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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  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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Myths of Marriage

marriage mythsIn the first chapter of his book, “The Great Marriage Tune-up Book,” Jeffry H. Larson presents 10 myths about marriage. These myths, if believed, can sustain and even create problems in marriages.

Here are the myths and why they are incorrect:

1. If my spouse loves me, he should instinctively know what I want and need to be happy.
No one is a mind reader. Your spouse will not be able to just automatically know what you want or need from them. The best thing you can do for your spouse is to clearly and respectfully tell them what you need.

2. No matter how I behave, my spouse should love me simply because she is my spouse.
This is an excuse to not make changes in yourself. How you behave towards your spouse will ultimately determine how much they love you. If you strive to be kind, respectful, and loving towards your spouse, they are more likely to love you in return.

3. I can change my spouse by pointing out his inadequacies, errors, and other flaws.
No one likes their flaws pointed out as we are all aware of our deficiencies. The more you nag your spouse about changing, the more it will become a power struggle, thus decreasing the chances change will occur. It is better to point out the good things your spouse does, as this encourages that preferable behavior to continue.

4. My spouse either loves me or doesn’t love me; nothing I do will affect the way she feels about me.
This is another excuse to not make needed changes in yourself. It is best to act lovingly towards your spouse so your spouse will want to love you back.

5. The more my spouse discloses positive and negative information to me, the closer I will feel to her and the greater our marital satisfaction will be.
Negative comments have much more effect than do positive ones. The ratio of positivity to negativity in happy marriages is five to one. This means for every one negative comment, you need to say at least five positive things to make up for it. So, it is better to focus on the positive things and only say something negative if it is necessary and remember to say it as respectfully as possible.

6. I must first feel better about my partner before I can change my behavior toward him.
The best way to change your feelings toward your spouse is to change your behaviors towards him. If you act more lovingly towards your spouse your feelings of love will also increase.

7. Maintaining romantic love is the key to marital happiness over the life span for most couples.
Romantic love is important, but for marriages to last companionate and altruistic love are also necessary.

8. Marriage should always be a 50-50 partnership.
There will be times in marriage that one spouse cannot give equal input because of sickness, work, etc. It is best for couples to not keep a running score of who owes who what as this leads to unhappiness. Couples should always strive to give 100% of their efforts to making their marriage the best it can be.

9. Marriage can fulfill all of my needs.
Marriage is the right place for many of your needs to be met. Some needs are better met by appropriate others.

10. Couples should keep their problems to themselves and solve them alone.
Problems will arise in marriage. Some problems cannot be solved alone and are best solved by help from a clergy or marriage therapist before the marriage suffers too much from this problem.

Being able to see past these myths allows individuals to look at their marriage from a realistic perspective. This permits individuals to see where they need to make changes in themselves to improve their marriage relationship with their spouse.

Image from: https://susiesheartpathblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/myths-marriage.jpg

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The Importance of Playtime

kids running playingIn 2009 Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote an article entitled “The Serious Need for Play” that was published in the Scientific American Magazine. In the article she argues that free play which is unstructured and imaginative, is important for children to be able to grow into happy adults. Children today have less free play time because they are participating in more structured activities and games that have established rules at younger ages. Free play has no set rules so it allows for more creative responses.

Benefits of free play:

  • Interacting with their peers in free play allows children to learn to be fair and to take turns. Children want to continue playing so they are more willing “to accommodate others’ desires” into the play.
  • Free play fosters creativity.
  • Play fighting improves problem solving skills.
  • Imaginative play with peers encourages language development as children have to use complicated language to explain what they are imagining; more so than when they are playing with an adult who can understand with less explaining.
  • Free play is important to emotional health because it helps children overcome anxiety and stress.
  • Play makes kids smarter.
  • “Play is a way in which children learn and in the absence of play, children miss learning experiences.”

So what can parents do?

  • Develop neighborhood networks. This is done by getting to know your neighbors and creating safe environment for your children to play in.
  • Enroll children in fewer structured activities.
  • Encourage children to invite their friends over.
  • Create more spaces for children to play.
  • Turn off the television.

