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5 expert tips for raising resilient children in an age of terrorism

There is no handbook for raising children in an age of terror.


Random violence is not new, but the nature of the threat and its potential impact on our children can be challenging to discuss. From 9/11 to San Bernardino, from Paris to Brussels, our children are absorbing information in ways that are scary for them. As a homeland security and terrorism expert, and a mother of three, I have learned that there is no bright line between the world out there and the impact of it in our own homes.

So here are some useful tips to raise confident kids in an age of terror.


1. You are the adult.


Our children take their cues from adults. Terrorism is not only random, it is exceptionally unlikely to impact us. The risks of bike riding, driving, or even getting bit by a shark are much higher. While you may not want to tell them the last one on your next beach vacation, it is essential that parents behave in ways that put the threat in perspective. Freaking out in front of them, or yelling at the television news, are not model behaviors generally, but when it comes to terrorism children want to know that adults have some grip and perspective. So, get some.


2. Assume they know.


Terror is meant to terrorize, so it should be no surprise that our children’s sense of confidence—about travelling, separation, or going to big events—might be impacted by a major terror attack. My general rule of thumb—in a world of iPhones and Facebook—is that your kids know more than you think they do. They need you to channel those concerns for them, calmly. Remind them that many of us grew up in a time when there were significant risks as well; nuclear drills were common in the 1980s, for example. Showing them how you too grew up in times of unease can give them a sense of historical perspective.


3. Take their cues.


My friends who are mothers often call me about what they should say to their children when a major terror incident occurs, or whether they should still travel to Europe after an attack, such as the latest attacks in Paris. Talking to kids about scary things should not only be done in an age appropriate manner, but will depend on maturity, where you live (urban or rural), and your child’s physical independence.

What I do know from years of experience is that even young children understand danger (Harry Potter, anyone?) and also understand risk reduction (such as putting on helmets or seat belts.) Take your cue from them and remind them of all the ways that they live with risk, and they are better for it: the trips abroad, the baseball games, the bike riding. The more we can put terror in its proper place, the healthier our children will behave. And always remind them while there are bad people in the world, there are far more good people.


4. Embrace the family.


A major component of homeland security efforts is that, as citizens, we understand our role in it. Telling a kid “everything will be fine” is important, but also explaining to them what you have done to prepare yourselves for any potential harm is key. Don’t put terrorism on a pedestal. Explain how, as a parent, you care about all risks to them and your home, from mother nature to public health pandemics.

In any disaster, the most important issue for victims and the surrounding community is family unification; when bad things happen, getting families together (preferably at home) is the number one focus for first responders. It is a relatively easy thought process to map out and discuss. Kids will feel empowered knowing that you have gone through the checklist.


5. Get prepared.


While communication is important, there is much you can do to prepare yourself for anything that could go wrong. In other words, get shopping. Show your kids how you have back up provisions, talk to them about what they should do in the event of an emergency, copy important papers, and just be prepared. A prepared home will give parents a sense of ownership about the mayhem in the world and children a sense that the adults in their lives are masters of any disaster.



Juliette Kayyem is one of the nation’s leading experts in homeland security. A former member of the National Commission on Terrorism, and the state of Massachusetts’ first homeland security advisor, Kayyem served as President Obama’s Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security where she handled crises from the H1N1 pandemic to the BP Oil Spill.


Presently a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she also is the founder of Kayyem Solutions, LLC, one of the nation’s only female owned security advising companies. Kayyem is a security analyst for CNN, and in 2013 she was the Pulitzer Prize finalist for her columns in the Boston Globe. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she is currently on the faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Kayyem lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children and is the author of Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home.


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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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