7 Things Every Mom Should Teach her Son
The importance of raising a child can never be minimized. We are entrusted with helping the next generation flourish and can be a large factor in determining what kind of people our children become. I like to think that everything I teach my little boy will someday benefit himself, society, and most importantly the loved ones he will meet and share his life with in the future.
That being said, there are some things that I want to make sure he knows before he one day leaves my side. Some are easier than others but all can be worthwhile to him in the future…I hope.
- His dreams are greater than his fears—We are often the greatest hindrance to pursuing our goals no matter how lofty or simple they may be. He should know that as long as he is willing to work hard, dream big, and learn from his mistakes there is nothing that cannot be done. I’m still learning this one day by day, so hopefully I can give him a head start
- Feelings are not a taboo subject—For many men, it can be hard to voice how they feel, or they can simply be afraid for how they are perceived for feeling a certain way. I want my son to know that feelings are natural and wonderful. Being “manly” is not hiding your feelings, its being brave enough to voice them.
- No man is an island—No matter how hard we try to be completely independent we could always use a helping hand at times. Surround yourself with good people and be good to people in return. We all need each other to get through the craziness of life and it is absolutely no fun to go through life alone.
- There are no elves that take care of our life responsibilities—Teach your sons practical life skills from an early age. While I absolutely love to take care of my little man, I also want him to be capable to wash his shirt, make his meal, and care for his home. I want him to recognize that taking care of himself is rewarding but taking care of his family is an honor.
- Love with all of your heart—I want my son to find someone who cherishes him, supports him, and respects him. He can only find that person when he is willing to cherish, support and respect them in return. Giving yourself fully into a love is scary but when you find that special someone don’t be afraid to go all in and let them know how much they mean to you.
- Life’s road has a few bumps…but also plenty of beautiful views—there are going to be times that my son will struggle in life. I don’t want him to be so unnerved by these times that he cannot cope, nor do I want him to think there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. While life may toss some bad his way, the amount of good he will encounter will make him forget all the hardships he went through.
- He is as special as his mother says he is—I may brag about my son at any chance I get, but I don’t do so without cause. He is an absolutely unique creation and a beautiful snowflake of mankind. We all are. I want him to know that there is no reason to compare himself, belittle himself, or criticize himself for being special. We are all one of a kind and should spend our days honoring what makes us special and in turn, what makes us great.
I may not always be able to hold his hand and help him make life choices but I can make sure that he has the confidence to pursue life with gusto. There will of course be a lot of other lessons I hope he learns along the way, mainly that he ALWAYS puts down that darn toilet seat.
Children On Anti-Depressants Have Increased By 54% Since 2005
Schools replace punishment with meditation and see drastic results
Students who are misbehaving are usually taken out of class and sent to the principal, who punishes the child by revoking privileges, calling home or sometimes suspending them.
But students in some Baltimore schools are sent somewhere different when they are acting out: a designated meditation room where they can calm down and decompress before rejoining their classmates.
The Mindful Moment room is equipped with bean bags and dim lighting, and students go through calming exercises with trained staff. At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, teachers and staff can refer students to the room for an emotional “reset” when they are worked up. The student is led through breathing exercises and is encouraged to discuss the emotions that led to an outburst. They work with the adult to come up with a plan to use mindfulness in a similar situation in the future, to prevent an outburst.
After about 20 minutes in the room, they rejoin classmates.
The Holistic Life Foundation was started by two brothers, Atman and Ali Smith, along with friend Andres Gonzalez, who wanted to give children in low-income and high-crime neighborhoods a better way to deal with anger and stress. The foundation has now implemented the program in more than 14 Baltimore area schools with the goal of improving student behavior without leveling harsh punishments that tend to have no impact on student behavior.
“That’s how you stop the trickle-down effect, when Mom or Pops has a hard day and yells at the kids, and then the kids go to school and yell at their friends,” Gonzalez told O Magazine. “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.'”
Increasingly, teachers are bringing students to the Mindful Moment room as a first resort when a child is acting out. The program says students usually show “visible signs of relaxation and emotional de-escalation after guided practices” in the room.
The program also includes a “Mindful Moment” twice a day, which leads students in breathing exercises for 15 minutes over the PA system. Students can also participate in yoga classes. It has drastically reduced suspensions, with zero reported in the 2013-14 school year.
Elementary students aren’t the only ones benefiting from meditation practices: The program has also been implemented with older students, including those at Patterson High School. Students there also participate in a daily Mindful Moment and have access to the Mindful Moment room, where they can self-refer when they have a desire to reset. The “oasis of calm” is staffed with mindfulness instructors that form relationships with the students and help them work through problems.
The high school has also seen a decrease in suspensions both in the hallways and in class.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Depression hits new dads too
Many men might describe expecting a baby as a joyous time in their life, but for some, a bundle of joy might be linked to a greater risk of depression.
