As this school year wraps up, most students and parents will eagerly, or for some anxiously, wait for report cards. Progress in reading, math, writing, physical education and perhaps, depending on your district or structure of your school, aspects of learning such as ‘motivation’ or ‘character’ will be indicated somewhere on the document. However, do you know how your child is functioning regarding social skills? Does it really matter?
Research in education today signals a resounding yes. In generations past, children acquired these skills almost exclusively at home and within their families. With increasing negative societal influences and various sources of stress bombarding so many of us, it’s hard for parents to go it alone. Schools can often be an important partner with parents to provide positive social skills development. Yet, what can you do if your child doesn’t seem to be interacting socially in age appropriate ways?
For the first time, Meningitis A will be included among the requisite vaccines for Utah 7th graders during the upcoming school year. This is good news for Utah children. Meningitis kills 10-15% of the people infected and many other victims suffer serious consequences, such as the loss of limbs, nervous system problems, deafness, brain damage and seizures or strokes. While Meningitis B vaccine is not required for school entry, Meningitis B vaccine is also available. Ask your doctor for both vaccines and keep your teens safe from this deadly disease. Reference A
When an adult child gets married, it can be difficult for his/her parents to navigate their new role as an in-laws. I am learning this myself, as my oldest son got married in the not too distant past. Unfortunately, our culture has created a negative stereotype of in-laws (particularly mother-in-laws), but your own experience can be a positive one! Here are 5 ways to be an amazing mother-in-law:
1) Expect and Embrace Differences A family unit can thought of as a sort of “organism;” it has its own traditions, belief system, and even its own quirks. When a new person enters this family (through marriage), there are bound to be differences. Recognize that there is no such thing as a completely seamless transition, and expect your new son-in-law or daughter-in-law to do some things in a new way. You can learn to celebrate these differences as well! It can also be helpful to talk about family expectations in order to navigate this change.
I wanted to switch things up a bit and put out an article about a medical/social issue by guest blogger April Young Bennett of Voices for Utah Children. Today’s topic? A case for vaccinate your child. Read on to learn more about this important issue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet on June 24 to consider adding Meningitis B vaccine to the list of recommended youth vaccinations. This disease kills 10-15% of the people infected, and other victims may suffer serious consequences, such as the loss of limbs, nervous system problems, deafness, brain damage and seizures or strokes. Widespread vaccination could prevent outbreaks like the recent outbreak at the University of Oregon (UO) where a student died and six other contracted the disease. Similar outbreaks have taken place at other campuses, such as Ohio University and Princeton. A positive recommendation for youth vaccinations for Meningitis would mean that insurance companies not already covering it will be more likely to do so. This is excellent news!
Widespread vaccination campaigns have a proven track record for preventing deadly disease. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization made an exciting announcement: Rubella, a disease that causes miscarriages and severe birth defects, has been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere thanks to immunization. Similar success was achieved in at eliminating smallpox from the Americas in 1971 and polio in 1994.
Believing positives about yourself when you feel crummy can be difficult and sometimes feels impossible. This is especially true for teens suffering from Anxiety or Depressive Disorders. Often times, teens, like adults, get stuck repeating or focusing on negative aspects or assumptions about them selves, and are resistant to looking for a more balanced or kind perspective. This constant self-criticism not only amplifies negative mood and behavior, but also makes it more difficult to see those positives that actually exist. To help counteract the negative self bias I hear from many teens I work with, I ask them to develop a “Positives List.”
Unfortunately for most, simply writing down positives is not a big enough step to actually believing those positives. The key step to making this process work is in writing a detailed account (1-2 paragraphs) about when, in the past, they actually demonstrated that quality or characteristic. I usually have them write 2 examples, but sometimes one is enough. When appropriate I also have them add when and how it impacted others or their environment positively. This process requires that they begin to search for actual memories to back up the positive they have listed, rather than just stoping with a word bank. Since the event has already occurred it is easier for the positive qualities to be substantiated.
Even the most confident of parents often feel uncomfortable with the prospect of talking to their children about sex. Most understand that if we fail to talk about it, they will learn about it from media and peers, and that it is our responsibility to do so to ensure that they have accurate information.But still, it’s not an easy conversation to have! And even for those who are brave enough to do so, how can we best help our kids not only know the facts, but also have a healthy attitude toward their bodies and understand sex in a way that will benefit them? Here are 5 ways to be a sex-positive parent:
1) Realize It Begins At Birth
Many parents wonder what is the appropriate age to begin talking about sex. But the truth is that positive attitudes about bodies and sexuality begin from the very beginning. When children are young, don’t be afraid to verbally celebrate and affirm the importance of their bodies. Even during toilet training, take the opportunity to help them notice how wonderful and useful their bodies can be. Kids absorb the messages you send in your tone of your voice and by how you respond to their actions.
May is “date your mate” month! Wasatch Family Therapy’s Kathleen Baxter, AMFT, recently sat down for an interview on KUTV to discuss ways to keep marriage relationships strong and healthy. But first, she explained some of the biggest obstacles couples may face:
Some may panic when they realize they don’t feel the same way about their partner as they once did. But it is normal and expected for a relationship to change after marriage, so it isn’t necessarily an indication of a problem. Also, many couples “stop” being spouses because they are now parents. A couple’s devotion to their children can unfortunately lessen their devotion to each other.
Many parents feel anxious when it comes to discussing sexuality with their children. You are not alone. Even the most confident parents may squirm just a bit when a child asks a direct question regarding sexuality that they are not prepared to discuss. Here are some resources to help you and your child navigate the important process of discussing sexual issues. Thank you to my colleague Holly Willard, LCSW for book recommendations.
Wasatch Family Therapist founder and owner Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW had the opportunity to be interviewed for the MarketWatch section of the Wall Street Journal about her experience pursuing a career while also being a mother. It is very encouraging and exciting that recent studies show that women with advanced degrees and education are also having children. Whereas in the past, women either had families or great jobs, today the tide is turning, and we no longer have to choose!
What are the factors causing this change? Fathers helping with domestic responsibilities and raising children, a mobile workforce, and increased opportunities are among the reasons that highly educated women are having more babies.
Here’s an excerpt:
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, is the owner and executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the mother to four children. On Saturday, she will graduate from University of Louisiana at Monroe with a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy. “Tomorrow, I will be Dr. Julie Hanks.”
When it came to education and children, her motto for the past 25 years has been, ‘I refuse to choose!’ “Women seem to be challenging the long-held notion that an education/career and family are mutually exclusive,” Hanks says. “It’s no longer an either/or decision.”
She’s not alone. The number of highly educated women who are remaining childless into their mid-40s has plummeted over the last two decades, according to a new study by the nonprofit Pew Research Center, which crunched U.S. Census data.