All posts by The Attached Family

Extracurricular Activities Should Be Fun, Not Work

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Kids today are busier than any generation before.

School-aged children and teens have ample opportunities to fill their free time with extracurricular activities, and many parents encourage their children to participate in these activities. These activities are fun; they help children find talents and build up skill sets; and they give children additional ways to socialize and make friends. Children as young as early elementary can now participate in  myriad activities, from soccer to scouts to theatre.

But parents have to be careful that these fun activities don’t become burdens to their children, that they don’t inadvertently or purposely place their child in a position where the child is feeling pushed to excel in order to gain parental approval, and that they don’t schedule too many activities so that children simply don’t have time to play, relax, connect with others, or just be children.

Rick Wolff, chairman of the Institute for International Sport’s Center for Sports Parenting, spoke in 2005 at the University of Rhode Island about the unreasonable expectations parents can be tempted to place on their children’s athletic futures. His presentation was covered in the article “Parents Pushing Children into Sports a Problem, Growing in Culture” by Meghan Vendettoli, published by the University.

Activities are for Children, Not the Parents

Wolff noted that children want to participate in extracurricular activities because they find them enjoyable, but that some parents see these activities – particularly sports – as a “foundation” for their future, most often in hopes of getting their child a college scholarship. Never mind the fact that less than four percent of high school athletes end up playing collegiate sports.

Wolff was most bothered by the trend of more and more parents pushing their children as young as five or six years old to excel in a sport, at the expense of the child’s happiness.

“A lot of parents don’t get it, and the kids become the victims,” he said.

No Pushing, Please

In the article “Don’t Push Your Children Too Hard in Sports or Other Activities,” published in 2000 on, Anthony D. Meyer, MD, warns parents of how easy it is to “push” a child into an activity even as they try not to.

“As pre-teenagers, children are completely egocentric, meaning they believe that whatever they do is responsible for what actually happens. If they miss the goal or strike out and the team loses, they believe they are solely at fault,” Meyer wrote. “They also have a very, very strong need to please adults, and a coach or parent who feeds into that need may very easily push a child beyond his or her breaking point.”

How does Meyer advise parents to avoid this pitfall?

“A skillful coach or concerned parent will watch for signs of stress, including difficulty sleeping or eating, total preoccupation with one activity and nothing else, or moodiness,” he said.

If parents fail to recognize these signs, not only will the child grow to dislike the activity but may also become resentful toward his parents. Here are Meyer’s tips to parents to avoid inadvertently pushing their children:

  • Get to know your child – Spend time with your child, especially “unconditional time” in which there is no teaching involved. Do whatever the child wants to do, and observe him for 45 minutes. Be open and encouraging, and take delight in what your child enjoys. Learn to empathize with your child.
  • Ask the right questions – Is this activity good for your child at this time? Is your child enjoying herself and, perhaps, growing from the experience? Can your child enjoy participating, win or lose? Put what you want for the child out of your mind, and focus on your child’s needs and desires from her level.
  • Talk with your spouse or partner – Your spouse may have good insight into how your child is feeling, especially if your spouse’s interests differ from yours; for example, if the wife is interested in volleyball and the husband is interested in choir.
  • Help your child find a place in the activity – Not every child is going to excel in the activities they enjoy. For example, a child may enjoy softball but not be very competitive, so instead, the parent can encourage her to serve as the team manager or cheerleader. Show your child that there are many ways they can enjoy an activity, even if she isn’t as talented as her peers.
  • Introduce your child to other types of activities – Your child will be drawn toward the activities he enjoys and will be more likely to find his talent. He will also develop a balanced appreciation for many things in life. Children allowed to participate in a variety of activities are able to better handle wins and losses and challenges, and feel that their interests and desires have been recognized.

For More Information
The Sports Parenting Edge by Rick Wolff

AP and the Growing Child

By Susan Esserman-Schack, Leader of API of Bergen County, NJ

Susan & family
Susan & family

I have a new baby in my family – he is now 17 months old. My last baby was born 10 years earlier. The one before that was born two years prior to my second. When I look at my new baby, all I see is joy and love in his eyes. All his intentions are true and pure. He is my newest angel. I know that he does not manipulate or judge, his wants are his needs, and I have no problem meeting them. He nurses and all is right with the world. He sleeps and truly looks like an angel, our dream has come true.

