family life after

Breast Cancer: How Diagnosis and Treatment Affects the Family After Diagnosis

Family Life After a Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer can affect both the patient and other members of the family in many different ways. Telling the family is often one of the most difficult aspects, and many women reported dreading taking this step. For those who have already lost a relative to cancer, the reaction of the family may be elevated from fear to terror. Those with elderly parents in delicate health themselves are often also reluctant to share their diagnosis. Ironically, this reluctance to upset family members so often experienced by women accustomed to being nurturers often places the patients who need the most support in the role of caretaker.

The initial response of most families upon first hearing the news is shock, followed by fear, sadness and sometimes, anger. Once the family has worked through these initial emotions, many women report an overwhelming degree of support. Some of the support takes the form of physical assistance, such as older children taking over some of the household chores, or family members sharing the responsibility of driving the patient to appointments.

The Effects of Treatment on Family Life After the Diagnosis

There are several treatments for breast cancer, including removal of the breast. One of those treatments is a process called ovaries ablation, which suppresses the production of estrogen by the ovaries. Estrogen, a natural hormone which plays a role in regulating cell growth, unfortunately also plays a role in the growth of cancer cells. Part of cancer treatment is the necessity of suppressing the production of estrogen. Patients who have already had children and don’t plan to have more sometimes choose to have an ovariectomy, in which the ovaries are removed through either traditional surgery or laparoscopic surgery, which is less invasive. Recent clinical trials found that disease- free survival rates for women under 50 were highest for those who received ovarian ablation as a treatment to prevent further tumors.

Patients who plan to have children in the future often choose to halt the production of estrogen temporarily through radiation treatments. To prevent a recurrence of cancer, standard treatment options include drugs such as tamoxifen, which affects estrogen receptors. Due to the extremely adverse physical effects of chemotherapy, efforts to develop new drugs that can be effective alternatives are ongoing. Side effects of current treatments include putting the patient at higher risk of future cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

Emotional Effects on Family Life After a Diagnosis

While necessary life-saving treatments have some physical side effects, they can also result in emotional side effects that can affect family life after treatment. Some physical side effects of ablation include hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. All of these side effects affect the patient’s emotional state, which in turn affect the family after treatment. In addition to the physical and hormonal challenges the patient faces, there is also an emotional impact on family life after a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Anxiety, fear, and depression are common responses to the threat of the loss of a loved one. Another common change to family life after a diagnosis of cancer is that family members become caretakers to varying degrees. The caretaker role increases stress levels, which can impair the immune system. Increasingly, health care professionals are recognizing the potentially adverse effects of prolonged emotional stress. In an effort to ensure the continued health of the entire family after a diagnosis of breast cancer, some have created coping and distress checklists for both patients and caregivers.

They have also developed a number of free online classes to help the family after a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. Topics included effective communication, stress management, self-esteem, intimacy, and coping strategies. One of the most important sources of support for women facing breast cancer and the family after the diagnosis are the thousands of inspirational stories of other women who have successfully survived it. Many survivors have reported that the family after the experience was stronger and closer than ever.

Sources of Support

There are also a number of both national and international organizations and support groups available for breast cancer patients and their families, as well as cancer survivors and those who have lost a loved one to the disease. Cancer recognizes no national borders, and happily, nor does the compassion of the many individuals who work for organizations that help bring victims of the disease and their families together for mutual support and healing.

One survivor reported learning some valuable life lessons through her experience in successfully battling cancer. While she lost her job as the result of the lengthy treatments, she listed many of the things she felt she had gained. Among them were the ability to stand up and advocate for herself, and a heightened appreciation of health family, friends and life itself. She now runs a small non-profit volunteer organization that raises funds for cancer research. She also didn’t allow cancer to rob her of her sense of humor, judging by the name of her blog, which you can read at

family life after
The Van Moerkerken Family, Gerard ter Borch the Younger, Dutch, , ca. 1653–54, Credit Line The Jack and Belle Linsky Colle

April 4,2016  |

infant and child psychoanalyst

Human Growth and Development: It’s a Life-long Process

”These small moments, rather than the traumatic or dramatic moments of a baby’s life, make up the bulk of the expectations that adults bring to their relationships.”

–Daniel N. Stern

Controversy Surrounding Infant and Child Psychoanalyst Daniel N. Stern

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a view inside the mind of a pre-verbal child? Infant and child psychoanalyst Daniel N. Stern’s 1985 book, “The Interpersonal World Of The Infant: A View from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology”attempts to give readers just that. The theories presented in the book disputed the widely accepted theories of Freud regarding child developmental stages, and sparked a great deal of controversy.

Shortly after its publication, a 1986 article in the New York Times announced that the journal of Contemporary Psychoanalysis would devote an entire issue to comments about the book. Psychologist Louise Kaplan called his hypotheses unverified and unsupported by research, while psychologist Stanley Spiegel declared that it would be the most influential book on psychoanalytic theory of the decade.

