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As legislation is slowly beginning to adjust around the world and opinions are changing in many countries, gay people can now adopt. However, there are people who disagree with this and believe that it is solely a man and woman who can raise a family. There are places worldwide, like the United Arab Emirates, who believe that the LGBT community is a disruption to societal and familial values and simply being gay there is illegal. Let’s look deeper into gay adoption. A paper published by the Williams Institute by Gary J. Gates proclaimed that by 2013 LGBT couples in the U.S. were four times more likely to adopt a child into their family than their heterosexual counterparts. These staggering statistics shows the desire LGBT couples have to adopt and that they are increasingly successful in doing so. While gay adoption is more common than straight adoption this does not mean that it is easy for same-sex couples to adopt. There are still many hurdles for LGBT couples to overcome in order to become legal guardians. Adoption agencies inspect every iota of a couple lives if they are an appropriate choice as potential parents. These are thorough examinations which are not taken lightly. Of course, an issue that prevails with same-sex parents is the possibility that the child will eventually want to know who their biological parents are. One of their parents may be their mother or father by blood, but the child will have to seek out the other. This can be a trying time for families as rebellious and hormonal children may cry out for their ‘real parents’. This is a conversation homosexual parents will need to engage in and be prepared for.   Gay couples often appear as more motivated and committed to having a child than heterosexuals. While this can only be based on each individual couple, it is true that gay partners cannot have a child ‘accidentally’, which often occurs for heterosexuals. Welcoming a child into the world is one of the biggest changes in a person’s life, and queer couples must have a thorough conversation with one another and think this decision through before acting on the desire. Then comes the adoption application, which is strenuous to say the least. Of course, this is difficult for heterosexual couples and takes time for them too. LGBT people who have gone through this system have proven to their state that they are dedicated to becoming parents, and that it is not something that they fell into. Needless to say accidental pregnancies for heterosexual couples are often celebrated, whether the infant was planned or unplanned. This is not an incorrect way to have a baby, but of course it helps to be prepared and know that you are definitely ready for this life step. There is a huge demand for adoptive parents and homosexual couples are applying while straight couples are opting primarily to have biological children in the traditional manner. Adoption for heterosexuals is often due to infertility issues and may not necessarily be their first choice on how to have a baby. Members of the LGBT community often make the case that those who want to adopt should be judged on their ability to parent and not their sexuality. When governments rule that LGBT adoption is illegal, this can be seen as discrimination. In today’s modern liberal societies where we celebrate differences it may seem questionable that gay people who cannot adopt are legally classed as lesser, due to this same lack of legal rights. Some question whether those of differing sexualities deserve the same rights to bring a child into their family, and if they should be governed in the same way that heterosexual parents are. Denial of this is sometimes classed as homophobia in society. For many people it is a question of religion that leads them to doubt the ethical repercussions of gay adoption. People who are Jewish or Islamic amongst other religions believe this is morally wrong and that the family unit will not flourish in this setting. Religious orphanages refuse to give children to same-sex couples, sometimes in countries where this is legal. The Catholic Church does not support homosexual couples adopting children, as one of their core beliefs is that the family unit consists of man and woman. The importance of family is fundamental to the entire religion. There is a long history of abuse against homosexuals, such as conversion therapy. Devout members of this religion are often friends with members of the LGBT community but simultaneously oppose them, in campaigns against same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. Although a gay couple may desire a child and can provide a safe home, the church does not think this couple has the necessary traits to parent a child. LGBT groups dispute the Church’s teachings that the natural order of the world is man and woman. Some critics argue that gay parents will convert their children to also become gay. While this is not supported by any factual evidence, it can be said that it is likely the child will be more open-minded in life, particularly in areas such as their sexuality. Studies have proven that children raised by LGBT parents are more tolerant than their peers who were raised by a mother and father. There is no indications in existence that a child adopted by queer parents were disadvantaged in any way. Gender stereotypes are not enforced or as prevalent in modern families raised by homosexuals. They are sympathetic of people’s differences and less likely to use stereotypes. Equality is important to these kids and they naturally embrace diversity, as they have been raised to think in this way since they were adopted. These differences are interesting to observe, as they are one of the very meagre contrasts seen between kids raised by gay parents as opposed to straight parents. One thing we can all agree on is that children who have had tough lives and crave a family unit and all that comes with it deserve good parents. Can this be denied of them simply because the applicants are gay? Is it true to assume children are better off with no guardians, than gay parental figures? This issue needs to be addressed by the world and a solution must be found.
