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Breaking Up After Baby

July 10, 2014

Did you know that 13 percent of marriages end in divorce within five years of a first child’s birth? That’s just for couples who were married when the baby was born. For couples who weren’t married but were living together when the first child was born, that rate jumps to 39 percent.

It’s not news that having a baby is tough work. Aside from the physical demands, both on a pregnant woman’s body and on both parents from lack of sleep after the baby is born, there are countless emotional demands on a couple. And I’m not even getting into the effect post-partum depression can have on the relationship, which is an entirely different and very real beast.

Babble.com’s ChaunieBrusie spoke with a clinical psychologist about why couples break up after having a baby. In the article, she also offers tips on how to better sustain your relationship after his or her birth. Read the article for more information and those helpful tips.

Tags :  parentingbabypregnancymarriageinfant
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How to Address the Fear of Becoming a Father

June 24, 2014

By Mario Vela

The author holds his newborn daughter in the hospital.

I’m 32 years old, and for the last seven years I’ve been terrified of the thought of being a father. I am an analytical person, and can lose myself in thinking of worst-case scenarios. But now I am finally comfortable and excited that my wife of ten years is expecting just had our first child.

Why have I been concerned all these years? I questioned my ability to raise a child since I never had a traditional father figure. My mother left my father when I was an infant and married someone with whom I always had a contentious relationship.

In my journey to becoming an expectant father, I’ve used my analytical nature to my advantage. I have thought about why I was afraid to have children, have worked through my fears, and have developed some ideas to help transition from my role as a husband to my new role as a husband and father. I want to share these tips with expectant and new fathers to help them, too.

  • Create a list of parental figures. Think about your role models. What good qualities do they have? Try to embody those qualities and pass them along to your child. Do not limit yourself in gender- or culture-based learning, as it is possible to learn more from diverse perspectives. Since I had an open mind in learning from others, I was able to leave some of the limiting social constructs of my own upbringing behind.
  • Learn from others. Have dinner with your friends with kids and learn from their experiences. Spend time with them and listen to their triumphs with their children and also of the challenges they encounter. Ask yourself if this is the life you want to pursue.
  • Create a support system. My wife and I recently moved to a different city, so creating a support system has been a little more difficult than usual, but we have developed relationships with friends whom I value and trust. Those people have helped me overcome my fears and will help us when our baby arrives. It’s important to know we’re not alone.
  • Spend time with other people’s children. Visit with your friends’ and family’s children and interact with them. Rather than just hearing stories from others, this will allow you to learn from experience and see the patience and care required to raise your own children.
  • Be honest and set realistic expectations with your partner. When my wife let me know that not having children was non-negotiable to stay married, I came to the realization that my children are a source of my legacy. I finally realized that I have something to offer.

Through this decision-making process, I learned from some of my closest friends and relatives. In the end, I made a personal and, for me, a very difficult decision: I know that I can offer a strong future to my children. I kept questioning my abilities as a father, and eventually learned that I have every right to be a father, and that I will be a good one.

*Editor's note: Mario and his wife Ana welcomed their baby girl less than two weeks before we published this article. Congratulations to Mario and Ana!

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My Story: Being an Au Pair

June 2, 2014

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Two women push kids in strollers and talk in the park.

Photo credit: Tumar/Shutterstock.com

I was 21 years old when I decided I needed an adventure. I was mid-way through my bachelor’s degree and graduation seemed closer and closer each day. I was confident I would have a job before finishing college, but I worried that with the responsibilities that come with having a full-time job it would be a while before I could have a long-term adventure in another country. I didn’t want to enroll in an exchange program since I knew my parents didn’t have enough money to support me in a foreign country, so I started looking for jobs. That’s when I learned about au pairs.

An au pair is a young woman (or man) between the ages of 18 and 26, with limited childcare experience who is willing to stay with a family in a foreign country for a cultural exchange and to take care of their children as nannies do.

The differences between an au pair and a nanny are that the latter makes a career out of childcare work, might be older, and doesn’t seek a cultural exchange. Au pairs become part of the host family. They live and vacation with together and receive lodging, meals, and a monthly salary from the host family. Besides taking care of the children, they perform some household chores and overall can be considered older siblings to your kids.

I ended up being an au pair for eight months in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a marvelous experience for both my host family and me. I will never forget Oktay and Sibel, the two kids who became my little brother and sister, and my experiences there.