Relevant Contributions of Infant and Child Psychoanalyst Daniel Stern

Among the controversial contributions of infant and child psychoanalyst Daniel Stern to the field of child psychology is the term “proto-narrative envelope”, which he believed contains organized experience in the structure of a non-verbal narrative consisting of perceptions. According to psychologist Felix Guattari, Stern’s work demonstrates that child development is not a matter of Freudian stages, but of what he calls levels of subjectivation. Subjectivation is a term used to describe the process of individuation, or the creation of a separate subject, or self.

Stern’s research provided evidence that infants are born with the capacity for mental organization and the ability to link sensory experiences. When new-born infants were asked questions, their answers were physical responses, such as turning their heads and looking. They were also able to generalize and recognize differences. It was this ability that caused Stern to question the idea of fixed developmental stages and to theorize that trauma can affect anyone similarly at any stage of life.

Research Studies of Infant and Child Psychoanalyst Daniel J. Stern

Stern’s research consisted in part of filming the interactions between mothers and their children and analyzing the films extensively. In one study, he videotaped three-hour sessions of the interactions between a mother and her infant twin sons until they were 15 months old. While analyzing the films, he detected a difference in how the mother maintained eye contact with one of the twins compared to the other. With one twin, when the baby averted it’s face, she immediately re-established eye contact, which often resulted in the baby crying. With the other, she allowed the baby to choose to re-establish eye contact. By age 15 months, Dr. Stern noted that the twin with whom the mother had forced eye contact seemed more fearful and dependent, averting his face when he wanted to break eye contact, while the other continued smiling while looking upward to do so.

Stern’s studies, observations and research led him to conclude that small daily exchanges between parent and child can shape the child’s relationship patterns in later life. He believed the same to be true for fathers as well as any adult spending prolonged periods of time with an infant.

Recommendations Resulting from Infant and Child Psychoanalyst Studies

Stern’s theory posits that rather than phases of development, life consists of a long continuum of small, yet important, interactions. He recommends that mothers “match” their children’s physical and emotional communications in order to provide them with a sense of being understood and connected. For example, when an infant squeals in delight, the mother might echo that sentiment by matching its pitch in her response.

This sense of feeling understood and validated helps promote individuation and autonomy. According to Stern, autonomy begins with small acts, such as a baby averting its eyes of face to express displeasure, which infants are capable of at about 4 months. Another important step in autonomy is gaining the ability to walk away at about 12 months, and to say no at about 14 months.

In response to critics who felt that his findings placed additional pressure on parents, Stern offered reassurance that while the psychological imprints of these early interactions are important, they are not irrevocable.

“Relationships throughout life – with friends or relatives, for example – or in psychotherapy continually reshape your working model of relationships. An imbalance at one point can be corrected later; there is no crucial period early in life – it’s an on-going, life-long process.”

Since parents, no matter how great their love, how good their intentions or how much expert advice from an infant and child psychoanalyst they follow, will always be imperfect human beings, this is welcome news indeed.

 infant and child psychoanalyst

March 28,2016  |

social change for mothers

The Evolution of Motherhood: The Next Generation

Has Technology Created Positive Social Change for Mothers ?

Motherhood as we know it began two million years ago with the emergence of homo erectus. Anthropologist Sarah Hrdy believes that one of the distinguishing features of human mothers in comparison to other primates was that of allowing others to care for their children, which is termed “alloparenting”. Child expert Pinky McKay believes that technological advances will never replace the emotional and educational benefits provided to children by the active involvement of extended family and a supportive community.

Advances in technology have resulted in the potential for an unprecedented amount of positive social change for mothers. However, societies have been slow to implement policies that fully realize that potential. A 2012 study funded by Proctor & Gamble and carried out by Galaxy Research sought to determine how much social change for mothers has resulted from technological advances. An online survey of 1,006 mothers with children aged 16 or younger throughout Australia revealed some surprising results.

Social Change for Mothers and Time

Surprisingly, regarding the question of whether modern technology has increased the amount of time that mothers have to themselves, the answer was a resounding “no”. In fact, the majority of respondents felt that they had the same amount or less time to themselves than their mothers had while raising them, even with the benefit of modern conveniences. The economic necessity of employment outside the home in addition to their parenting responsibilities was cited as the number one reason.

These findings reflect those of another study conducted by Eileen Trauth, a professor of Information Sciences at Penn State University. After interviewing 200 women, she concluded that mothers need as much social support today as they ever have. She also believes that such support should come in the form of improved parental leave policies for parents, retraining programs for those who temporarily leave the workforce to care for children, and more work- at- home options.

