Share your expertise with new parents as a Parenting Program group speaker

woman interacting with babies and toys

Every year, more than 55 parent groups begin their six-month journey of support and education. The topics presented help new parents gain confidence, in turn building a strong family foundation.

The Parenting Program is always seeking qualified individuals who can give a few hours a month to provide the quality education that our families have come to expect. Please take a minute to consider this opportunity to volunteer.

What we look for in a speaker

You must have knowledge or experience in the topic that you’re presenting. Here are a list of suggested presenter backgrounds and recommended topics:

  • Pediatrician, physician assistant, nurse, nurse practitioner
    • Topics:
      • Common Childhood Illnesses
      • Feeding
      • Sleep
      • Development and Temperament
  • Nutritionist
    • Topic:
      • Feeding
  • Teacher, occupational and/or speech therapist
    • Topics:
      • Play and Reading
      • Development and Temperament
      • Speech and Language Development
  • Counselor, therapist, social worker
    • Topics:
      • Adjustments to Parenthood
      • Our Past and Parenting
  • Massage therapist or someone with certification or appropriate training and experience
    • Topic:
      • Infant Massage
  • Experienced dads
    • Topic:
      • Focus on Fathers (Our “dads only” topic)
  • Experienced parents
    • Topics:
      • Child Safety
      • Travel
      • Baby Sign Language
      • Play and Reading
      • Photography
      • Exercise

Note: Retired individuals are especially welcome to share their expertise in any of these topics.

What being a speaker involves

  • We recommend that a new speaker observe an experienced speaker to get a feel for the group dynamic.
  • Each presentation is between 45 minutes and an hour.
  • Speaker outlines are provided, as are topic handouts for parents.
  • We educate in a very informal way.
    • We meet in living rooms or classrooms, and typically sit in a circle with babies on a blanket on the floor.
    • Parents are relaxed and open to discussion.

One of the greatest benefits to being a group speaker is seeing the response of parents and babies. The experience is energizing and very rewarding!

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer group speaker, please call our group coordinators at 248-898-3233 or email them directly.

  • Betsy Clancy: Elizabeth.Clancy@Beaumont.org
  • Nichole Enerson: Nichole.Enerson@Beaumont.org

Breaking digital addictions

girl holding smartphone while looking out window

Did you see the recent study from Harvard noting that increases in Facebook use correlated with decreases in well-being, even after controlling for baseline levels of use? This was the case even when the study participants were “liking” and posting, rather than merely “lurking” on social media. The authors conclude:

“The full story when it comes to online social media use is surely complex. Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison, and the sheer quantity of social media interaction may detract from more meaningful real-life experiences. What seems quite clear, however, is that online social interactions are no substitute for the real thing.” – Shakya & Christakis, 2017 (emphasis is mine)

In previous posts, Phubbers and the iPhone Effect and Stuck in Cyberspace: The hidden dangers of Internet addiction, we discussed the power of technology to pull us out of our everyday lives and even put our relationships at risk.

Nonetheless, we all see the benefits of using computers and smartphones, and even television and video games can have valued uses. Ideally we want a balanced relationship with our technological gadgets. Remember that overuse of technology is a habit, and like all habits, it can be hard to break. Also, we often handle social anxiety by retreating into our digital worlds; this doesn’t help us build relationships or deal with discomfort.

This HelpGuide.org resource lists key features of smartphone addiction, includes an online quiz, and offers tips to help break digital addictions. Here are some of the highlights, along with a few tidbits I’ve learned through working on my own smartphone use:

  • Make technology your servant, not your master.
  • Goal is to cut back to healthy levels of use.
  • Think before you automatically pick up phone.
  • Turn off notifications on apps and games.
  • Review responses before sending.
  • Make “good habits” easier and “bad habits” harder. Remove apps or move icons off home screen
  • Keep phone away from bed (light filter).
  • Read “real” books in bed. Also, e-readers that do not emit light should not disrupt sleep.
  • Buy an alarm clock.
  • Adjust your settings to silence your phone at night. The timer/alarm will still go off and certain contacts can still call through for emergencies.
  • Realize: You don’t get those minutes back that you spent aimlessly drifting through the internet.
  • Set goals for when you can use your smartphone and use a timer to keep yourself honest.
  • Turn off your phone at certain times of the day.
  • Replace your smartphone use with healthier activities (e.g., physical activity, talking to others, reading, etc.).
  • Spending time with other smartphone addicts? Play the “phone stack” game: Everyone stacks their phones in a location out of arm’s reach, and just interacts with each other.
  • Limit “checks” of your phone. Wean yourself off compulsive checking.
  • Maybe most importantly, curb your fear of missing out, and tune in to what is going on around you. You may really be amazed at what you see and who you talk to when your face is not stuck in a screen!

– Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s

Tips for Mother’s Day from a Mom

MOM decorative letters

What does Mother’s day mean?

It is one day of out 365 to highlight the main woman (or women) in your life who works endlessly, tirelessly, and often unnoticed, in your family to keep things running smoothly.

This day is a celebration honoring the mother in your family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. How should this day be celebrated? How do you take one day out of the year to show your appreciation for all this love and hard work? Here’s my take on some tips for Mother’s Day:

  • Make the entire day about what the women in your life want to do. No joke here when I say that last year I spent some of my day in Home Depot picking out paint colors for our house. Take my advice when I say do not do this! Don’t treat Mother’s Day as any ordinary Sunday where you can cram in some house chores. Instead, have the men take the kid(s) out of the house to lunch or to the park so mom can enjoy some quiet time to take a shower without children barging in, read a book she’s been behind on, or do anything that she wants to do!
  • If you have young children who can’t make a cute project or pick out a present for their mother, dads you are responsible for getting something for your other half. Yep. Although she may not be your mother, your significant other is the mother to your children. Get her a meaningful gift from your little one to show her how much she means to the both of you. Hands down, I would prefer a handmade gift from my husband and little ones over a store-bought necklace or candy. Pinterest is full of ideas, but suggestions can be these adorable handprint canvas sign, this salt dough footprint craft, or this floral perfume spray that little hands can easily pick out, cut and stuff into spray bottles!
  • Although flowers are nice, even better than that is a nap and a day off duty from being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love both my children. I have two young boys (4 years and 4 months) and give them everything I have every single day. But for Mother’s Day, I would really like to have a day off from being Mom. I would like for my husband to be the one to get the cup of water, peel the banana, put a Band-Aid on my son’s knee, fix the broken toy, and help rock by baby to sleep. Being a sleep-deprived mother means that all my daydreams right now are currently of scooting away from my responsibilities and catching a 15 minute power nap. If you really want to spoil the woman in your life, give her money and time to go to Target by herself or a trip to the spa to get some pampering!

These tips are just from my point of view, but from my talks with family and friends, I know that I’m not alone. The most important point I’m trying to make is that moms want this day to be meaningful. Take the time to tell your mother, your wife, your sister, your mother-in-law, stepmother, friends and others how much they mean to you and your family. One day out of the year to show gratitude and appreciation for all the work moms do for their loved one the rest of the 364 days of the year.

P.S. Moms, feel free to give a “subtle hint” by sharing this post.

– Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of two.

Even dads get the blues: Postpartum depression in men

silhouette of man with head down

Having a baby is an amazing and wonderful experience, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful. No matter how much moms and dads prepare for the day when they bring their little bundle of joy home, parents can still be shocked by the reality of life with a new baby. It can take time to find the family’s new groove.

This can be complicated further with the addition of the most common complication of childbirth: postpartum depression (PPD). A whopping 10 to 20 percent of new moms will experience PPD and/or postpartum anxiety, and that is only the number of moms who report it!

But what about the dads? Does PPD only affect moms? The answer to that is no. Research is showing that up to 14 percent of new dads in the United States (compared to 10 percent internationally) experience paternal postpartum depression (PPPD).

The symptoms may differ from traditional depression symptoms, making PPPD challenging to diagnose. These symptoms may include:

  • Irritability isolating or withdrawing from relationships
  • Working a lot more or less
  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Low motivation
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking behaviors, often including turning to substances (e.g., alcohol, prescription drugs, etc.)
  • Physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, muscle aches, stomach/digestion issues, etc.)
  • Anger and outbursts
  • Violent behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts

Untreated depression in dads can have incredibly negative effects in many aspects of life, including impacting their children. Depressed dads are more likely to be stressed out and neglectful, as well as more likely to spank their children and less likely to read/interact with them, all of which can cause long-term consequences for their kids (Nauert, 2015).

The good news is, much like maternal PPD, paternal PPD is easily treatable. If you or someone you know may be experiencing PPPD it’s important to get help. The sooner treatment starts, the sooner you’ll enjoy your new family and be the dad you always wanted to be! For more information please check out these websites:

– Raelle Plante, MSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator with the Parenting Program at Beaumont, Troy

References:

Choo choo

two girls in front of Chicago skyscrapers

I have to admit I was a little nervous. It’s hard not to be when you go on a mini-vacation with your kids. Don’t get me wrong; my wife and I have done all we can to have our girls travel and we always have a good time.

I’m talking it about it being me — and only me — with the girls. We were headed to Chicago to visit my sister, her husband and my niece, so I had backup at our destination. Not only was it the first time I’m flying solo as a parent on a trip, but it was my first time on a train.