With that experience in mind, if you plan to hire an au pair or nanny, here are some things that you might want to consider:

  • The candidate must have basic first aid knowledge.
  • He or she must have experience taking care of children. Since an au pair will be living with you and will be immersed in your family routine, he or she might have less formal experience taking care of other people’s children. Ask for references in both cases.
  • Make sure he or she shares your family values, especially if you plan to hire an au pair with whom you will be sharing your personal family life. Even though he or she might have other customs, since the au pair is likely from a culture and country different from yours, ask him or her about core beliefs and morals.
  • Use an agency for both au pairs and nannies since most agencies do a background check. There are many au pair agencies out there like Great Au Pair and Au Pair Care
  • Your family should meet the au pair or nanny before you hire him or her. Talk about your expectations and make sure your personalities are a good fit. If the au pair lives in a foreign country, schedule some Skype calls in advance of the move. 
  • Before hiring an au pair or nanny, make sure the monetary compensation and list of specific chores expected from him or her are clear for both parties.

If you make sure through extensive research that the au pair or nanny is a good fit for your family, your family and the au pair or nany will end up having a wonderful and enriching experience.

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Should I be reading to my baby? He can’t even talk yet!

May 16, 2014

By YOU Parent Facilitator

A mother and father hold their son as they read to him.

Question: Should I start reading to my 6-month-old son? I don’t think he knows what I’m saying, so do I really need to read to him before he learns to talk?

Answer: It might not make sense when you first think about it, but reading to your baby now will help him learn to talk sooner and will help develop his vocabulary.

Specifically, reading to him provides visual stimulation, story element introduction, sequence processing, and information synthesis. These are more clinical terms that mean that reading to him will help his brain develop.

As you try reading to him, start with these simple techniques to engage different parts of his brain and senses.

  • Let him touch books that have different textures.
  • Point to a picture in the book and tell him what it is. For example, if there is a picture of a bear, point to it and say, “bear.”
  • Repeat the name of the image a few times while pointing to it to reinforce the word association.
  • As he gets older and learns to talk, point to a picture in the book and ask him what it is. “What is this animal?”

Aside from benefitting his brain development, when you read to him you cater to his emotional well-being. As you try reading to him, sit close and hold him while speaking in a gentle and loving voice. This approach will boost his sense of security and your bond together.

By starting to read to your son when he is six months old, you will help foster his emotional and academic achievement as he grows through family bonding, word association, and pronunciation practice.

For more information on reading to your baby, see the first book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher book series by Sunny P. Chico, Through the Early Years.

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Traveling with an Infant: 6 Best Practices

May 6, 2014

By Noralba Martinez

A baby sleeps in the back seat of the car as her parent drives.

Traveling with an infant is a daunting task. My children are older and easier to travel with now, but they were a handful when they were younger. The more practice you have traveling with an infant, the easier it will become, as you will learn what works best for your family. For example, ground travel was always easier for us than air travel. Here are some tips to make traveling with your infant less stressful.

  • Make a List. We have so many things in our mind that it is impossible to remember everything. Make a list to facilitate the process of packing for your trip. Be sure to include EVERYTHING you use for your infant (for example, a hotel might not have sensitive soap or cream).
  • Access Bag. Whether you are flying or traveling in a car, you will need a bag to access frequently-used items like diapers, wipes, medicines, formula, snacks, extra clothes, a blanket, and toys to make the trip comfortable for your infant. Keep this bag accessible.
  • Think Clean. Always carry anti-bacterial solution, a changing pad, wipes, and a first-aid kit.
  • Air Travel. If you are flying, remember that breast milk, baby formula, and baby food are considered medical necessities and can exceed 3.4 ounces. Your baby will need to be screened by TSA, but you can consult with the Transportation Security Officer if you have concerns or questions. Before takeoff, have your baby suck on something (pacifier or bottle) to avoid pain from the change in air pressure.
  • Road Trip. Make frequent stops if you are traveling a long distance to allow time to take your baby out of his or her car seat to stretch. Use car shades on the windows to avoid sunburns and play familiar baby music to calm your baby in the car if needed.
  • Schedule. Attempt to stay on or close to your baby’s schedule. Keep him or her alert during the day and try to keep nap times on schedule to avoid confusion and over-tiring.

Remember to have fun and enjoy your time with your baby. Don’t over-stress. It gets easier to travel after you do it over and over.

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