Multi-tasking- A Potential Negative Social Change for Mothers

Developments in technology have made it possible for women to attend online classes and professional conferences from their smart phones. However, while these developments have resulted in allowing women to spend more time with their children, it has also resulted in constant multi-tasking. Although they may be physically present with their children more, their attention is often divided. Additionally, the full benefits of technology, such as flexible schedules that allow women to work after their children are asleep, are still offset by women assuming the majority of housework in addition to their professional and childcare duties.

According to the P&G survey, mothers reported being able to spend an average of two hours and twenty minutes per day with their children, and most reported experiencing guilt as a result. The encouraging news is that 46% of them felt that it was more time than their own mothers had been able to spend with them as children. 78% of mothers also reported parenting differently than their own mothers, with 34% describing their style as more relaxed and 29% describing theirs as more nurturing.

Social Change for Mothers and Increasing Social Pressure

Another article points out that today’s mothers often face far more social pressure than mothers of previous generations. One reason is because according to the Pew Research Center the number of stay-at-home mothers in 1970 was still 40%, while by 1997, that number had shrunk to just 23%. In 2012, that number increased to 29%, but experts believe that this was the result of the difficulty in finding work due to the extended economic recession that continues to affect a number of countries.

While women still bear a greater responsibility for child care and household chores in addition to working outside the home, today’s mothers report that an increasing number of fathers are participating more in child care. 70% of respondents in the study reported that they received help from the children’s fathers and 21% received additional assistance from the children’s grandmothers. Sadly, 16% reported receiving no child care assistance from anyone.

Resources to Prevent Isolation

87% of modern mothers in the study reported experiencing feelings of isolation, with 36% reporting feeling that way every day. There is nothing as beneficial as talking with other mothers to help ease that sense of isolation. In fact, many mothers reported that their relationships with other mothers were among their primary sources of emotional support. Feeling a sense of isolation is so common that many mothers use social media to share tips for overcoming it with new mothers.

There are also a number of national and international support groups specifically designed for mothers to prevent social isolation. Other benefits include sharing resources, such as personal recommendations for safe dependable child care. Experts advise mothers-to-be to find and join a group even before the baby arrives. While online support groups can serve as a springboard for meeting other mothers, modern technology will never be able to replace the human hug as the most ideal form of understanding and encouragement.

social change for mothers
House Post Figure, 19thC, Indonesia, Papua, Kabiterau, Sentani people Credit Line The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Col

March 21,2016  |

family life and prison

Family Life and Prison: Changing Statistics Through Kindness

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

-Helen Keller

Family Life and Prison: An Increasingly Common Phenomenon

Virtually every country uses incarceration as a consequence for having committed a crime. In recent years, as the result of a number of factors including the war on drugs and the increasing economic gap between the rich and the poor, incarceration rates have begun to rise in most countries. In some countries, the increase in the number of incarcerated citizens has been substantial.

For example, in the U.S., 698 of every 100,000 people are currently incarcerated, exceeded only by Seychelles at 799 per 100,000. As of 2013, there were 2.7 million, or one in 28, children in the U.S. with a parent in prison. Over 14,000 of those children enter the foster care system each year. A 2011 study estimated that 800,000 children in the European Union (EU) experience separation from an incarcerated parent each year. In Russia, the ratio is 445 of every 100,000 people. Australia’s ratio is 151 of every 100,000 , while the Netherlands is at 75 per 100,000.

Many countries, such as Cambodia, Mexico, Turkey and Argentina, allow children to live in prison with their mothers until the age of 6. Russia requires children of prisoners to be placed in child care facilities attached to the prisons, with parents given regular access. Other countries, such as Norway and Australia, have residential units for female prisoners with young children. In the United States, very few prisons allow children to remain with their mothers, and those that do, only for 18 months. Despite differing ratios, geographic locations, and policies, the combination of family life and prison have similar negative effects on children worldwide.

Family Life and Prison—An Incompatible Combination

According to a 2009 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures acknowledges the importance of maintaining family contact to the well-being of children as well as to the post-release success of prisoners. However, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics, in U.S. state prisons, only 12.3 percent of fathers and 14.6 percent of mothers received visits from a child once a month, while fifty-nine percent of fathers and 58 percent of mothers received no visits.

Some of the reasons for infrequent contact include barriers such as prison rules and prisons being located too far away for family members to travel. American prisons also commonly charge excessive fees for telephone calls that might help maintain regular communication between family members. Long waits, body frisks, and crowded waiting rooms with no activities for children are also factors. Often, the other parent wants to sever ties with the prisoner.

Effects of Family Life and Prison on Children

In addition to the emotional trauma of being deprived of consistent contact with an imprisoned parent, children of incarcerated parents are at higher risk for a number of other health concerns. A study designed to examine the effects of having an incarcerated parent on the health of children found that they suffered higher rates of attention deficits, behavioral problems, speech, language and other developmental delays. Another study found that they had higher rates of anxiety, depression, obesity, and asthma.

