performance, in addition to reducing dementia risk over the long-term,” according to Dr. Cynthia Green, a leading expert in brain health. 

Creative gift ideas for children can encourage learning and give children positive experiences to remember for a lifetime. Some ideas include:

  • Dance Class/Zumba
  • Taking a trip as a family
  • Visiting a historical site
  • Taking an art class
  • Signing your child up for music lessons. Let your child choose the instrument.
  • Going to a symphony concert can alsobe beneficial to learn and appreciate music, especially if your child is already playing an instrument.
  • Visiting a museum. The National Air and Space Museum is a great place for children if able to travel.
  • Visiting a zoo or an aquarium can help encourage discovery and scientific exploration. Children can gain environmental awareness as well.
  • Role-playing toys like doctor sets, fix-it toys, baby dolls and kitchen equipment. Gifts that encourage role-playing and pretending strengthen a child’s imagination and mental processing and can also help children learn important life skills.

Research shows that reading is beneficial for language and brain development. When parents encourage their young children to read, these children grow up to perform better in school. Lifelong reading has also been shown to reduce the risk of alzheimers in old age. Books are great gifts as well because they also provide children with knowledge and experiences. In addition, books can even help teach children about good values and having good character. Some interesting non-fiction book ideas for children include books on the following subjects:

  • Sports: how-to & self-improvement, autobiographies and biographies on accomplished athletes
  • Music & the Arts: dance, instruments, singing, producing, orchestra, autobiographies and biographies on accomplished musicians, how-to & self-improvement, drawing, painting
  • Hobbies: sewing, jewelry making, stamp collecting, hiking,
  • Plants & Animals, Nature
  • Books on proverbs from different cultures around the world can help children gain wisdom. Personalized religious texts can also serve as gifts for those family who ascribe to a particular religion.
  • Relationships: being a sibling, talking to parents, making friends, waiting for marriage

When children feel loved by their parents, they feel secure and are more confident in trying new activities.

This holiday season and for every day of the year, the best gift you can give your children is unconditional love.


For more information:

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Stepfamilies: Ensuring a Happy, Blended Holiday Season


Holiday’s can be stressful for stepfamilies, especially since children may have to go with an ex or ex spouse for the holidays.

Some tips found online include:

  1. Plan early where the children will go for the holidays.
  2. Don’t make promises in the family you can’t keep. Be realistic with plans.
  3. Create new holiday traditions. Also keep old ones.
  4. Discuss with current spouse how much you will be spending on each child.
  5. One way to save money and avoid competition with the biological parent is to discuss gift choices and split costs.

Family is family, and you should love one another. Stepparents should love all their children whether they are biological or not.

Additional holiday tips for blended and divorced families include

  • Use technology-for those who are not able to see their children in person. Skype, Facetime, and Google hangouts are great video chat resources for communication between parents and their children in different areas of the country.
  • If parents have different holidays and religious views – celebrate both. Each parent can choose what they celebrate, and include their children in the festivities.
  • Working together and communicating can help stepfamilies be able to help the stress during the holiday season.
  • Negotiate and compromise. Just because you don’t celebrate on the date doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate together as a family on a different date. For example, children with divorced parents can celebrate Christmas on two different days if one parent has to work.

The organization Help Guide says, “Let the kids know that you and your ex-spouse will continue to love them and be there for them throughout their lives.” Don’t favorite one child over the others. All children deserve to be treated equal whether or not they are your biological child and children should have different wish-lists for each side of the family.

Some questions to think about with divorce and blended families from Helpline.

  1. Who is picking up the kids, where, and at what time?
  2. Will the parent who doesn’t have the kids on a certain holiday have contact with them on that day?
  3. How will grandparents and step-grandparents be involved?
  4. When does the holiday start and end?

Have a positive attitude about the other household. Don’t guilt your child into going to see other family.  “Do what you can and accept what you cannot change.” This is the best advice when making holiday arrangements with ex spouses and step families.

For more information:

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Family Recreation (pt. 2): The Logistics

family-recreation2Aristotle described the good life as being characterized by the habit of virtuous action. Today there is too much focus on feeling good. We choose activities and purchase things that make us feel good. This isn’t what makes us happy though. With the rise of materialism in society, there has also been a rise of depression throughout the nation.

The good life, according to Aristotle, contains leisure that is intellectually simulating, creative, moral, and conductive to good human relationships. Aristotle stated what modern research has confirmed, “Virtue-not seeking pleasure, but doing good-is what will help you be happy.” We can learn to incorporate all of these aspects into our family activities.


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory

When we are working on something we need to find our flow; we need to balance the challenge of our task with our skill level. When our skill levels are high and the challege is low, we are bored. If the task is too far above our skill level we get anxious or frustrated. We have the best experience when our skill level and the task’s challege are balanced, or we have reached flow. (see diagram below)

Flow is characterized by challenge, merging of action with environment, clear goals and feedback, concentration on the task, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, and transformation of time. We need to be doing activities that allow us to reach flow. This can be a challenge for families of differing skill levels to all reach flow while doing the same activity. Parents can have older children teach younger children how to play, they can let children participate in helping older family members play the game (moving pieces, picking up the cards), or they can break up the family into groups based on skill level.

Keeping these principles in mind as we plan family activities can help make the experience more enjoyable for the whole family.

For the full article see:

Image from: (camping family) (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory)

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