Fathers-to-be can be at risk of depression symptoms if they feel stressed or are in poor health, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday. Depression symptoms may even escalate after the baby is born.
Researchers have long known about the risk of pre- and postpartum depression in mothers and the hormone changes that might contribute to their symptoms.
Now, a growing body of research sheds light on depression in fathers and the factors that might contribute to their risk of symptoms.
Turning a spotlight on paternal depression
The new study involved data on 3,523 men in New Zealand who participated in interviews while their partners were pregnant and then nine months after their child was born, in 2009 and 2010.
The participants, who were an average age of 33, were selected from a cohort whose partners were enrolled in the nation’s longitudinal study titled Growing Up in New Zealand.
The fathers-to-be completed interviews intended to measure depression symptoms and answered questions about their overall health, stress and family environment.
Elevated prenatal depression symptoms were found among 82 fathers, or 2.3%, in the study, and elevated postnatal depression symptoms were found among 153, or 4.3%.
“The rates of antenatal and postnatal paternal depression that we found are consistent with previous similar studies in other countries including the US,” said Lisa Underwood, a research fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and lead author of the study.
The depression symptoms were associated with adverse social and relationship factors and having a history of depression, the researchers found.
“It was surprising that, for men in the Growing Up in New Zealand study, factors such as unplanned pregnancy, ethnicity and anxiety were not associated with either antenatal or postnatal paternal depression,” Underwood said.
Yet, the study did have some limitations.
“We used brief screening measures to assess depression symptoms and were not able to carry out full diagnostic assessments of depression,” Underwood said.
She added that since the men in the study were interviewed only during the third trimester of pregnancy and nine months after childbirth, the results might not reflect what could be found during the first and second trimesters or the period immediately following childbirth.
‘Our key message applies worldwide’
All in all, the researchers wrote in their study that the new findings could help in developing screening and intervention efforts for expectant fathers.
“The lack of screening for paternal depression in New Zealand mirrors the international situation,” Underwood said. “Our key message applies worldwide: Pregnancy and the postnatal period are key opportunities to engage with expectant and new fathers to discuss depression symptoms and provide support.”
This isn’t the first time researchers have measured depression among expectant fathers, especially new dads.
A separate study of 622 first-time dads found that 13.3% exhibited elevated levels of depressive symptoms during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. The study was published in the American Journal of Men’s Health in 2015.
Similar to the new study, that research found stress and marital relationship quality to be important determinants of paternal depression.
However, “poor sleep quality was the strongest factor associated with depression in men during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy,” said Deborah Da Costa, an associate professor in the department of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, who was senior author of the earlier study.
Prenatal and postpartum depression was evident among about 10% of men in a 2010 meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA. That same paper showed that depression was relatively higher in the postpartum period.
A meta-analysis in the Journal of Affective Disorders last year found that paternal depression may be present in about 8% of men.
In the new study, the researchers wrote, “Given that paternal depression can have direct or indirect effects on children, it is important to recognize and treat symptoms among fathers early, and the first step in doing that is arguably increasing awareness among fathers about increased risks.”
Sad dads can affect baby
Fathers with pre- or postnatal depression are associated with a higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems in children, especially sons, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
“There are numerous ways in which a father’s depression during pregnancy might impact an unborn baby,” said Dr. Michael Weitzman, professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new study.
A father’s depression might lead to added stress, depression or increased use of alcohol or smoking for the mother, which may influence a fetus’ growth and development, Weitzman said.
Additionally, a dad-to-be experiencing depression might lead to isolation of the mother and father and might even influence the choices made in the household about prenatal care or preparation, he said.
In the new study, the researchers wrote, “Expectant fathers should seek support if they experience unemployment and/or relationship or family difficulties following the birth of their child. Men who have a history of mental health problems or who are stressed or unwell during their partner’s pregnancy should be assessed for (paternal postnatal depression symptoms). Men should also be encouraged to give up smoking during their partner’s pregnancy and continue not to smoke after the birth of their child.”
Tulsa Teacher Exposes Impact Of Terence Crutcher’s Death On Students
In the days following the death of Terence Crutcher, America has been, once again, plunged into a national conversation about police brutality against black people. But while the debate on the subject rages on across the country, the Tulsa, Oklahoma, community where Crutcher was shot has been working to find ways to cope with the aftermath.
One teacher has given a heartbreaking glimpse into what it’s like to talk about Terence Crutcher’s death with the young, mostly black students in the community. Rebecca Lee, a teacher at the Kipp Tulsa College Prepatory School (where Crutcher’s daughter reportedly attends), shared a powerful Facebook post on Wednesday describing small group discussions held at the school with fifth-through eighth-grade students to discuss Crutcher and police brutality.