A parent in prison can also affect a child’s future education. According to a 2013 report, in the U.S., only 1 to 2 percent of students with incarcerated mothers and 13 to 25 percent of students with imprisoned fathers graduate from college. A member of the family going to prison is considered one of the “adverse childhood experiences” that contribute to potentially life-long significant health, educational, and social problems for children.

Family life and prison causes children to struggle with feelings of anger and shame associated with social stigma. Grieving the loss of a positive role model, they often fear growing up to be incarcerated themselves.

The caretaking parent is often faced with financial difficulty due to the loss of a second income. Increased poverty leads to increased stress, which can also lead to angry and aggressive behaviors that can further negatively impact the child.

Family Life and Prison: Challenges Upon Release

The effects of parental incarceration on children continue after the release of the parent from prison. Reuniting with family members after a long separation is difficult. Children have grown and changed and have often formed relationships with other adult parental figures during their absence. The caretaking parent during the incarceration may feel protective and be hesitant to allow the child to re-establish a relationship for fear of future similar abandonment. Such conflicts between adults often add to a child’s stress.

Fortunately, there are some sources of support for children of incarcerated parents and their families. One organization even created a series of educational tools designed specifically to help children deal more effectively with the emotional issues surrounding family life and prison. One uses the popular Sesame Street characters in a children’s story which reflects the realities of these children’s lives in a kind, supportive way to help them feel less socially isolated and ashamed. Every kindness is a preventative measure that eases the pain of these innocents.

family life and prison
End of the World prison, by Lius Argerich, cc2.0

March 7,2016  |

social change for single sex parents

How Same Sex Parents Contribute to Positive Social Change

Statistics Reflect Social Change for Same Sex Parents

The latest statistics from the Pew Research Center show that of the 15 countries worldwide to permit gay men and lesbians to marry, eight have done so since 2010. Six in ten Americans now say homosexuality should be accepted by society, up from 49% in 2007. In 2010, the first year that the census began counting same sex couples, the total number of same sex households in the U.S. was 901,997, still under 1%. However, the number of same sex couples living together in the U.S. has increased by 345% in the last decade. The number increased by 90% in the U.K., where there were 69,000 same sex couples living together in 2012. According to the Office of National Statistics, 12,000 of those are parents.

The 2013 New Zealand census reported 11,220 same sex couples, with slightly more females than males. In Australia, one in ten same-sex couples had children living with them. In Canada, the 2006 census reported 45,300 same-sex couples. One website devoted to global gay family issues reports that world-wide, a greater number of female same sex couples have children living with them than male couples. On average, same sex couples also have fewer children.

The Law and Social Change for Same Sex Parents

One of the most important ways social change for same sex parents is reflected is by changes in the laws, many of which, until recently, criminalized homosexuality. Governments, while taking into consideration the traditional religious beliefs of their citizens, have begun granting homosexual couples the same civil and legal rights as heterosexual couples. For example, in New Zealand, civil unions were legalized in 2004, and gay marriage in 2013. This demonstrates that most societies require a number of years to become comfortable with social change for same sex couples.

In addition to laws regarding marriage, other laws restricting homosexual couples from having and raising children are also being changed.

For example, in 2008, the U.K. removed legal barriers to lesbian couples receiving fertility treatments. Additionally, gay adoption is also now legal in the UK.

Other countries that have legalized gay adoption include Sweden, Belgium, Argentina, Spain, and Iceland. In the United States, only 19 states allow same sex couples to adopt, while six states still forbid same sex couples from adopting or even becoming foster parents.

These laws reflect a lingering belief by many that homosexuality is linked to child molestation, which a large body of research has refuted. These beliefs resulted in laws forbidding homosexuals from becoming teachers in many countries. Those laws, too, are slowly changing.

The Effects of Social Change for Single Sex Parents on Families

There have been several research studies that have attempted to measure the effects on children of being raised by same sex parents. However, the results of those studies have often been contradictory, a phenomenon which can be attributed in part to funding sources and political agendas. For example, according to one of the world’s largest studies on same-sex parenting, children being raised by same-sex couples are thriving. This study of 500 children in Australia found that for overall health and family cohesion, children of same sex couples scored higher than the national average. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Simon Crouch, theorized that this could be attributed to the families having to cope with social bullying. According to one study, 70 percent of gay and lesbian students in the state of Queensland, Australia experienced bullying from both students and teachers.

Another article points to a different study involving 512 children of same-sex couples, which concluded that children from same-sex households were more at risk for a number of problems such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder. This study was conducted by D. Paul Sullins, who is a sociology professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. It cites statistics showing that only 4 percent of children who live with both biological parents experience emotional problems, with the figure rising to 10 percent for children living with only one biological parent, and to 21 percent of those living with no biological parents.

According to the study, 19 percent of children living with same sex parents experienced ADHD or learning disabilities, compared to 10 percent of children living in opposite-sex households. Other studies have shown that adopted children with no biological relationship to either parent also face a higher risk for emotional or behavioral problems.