My wife, Becky, took the girls on the same trip a few years back, so the kids were pros riding the train. They told me where they wanted to sit, how to plug in the tablets, and even how to get on the Wi-Fi. The girls pointed out the bathrooms and even where the café car was. They acted like world travelers.

two girls in front of cupcake ATM

In Chicago, we hit all the hot spots a 9 and 6 year old wanted to hit. NikeTown for new shoes for Girls on the Run. Matching outfits for the youngest and her American Girl Doll. We even went to a bakery that had a cupcake ATM (check that one off the bucket list … and who knew it was on my bucket list?).

We weren’t just there to help the American economy, but I can say, “You’re welcome, America!” One of my main goals was for my girls to bond with their new cousin. Being hundreds of miles away from family is tough. Being that far away from one of the cutest kids ever makes it even harder. But we do what we can and by the time we were leaving, the three girls seemed to grow closer.

We walked on to a full train coming home, so full in fact we had to sit in the café car at one of the tables. I thought this would put a damper on the trip because it wasn’t exactly comfortable. But it made for good people watching!

We saw people from all walks of life like college kids heading back to Ann Arbor and moms taking their kids to see their grandparents for spring break. A train is a true melting pot and it provided me with some teaching moments.

It also allowed the girls to teach me a few things. Sure they pick at each other like siblings do, but they truly love each other and they showed it during that 4½ hour ride back by being patient and listening. I also learned that my youngest knows how to deal from the bottom of the desk during a game of war, but that’s for another blog.

It is nice to get a change of venue for some one-on-one time with your children. Shaking up the norm can show you as a parent where you need to help your kids improve, but it also lets you know what you’re doing right. The trip proved that my wife and I are building a pretty good team with our two girls and they’ll be ready to help each other up when they fall down; they may laugh first, but that’s for yet another blog.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

Want cheap and healthy meals? Cook at home

family eating at table

USDA, Flickr. CC license.

Did you know that homemade fare is typically better for you than restaurant food? Recent research confirms that if you’re trying to save money while eating healthier, then stick close to your own kitchen.

Why?

  • Frequent dining out is with lower diet quality, more “empty calories” and higher diet costs compared to home cooking.
  • The most common culprits for restaurant meals: added fats and/or sugar, higher calories, and alcohol.
  • It’s cheaper to eat at home than at a restaurant. Food bills for those who cook at home are $273/month versus $364/month for those who eat out.
  • Home-cooked meals are healthier. Americans spend half of their food dollars on meals consumed outside the home, but only about 1 in 5 of those meals meet nutritional recommendations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Research

Studies done in 2011 and 2013 found that:

  • Individuals who eat at home more frequently (i.e., cooking dinner at home four to seven times a week) scored higher on the U.S. Healthy Eating Index. This index assesses whether someone gets the right combination of fruit, vegetables and other nutritional elements.
  • People who cook at home also spent less overall than those who ate out more often. This includes food consumed outside and at home.

Making a positive change

Cooking at home doesn’t have to be time-consuming or require advanced cooking skills. You can keep it simple by trying to ensure that every meal is composed of half of fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of whole grains, and one-quarter of lean protein.

Check out these websites for easy recipes to prepare at home:

– Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D., is a registered dietitian with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center. Did you know the Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking classes for kids? Learn more about these free sessions for kids age 6 and up.

References:

 

The heart of a Parenting Program volunteer

Thank you

During National Volunteer Week, I am especially cognizant of the massive impact made by each of our volunteers. I am reminded that this program would not and could not exist without our team of volunteers. And if I am perfectly honest, I don’t need a nationally recognized proclamation to appreciate the efforts of our volunteers. I already have an immense amount of pride and sincere appreciation each and every time I see one of our volunteers giving dedicated time on the unit or helping out in our office.

I frequently leave a parent group setting on a utopic high. I’ve been known to drop a tear or two, when reading parent evaluations that highlight above and beyond volunteer support. I continue to be amazed by the many volunteers who come into the hospital on weekends and on holidays. One, in particular, has been doing it for more than 20 years. Beaumont senior leaders and administrators can attest to the fact that it is not uncommon for me to gush about our team of volunteers whenever and wherever I can. Yep, without reservation and quite unabashedly, I shout from the mountain tops on a regular basis that the Parenting Program unequivocally has the best of the best volunteers.

I could spend days on end sharing the many stories of extraordinary volunteers. And yes, I must admit, I have some favorites. But what I find most compelling, and perhaps even a phenomenon, is that our volunteers don’t wish to be acknowledged in front of a crowd or presented with a pin signifying years of service. In fact, most of our Parenting Program volunteers specifically verbalize that an award luncheon and monetary gifts are unnecessary.

So, what does that tell you about our amazing volunteers? Parenting Program volunteers give straight from the heart.

To all of our volunteers – I am grateful for the many lessons you have taught me and I am thankful for your passion, time and talents. With each family that you support, the ripple effect is monumental.

Happy National Volunteer Week!

– Deanna Robb, Beaumont Parenting Program Director


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