Growing up: how exhausting! Childhood is likely to be remembered as the happiest period of your life and, for many reasons, we can all agree that it’s true. You just play and stay with friends without any kind of worries for study and exams or work, love, life, family, mortgages, taxes etc. etc. However, kids have their own problems that, as the years go by, look less insignificant. But you are living that moment, some problems can look like they’re huge. When we’re young we receive the first ideas about the world from the people we trust more and we spend more time with: usually, our parents. By not being able to understand a situation in its whole complexity (because, you know, we’re still young) we can make up our own ideas and formulate our theories. It goes without saying that it is really important how a message or an idea is conveyed by our parents as well as the sensations they transmit to us. Kids are difficult from this point of view: they understand things you wish they wouldn’t but they couldn’t understand, indeed, the simplicity of other things and, so, thinking about them as big problems. For example, socializing and feeling accepted in a group is important when you’re young; probably from the primary school to the high school and even after. You can’t just say to your child that if a group of classmates don’t want to hang around with them, whatever, they will make some other friends or will stay by themselves because people are mean and real friends are few. Some children, instead, seem to be really good at making friends because since an early age they demonstrate a charismatic personality, or they can be funny or just have the quality of a leader that is not accepted in a group but they form the group and decide who’s in and who’s out. It is important to help self-confidence in our kids, as said, to help them avoid living social situations and a source of anxiety in the constant fear of not being “enough” to their friends. This feeling of insecurity, once created, will be difficult to escape from and will condition the attitude of the future adult in every situation during its life. At the same time, we have to find a balance and not just boast to our children repeating how marvellous and how fantastic they are. It is positively seen by society to have the qualities of an alpha man/woman but, just for the fact of being young, children could misunderstand and use their qualities in a negative way. You could find yourself dealing with the fact your kid is being bullied but also with the fact that he/she is the bully. Both these scenarios are unpleasant: they will lead to future problems that will prevent the child from living peacefully and happily in society. What are the best things to say as a parent? We want to infuse self-confidence and calm but also talent and intelligence. One piece of advice to give is surely to show what we would like to be emulated. If we do things with a calmness, our children will do the same; let’s not forget that they are more sensitive than what we think. The can learn and copy our methods; moreover, there are no reasons to make them paranoid about all the bad people they could meet. Just put them on guard for what concerns the real risks (“don’t accept lifts from strangers’’ or things like this) clearly explaining why that is dangerous but without going too deep in illustrating what paedophilia is, for example. Concerning other figurative risks that you might see, ask yourself if it is really fundamental to fill your child’s brain with so many worries. The answer might be: it’s not. Kids do run dangers to harm themselves when they play, when they are in the house (just think about the rate of domestic accidents)… they could bump into people with bad intentions and they need time to learn what they can do and what they can’t. So, thinking better, is it really necessary to stress them telling them about that classmate you think is envious and maybe is badmouthing them? The answer is: it’s not. We spend our entire life as adults saying that we are just what we are and we won’t change to please others. Our children should be left free to do the same. Another thing not to do as parents is to encourage too much rivalry with the other children even if there’s something that your kid is really talented at doing and wins much more than the other children. They could find out they are much weaker in other activities and they cannot always win: teach them this or the clash with the hard truth will definitely be heavy. In the end, another mistake that some parents can do is to project wishes and passions of their own on their kids that the parents themselves didn’t have the chance to pursue. If you were not allowed to sing because your parents wanted you to do sport, you can try to transmit your passion for music but if it’s not really a genetically transmitted talent, let it be. It is easier said than done, but do you really want to force your kids to do something they don’t really appreciate as your parents did with you?