While results of studies may differ, social change for same sex parents points to one very important change that benefits all of humanity–the elimination of social bullying. For many years, one of the arguments against same sex couples raising children was that it was unfair to expose them to the damaging effects of potential schoolyard taunts and social exclusion. Individuals and societies are beginning to refuse to participate in social bullying or allow it to determine their life choices. Jodie Foster and Robert DeNiro are among the successful people raised by same sex parents, and who advocate for continued positive social change.

social change for singe sex parents
Sleep Like a Baby, by Peasap, Flickr CC.2

March 1,2016  |

family life and homeschooling

How Home Schooling Became the Fastest Growing Form of Education

“Schooling operates out of an assumption that ordinary people are biologically or psychologically or politically inferior; education assumes that individuals are sovereign spirits. “

–John Taylor Gatto

Family Life and Homeschooling—A Growing Educational Trend

Home schooling has been steadily becoming a more popular option for parents around the world. According to one article, it’s the fastest growing form of education, increasing at an annual rate of between 7% and 15% per year. While information isn’t available for all countries, countries in which home schooling is on the rise include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the U.K. Those statistics don’t include parents who homeschool just one of their children or those that homeschool part time or only for a year or two.

There are a number of reasons that parents choose to homeschool their children. Some choose homeschooling for religious reasons. Others believe that school environments aren’t conducive to learning or don’t foster independent thinking. Still others are concerned about perceived deterioration of the academic quality of public schools as a result of overcrowded classrooms. Parents of children with special needs often choose to homeschool their children because their homes provide better accommodation for those needs. The majority of parents who choose to homeschool do so for the best of reasons. However, sadly, there are some parents who choose this option as a way to hide child abuse.

Benefits of Family Life and Homeschooling

Whatever their reasons for choosing to home school their children, most parents report that one of the benefits of family life and home schooling is a sense of togetherness. Family life and home schooling advocate and educational reformer John Taylor Gatto believes that rigid school routines discourage children from the process of self-discovery. He describes self-discovery as a process of making choices, noticing patterns within those choices and using that self-knowledge to make future choices. Further, he believes that if the personal growth that accompanies this process is interfered with, it can result in creating adults who are easily manipulated. He says that his 30 years of teaching left him with the realization that “Institutionalized schooling… is about obedience in exchange for favors and advantages.”

One of the benefits of home schooling is gaining valuable experiences that cannot be created within the confines of a classroom. For example, the ability to take far more field trips allows both parents and their children to experience, rather than read about, the changing of the seasons. Family life and home schooling also become inseparable as children gain hands-on experience. For example, a nutrition class can include shopping for and cooking a meal, which could also include a valuable lesson in hosting a social event, as well as the sanitary importance of cleaning up afterwards. One mother’s personal experience with family life and homeschooling lists some additional benefits.

The Challenges Presented by Family Life and Homeschooling

One of the challenges of family life and homeschooling is that the parents must often reeducate themselves. This is especially true in the age of technology, in which new information is being discovered and disseminated more quickly than at any other time in human history. Because it is rare for any person to have a passion for every subject, many parents that homeschool form support groups in order to utilize one another’s interests, talents and abilities. For example, a parent who enjoys and excels in teaching science but dreads teaching grammar might arrange to have their child attend another parent’s grammar lesson in exchange for their child attending a science lesson. Another benefit of this approach is that it provides an avenue for supervised socializing since home schooled children often have fewer opportunities to socialize.

One of the most common challenges of family life and homeschooling is that of sibling rivalry. Maintaining an emotional atmosphere that promotes optimum learning can be difficult. All families experience occasional conflict among siblings, and some parents report that teaching children respectful conflict resolution skills can be the most difficult aspect of family life and homeschooling. Another is the potential for parental burnout, since parents who home school are often on duty 24 hours a day. That’s why scheduling time away to relax on a regular basis is extremely important.

In 1909, President Woodrow Wilson, who was then the president of Princeton University, said “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity to forgo the privilege of a liberal education.” For many parents who want their children to receive a first class education, but are unable to pay expensive tuition, homeschooling can reduce the effects of income inequality.

There is no shortage of examples of successful people who learned to be such independent thinkers at a young age that they found it unnecessary to earn a college degree. That list includes computer whizzes Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Michael Dell, creator of the CNN news network Ted Turner. Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, and Warren Avis of Avis Rent-a-Car. It’s hard to argue with success like that.

family life and homeschooling

February 17,2016  |

clinical child psychologist

How Trauma Can Result in Inspiration Leading to Positive Change: Dr. Tanya Bryon

“Our distorted perception of young people creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: why bother to try when you are told that you are a failure? Why bother to strive when your existence is seen as a nuisance?”