I remember looking adoringly at my first two babies. I loved to watch them sleep – and trusted their souls completely. I watched them grow, and they taught me so much about what it meant to be a happy family. They knew what they needed, and had no problem letting me know. They both nursed until they felt that they did not need to breastfeed any longer.

The challenges began as they grew.

I always believed in following my instincts about parenting and caring for my babies. There was no word for Attachment Parenting when I had my first, and I really just relied on what my heart was telling me to do. As I parent now, I still do the same thing. No rules to follow, just follow my heart. I know I cannot make a mistake this way, as my instincts and my children will lead the way. As my children grew, there was an abundance of information about what they “should” be doing and when they “should” outgrow aspects of their babyhood/childhood. I just continued to trust that they knew what they were doing and however they were doing it was appropriate for them. This felt right for me.

I had to make adjustments to accommodate their interests, and I too began to become interested in the things that they wanted to learn about. We took a multitude of field trips with friends to discover new places and new things; we spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors and bug collecting. They truly taught me everything, as I grew up with only one sister, and here I was with two little boys! Listening became a big part of my job – hearing what they had to say, waiting for them to figure out how to say it.

AP & School-Age Children

As my boys became older, my job as a mom continued to grow – now I was also teacher after school – and tutor. I was eavesdropper as they spoke in the car to each other and with their friends. I was given the big window into their lives in the car. The car became the place where we all reconnected. In the car, there was no competition for any of our attention. We spoke of many things in the car, and learned all about boy-girl relationships and sex. For some reason, they always asked me the hardest questions while I was driving them. Part of the advantage to this was that they could not see my face and my shock in the innocence of their intense questions.

I made myself available to them whenever they needed. I tried to not interfere with their burgeoning independence. I tried not to act hurt when they acted like I was a “stupid woman.” I say this with a smile, as I know it is a stage that all pre-adolescents go through, thinking that they are the all powerful and all knowing and their parents are just simply stupid and know nothing! My friends and I would laugh about all this, and actually feel proud of our children and how confident they were in their power and knowledge. What a good feeling!

AP & Teens

Now my older children are 11 and 13. My first teenager has bouts of intense love for me and intense anger about anything. He will just come up to me and hug me and tell me that he loves me. The next day, he will tell me I am ruining his life. I continue to follow my heart and love him everyday, and let him know it. I love hearing about everything that is going on in his life – as much as he is willing to share with me. I keep an open mind and let him know of my availability to him to talk about anything. I respect his privacy and his decisions. We have made certain agreements about his being able to call me and have me fish him out of any uncomfortable situation he finds himself in – no questions asked – no punishment offered. He is teaching me everyday, again, about growing up and being a teenager – about separation and attachment.

What he is going through is strikingly similar to what my toddler is going through. Two steps forward, one step back. Independent one day, leaning on me the next. Growing and learning about his new body and intelligence and power and strength. Learning how to handle all the new feelings in his body. Learning how his parents fit into the big picture.  He is a bright, articulate, strong young man who has his future at his feet. He has every opportunity in the world before him. I have to learn patience as he takes his steps in navigating his unique journey in this world. I need to learn patience and trust in his process, and trust that he will make decisions that are right for him. I must learn when to talk and when to stay quiet.

How AP Changes as Children Grow

I take time to talk with other parents with kids the same ages. Some of these parents have been my “co-workers” in my parenting career since our older babies were the littlest of babies. Hearing what they have to say comforts me as I learn that, once again, what my children are doing is normal. Expectations must be adjusted once more, as even though our children are literally big, they are still very focused on only themselves, at times. Autonomy ebbs and flows. They move at their own pace. I must believe that what they are doing is the right thing to be doing at their age and stage of development.

Touch is still an essential tool in my parenting practices. Hugs, kisses, telling them “I love you” are daily activities. Taking affection any way I can get it from them, while understanding that it may come in odd ways – like wrestling with my boys! I continue to be emotionally available to them, at the drop of a pin. My boys keep busy, but we must be careful not to over-schedule, as they still really need their down time. I must learn more about being involved without being intrusive.

Babies, toddlers, and adolescents – strikingly similar. Parenting through it all and following my children’s lead has been my mantra. I make decisions based on what works for today. I continue to follow my heart and my instincts. I may make mistakes along the way, all of this is part of learning. I understand now how quickly they grow, and I cherish my time with all three of my sons – knowing one day they will be gone from my home and in their own with children of their own…and I will miss them tremendously.