Stay-at-home dads, househusband (plus many other synonymous) are terms that indicate a father who is the caregiver of the family. To make a long story short, he has tasks which are usually considered as prerogatives of women. In the past it was normal to consider the mother as the only person capable of taking care of the children while the father had to provide the economical sustain; as a consequence of this, it was also considered normal for the children to see their dads just in the evening, when they were back from their work. Nowadays, many factors brought a shift of roles inside families: women want to pursue their careers and they’re still fighting for salary equality. At the same time, men don’t perceive anymore (or, at least, most of them) that earning less than their wives make them less powerful in a relationship. So, here are the househusbands! Their numbers have been increasing since around the end of the 20th century, especially in developed Western nations. Not only this fact can tell us a lot about how the society is positively evolving, about how sexism and gender gaps are being reduced (unfortunately, they haven’t disappeared and they are still a big deal in many countries and work environments), but it can let us discover something about men and fathers that we didn’t know. In fact, if women still have to prove that they are capable of holding top job positions, the same could be said of the presumption that men are less able to look after children than women. Instead, let’s try to see this from another point of view: fighting gender gaps should be a two-way street with no prejudices. If a man is willing to take care of his children and his house, he should be free to do that; some people could think that he’s just lazy and he’s profiting about his wife’s high salary, maybe because he’s a freelancer or he can work from home, but this would definitely be sexist. By leaving out our initial impression, we can learn a lot from this category of men (and maybe stop labelling and analysing them as aliens). Here we have some examples. They can take care of kids as well as women and, if they can’t, it is because nobody ever asked them to learn. In the majority of the families, nobody ask them to do the house work. This doesn’t mean that is too late for them to learn now! Some men can deal with children better than women. Who said that empathy and sensitivity are characteristics stronger in women? Stop with the biases! If they have time to listen to their children, by staying at home, they’re doing a great job. On the other hand some women can be excellent in executing tasks and can be fast and functional, but not particularly prone to talk about emotions. Moreover, if compared to the past, some themes are not taboo anymore. Teenagers have classes of sex education and this knowledge is more widespread than ever. So, if you are a boy you don’t need your father to have the ‘‘birds and the bees’’ talk with you. Same thing if you are a girl dealing with her menarche and your mother is rattling on about birds, bees and flowers. Parents can swap roles and if your father is a solid presence in the house, if you feel you can talk to him, well so… Yes, you can both discuss what’s happening inside your body, menstruations, safe sex, contraception and so on. Some women, instead, like to control the situation; too much. The idea that if they are absent then a catastrophe could occur makes them think that they are indispensable. This might come from a cultural heritage which wants the woman to be the only ones capable of making things function at their best. Everyone would live better just freeing themselves from these impositions. Give men a chance and let them understand that if women cannot do the house work this doesn’t make them less worthy mothers and housewives. Just because a dad doesn’t do things in the same careful, loving (sometimes obsessive) way as woman, this doesn’t mean that someone is going to die. Your daughter is not going to school with an elaborate French braid. Or her shirt doesn’t perfectly match her pants. And so? Listen to this secret: children feel anxiety more from people close to them than they do for a messy hairdo. When they will be adults, they will be more likely to reproach you for the bad vibes you sent them as kids and not for their unfashionable style. Playing with your dad is definitely funny. Moms can usually be a bit strict: they don’t want you to dirty your clothes and they don’t want to see you messy. Your dad, instead, wouldn’t care so much if you rolled in the mud: he would probably join you and in the end just bring you back home and send you to the shower still fully dressed to wash off all of the dirt and give the clothes a good cleaning too. This, of course, is a generalization: some dads can be much more careful than their female partners!
To handle a toddler is complicated, whether it’s your first experience or you have already experienced the joys of becoming a parent. It is very important to understand that every toddler has a different personality that will change (maybe preserving many or few peculiarities) until it becomes an adult. It is not possible to paint us all with the same brush and things don’t change when we talk about learning. Let’s just think about all the techniques of learning and studying developed through the years: e.g. the philosophy about infant education according to Italian teacher Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method is still in practice in many schools in various countries even though there are detractors claiming that it has proved to be inefficient. Instead, what about Steiner’s pedagogical approach? His method, also called Waldorf education, is appreciated by many parents and used in many schools; yes, other experts of the field claim the Waldorf Method is not only useless, but actually dangerous in developing the character of children, mostly for the large freedom of expression left to the students without any kind of barrier. Many people disagree with the fact of not giving rules to children even though, luckily, corporal punishments are not considered as a way of educating your children anymore. So, supposing that we are wondering what is the best way to help our toddler become a clever, respectful, kind and smart person. What’s the answer? Schools exist to provide, together with teaching subjects, some basic concepts (they can slightly vary depending on the normative of each country). These concepts derive from the study of psychology and pedagogy. A toddler should be free to develop some ideas rather than achieving tasks. Those ideas will then bring them to follow some interests and, just in that moment, to excel in something. So the inputs we should provide a toddler to give them a good starting point should be something like the following: 1. Relating with the others. This is particularly important for an only child. Through social relations the young human being learns firstly about themselves and how treat others and be treated. There is surely much to learn from encounters with different personalities and, if the toddler is a little bold this would be a chance to let it understand that a certain negative behaviour will have consequences. If they want to be accepted in a social group, they will need to consider and respect different points of view. Let your kids socialize with others; try to find the time to bring them where they can meet friends. 2. Moving the body. Help the toddler learn how their body works. They will need to become autonomous: feeding themselves, dressing up, taking care of personal hygiene. Don’t spoil the toddler and don’t be too indulgent; yet, you also have to be patient. For example, bedwetting is normal until a certain age but if you criticise them too much you could obtain a result other than what you desire: the reproach could generate a high level of uneasiness, transforming a small thing into a type of trauma. 3. Learning to speak. It is important for a toddler to listen before learning how to talk. Speaking in two languages could be a plus because the young brain is more capable of learning. The toddler will absorb an impressive quantity of words so try to avoid rude language. We all enjoyed learning the “bad words” when we were younger and the more our parents were telling us “don’t say this word” the more we liked saying it. 4. Familiarizing with creativity. Together with language, it is useful to introduce a toddler to other forms of communication: images, sounds, handcrafting, dances, technology. The purpose is not to find out that you have a prodigy child who can play the piano at the age of two, but to make it conscious about the things it might want to do in the future. 5. Learning about the world. Drawings, listening to music and hanging out with friends are all activities we can do indoors. But we mustn’t forget about the contact with nature. This is important for two reasons: first, to discover the different environments around us (e.g. how is country life perceived by a toddler living in the city and vice versa), to learn that the world is not just what we can see outside our window and, second, to make the toddler aware of itself in the space. Its brain will be able to understand where its body is located in the space, to orientate itself and to follow directions. Spending time doing outdoor activities will allow the toddler to observe natural phenomena and living creatures; they will start formulating hypothesis to explain what they see, to learn specific terms to describe what they see. Parents will provide them with the appropriate language and explanations and, possibly, they will be able to teach their children to respect nature and living things.
