Discussing…”Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter

July 25, 2012

Many working moms may have read the article in the July/August issue of The Atlantic magazine entitled, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” If you haven’t read it, perhaps you have seen the author interviewed on one of the morning talk shows or read the chatter on various forms of social media. I believe most major news sources have featured some aspect of this topic in the last few weeks, and I have purposely allowed some time to lapse before broaching the subject.

As a society, we still have cultural mindsets that need to change, which might happen, but will certainly take some time. Until then, I want to make a few points and provide some insight and peace of mind to help parents who struggle with the stress of balancing work and raising a family in today’s world.

Parents often feel conflicted when making decisions for their child. I think this springs from many sources but primarily from a feeling of deep love and responsibility. I also believe that we, as a society, send conflicting messages to families struggling to “do it right.” Stay-at-home moms feel guilty for not giving their child all the advantages of the early care and education experience.  And the parents whose children have been in care since a young age feel tremendous guilt because they have not had enough time with them. Guilty feelings are very common in parenting, and learning to manage that guilt is critical to a sense of well-being. I strongly believe in common-sense parenting. Common sense requires us to look at our guilt and ask, “Is it reasonable or unreasonable?” Reasonable guilt requires action in how you are managing your family. Unreasonable guilt requires action in how you are managing your own life. If you have both types of guilt, action is required in both areas.

Reasonable guilt, which is also called healthy fear, is what you feel when you know that something isn’t working right for you, your child, or your family. Your instinct is telling you that what you are doing isn’t healthy, and you should never ignore your instinct. Pay attention to this type of guilt and take action to resolve it. If your child is screaming every single day when you leave her and is withdrawn and unhappy when you return, you need to figure out why. Listen and keep listening until you know you have resolved the issue.

Unreasonable guilt is what you feel no matter what you do. I talk with both stay-at-home moms and working moms who have unreasonable guilt.  You feel guilty even when things are going well—your child is flourishing, your family is happy and well adjusted, everyone appears to be okay, and you are spending a huge amount of time investing in your family—and yet you still worry. It is very important for you, your child, and your family that you find the skills you need to drown out that voice and move on to enjoy the love and success of your family. Learning this skill will probably assist you in other areas of your life, too. If you are feeling unreasonable guilt regarding your parenting, chances are that you feel it about other matters, too.

While the feeling of guilt will never go away, there are some things that families, and their employers, can do to help make moms feel more at ease, regardless of whether or not they work outside the home.

  • Continuously evaluate the needs of your family. I have seen many families that assumed because their firstborn thrived in a situation that their second child would thrive, too. This is often not the case. For example, one child might do very well with a non-traditional schedule while another child finds that confusing. You must listen to the needs of the child and of the family unit on an on-going basis and make adjustments as needed. Stay in tune with your family—if it isn’t working, find a solution that will work.
  • A family unit requires compromise. I find it amazing that people believe that three, four, five, or even more people can live as a family unit and expect that each one can have everything exactly as he/she wants it. Nowhere, under any circumstances, does that happen in real life. Compromising, creating win-win scenarios, and listening to the needs of all parties involved are skills required every day in every area of life. Why would you not practice these in your own family? Mom and Dad can both enjoy great jobs—they just have to accept the daily give-and-take and have a great understanding of what really matters in parenting.
  • Employers need to work with employees and their families. They can be crucial to supporting a healthy work-life balance, which will not only improve the well-being of their employees but increase productivity and loyalty. One way to do this is to offer on-site early care and education for young children, a tremendous benefit to employees. Parents then have the option of having their children with them each day to share a meal, take a walk together, and talk/sing during commute time. Studies show that parents who have access to the benefit of on-site childcare are happier and more prolific.
  • Honor our children by placing a higher value on those who care for them. Parents, early care and education providers, and nannies are truly shaping our society. Scientific research has proven that the first three years of life are crucial to the person the child will become. The physical wiring and development of the brain is affected dramatically in either a positive or a negative way based on the child’s experiences, relationships, and environment. We are literally impacting the future.

There isn’t an answer that will magically make this issue a non-issue in our society. Common-sense parenting tells us that children must have someone loving, capable, and knowledgeable to guide them through the early years. They must have loving, secure, and deep bonds with their family. This can be accomplished in many ways, and what works for you may not work for someone else. Your job is to make sure that what works for your family continues to work for your family. Don’t assume that what worked last year will continue to work. Stay in tune with the evolving needs of your children. Be informed. Listen to your instinct as a parent and don’t be influenced by trends, by your peers, or by   someone else’s values. No one can have it all … man or woman, but you can make it work.


Children’s Choice Learning Centers to Provide On-Site Child Care for Students and Employees at Montana State University Billings

July 12, 2012

Children’s Choice Learning Centers to Provide On-Site Child Care for Students and Employees at Montana State University Billings

First Children’s Choice Learning Center in Montana offers literacy-based curriculum, technology integration and high-quality educators to working parents

RICHARDSON, TX (July 12, 2012) – Montana State University Billings and Children’s Choice Learning Centers, a national leader in quality, education-based, child care, have partnered to offer on-site child care options for faculty, staff and students.

Children’s Choice Learning Centers delivers a proprietary, literacy-based curriculum and the latest in amenities, technology integration and safety procedures to ensure enriching, educational experiences are provided to children and their families.