Reprinted with permission from Seventh Moon~ Perinatal Support Services. © 2004 Susan Esserman-Schack, LCSW, IBCLC, LCCE.

I made myself available to them whenever they needed. I tried to not interfere with their burgeoning independence. I tried not to act hurt when they acted like I was a “stupid woman.”

Tips for New Fathers in Bonding with Their Newborns

By Nancy Da Silva

The most important thing for new dads to remember is that they are not competing with moms for baby time or for the baby’s favor.

While bonding will happen more quickly between mothers and their infants, there are things dads can do to build their relationship with the new baby from day one:

  • Be tactile – Babies are comforted through the sense of touch. Pitching in during bath times, massaging the baby, and holding the baby against your chest will all succeed in fostering a warm, strong connection between the two of you.
  • Make eye contact – If you’ve been talking to the baby since he was still in the womb, he’ll be familiar with your voice. Holding him in your arms, so that you can look down at him while you speak and he can look up at you, will help him associate that voice with your face and make him feel safe and loved.
  • Share doctor duty – Taking over some of the doctor’s visits will not only earn you points with your wife or partner but will help you gain info on your baby’s overall health. It will give you the opportunity to help pitch in if the doctor offers any suggestions for any necessary treatments.
  • Share diaper duty – Parenting is a messy business, and while some fathers feel it is the mother’s responsibility to take care of the less enjoyable end of baby care, they’re missing out. A crying, uncomfortable baby who is soothed by a clean diaper and clean clothes will associate that soothing, comfortable feeling with you. Bonding with your child takes work, and in this case, you’ve got to just jump in and get your hands dirty. The baby will benefit, and so will you.
  • Sing – Music is the universal calmer. If you want to bond with your child, hold her close and sing them a lullaby while rocking them, or look down at them in the crib and sing to your heart’s content. When the baby is stressed, he’ll associate you, along with his mother, as someone who will make him feel better.
  • Schedule some Daddy time – Despite the fact that the new mother will be suffering from sleep deprivation, you might find some opposition when you put forth the initial idea for some alone time with the new baby. Mothers may feel uneasy with passing them off to someone else, even if it’s just for a few hours, even if it’s you. This is why pitching in with little tasks is so important. It shows the nervous mother that she can trust you to know what you’re doing. Respect her nervousness, but assure her that the two of you will make an even better team if you can share parenting responsibilities and that giving her some free time will be beneficial for both of you. You can get to know your baby and your baby can get to know you, so that if Mommy needs a break, you can take over with minimal fuss on the part of the child.

Medical Reasons for Fear of the Dark

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Being scared of the dark is a widespread nighttime issue for young children, and in the great majority of the time, the root of this fear is grounded in a very active imagination with only a budding, limited ability to reason. But, in some occurrences, the fear of the dark can actually point to a more serious, chronic medical reason requiring the attention of a health professional.

Medically significant sleep disorders in preschool and school-age children, and teens, include:

  • Earaches – Sleeping is uncomfortable with an ear infection because the change in position creates increased pressure.
  • Asthma – A nighttime cough is a common symptom of asthma, as is if your child wakes up crying and unable to breathe normally.
  • Parasites – Pinworms, which are tiny and thread-like worms on the bottom, are active at night and cause itchiness.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea – Sometimes, enlarged tonsils or adenoids in the throat partially obstruct the airway, causing the child to stop breathing temporarily.
  • Bed-wetting – Children as old as 12 can have difficulty not wetting the bed at night, due to physical development of the bladder and bladder muscles as well as immaturity in the part of the brain that communicates when it’s time to empty the bladder.
  • Restless legs syndrome – “Creepy,” crawling sensations may affect the legs or the arms.
  • Periodic limb movement disorder – Usually affecting the legs, there is an overwhelming feeling that the limbs must be moved several times throughout the night, as often as every 30 seconds.
  • Stationary night blindness – An inability to see at all in the dark, the eyes never actually adjust to the dark.

When It’s OK to Induce Labor, and When It’s Not

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

One in five pregnant women will have her labor induced, for varying reasons. Some of these reasons are valid; others are not. Catherine Beier of weighs in.

When it’s OK to induce labor:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions in the mother – These may include heart disease, a seizure disorder, hypertension, cancer, or another serious health issue, although many women with these disorders can still give birth vaginally.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions in the baby – If the baby is known to have a congenital or other medical condition that requires intervention or intensive care immediately after birth, induction may be the safest way to ensure the baby gets the care that’s needed.