–Clinical Child Psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron

Dr. Tanya Byron, born to film and television director and nurse and model Elfie Corbett, is more than your average clinical child psychologist. Photogenic and media savvy, she was professionally trained in psychology at University College London, and University of Surrey and North London Collegiate School, University of York, from which she received an honorary doctorate in 2009. She was inspired by both her parents and the tragic loss of her grandmother, who was murdered by an addict when Byron was only 15. Her Ph.D. thesis was titled “The evaluation of an outpatient treatment programme for stimulant drug misuse”.
For 18 years, she world for the British National Health Service as a clinical child psychologist in the field of drug addiction and mental disorders. That extensive experience informed the popular television shows, Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways. In addition to those shows, she collaborated with Jennifer Saunders in creating the sitcom The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle  for the BBC. Her media presence has extended to radio as well, including a program about psychiatry called All in the Mind.

Clinical Child Psychologist and Youth Advocate

In addition to her work as a clinical child psychologist, she is also an educational and political activist. She often advocates for young people and has expressed outrage over the fact that only 6% of the budget of the National Health Service is reserved for young people, despite being 25% of the population. She believes that adolescents and young adults represent 50% of mental health cases. In her view, money spent on early intervention can prevent chronic conditions that require costly long-term treatment from developing.
In a 2009 article written for the Guardian, she pointed out that society seems to have a fear of children, which she calls ephebiphobia, or the fear of youth. Her advocacy of youth includes calling for a more individualized educational system rather than one that encourages what she calls a herd mentality. Overcrowded classrooms can lead to mob behavior that increases society’s fear of youth. In her view, under the current system, nearly all young people could be classified as at-risk.


One Clinical Child Psychologist’s View of the Educational System

Ironically, in the view of this clinical child psychologist, part of being at-risk is the result of overprotective parents responding to media sensationalism and wanting to protect their children from dangers such as violent crime. Such protection comes at the cost of the risk-taking that is necessary to experience life fully. In an interview, she expressed concern that parents “are removing the possibility for children to learn how to be emotionally resilient.” She is equally concerned that the system rewards high scores on tests, which has the effect of preventing teachers from creating more innovative teaching methods and students from learning valuable independent thinking skills.

Due to these concerns as a clinical child psychologist, in 2007, she headed an independent review sponsored in part by the Department for Children, Schools and Family which researched the effects of internet and video games on children’s mental health. The results, referred to as the Byron Review, were published with the title “Safer Children in a Digital World” in 2008. Her advocacy for youth includes providing an educational alternative in the form of Edge Hill University, where she is a Professor of Public Understanding of Science, as well as serving as the school’s first chancellor. A patron of Prospex, North London charity which works with young people, she also partners in a media company. In her first book, The Skeleton Cupboard: The Making of a Clinical Psychologist, published in April of this year, she recounts many of the most interesting cases she has encountered during her career.

A New Age of Enlightenment

One of the most interesting things about Ms. Byron is that, even as a clinical child psychologist, she questions current definitions of sanity and insanity in light of recent social trends. For example, in addition to questioning the effectiveness of the current educational system, she also believes that litigation and paranoia abound in Western society. Further she questions the wisdom of only rewarding “success´, for which society bestows high marks to students and money to adults, when failure is often a much better teacher. In her view, risk-taking is the key to both personal growth and positive social change. As humanity moves from the industrial to the technological age, positive change is something that many of our institutions are in need of if we are to make a successful transition into a new age of enlightenment.

clinical child psychologist

February 3,2016  |

sperm donation

How Technology has Changed the Meaning of Family

The Creation of Family

For many single women and couples alike, artificial insemination has become an option for a variety of reasons. Single women who want to experience the joys of motherhood but haven’t found a suitable partner within the time allotted by their biological clocks are among them. Others have found suitable partners with less than viable sperm counts. Sperm donation is also often utilized by same-sex couples. Despite the continued controversy surrounding sperm donation, it has made parenthood possible for many for whom without it, would have never had the opportunity to create a loving family.

In the U.S., it is estimated that between 30,000 and 60,000 children are conceived through sperm donation and artificial insemination each year. These statistics are approximations because the fertility isn’t yet required to report statistics. According to current statistics in the United Kingdom , there has been a steady increase in the number of young people under age 25 registering as sperm donors, who account for a quarter of newly registered donors.

Controversies Surrounding Sperm Donation

Sperm donation has been controversial since its invention. Part of the reason for that was that the very first reported case of artificial insemination violated a number of ethical principles that most people adhere to. In that case, which took place in Philadelphia in 1884, a professor of medicine obtained sperm from his most physically attracted student and inseminated an anesthetized woman whose husband was sterile—without her consent! Global advances in women’s rights would make such a thing unthinkable today. However, there are still a number of objections to the practice of sperm donation.