Nowadays, being a parent is not easy… Well, it has surely never been. However, coping with anxiety, comparing yourself to the other parents with a resulting feeling of inadequacy together with a series of other unpleasant sensations is now a thing. We call that, precisely, parental burnout: a phenomenon that is an object of studies in many countries but yet mysterious. It is possible to describe it, to recognize the symptoms but still hard to find and, subsequently, to prevent the causes. Parental burnout syndrome can be recognized by three characteristics, which are: 1. Feeling overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally 2. Feeling distant from your child/children. This distance is emotional and it’s put in practice by our brains in order to get a distraction from the source of stress (the kids, in this case). This has nothing to do with neglecting: the parent is perfectly able to complete tasks at a “physical” level: feeding, washing, dressing, bringing the child to school and after school activities 3. A general sense of being an incapable parent The burnout syndrome was studied in the past as “working burnout” as it affected the working sphere. Then, researchers noticed a similar pattern that affects the parenting role. The first country to observe this was the United States in the ‘80s. Only in very recent times, during the second decade of the 2000s, the concept became widespread in Europe even though it is still partially unknown in some countries. Ignorance regarding this subject is not a fault attributable to factors or to someone, but is certainly due to a sense of shame felt by the parents affected who are afraid to admit they are just not feeling good. What we know so far is that this syndrome relates to both mothers and fathers and it might remind one of postpartum depression but the latter begins before 18 months of age, while the burnout starts after that period. In Europe, this phenomenon is being studied in countries like the Netherlands and Belgium. The inventories usually consider variables representing the concepts of emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing and personal accomplishment. However, having a broad vision about parental burnout is still difficult due to the aforementioned sense of shame which leads to some people lying about it. Is it possible to prevent parental burnout? The fact that there is a hidden feeling of inadequacy affecting most aspects of our lives, would suggest that only in some cases can it be successfully defeated. Not only do we feel incapable of being parents: we feel like incapable new mothers (see also: postpartum depression), we feel incapable of working successfully to reach a dreamy, wealthy lifestyle and so we spend our time on our social media, adding an alluring touch to our posts. On reflection, parents could naturally adopt some predictable expedients to reduce their negative feelings. Don’t feel guilty about your feelings. Adolescence is usually a hard moment and many of us probably told our parents, at least once, “I hate you!” You might be annoyed by some of your kids attitudes as you were annoyed by your parents when you were young. It’s reciprocal, so it’s not a big deal. 2. Don’t compare your parenting style to what you see on social media. The web is full of articles that sound like “I am a normal mother and I feel inferior to the Instagram mothers”. At this point, everyone knows that online life is much different from the offline one, also known as reality. A boring moment spent with your family can look like the funniest moment ever: you just need to shoot the picture from the right angle, add a nice filter and a thoughtful caption. Don’t fall into this trap: every family has problems, fights, horrible days. Just don’t take what you see on your socials as the real life of other parents, because it’s not. 3. If you have to compare yourself with someone else, do it with real life models. If you see some good dynamics in a family, you can take it as an inspiration. Don’t be envious, just think about what you can do to improve your own dynamics. Anyway, always be careful: spending much time with parents and their kids that seem perfect and happy doesn’t mean that it is the truth: you can never know how a family is really doing if you’re not part of that family. 4. Don’t listen to people when they are just talking. Every mom will tell you that her children are the best at studying, at doing sports, at tidying their rooms. That is a natural behaviour because, after all, parents love their children very much, no matter how many mistakes they make. And, like anybody, they too make mistakes! Nobody is perfect and if someone is trying to convince you that their family is perfect, well… they’re lying. 5. Trust the experts, just when needed. There are different theories about parenting and raising children and they probably contradict each other. On one hand, for example, videogames are not recommended before a certain age and, at least, not for too many hours a week. On the other hand, we live in the digital era so our progeny needs to learn how technology works: it’s a skill that could be useful for their future careers. Your child could become a video game programmer or for example a software engineer. Ask the right people for suggestions and you will be able to understand when something is a healthy interest and when it becomes an obstacle to other activities. We could say the same about nutrition: the advertisements teach us that a hearty breakfast is the only way to begin the day in a positive way. There is a myth claiming that people not having breakfast are prone to becoming overweight. At the same time, studies report that having milk in the morning is not necessary but can, in actual fact, lead to the development of cancer. Sugary snacks can bring about cellulitis and diabetes. Juice might cause stomach