And when it’s not OK to induce labor:

  • Overdue pregnancy – While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warn against induction before 39 weeks, the average pregnancy worldwide lasts 42 weeks. For medical doctors who don’t want to wait that long, they should consider accuracy of a woman’s due date, which is calculated on a 28-day menstrual cycle with ovulation on day 14; for women with long or irregular cycles or late ovulation, this due date can be significantly inaccurate. For these women, a reliable estimate of the due date, within one day, can be obtained with a transvaginal ultrasound at eight to ten weeks of gestation. As the pregnancy progresses, ultrasound becomes a less reliable predictor of the due date, as the weight estimate can be off by as much as two pounds.
  • The baby is too big – The vast majority of women are able to give birth vaginally to their babies, even those who are larger. Because hormones during labor relaxes and stretches the hips and pelvis, for those very few whose pelvis is too narrow to birth a full-term baby, it’s impossible to know until the time of childbirth.
  • The mother is too tired or uncomfortable – Remember, it’s called labor for a reason. Labor can be rather long and hard with the first baby especially, but it is normal.
  • It’s more convenient to know when the baby will be born – Whether induction on a certain day is better for the baby’s family or the medical provider, this does not take the baby into account and not a true reason.

Long-Distance Grandparenting

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

For many people, grandparenting comes as easy as the love they felt for their own children.

But not all grandparents live close enough to visit their grandchildren frequently, often thought of as a key to developing a strong emotional bond. Furthermore, some grandchildren, or their parents, have very full schedules that can make visits by even nearby grandparents challenging. Here are some tips adapted for grandparents wanting to stay in touch with their grandchildren:

  • Visit regularly, if not often – Visiting your grandchildren doesn’t have to be frequent, as long as it’s meaningful. Have a good time with your grandchildren when you visit them or when they come for visits. Help them to look forward to the next visit by planning a loose schedule with their parents.
  • Stay in touch between visits – Use the phone, e-mail, and letters through the postal mail to provide a personal way to stay in touch with grandchildren between visits. Send photos and cards.
  • Show your grandchildren how much you miss them – Put photos of your grandchildren in frames on the shelf or on the fridge. Make a special photo album of special times spent with your grandchildren, and allow your grandchildren to flip through it when they visit.
  • Share a hobby, teach a skill – When your grandchildren visit, engage them in helping your with chores or get them started with one of your hobbies. Help them make a craft they can take home. When you call them next or send a letter, you can ask them about what they learned or thank them for their help around the house.
  • Chart a family tree – Tell your grandchildren stories about their relatives, especially their parents. Tell them about their ancestors and their heritage. Help them to create a family tree or scrapbook.

AP Teaches Assertiveness

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Most parents who practice Attachment Parenting (AP) aren’t concerned about their children becoming bullies. After all, the goal of AP is to teach children empathy, compassionate, and respect for others – qualities not usually afforded to bullies. But some AP parents may be concerned that their child could become the target of a bully.

In the Spring 2008 issue of Attachment Parenting International’s The Journal of API, in the “Ask the Founders” feature, API Co-founder Lysa Parker answered a question from a parent about her three-year-old son being the target of bullying by his playmates. This mother’s concern was that his friends were mistaking her son’s kindness and sensitivity for weakness. Parker recommended that the mother use the situation to teach her son and his friends about friendship and how their actions can be hurtful. Parker also said, at this age, talking with the bullies’ parents would be appropriate.

As this boy grows older, the mother does need to teach him how to deal with bullying, Parker said – which can start now: “When your son runs to you for help, he is communicating his need for support, but he also needs to be empowered by learning the words to say to express his feelings.”

This advice is right on target, according to a 1997 article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “Teaching Children Not to Be, or Be Victims of, Bullies,” reprinted on the Focus Adolescent Services website “The key to promoting positive interactions among young children is teaching them to assert themselves effectively. Children who express their feelings and needs, while respecting those of others will be neither victims nor aggressors.”

AP Prevents Bullying

AP parents, while they may be concerned, are a step ahead of non-AP parents in preventing bullying. As outlined in API’s Eight Principles of Parenting, responding with sensitivity is a critical component of AP. By responding to our infants’ cries, we teach them to trust us as their caregivers and to trust themselves as communicators of their needs.