“On-site child care is a valuable benefit for us because it improves student life and enhances overall well-being, which leads to greater productivity,” said Stacy Klippenstein, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “It’s important to us to be able to provide access to high-quality, affordable child care so students can attend school and faculty and staff can have peace of mind while they work. This is exactly what Children’s Choice Learning Centers will do for the William R. Lowe Childcare and Enrichment Center here on campus.”

Committed to delivering a solid educational foundation for each child in its centers, Children’s Choice employs the most qualified educators and equips them with its literacy-based curriculum called Children’s Choice Classics®. The program utilizes classic literature and related activities to teach literacy, the foundation of the curriculum. Children’s Choice Classics® also includes rich experiences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), while offering a focus on character development and all activities are planned based on the interests, abilities, and needs of the individual children in care. In addition, Children’s Choice Learning Centers include technology that allows family members to stay connected to the child through systems like Baby Connect, a Smartphone and iPad app, that offer social media updates, health status notifications, and photo and video messaging capabilities.

“We are thrilled to open our first center in Montana in partnership with Montana State University Billings,” said Donna McClintock, Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers. “We can’t think of a better place to begin focused learning and development for children in their crucial first five years than a quality institution of higher-learning like Montana State in Billings.”

Children’s Choice Learning Centers works in partnership with companies and organizations to create child care and early education solutions that fit their needs and align with the company mission. In addition to establishing new centers, Children’s Choice also works with existing facilities to achieve their full potential.

“Our goal is to inspire in each child a continued sense of wonder for discovery, exploration, and learning while loving and nurturing their spirit. Children’s Choice educators are extremely dedicated to best practice, the latest research, and remaining current to ensure that every child receives the highest quality experience. Our Core Values are Children First, and we know that living these out each day in everything we do with heart and passion has made a difference in the lives of the children and families that we serve,” said McClintock.”

Children’s Choice will assume management of the William R. Lowe Child Care and Enrichment Center located at 2630 Normal Ave. The center re-opened under the direction of Children’s Choice on July 2nd and will also be open to community enrollment. The center hours are from 6:45 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Children’s Choice Learning Centers will also open a brand-new center on the campus of Montana State University in Great Falls in January 2013.

 

About Children’s Choice Learning Centers (www.childrenschoice.com)

Children’s Choice Learning Centers is a national leader in quality, education-based child care. Children’s Choice offers on-site, employer-sponsored and independent child care centers and currently operates 47 child care centers in 24 states, with five in the Dallas area. A proprietary curriculum, well-trained educators that embrace the Children’s Choice core values and the latest in amenities, technology integration and safety procedures ensure that Children’s Choice Learning Centers provide enriching, educational experiences for children and parents.

About Montana State University-Billings (http://www.msubillings.edu/)

Set in the largest city in the state, Montana State University Billings has been an integral part of the Billings community and a student-centered learning environment since its early days as Eastern Montana College. Founded in 1927, the university continues to nurture a longstanding tradition of educational access, teaching excellence, civic engagement and community enhancement in an urban setting.  In the classroom and in the community, students receive a well-rounded unique education and training for Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees for careers through the University’s five colleges — arts and sciences, business, allied health professions, education and technology.

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Sticks and Stones

July 11, 2012

Sticks and Stones…

Most of us can finish the childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, I suspect that few of us know that words can literally hurt children physically. Years of research have validated that hurtful words spoken to a child in his formative years damage his spirit. More recently, scientific research has confirmed that verbal abuse can actually trigger abnormal changes in a child’s brain.

Unlike most animals, the human brain begins to develop at birth, not in the womb. The environment, relationships, and experiences in a child’s life play a key role in how his brain develops.

There is a great blog regarding this: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-brain/201010/sticks-and-stones-hurtful-words-damage-the-brain. A quote from this site really sums up the incredible responsibility that we have as parents, educators, and advocates for children:

When that environment is hostile or socially unhealthy, development of the brain is affected,
and often it is impaired. Early childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, or even witnessing domestic violence, have been shown to cause abnormal physical changes in the brain of children, with lasting effects that predisposes the child to developing psychological disorders.

The environment that children are raised in molds not only their minds, but also their brains. Many have long suspected this, but now we have scientific instruments that show us how traumatic childhood experiences alter the physical structure of the brain and how sensitive we are as children to these environmental effects.

Early childhood experience can either nourish or stifle brain development,
and the consequences are physical, personal, and societal.

Brain damage in childhood forever impacts who that child becomes. Every stressful moment that our baby hears us argue, every time we lose our patience and scream at our children, every time we allow our children to berate each other with cruel words and excuse it as normal sibling rivalry, and every time we keep silent when someone abuses our child emotionally or verbally … each and every one of these moments impacts our child’s future.

The first five years of a child’s life matter. Did you know that even infants who are subjected to stressful environments exhibit abnormal levels of serotonin and adrenaline in their systems? These elevated levels cause the brain to “rewire” itself. This rewiring prepares the body to survive, but it also fosters the development of antisocial behaviors.

Words hurt. Kindness heals. Think before you speak. Be a hero. Life will eventually present our children with plenty of stress. They deserve a childhood that allows them to develop and learn without the handicap of having to deal with adult dysfunction while they are trying to “grow a brain.” It’s our job to protect their hearts, ears, and brains.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.