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How our work-first culture fails dads, families, and businesses—and how we can fix it together

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Josh Levs is a CNN journalist, a father of three, and the author of “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses--And How We Can Fix It Together." In the book, Levs, who lobbied his company for paid paternity leave, details his ongoing legal case against Time Warner. He is credited with helping to kickstart the company's 2015 decision to unveil a more generous leave policy for mothers and fathers. In recent years, Levs has become a prominent advocate for fathers and families.


Motherly: Who is the modern father, and what does he want?

Josh Levs: Working or not, staying at home or not, having flexible schedule or not, what you find is that dads throughout this country are very involved in their kids' lives. They arevery connected. We put emotional relationships with our family way ahead of money.

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Fathers consider teaching values to our kids one of the most important things, more than money, and America expects us to teach values to our kids even more than it expects us to be bringing in money. We all know that we are all in this together, because whether men had these awesome dads growing up or no dads at all, whatever it is, you find that all of them, and I talked to dads across every possible spectrum, they all recognize that we are part of a new era in which we get to carve out a new meaning for what it is to be a father.

We get to be the ones to demonstrate that if you have children, being a committed father is the manliest thing you will ever do. We get to build relationships with our kids that previous generations didn't necessarily get to. We [fathers] are the recipients of decades of work by women, in the fight for equality.

So this is us. I think of it as being the “Free to Be You and Me" generation. The girls I knew growing up were every bit as smart, every bit as capable, every bit as driven, also went to great colleges. Because I was a kid, it never occurred to me that they would have a harder time making it in their careers. Then, we got into the workplace. We got jobs, we had kids, and we discovered that the American workplace never grow up. So while we were growing up on “Free to Be You and Me", the American workplace was stuck in the “Mad Men" era.

We are the generation now that's facing this task of having to conquer these backwards policies. That's ours to deal with, and I can say, to have a daughter and two sons, I look at them and I know that if we don't fix this, they will not have equal opportunity in their lives. It's up to us, our generation, men and women together. That's what 'all in' means. That's what it's about.

Motherly: In the book, you address the fact that as a society, we talk a lot about how gender norms and traditional roles impact women, but often ignore how they impact men. So, you look at the impact of sexism on men and the pressures that they face. Can you describe that a little bit for me?

Josh Levs: Our backwards structures, our laws, policies and stigmas act as 'gender police,' and they empower people who act as gender police.

For example, stigmas are incredibly powerful: Men are giving up effectively billions of dollars by not taking even the paid paternity leave they're offered, although only 14 percent of companies offer paid paternity leave. It's also proven in many cases, when a man takes time off, when he gets back to work, he sometimes gets demoted, or even fired, for daring to break with their macho culture.

What people need to understand is, yes, it's awful for men, but this prejudice is not discrimination against men. This is discrimination against men and women. As long as you have policies, laws and stigmas that push men to stay at work and push women to stay home, you're being unfair to both.

I was talking about the girls I grew up with. Why is it that now, I'm 43 years old, and only 4.6 percent of the CEOs in the S&P 500 are women? That's crazy. That makes no sense. That is completely anathema to everything I learned growing up. The reason is that we still have these expectations, this gender norm way of thinking in the American workplace, and that's pushing everything backwards, so that's what we have to rise up against. Yes, I think it helps everyone to recognize that men are struggling with this, and men are suffering from work-life conflict as much as or even more than women.

There's this vicious cycle, with the people who are in power in corporations. They are the minority of men in America who do not prioritize their families, and that's proven. They even say that they don't. And so they then reward other men who are like them, and so the very few men who do not prioritize their families, don't spend time with their families, they work their way up the ranks, [and ultimately] they preserve the culture and the policies. Even those who have no ill intent still are just out of touch with what life is like for most families. So it's a vicious cycle that we just need to break.

Motherly: The book concludes with talking about mental health and spiritual health in a way that I thought really showed how deeply and profoundly these issues affect men's thriving or struggle on a daily basis. Is it taboo to talk about men struggling in work and life?

Josh Levs: These struggles that we have, these backwards laws policies and stigmas, they are responsible for so much of the work-life conflict that we have because they prevent work-life integration.

It's just basic logic: If you think the man should work all day, the woman should stay home all day, then of course you won't have any structures to make work-life integration possible for anyone.