As children grow, we gradually learn how to let our children become more independent, at their own pace, by watching for their cues. We can encourage them to make their own choices, and therefore learn to become confident in themselves and their abilities, by beginning to allow toddlers to choose what they wear, what game or activity to play next, and so on.

With older children and teens, we can help them discover their talent and develop skills in an area of interest, and let them begin to make larger decisions for themselves, both of which add to a healthy self esteem.

In all of these ways, parents provide their children with tools to thwart bullying incidents.

“Adults must show children that they have the right to make choices – in which toys they play with, or what they wear and what they eat,” according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children article. “The more children trust and value their own feelings, the more likely they will be to resist peer pressure, to respect warm and caring adults, and to be successful in achieving their personal goals.”

How to Teach Assertiveness

The best way to teach assertiveness is by modeling it and accepting it from your children. Parents need to remember that assertiveness is not the same thing as aggression. Instead, as outlined in The-Self-Improvement-Zone’s article “Teach Your Children to Be Assertive” on, assertive behaviors communicate:

  • No one has the right to make me feel guilty, foolish, or ignorant.
  • I do not need to make excuses for everything I do, although I do need to be accountable to my immediate family and close relatives and myself.
  • I am allowed to change my mind, and not feel bad about it.
  • It is not necessarily my fault if things go wrong.
  • I do not have to know everything, it is OK to say “I don’t know,” and I shouldn’t feel inferior because of that.
  • No one is perfect, and it is not the end of the world if I make a mistake.
  • Not everyone has to be my friend, and there is nothing wrong with me if someone doesn’t like me.
  • If I don’t understand something, it’s OK and I shouldn’t feel inferior.
  • I don’t have to prove myself to anyone else.
  • I don’t need to be perfect, rather I should strive to just be myself.

Social Skills are Key

Besides teaching these attitudes to their children, parents can also help their children improve their social skills through role-playing to practice social conversation and teach children how to initiate and sustain conversation through both asking and responding to questions and careful listening.

“Teaching them social skills is the first step to making them more comfortable in just about any given situation,” according The-Self-Improvement-Zone. “The more comfortable they feel in these situations, the easier they will learn how to be assertive. The better they understand themselves, the more they will know and articulate their needs.”

Learning How to Handle Frustration Important, Too

Another area where children may need help is in learning how to handle frustration. Parents should teach their children not to use anger as a tool for asserting themselves, as anger creates negative reactions in other people and contributes to communication breakdown. Parents themselves – especially in response to tantrums, hitting, and breaking toys – should never use yelling and punishment as forms of discipline. Instead of anger, parents can teach children how to work out a win-win compromise when appropriate, and when not appropriate, how to relax and let the situation bother them less.

“Keep in mind that the only way you will be able to teach your children how to assert themselves is by learning how to be assertive yourself,” according The-Self-Improvement-Zone. “It is up to you, as the adult, to set the example for your child. No means no. You do not need to become a doormat to ensure that your child becomes assertive. Be a good role model for your children. Children learn what they see and experience. If you are assertive and fair, they will learn to become one, too.”

The best way to teach assertiveness is by modeling it and accepting it from your children.

Gently Persuading the Picky Toddler to Eat

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

It can be shocking to parents when their voracious eater suddenly begins refusing food when he enters the toddler years. Sometimes, he even skips a meal. All kinds of thoughts may go through your head: Is he sick? Does he have an ear infection? Does he have an upset stomach or food allergies?

If your child acts healthy when not sitting down to eat, more than likely, your child feels just fine. Toddlers – the development stage from one to three years old – are naturally picky when eating. Their weight gain begins slowing around their first birthday, and many parents will notice their children’s weight stalling. The child begins to grow taller, rather than putting on weight, gradually transforming from the compact body of a baby to the proportions of a young child.