 

For the full article see: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-serious-need-for-play/

Image from: http://media.safebee.com/assets/images/2015/5/kids%20playing%20outside.jpg.838x0_q67_crop-smart.jpg

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Teaching Forgiveness

 

When I was the ripe old age of eleven, I can remember coming home from school one day in tears, because my best friend had said something that hurt my feelings.  My mother, who had a gift for delivering 2 to 3 sentence lectures that really hit home, put her arms around me, listened to my story, and then asked me two questions.  “Would you ever say something on purpose to hurt your friend?”accept apology u never got quote

I thought for a moment and then shook my head.  Of course I wouldn’t do that.  Not on purpose!  “What makes you think that she was trying to hurt you?  You need to forgive her.”  I spent the rest of the evening thinking about what my mom had asked me to do.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my friend probably had no idea that she had offended me.  She would feel terrible if she knew.  I loved my friend and I would forgive her and no apology was necessary.

As an adult, I have tried to remember my mother’s words every time I find myself feeling offended by another’s behavior.  I remind myself that I am human and make mistakes and I want others to forgive me. I remind myself that what is done is done and can’t be taken back.  I think about the good things that this person has done for me, and how much I appreciate them. I decide that I don’t need an apology and I can just let it go.

Taking offense places a burden on our hearts.  Forgiveness removes that burden and gives us peace.  Our children need to learn this lesson.

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Picky Eater

My nieces and nephews are very picky eaters. Before I had children, my father-in-law and I talked a lot about what I would do to ensure that my own children were open to trying different foods. I was terrified of having a child who would only eat ramen noodles and crackers – the entirety of my nephew’s list of food preferences. I watched my brother-in-law fight relentlessly with his son over taking just two bites of unwanted food.

picky eater

It’s important that our children get a proper amount of nutrition in order to fully function and thrive. At the same time, there are methods of getting our children to eat that are counterproductive and can have harmful lasting effects. The Mayo Clinic lists ten ideas for parents of picky eaters here. Among those listed are,

  • Respect your child’s appetite- or lack of one
  • Be patient with new foods
  • Set a good example
  • Minimize distractions

Some people argue that picky eaters are born with sensitive tastes and can’t change. Whether that’s the case or not, we can work on helping our picky eaters be more open to food that will benefit their health.

 

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Keep Record

Keep recordMy daughter turns six months old tomorrow and I can’t believe how fast time has gone by since her birth. My husband and I sat together last night and tried to relive our favorite memories of our daughter. To our dismay, we had forgotten a lot of sweet moments with our baby as time had passed. We vowed then and there to begin writing down memories as they occurred so they could be treasured throughout life.

As much as we would like to think that we will always remember precious moments with our family members our memories are sometimes far from perfect. Recording these moments in a journal allows us to remember and relive experiences that have shaped our families. It is also a way to leave a legacy for our posterity.

Journaling is a great way to learn from our successes and mistakes of parenting and marriage. As I write down my struggles as a mother it helps me work through my thoughts and get a better view of the situation. I am able to see things more clearly. As we write down the events of our lives, we can go back, read and learn from them.

I am always telling my husband how much I want to freeze time and keep our daughter little. At the same time I’m so excited to watch her grow up and become the person she will be. Journaling is a way to have the best of both worlds. My entries allow each precious moment to freeze onto the pages of my journal to be read again and again.

 

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Homework Help

homework helpHave you ever looked at your child’s spelling words and thought, “I can’t spell those words off the top of my head” or looked at their math homework and felt inadequate to help them with it? My own mother told me that she found herself in similar situations more often than she would have liked. My mom graduated high school and attended some college which means she probably learned most if not all of what my siblings and I learned during school. The problem is that as time passed, she forgot a lot of what she had been taught.

Jessica Shepherd, education correspondent for TheGuardian.com reported from a survey that, “Some 37% of [the] children said they were sometimes unable to finish their homework because there was no one at home who could help them.” She also added that, “Some 83% of parents with nine to 13-year-olds admitted to pollsters that they had been unable to do homework tasks set for their children.” So how do we become parents who are capable of helping our children with their homework? My advice is to start learning or relearning things your child is studying at school. Education should be a lifelong pursuit. One thing I have started doing is printing out my own spelling words to hang on the fridge with my daughters. We take turns quizzing each other.