Many of those objections are based in religious beliefs. Most religions prohibit practices which interfere with natural processes believed to be sanctioned by a creator. Sperm donation is among those prohibited practices. This prohibition is one of the reasons for the development of an “infertility belt” in areas of central and southern Africa, where preventable infections and poor nutrition often result in infertility. Poverty also prevents many people from utilizing other more costly options offered by modern technology, such as in vitro fertilization.

However, the controversy surrounding the practice of sperm donation is not just a religious one. For example, one article claims that children produced through artificial insemination suffer from identity confusion. Another article points to the potential for racism in choosing a sperm donor. Others point out that unlike the adoption process, the process of artificial insemination is still largely unregulated in comparison. For example, there is no screening process for prospective parents. Just as many adoptions are now “open”, allowing adopted children the option to know and develop relationships with their biological parents, some are calling for the same rights for children conceived through artificial insemination. In a survey, two-thirds of people questioned believed that donor offspring had a right to information about the donor.

Sperm Donation Regulation

Sperm banks have a screening process for donors, and some even have criteria for a minimum height. Others adhere to the World Health Organization’s guidelines for suitability regarding sperm samples. According to an article in Salon magazine, the cost of screening donors is partially responsible for the protocols in place, such as the requirement that donors agree to donate once a week for up to a year. The article also points out the ways in which practices surrounding male sperm donations versus female egg donations differ. For example, women donating eggs are required to speak to a mental health professional about potential issues of loss or guilt, while men donating sperm are not. Women are also held to stricter physical requirements. Additionally, the amount of payment can be affected by race. In this case, higher payments are made to non-white donors due to their relative scarcity.

However, no matter how much regulation is in place, mistakes can still happen. For example, in one recent highly publicized case, a woman received sperm from a donor of another race, when she had specifically chosen a blue-eyed, blond donor. When she sued the sperm bank, their attorney argued that her claim of “wrongful birth” couldn’t be sustained because a healthy child had been born. The court agreed. The parents of the beautiful, healthy mixed-race child now have to consider moving to a more diverse community for the safety and well-being of their child due to the high incidence of racism in their current community.

Rather than utilizing professional sperm banks, a growing number of people are choosing donors from among family and friends, thereby making the process more closely resemble an open adoption. One study showed that lesbian moms were most likely to choose sperm donors who are willing to be contacted someday.

Just as parents often struggle with whether, or when, to tell their adopted children that they were chosen, parents of children born of artificial insemination face the same struggle. While like adopted children, they may feel a need to seek out their birth parents, studies show that whatever their origin, children who are given time, attention, and love grow up to be happy and well- adjusted adults.

sperm donation

January 20,2016  |

parental expert

Parental Expert Jo Frost And The True Meaning Of Values And Time In Parenting.

“Your role is not to make your child happy every moment of the day regardless of the personal cost, but to raise her to be a thoughtful, kind, productive citizen of the world. Some people would beg to differ, but it’s not a choice to discipline or not. Your child needs discipline, just like she needs food and water.”

An Unconventional Parental Expert

Recognized parental expert Jo Frost was skyrocketed to fame by the popular television show “Supernanny”. Supernanny, debuted on the UK’s channel 4 in July of 2004 and ran for a full seven seasons until it’s final episode in March of 2011. The show was viewed in 48 countries, including the U.S., with an estimated viewership of over 5 million. Her books have also sold in the millions.

One of the things that differentiates her from any other parental expert is the life experience she gained during her years as a professional nanny. While another “parental expert” may offer the results of research studies based on theoretical analysis, she offers solutions to many of the difficult real-life situations that modern parents actually face. Further, viewers can literally see the implementation, as well as the results, of these solutions for themselves.

Top Three Parenting Tips from a Parental Expert

In one interview, when asked what her top three parenting advice tips were, she offered the following advice.

  1. First, she recommended that parents ask themselves what their values are and what kind of parents they want to be. Considerations such as religious beliefs are a component of family value systems, as well as other values such as cooperation and responsibility. Results are easier to achieve when the goals are clear.
  2. Secondly, the importance of leading by example cannot be overestimated. A policy of “Do as I say and not as I do” results in hypocrisy which children are quick to identify and often rebel against. Even as a parental expert, Ms. Frost believes that no amount of expert advice can take the place of role modeling the behaviors that parents want to encourage and develop in their children. Further, rather than just being blank slates to be taught, children, by mirroring their parent’s behavior often teach their parents as well. One of the most important emotional characteristics that parents model for their children is that of respect.
  3. Her third top parenting tip is for parents to make time for their children. Learning requires both time and patience, both of which are important elements of the ability to demonstrate love. In an increasingly materialistic world in which many adults driven by economic concerns have forgotten its true value, children still recognize that time is much more than just money.

Parental Expert Advice on Parenting Effectiveness versus Parental Ego

In an interview with the Telegraph, she even offered parenting tips to the interviewer, including the opinion that use of a “dummy” or pacifier can delay speech. Known for her straightforward style and willingness to sacrifice parental ego in pursuit of positive results, she stressed the importance of discipline in parenting. However, she insists that parents must discipline themselves as well as their children. Using a sports analogy, she made the point that

“We do not question an athlete who is disciplined in order to achieve their goals, and yet as parents the same premise is not applied.”