Still, it can be difficult for parents not to worry when their child only eats cheese and peas for a week, or if she regularly refuses to eat lunch. Here are some tips to make sure your child is getting the nutrition she needs to thrive in his first years:

  • Allow your child to graze – Due to his nearly constant activity and curiosity, sitting down to eat can get in the way of your toddler’s wanting to explore his world. A great solution is to allow him to snack in between meals. Cheese, crackers, cereal, and fruit slices are easy-to-prepare and easy-to-clean-up options.
  • Don’t worry – Your child won’t starve; she’ll let you know when she’s hungry. Toddlers, like babies, are comfort-seeking creatures, and when they need to eat, their bodies will signal them to seek out food. Just remember to think “hunger” as a possibility when your child becomes cranky a few hours after lunch.
  • Consider a vitamin supplement – Many children seem to get stuck on one or two foods, refusing to eat anything else even if they tried and liked it in the past. Eventually your child will move on to different foods, but if you’re concerned, talk with your child’s health practitioner about giving your toddler a vitamin supplement to be sure he’s getting all her nutritional needs met.
  • Turn off the TV – Just as television can encourage older children to eat too much food during the day, television can be a distraction from eating for young children. Encourage your child to play without the television on. She’ll be more cued in to her own hunger signals, and with more activity, she’ll be more likely to be hungry at meal times. The same holds true about turning off the TV during meal times, so your toddler focuses on eating.
  • Don’t snack right up until meal time – Allow some time between mid-morning and afternoon snacks and meal times. Otherwise, your child won’t be hungry enough for a big meal. To defer snacking, engage your child in playtime or another busy activity.
  • Offer a variety of foods – If your child doesn’t seem to want to eat, she may be wanting to try something new. Don’t assume she’s not hungry; move on to another food group. If she consistently refuses new offerings, then she’s probably not hungry right now.
  • Limit liquids during meal time – Try offering your child’s cup or your breast after he’s eaten. Liquid takes up room in the stomach, so if your toddler is drinking a lot of milk or water or juice during the day, he won’t be as hungry. However, if your child insists on drinking or breastfeeding, let him.
  • Let your child eat on the go – For many children, it’s the act of having to sit still to eat that’s the problem. During snack times, and even some meal times, consider letting your toddler munch on something while she’s playing.
  • Instigate meal time – Get your child interested in eating by eating in front of him and then offering to share. For many toddlers, the food on Mommy and Daddy’s plates looks better than what is on their own plates, even if it’s the same.
  • Let your toddler “help” make dinner – Young children love to do what Mommy and Daddy are doing. Mixing up a bowl of cookie dough can be fun for older toddlers. For a younger child, give her a clean bowl and spoon, and let her mix up some of her small toys and then pretend to serve the food to all the family members. She’ll enjoy doing something grown up, plus she may be more interested in getting to eat for real at meal time.

The key is to let your child guide you. Respect her hunger cues and don’t try forcing her to eat when she’s not hungry, even if you know that she’ll be hungry in only an hour or two. Offer nutritious foods, so she isn’t tempted to fill her tummy with unhealthy choices when she is hungry. And, most of all, don’t worry! Toddlers’ appetites come and go; if he’s not eating much this meal, this day, or even the past couple of days, be patient. Another meal, or another day, he’ll make up for it. Everything balances out over time.

For More Ideas
– “Feeding Toddlers: 17 Tips for Pleasing the Picky Eater” – “Dealing with Picky Eaters” – “Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater” – “Feeding Strategies for Toddlers – What Not to Do” – “Getting Toddlers to Eat Their Veggies”

Morning Sickness as an Attachment Education for Baby’s Father

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Pregnant women know better than anyone how connected they can feel to the new, little life growing inside them – even if the baby is so tiny that its kicks can’t be felt. From the moment, a woman learns she’s pregnant, she begins counting down the months and days until she can meet her baby face-to-face.

Morning sickness, while irritating, is a sign that the pregnancy is going well, according to the American Pregnancy Association – which is especially assuring to a particularly anxious mother-to-be or someone who experienced a threatened miscarriage early on.

Morning sickness also provides a time for fathers-to-be to connect to their babies…by way of better connecting with their wives. After all, one of the best models of a healthy relationship for a child, in addition to the parent-child bond, is the mother-father interaction.

Just as new fathers often enjoy putting a hand on the mother’s pregnant belly and reading stories to the unborn child, they can begin bonding by providing comfort to the mother-to-be, which will also keep the adult-adult relationship close during a time when exhaustion and mood swings may threaten to push them apart.

Australian filmmaker Troy Jones explored this in his documentary Being Dad: Information and Inspiration for Dads to Be, as reported by Tara Taylor of “A few topics always came up in the group conversations. The first was how to help your partner with morning sickness. Many expecting fathers felt helpless in the face of nausea.”