Of course, as parents we don’t usually have a lot of time on our hands to take on another task like learning algebra. The rule of thumb should be to do only what you have time and energy for. There are other ways to help children with school work, too. Andrea Stanley, writer for Parents.com, lists five tips here. They include:

  1. Don’t Fake It. Don’t try to muddle through homework you don’t understand.
  2. Ask Professor Google
  3. Create a Homework Hotline
  4. Don’t Mix Dinner and Diagrams. If you’re attempting to make dinner while trying to master the order of the planets in the solar system, there is guaranteed to be a mix-up along the way.
  5. Invest in a Tutor

Image uploaded from http://www.parenting.com/article/help-kids-with-homework

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React vs. Respond

I considered myself a patient person until I had kids. Kids are one of our biggest blessings but sometimes they can stretch us and try us until we think we’re going to break.

The first time I realized that I wasn’t as patient as I had always thought was when my first child refused to sleep at night and spent hours crying, unable to be consoled. I didn’t foresee the surge of emotions that would come after hours and hours of trying to calm my baby. If I was going to cope with parenthood and give my baby the best care possible I was going to have to learn quickly how to respond rather than react.

Nicole Swarz, a parent coach with a license in family therapy has said, “Reacting means that you meet your child’s emotionally-charged behavior with your own emotionally-charged reply. Responding, on the other hand, gives your child permission to express their big emotions, ideas and feelings without criticism, shame or guilt.” It definitely takes practice to train ourselves to respond to our children. It’s also important to forgive ourselves and to keep trying if we mess up and react in an emotional way.

This principle can also apply to our marriages. We all have buttons that when pushed, cause us to react in a negative way. If we can train ourselves to respond even then, we may just save ourselves a lot of time, energy, and frustration.

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Words Can Hurt

words can hurtI love my dad but he has a red hot temper. When he gets fired up about something he can say some nasty things. As a child I was affected deeply by the things he would say. My sister said something interesting to him once after he apologized for saying some hurtful things to her in the heat of an argument. She said, “I forgive you but I won’t be able to forget what you said.” My dad has taken that statement to heart and has worked on thinking before saying anything he wouldn’t want his kids to remember.

According to a study by Martin H. Teicher, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues, “Vissing et al. found that 63% of American parents reported one or more instances of verbal aggression, such as swearing at and insulting their child. Children who were the target of frequent verbal aggression exhibited higher rates of physical aggression, delinquency, and interpersonal problems than other children.” As parents, we are among the most important people in our children’s lives. When choosing how we speak to our children we should remember the impact we can have on them.

We all find ourselves in situations where our patience is tried. Kids are hard! I find it helpful to keep a broader perspective when I’m tempted to say something to my child I would regret. In twenty years will it matter that I made my point and got my child to listen to me or will it matter more that my child remembers me as making her feel secure and loved? Practice pausing before speaking next time you’re upset with your child and think about the impact what you say will have. It may change the way you communicate with your kids.

 

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Traditions

traditions

I read the cutest story the other day about a family who started a spontaneous family tradition by celebrating Christmas on Labor Day. The family spent Labor Day doing a lot of things they normally do on Christmas including decorating a small tree, buying gifts for each other (at the dollar store), drinking hot chocolate, and watching a Christmas movie. Each child in this family has never forgotten the day they celebrated Christmas on Labor Day.

I think it’s good for all of us to ask ourselves if we are making memories that our children will cherish throughout their lives. Family traditions bring us together and give us an identity as a family. Children often look forward to certain times of the year because of them. They are important! What’s so great about family traditions is that they can be simple and easy and still have a great impact on everyone involved. Family traditions can also be daily, weekly, monthly, during holidays, etc. If you need help brainstorming, there are many ideas that can help you get started here.

Our children will inevitably grow up, leave home, and may start families of their own someday. What a joy it will be to relive the memories of when everyone was together, taking part in special family traditions.

 

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