These backward structures are responsible for so much of our work-life conflict, and those contribute tremendously to problems. I wanted to see, how is all this affecting us? This is why I looked at our physical health, mental health, spiritual health, and our sex drive, and got all this new information that no one had seen before to say that we need to talk about this. I hope that a wake-up call. I hope that people see, wow, these structures are really doing a job on us, on businesses and the economy, they're doing a job on kids. They're often doing a job on us and our lives.

Parenting doesn't have to be this frenetic. It doesn't have to be this runaround crazy. We can fix these structures, and in doing so, do better by businesses, by us, and most importantly, for our children. So yes, it needs to not be taboo to talk about mental health. Men need to be able to talk about it. I talk about when I experienced anxiety. The more that we can talk about this, the more the taboo goes away, and the more we can focus on solutions. That's what I'm all about, how we solve this.

Motherly: What does 'all in 'mean, when you use that term?

Josh Levs: Being 'all in' means first being all in as a parent, and truly committed, truly prioritizing family, and it means being part of the vast majority of parents in this country, both men and women, who want to improve our structures, to build a better society. What I find is that as I travel around, you see this. People across the political spectrum, and across the socio-economic spectrum want this. The overwhelming majority of the country wants to do this, because our current model is not sustainable, not healthy and it's bad for our children as long as boys don't have the choice to become men who get to have time with their kids, and girls don't have the choice to pursue their careers.

All of us who truly want equality for our daughters and our sons, and for our wives and our husbands and for ourselves, we are all in this together. That's what I learned when my legal case became an issue. That's when I realized that all of us who truly want equality, we are up against this system together.

Motherly: What would our ideal future could look in terms of work-life integration, particularly when we talk about flexibility, and work-life integration? From the growth of remote work to the explosion of technology in our daily lives, what is possible for us?

Josh Levs: The problem has been, and still is, that in a great many cases, people are rewarded for literally sitting in a seat, and not getting work done. There's this 'hours' stigma, in which men have to just be there more and more and more hours, and then say, 'oh, I worked so many hours.' That's just really bad for business, and it's bad for our men and their families.

An ideal future, when you talk about that, is built around work-life integration, and here's how that plays out. Most businesses, not all, if you're a doctor or in a hospital, you have to be in a certain place for a certain time, but a great many businesses need their workers to get their work done. They don't need their workers to be sitting at a desk for that much of a day. They don't need their workers sitting in a commute for an hour each way of their lives. The more we build in technology, like just even simple Skype technology, in which you can see the person any time, because they're near their computer.

You can still see how much that's being done. Business that start to get built around achievement, instead of where you're sitting at any given moment, those businesses do better. The more businesses catch onto that, the better off we are,

Motherly: Why these issues are important for children?

Josh Levs: We're talking about a basic human need. In our society, we have public education, because we understand that educating our children is good for society. We have Medicaid available for children, because we understand that making sure that children are healthy is good for society. Making sure that when a baby leaves the womb, it has a parent at home with it for a bunch of weeks, and that that parent does not have to worry about how to put food on the table during those weeks, that is an absolute human basic need.

This is not left or right, Democrat or Republican. In fact, I have surveyed, and the majority of Republicans now support a paid family leave insurance program, when they find out how it works. These are human basics. It's best for a society, and you don't want a society that neglects children, that's where every one leads to all sorts of bad things. Kids who don't have time with their parents, who aren't able to be raised by their own parents, more often struggle with all sorts of things.

Then there's this whole question of: What are we teaching our children? What are we showing our children? Are we only talking about family values? We talk a good game about family values in this society, but when it comes to our laws, policies and stigmas, it's clear that we do not adequately value families.

Also, are we teaching our kids equality? Are we? We talk about equality, and we say you can achieve anything, you can achieve anything. But when we stop and look at how far behind we are as a country, I know that as the dad of a daughter, a tiny baby, and two young boys, I don't want them to have these struggles when they grow up.

There are men in the book who talk about how hard it is for them, because they want more time at home, and they can't get it. There are so many women who want to restart their careers, but they didn't have the choice, because their husbands or partners couldn't get the flexibility to make two parent breadwinners possible.

Motherly: Our readers are largely mothers, many of them wives and partners. What can those women do to help men be more empowered in family life?