acidity. Just find your own balance, don’t feel stressed because you’re not following “the rules”. In conclusion, life has changed a lot during the last decades. In the past it was normal for some women to be housewives, mothers and nothing else. Today, both men and women have varying and crazy schedules; work can be stressful and sometimes we need to destress with a night out with friends or just with your partner. When you’re a parent this can be more difficult and you might feel guilty for leaving your children with someone else. Why? Asking for any kind of help is the first step to solving a problem and there’s absolutely nothing weird about calling a babysitter! Unfortunately, even if parental burnout relates to both fathers and mothers, in society the idea that a woman’s life is full only when she becomes a mother is still present. If you are a woman in a career with no children, you’re an egoist and you just care about your job. If you have children, you’re constantly afraid of not being enough: this is completely unfair, isn’t it?
Adopting a child is a beautiful thing and marks the beginning of a new journey for your family, yet many adopt for the wrong reasons. When adoption is chosen, and not because of necessity, the decision can be influenced by inappropriate choices. When the process does not work out, this outcome is incredibly tough on the child as well as those trying to become guardians. It is wise to think about the reasons why you may want to adopt and whether you are ready for a lifelong commitment. Here we will look at certain issues to be aware of when deciding to adopt.   Often people commit to adoption and follow through with it, even though they have serious doubts. The guilt that envelopes them because of their lack of desire to adopt causes them to continue with the plans and take in a child. Although bringing an infant into your home and offering them a better life is something to be admired, if it is not done for the right reasons it is not good for anybody. Sometimes when a child has been living in your home for a while or if you are fostering a child the guilt propels those looking after them to continue the legal proceedings for adoption. Many also feel pressured by family to become the child’s guardian. As well as this self-imposed guilt, adolescents can manipulate feelings and may attempt to guilt adults into adopting them. Foster parents may care for these children and don’t want to see them move homes again. However, if you are not 100% committed to the idea of adoption do not decide to do it. It does not make you a bad person if you don’t want to be their legal guardian. If it feels wrong do not proceed. Another common reason people choose to adopt is to save failing marriages. Unfortunately, this occurs a lot as couples think the new addition will bring them closer together. Although at the beginning it may provide a distraction from marital issues, it will not last. A child cannot fix a broken relationship and should not be asked to. They will be pulled into a messy situation while believing that they are at fault for the breakdown. Often, the adoptive parents will slowly begin to resent the infant subconsciously for not saving the relationship. Another flawed reason to explore is adoption solely because a spouse wants to. Couples must be on the same page and have an equal level of passion, or it simply will not succeed. It takes two to tango and two to raise a child. Speak with your partner, clear the air. Many chose to adopt due to their fear of an empty nest. Mothers are often concerned with the emptiness of the home and their own personal lack of direction when children grow up and move out. Their adult children are now independent of their parents and do not need much direction, often resulting in the mother’s decision to adopt. It is a suitable option for them as older mothers do not need to worry about their biological clock impacting their decision to have a child in this way. Sadly, when this is the primary catalyst for the decision to adopt, it normally does not happen. When choosing to care for a kid you must be there to provide for the child’s needs and to help them to grow in love in your home. It is not the opposite, where the child is fulfilling your needs. The work completed in adoption agencies centers on the child and the suitability of the home for them. It can seem overly thorough and strict but it is entirely necessary at moments like this when adults must study the impact the child will have in their lives and if they can deal with this to care for them effectively. Of course, not all adoptions are for the wrong reasons. Adoption agencies will assess you to see if you are prepared and suitable to adopt, but it is worth reviewing these points to ensure that you are in the right position to begin. You may want to help a child who is without a family and provide for them, which is amazing. Remember, you must accept their heritage, faith and who they are as a person. Respect their history. The child may grow to be different than what you wanted for a son or daughter, but you cannot alter someone’s personality. Don’t try to change them but instead offer them a helping hand whenever they need it. Similarly, the entire family should be on board with the adoption decision. For a child to come into a comfortable, safe home the family must be unified and enthusiastic about the process. They are gaining a sibling and must make their new brother/sister feel at home. If your biological kids aren’t on board with the idea, do not force it or proceed. If these things are not an issue, it seems like you may be ready to adopt. It is extremely rewarding to mould the little one into a better version of themselves while you pass on your life’s knowledge to them, knowing that you helped them gain a better life. They are the ones who will make your life better.
Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life. Preparations begin for the new arrival and mothers do their best to give their baby the best chance of a healthy life. Sadly, prenatal disorders can sometimes occur during pregnancy, although they are present in a minority of cases. Women often worry about these developing during pregnancy, but what are they? Prenatal disorders are defects that occurs before the birth of the baby. Some birth defects like clubfoot can be seen at birth, yet other problems may not be recognised until later, like hearing issues. Doctors and midwives do their best to ensure the baby is healthy by scheduling regular check-ups and scans during pregnancy and performing tests to monitor any signs of potential irregularities. While in the womb babies can develop complications when their organs and bodies are forming. Often prenatal disorders occur as a result of genetic makeup that is passed from the parents. Others can be caused from chromosomal problems. A minority of defects are sometimes caused as a result of medications that the parent is taking or infections they may have picked up. The reality is that in many cases there are no known reasons why they are caused. Certain factors can increase the rate of prenatal disorders such as geriatric pregnancies (women over 35), women who have previously had a child with a prenatal disorder, have a family history of disorders, uses certain medication at the time of conception, abuses drugs or alcohol during pregnancy or has medical conditions like diabetes or obesity.     Unfortunately, not all prenatal disorders can be prevented, but there are many things you can do to decrease the risk of the baby developing them. If you are planning to have a child you should visit your doctor first. They will assess your health, risk factors and chances of having a healthy pregnancy. They will also give you helpful advice with any questions you might have about pregnancy or prenatal disorders. Speak with your doctor about any medications that you are on that could affect the pregnancy or medical conditions you have. Ensure that you have all of your injections at least one month before becoming pregnant. It is recommended to get a flu shot as pregnant women are more likely to suffer severe illness from the flu with many being hospitalised each year. Begin taking a prenatal multivitamin to improve your immune system before and during pregnancy. These are available from your local pharmacy and contain the specific amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential at this time including vitamin A, C D, folic acid, and minerals like iron. However, do not exceed 10,000 units of vitamin A a day as overindulgence has been seen to result in complications during pregnancy. It is advised that 400 micrograms of folic acid ought to be consumed daily for the duration of a month before pregnancy and during pregnancy. This is a B vitamin that helps with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It’s also important to avoid certain agents. It is good to limit Mercury intake, so avoid eating king mackerel, shark, tilefish or swordfish. You can however eat up to 6 ounces a week of white tuna. Many women believe fish should not be eaten during pregnancy, however it is nutritional for mother and baby. You can eat 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish and shellfish per week. Exposure to lead is suggested, which is present in old paint and construction resources. Certain infections can increase the threat of prenatal disorders. Many people are vaccinated against these, so infections are not a huge risk. Rubella is one such infection which symptoms include rash and fever. It’s a virus that during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, deafness, blindness, heart issues or learning difficulties in a newborn. Toxoplasmosis is another, caused by a parasite from the soil. People catch this by eating undercooked meat, unwashed vegetables or animal faeces, particularly from cats. This often causes deafness, blindness and intellectual issues. Only consume meat that is cooked through and wear gloves when gardening, handling unwashed vegetables or animal faeces. Cytomegalovirus is an extremely common virus that causes no real issues in an average person, but can infect the foetus of a pregnant woman. Most of the time it is not harmful but in a minority of cases it has resulted in babies developing problems with vision, hearing and intellectual disability. This can be spread through a child’s urine or body fluids. Pregnant women who are in regular contact with children should wear gloves when changing nappies and wash hands regularly. Sexually transmitted infections also cause prenatal disorders. During gestation it’s advised to maintain a healthy weight as obesity can cause complications. And of course, avoid all alcohol, drugs or prescription medication for nonmedical purposes. Alcohol passes to the baby through the umbilical cord and can have huge implications on an infant’s growth rate as well as causing lifelong physical, intellectual and behavioural problems. It is worth noting that there is no official or recommend ‘safe’ amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. Drug use can also cause prenatal disorders and miscarriage. In the final stages of pregnancy drug abuse often stunts the growth of the foetus, causes preterm birth or even fetal death. Babies who are born to mothers who used drugs during pregnancy often need special care and can be addicted to narcotics. Smoking cigarettes has also been linked to disorders such as cleft lip, cleft palate and even infant death. The mere presence of tobacco around a pregnant lady can put her at risk. If you have high risk factors your health care professional or obstetrician-gynaecologist (ob-gyn) may perform additional tests to attempt to reduce your risk level. If you have concerns about a family history of prenatal disorders you can consider genetic counselling or screening to examine your baby. This allows mothers to gain all the information they can before delivery in order to make decisions and prepare.