Lee explained that she read a news report about the Crutcher shooting with a group of fifth-graders, who highlighted and underlined the words that stood out for them, which included “fatally shot,” “hands raised,” and “bad dude.” When she asked them how they felt about the story, she wrote that the students replied:
“Why did they have to kill him? Why were they afraid of him? Why does [student] have to live life without a father? What will she do at father daughter dances? Who will walk her down the aisle? Why did no one help him after he was shot? Hasn’t this happened before? Can we write her cards? Can we protest?”
Later in the post Lee writes about why she wanted to share the story on Facebook:
“I share this story, because we are creating an identity crisis in all of our black and brown students. (Do I matter? Am I to be feared? Should I live in fear? Am I human?) We are shaping their world view with blood and bullets, hashtags and viral videos. Is this how we want them to feel? Is this how we want them to think?”
As of Thursday, the post has been shared over 62,000 times. Read it below.
Today at school, our staff decided we needed to press pause and create a space for kids to share their thoughts and feelings in response to the killing of Mr. Crutcher. I was part of facilitating three small group discussions throughout the day: a fifth grade group, a sixth grade group, and a seventh/eighth grade group. I want to share what I experienced with the kids today, because I am convinced that if you can put yourself in the shoes of a child of color in Tulsa right now, you will have a clearer understanding of the crisis we’re facing and why we say black lives matter.
1. I look at the wide-eyed faces of the fifth graders surrounding me: 10 and 11 year olds, waiting to hear what I had to say. I tell them we will read a news article about the shooting together so we can all be informed. As I read, the students busily highlight and underline parts that stand out to them: Fatally shot. Hands raised. “Bad dude.” Motionless. Affected forever. I finish and I ask them, “What are your thoughts?”
They answer with questions. Why did they have to kill him? Why were they afraid of him? Why does [student] have to live life without a father? What will she do at father daughter dances? Who will walk her down the aisle? Why did no one help him after he was shot? Hasn’t this happened before? Can we write her cards? Can we protest?
As the questions roll, so do the tears. Students cry softly as they speak. Others weep openly. I watch 10 year olds pass tissues to each other, to me, to our principal as he joins our circle. One girl closes our group by sharing: “I wish white people could give us a chance. We can all come together and get along. We can all be united.” Let me tell you, these 10 year olds are more articulate about this than I am.
We agree to love one another, to take care of one another. I tell each of them that I am white and I love them and they matter to me.
2. The group of sixth grade girls that surround me are either red-eyed or withdrawn. They sit next to Mr. Crutcher’s daughter in class. They are her friends. Nearly every student has a tissue as we read the article together. When I open the floor for discussion: silence. It hurts to talk about. It hurts to think about. It hurts.
I fight the urge to fill the dead air with my voice. A few quiet words are whispered about sadness and unfairness, but the rest of the time is spent wiping eyes and hugging one another. It becomes clear that no one else is in a place to speak. I give them the space to process silently. Then I tell them, “We have different skin colors. I love you. You matter. You are worthy. You are human. You are valuable.” Shoulders shake harder around the circle. I realize that this is the first time all year I have affirmed my love for them.
The rest of the cafeteria is hushed. The sixth graders are quiet. The tragedy lives and breathes among them. It could have been their father. Boys are scattered across the cafeteria with their heads buried in their shirts. A girl who just moved to Tulsa from New Orleans because her father wanted to “escape the violence” is choked up as she speaks in the group next to mine. When we come back together whole group, one boy is still crying as another rubs his hand on his back soothingly.
3. These students are older– thirteen and fourteen. They are hardened. They are angry. Some students refuse to hold or look at the article. The speak matter-of-factly. One says she feels like punching someone in the nose.
Another student says, “I used to read about this happening and think, oh that’s sad, and then kind of forget about it. But this happened so close to home. It feels real now. I take 36th St N to and from school everyday. It happened right by my house.”
“What made him ‘a big bad dude?'” a boy asks. “Was it his height? His size–” I look at the boys in my circle, all former students of mine. They have grown inches since their first day in my class. Their voices have deepened. Their shoulders broadened. They all nod their heads in agreement at the student’s last guess– “The color of his skin?”
I share this story, because Mr. Crutcher’s death does not just affect the students at my school. I share this story, because we are creating an identity crisis in all of our black and brown students. (Do I matter? Am I to be feared? Should I live in fear? Am I human?) We are shaping their world view with blood and bullets, hashtags and viral videos. Is this how we want them to feel? Is this how we want them to think?
I share this story because I spent the last two years teaching kids that we write to interact with and understand the world, that our voices matter and that our voices deserve to be heard.
I share this story, because while I could never capture the articulate things kids said or the raw emotions students shared today, my privilege requires that I speak. I ask that you read. I ask that you use whatever privilege or platform you have to speak. I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of black and brown children growing up in a world where they see videos of their classmate’s father shot and bleeding in the street.
I ask that you love and love hard.
This might be why depression is rising among teen girls
(CNN)There has been a significant climb in the prevalence of major depression among adolescents and young adults in recent years — and the troubling trend may be strongest in teenage girls, according to a new study.