In addition to her other work in television and the publishing industry, Jo Frost works with the United Nations Foundation‘s Shot@Life movement as an advocate. The program’s goal is to decrease preventable childhood diseases through vaccination. She was also recently named the newest celebrity patron by the anaphylaxis campaign in her continued quest to raise consciousness of children’s health concerns.

While her work has kept her too busy to start a family of her own so far, in an interview with the Daily Mirror, she revealed that she and her fiancé, Darrin Jackson, with whom she lives in California, are considering doing just that. One of the most valuable legacies of her work is demonstrating that with consistent practice, anybody can become a parental expert.

parental expert


January 13,2016  |

education of parenting styles

Can an Education in Parenting Styles Actually Improve Parenting?

“The rearing of the child must become a process of liberation by methods which shall not impose ready-made ideas, but which should aid the child’s natural self-unfoldment. The purpose of such an education is not to force the child’s adaptation to accepted concepts, but to give free play to his [and her] originality, initiative, and individuality”.

–Alexander Berkman

Mothers’ Experiences with Education of Parenting Styles

Julia Grant’s 1998 book, Raising Baby by the Book: The Education of Mothers, provides an overview of the education of parenting styles throughout modern history. Rather than hearing from the experts, though, we hear from mothers who took the experts’ advice and what they experiences as a result. Through interviews with a diverse group of mothers from a wide variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, we are able to see the actual impact of the education of parenting styles on their everyday lives.

Since there is so much conflicting advice among those dedicated to the education of parenting styles, parents have become more discriminating consumers of professional advice. Most no longer follow such advice to the letter, but adapt it to their own circumstances, or sometimes, choose to ignore it completely. However, since parenting is probably the most difficult, and most important, endeavor that anyone can undertake, there will likely never be a shortage of new literature on the education of parenting styles to choose from.

The Role of Education of Parenting Styles in Determining Social Policy

Many people believe that parenting skills should be taught in school. One article in the Guardian, described a government program called Save the Children, designed to provide free parenting classes for anyone with a child under five years of age. Researchers will be studying the results of such programs. One of the reasons for the government instituting parenting classes is the belief that improved parenting will reduce social unrest manifested in behaviors such as rioting. Such behaviors in response to difficult living conditions created by economic inequality are increasingly being attributed to poor parenting free sample pack.
According to children’s minister Sarah Teather

“We want parents to be able to seek help and advice in the earliest years of their child’s life and for this to be a normal part of family life.”

The program is being piloted in areas experiencing a high degree of economic deprivation. Octavius Black, the founder of one of the courses taught in the program, believes that parenting skills can be taught. However, he also believes that sensitivity is required when initiating such programs because “challenging someone’s parenting skills is one of the strongest challenges to their identity”. High levels of participation in such programs is only possible if providers present the programs as a way to help parents build on their strengths, rather than shaming them for their weaknesses.

The Role of Education of Parenting Styles in Abuse Prevention

According to the Brookings Institute, in the U.S., there are more than 3 million investigations of child abuse each year. From those investigations, 800,000 children are identified as abused or neglected. For more than 1,500 children each year, the abuse and neglect is severe enough to result in death. Those deaths are usually attributed to parents overwhelmed by a sense of failure.
The institute points to research that demonstrates that parenting classes can not only reduce abuse and neglect, but can also save money. The offer statistics which prove that spending a relatively small amount to provide free parenting classes can save costly therapy and incarceration in the future. In addition to improving child development in terms of academic and social achievement, good parenting also results in reducing child mental illness and teen pregnancy.

Three such parenting programs have been tested in studies and were found to improve parenting outcomes. The first program, called Parent Management Training (PMT) uses a science-based approach, utilizing everything science has learned about parenting. The second program, used with families involved with child welfare services is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). This intervention program is the only one that requires parents to show competency in a variety of effective parenting skills to successfully complete the program.

The third program, developed in Australia and employed in a large-scale trial at the University of South Carolina, is called the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program. The program was found to reduce child maltreatment and the number of out-of-home placements. It was calculated that these programs resulted in real savings of $3,427 per family, a figure which did not include potential future costs of health services directly related to abuse. The cost of the media portion of the program cost less than $1.00 per child, and the costs of training service providers to host the classes was calculated at a modest $11.74 per child. In addition to government programs, there are also a number of helpful online parenting classes.

Perhaps one of the most important components of parenting classes is the support system that parents are able to develop with other parents while attending them. Being with people facing similar challenges teaches parents that they aren’t alone.

education of parenting styles
Maternal Cares, Color repro. of watercolor by Maud Humphrey Maud_Humphrey

January 11,2016  |