We cannot die the love we have as a society for our phones. They give us moments of peace from our beloved children in order to maintain our sanity. However, it is not just us that use them. Children are having more and more screen time from phones, iPad, laptops and TVs. This does not solely concern children, as toddlers and even babies are turning to technology for entertainment. Although this can be beneficial for kids, what with the many educational videos and games there are today, kids can do with some time away from the screen. As we mature throughout life, our digital consumption increases. We maintain friendships digitally and our work-life is centered online. We should try to reduce our children’s use of these forms of technology while we still can. Here we have some easy activities for your little one to do without a screen! Colouring Pages Colouring may seem mundane and unexciting, when in reality it’s of benefit to children and adults alike. There is something therapeutic about taking time to partake in the simple act of colouring. Placing your sole focus on colouring or trying to avoid getting marks outside the lines without anything concerning on your mind relaxes the whole body. It helps the brain to concentrate in a way that is similar to meditation. It is even said to help sleep patterns. Enter your local bookstore and you will see colouring books designed for adults perched on the shelves. In children, it helps nurture their creative side, and allows them to experiment with colour and expand their artistry – even if their art looks nothing like the Mona Lisa. A great way to get the kids excited about colouring is by asking them what they would like to colour. A quick google search will show you that most cartoon characters have colouring paper uploaded which you can print for them. This allows the children to feel involved and is more current than a colouring book that they have used a million times before.   Homemade Science Experiments Why not perform a homemade science experiment? Experiments can be super fun, easy and involve household items so that you don’t need to pop to the shops in order to do one. Anything that is educational but fun is a massive win for their young minds, and they won’t even realise they’re learning! There are many easy experiments you can make that are relatively clean and mess free. You don’t need to be Einstein to pull this one off. The colour changing milk experiment uses food colouring to show the amount of fat present in different types of milk, turning the beverage into a rainbow that the kids will love. You could also make slime with a few basic items including glue and water. Learning through play is fundamental in a child’s development and this is also a great way to get your child thinking positively about science, or at least how things are made. They will also see that learning is not just for school. Just imagine of how cool and smart your kids will think you are!   Build A Fort Building a fort is a great way to pass the time for the kids. This provides hours of entertainment as they lose themselves in the make-believe worlds of their imaginations. Simply supply the blankets, sheets, pillows or boxes and away they go. From a development point of view it helps their motor skills as well as teaching them about construction, but really it’s just plain fun. It’s pretty entertaining to see your child in their plush den, or to watch them fight an imaginary army from the safety of the sofa. Be warned, it can get loud! If they are very young you can get involved and show them how you build it, but don’t think that this means they will let you in without the password! Throw in some sleeping bags or duvets to lie on and make it cosy for them to have some downtime after all the chaos. Go For A Nature Walk This is a great excuse to get the kids to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Let their curiosity lead the way as you investigate plants, puddles and lakes or streams. Is there any animals or wildlife they can see? This can be done in a park or even a patch of grass. Take a mason jar and try to catch insects for them to see close up. It’s a great way to bond with them while they learn about the outdoors using all five senses. Kids from 3-6 in particular will love this and become mesmerised by these everyday things. This is a great activity for sibling bonding as older children can help teach the younger siblings about their surroundings. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to get back to nature as well as a reminder of how we overlook these things on a daily basis which are awe-inspiring to these young minds. Build An Obstacle Course Obstacle courses are an ideal solution to get your child moving and are easy to make. Go through your garage and you will be sure to find a few items that will look great in your garden course. These could be anything from hula hoops, footballs, cones, skipping ropes or play tunnels. Tell them to pretend they are a soldier or a champion athlete and watch their competitive side emerge. This is also a cheap activity where you don’t have to spend a penny! Healthy alternatives like this work perfectly to replace screen time. We need to put these practices into play while the kids are young and are influenced by our every move. While they might moan at first for having to go outside, they will thank you in the long run! It’s also amazing for tiring them out. A win-win for all!