First and foremost, mothers-to-be must understand this feeling from their partners and to focus on ways he can stay connected during the pregnancy, especially when the women are not feeling their best. Here are some ideas to help you better involve your husbands’ or partners’ desire to help when morning sickness, fatigue, mood swings, backaches, and other pregnancy discomforts begin taking their toll on your relationship:

  • Encourage honest and open communication – This was the most important tool offered by R. Morgan Griffin’s 2003 article “Advice for Expectant Fathers” on Not only will talking help you release your frustrations and fears about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, but it provides a way for men to voice their anxieties, too, and be able to help you by providing emotional support.
  • Put him on nutrition duty – According to, the father-to-be can be a pregnant woman’s personal cheerleader, not only in reminding you that morning sickness is a good thing but also in encouraging you to drink enough water and helping you to choose healthy foods – when you’re able to keep food down. The same encouragement may be needed when it comes to taking the prenatal vitamin and letting the mother-to-be know that it’s OK to go to bed early or take a mid-day nap, rather than continuing to try to do everything you could do before getting pregnant.
  • Give him specific requests – Also according to, if you know of something your husband can do to help you feel better, let him know. Perhaps, it’s bringing toast to your bedside in the morning or giving you a backrub or making sure that the fridge is cleaned out of odorous foods.

Morning sickness also provides a time for fathers-to-be to connect to their babies…by way of better connecting with their wives.

Frugal Family Finances 101

By Rita Brhel, editor of The Attached Family

The current economic climate in the U.S. is putting a lot of people on edge about where their financial futures may lie. Some people are struggling to keep their homes, others are trying to climb out from a mountain to credit card debt, and many are watching the value of their stocks plummet. It seems no one is immune to the concerns about what else may happen to the national – or for that matter, global – economy. And it’s difficult to be a happy parent when you’re worried about finances.

Fortunately, there are many ways to cut family costs and still be able to build enough savings to take vacations, go on shopping trips, or not stress over emergencies. Here are some tips from Soni Sangha in her article “Five Ways to Jump-Start Your Household Budget” and from CNBC Correspondent Sharon Epperson’s article “Money Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms”:

  • Create a budget – This is not to be taken without some real financial planning. Take a month to record exactly how much money you’re spending and on what. Then, set your budget according to this spending pattern. Be sure to set aside enough money to pay for your set monthly bills, like your mortgage or rent, loan payments, utilities and phone charges, insurance, food and medical. Each month, aim to spend not more than your budget but pay attention to when your incidental expenses occur, like vehicle care, dentist appointments, and birthday gifts, and adjust your budget accordingly.
  • Use your budget – This is harder to do than it sounds, because you need to actually keep your budget in mind or, better yet, carry your budget with you. Write down how much you have budgeted for grocery shopping, for example, and take it with you so that you can be sure to stay within that amount. This may mean opting for more generic brands or doing without some items in order to be able to afford those that you truly need.
  • Regularly check back with your budget – Schedule a time every week when you check back with your budget to make sure you’re staying within budget, or you’ll likely forget all about your budget and overspend.
  • Stick to your budget – This means actually changing your spending habits for the long term. The real returns from living on a budget come after several months of sticking to one and then seeing the savings build up.
  • Prioritize your spending – You will probably have to cut something out of your regular spending patterns to stay within budget. This may be deciding to eat out less, take shorter vacations closer to home, or even choosing to make treats for your playgroup instead of buying a box of cupcakes at the store.
  • Pay yourself – Setting aside a set amount per month for savings is just like giving yourself a monthly stipend. You can still try to save extra, but by taking out a savings deposit each month, just as you would your mortgage payment, you’re making it a priority and being sure it gets done. Don’t fall into the trap of skimping on the savings deposit to buy something you don’t need; your savings is not only to save up for fun stuff, but to be there for emergencies like medical crises or a vehicle accident.
  • Create a separate account for savings – When you’re pulling part of your spouse’s salary for your family savings, actually take it out of your checking account and put it in its own savings account. This way, you can watch your savings grow, plus if you do withdraw an amount, you can easily keep track of how much you’re spending.
  • Don’t skimp on insurance, or retirement savings – Cutting either of these won’t do you any favors in the long term. That retirement savings is what will ensure that you’ll live comfortably in retirement, or that your spouse will be able to retire at all. And while insurance premiums seem costly now, if something should happen – a storm damages your house, you have a car accident, you need surgery – the expenses incurred without insurance will break your bank account a lot faster.