Every parent wants their children to be happy, which is why it can be so hard to say no. However, research shows that the most beneficial parenting style for infant development is a mixture of compassion and clear boundaries. A monumental tantrum can put a dampener on the loveliest family evenings. When kids act out, scream and plead, giving-in can be a tempting short term solution to end the conflict. Nonetheless, parents must beware that too many concessions can result in becoming a slave to their children’s demands. Learning to be assertive is essential in raising a child that is capable and self sufficient. Setting boundaries and sticking to them will teach an infant to delay gratification and tolerate the inevitable frustrations experienced in later life with resilience and grace. This article teaches you when to pick your battles and take back authority. Following through on a clear and decisive ‘no’ without escalating conflict and creating consistent limitations that will make your child thrive in a reliable sense of routine. Danger Young infants do not yet have a strongly developed reasoning faculty to make informed choices. As an adult, with years of life experience, it is up to you to prevent the child from harming themselves or others. For example, a child that is about to handle an electrical socket or touch a red-hot stove should be lectured on the danger of such an endeavour. Lest, the child repeats the behaviour once out of sight of parental figures. Another instance might include bouncing on a couch or mattress. Children need help making sensible choices, therefore an adult might direct them to a safer activity. Thus, teaching a youngster to delay gratification. A child that understands safety and patience will be an appealing playmate. It is much harder to socialize children to play well with others when they have only experienced being treated like a tiny emperor. Self-reliance The ultimate aim of parenting is to produce competent adults. Consequently, kids need practice mastering difficult tasks. This essential training is denied to an infant if every little thing is taken care of for them. It may be enticing to quickly tie their shoelaces and button up their jacket, especially when in a tremendous rush to get out the house. Yet, this robs them of a vital opportunity to develop proficiency and independence. These incremental successes build confidence and self-esteem. Something as simple as setting the table gives a sense of contributing to the family unit and feeling needed is a fundamental building block of self-worth. Mastery of their environment in childhood instills a certain confidence in later life, leading them to tackle difficult circumstances instead of shying away when faced with adversity. Saying ‘no’ in this circumstance forges a stronger and more resilient adult. Resentment When resentment piles up in any relationship, it can be truly detrimental. The bond between parent and child is no different. Many will not readily admit that they bear a grudge towards their young infant as it is taboo. Yet, it is surprisingly prevalent. Parents make significant sacrifices for their kids, without taking time for themselves. When resentment mounts, parents bury this emotion and feel guilty instead. However, it is beneficial to listen and take notice of strong emotions. If bitterness reaches fever pitch, revenge is taken, whether conscious or not. Therefore, aim to prevent your child from doing things that make you resent them. Set reasonable boundaries and compromise on alternatives that both are happy with. Children often don’t realize that what they are doing is wrong, so stay calm and explain. Be assertive, if you cave in to every little demand, you might not like yourself for it. Self-respect is the basis of saying ‘no’ and sticking to your guns. A want, not a need Infants struggle to contain selfish impulses because their prefrontal cortex is still in development. This is something that advertisers know and love to take advantage of. Young kids are besieged on all sides with shiny new toys to bug Mum and Dad about. Parents must differentiate between what is a need or just a passing yearning. Saying ‘no’ teaches valuable lessons in patience and delaying gratification. Therefore, it is best to acknowledge that it is a beautiful object and they can save up for it in the future if it is truly necessary. For instance, parents are bombarded nowadays with their children’s desire to purchase a smartphone. However, there should be an age-limit to such risky and addictive technology. A certain level of maturity is needed to operate phones safely. Never purchase something if it runs against your better judgement. Children will respect integrity in the long run. Parents are setting an example in how they behave so this is an exercise in teaching moral character. Your children are watching even when you don’t think they are. The importance of boundaries Parents are overworked, overburdened and overtired. It is no surprise then that they would rather not spend valuable family time arguing. Many would be inclined to favour short-term solutions that guarantee a little peace and quiet. However, it is best for parents to instill strong habits early on, actively striving to make themselves obsolete. Thereby raising autonomous citizens of the world who can then give back, instead of learning to greedily take what they feel entitled to. For this reason, say ‘no’ in a clear and firm tone, following through with consistency and fairness. Meet outbursts with calm explanation instead of escalating to anger. A child will capitalize on any weakness shown, so think twice before backing down. Children will feel safe and comfortable when they understand the clear boundaries assigned to behavior. That being said, too many rules is a tyranny. Walk the line between structure and enjoyment to provide security without stifling childish imagination and joy. For the sake of your growing youngster, be assertive and give them structure. Their future selves will thank you.