Josh Levs: The first thing to do is to be very welcoming to men in situations that are supposed to be open to all parents, but are almost all women. I have parts in the book in which men talk about how they were on the playground, and there were all these moms with kids, and they were the one dad, and the moms wouldn't talk to them, because there's this suspicion, like, “oh no, a man. What's a man doing here?" That dissuades men from going to those places, and it makes it harder for men to be caregivers. It makes men less effective caregivers.

The mommy and me classes, when there aren't daddy and me classes, make sure that those are 'parent and kid' classes, and that you are actually welcoming to the dad. Sheryl Sandberg says that when she's at the playground, “I always talk to the dad. I always play with the dad, you have to." This unconscious fear of men is something that we all need to get over. If you're at a playground and there's a strange man there, everyone should be concerned. A strange person who's not with a kid, you should be concerned. But when a man is there with his kids, he's just as trustworthy as a woman who's there with her kids.

There's also a basic understanding that the more of us, men and women, who join in these efforts and who take the steps that I lay out, like here's how to get paid family leave programs, here's how to get it in your state, here's how to work nationally, here's how to get flex time. The more that men and women work together and understand that we are all in this together, the farther we will get.

Something women can do is make sure that those forces don't try to trick us into the gender war, you know? There are people invested in the old ways, who want things to remain like “Mad Men.".They'll say things like, whoa, who are those men to come along and say that anything should change? Or “they're privileged men, why listen to them?"

It's about being really open-minded and realizing that men are getting squeezed as well, men are getting hurt as well, and all people, men and women, who want equality for our daughters and sons, are in this together, so we all have to push against the forces that would suggest a gender war, and realize that we are stronger when we stand together against these forces, and that together, we can tackle them.

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We've all been there. You first hear those cries that don't sound like any other cries and immediately know what's happening. It's like our mama hearts know when our little ones need us the most. Having little ones feeling under the weather is hard. They can't tell you exactly how they feel. You can't explain to them that they'll feel better soon, and all there is for everyone to do is to take it easy and stay cuddled inside until you can get them to the doctor.

The issue, by this point, is that my son is old enough to know what's coming when we open the medicine cabinet, so giving him something for his throat ends up being like a wrestling match without the fun and giggles. My son especially likes spitting out anything as a way to protest how he's generally feeling, so we both end up covered in sticky syrup feeling defeated. Because, seriously, who thought that using a syringe or pipette to squirt out gooey liquid down an unwilling toddler's mouth was a good idea? (Probably not a parent.)

That's why when I found out there was an easier and more fun way to make these dreaded sick days better, I was all about it.

Enter: Lolleez.

Lolleez are organic throat soothing pops for kids—and adults!—that are made with organic ingredients that you can pronounce and understand like honey and natural fruit pectin. Plus, they're non-GMO as well as gluten, dairy and nut-free i.e. worry-free for all kinds of kiddos. The pops help soothe sore throats while acting like a treat for when kids are feeling under the weather. I also appreciate that the pops are actually flat and on a stick, as opposed to a lozenge or round ball lollipop. They were also created by a mom, which makes me feel a million times more confident about them since I know she knows exactly how hard sick days with a little one can be.

loleez

When I introduced my son to Lolleez pops, everything changed. Suddenly the battle to get him to take something to feel better wasn't... well, a battle. In the few times he's been sick since, he's been more than happy to pop a Lolleez, and I've been more than grateful that soothing him is now as easy as peeling open a wrapper. And, since they come in watermelon, strawberry and orange mango—strawberry is the favorite in this household—he never gets bored of getting a soothing lolly.

Also, they're easy to find—you can get them at stores like Target, CVS and online so I never worry that I'll be caught without in a pinch. After the sick days have run their course and my son starts feeling better, there's nothing like seeing that glow in his eyes come back and have him greet me with a big smile when I come into his room in the morning, ready for the day.

While our littles not feeling well is inevitable, as a mama, I'll do anything to make my child feel better, and I'm so thankful for products that make it just a little easier for the both of us. So here's to enjoying the snuggles that come with sick days, while also looking forward to the giggles that come after them.

This article was sponsored by Lolleez. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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I was as prepared as I could be for my body to run the marathon that is childbirth, yet it turned out to be more like a sprint.

You see, I gave birth in a car—and I felt invincible.

During pregnancy, I chose to create a positive experience. I sought all the research I could. I watched birth videos and documentaries, read birth stories, learned about the stages of labor, recorded coping techniques, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and ate all the dates. I sought care, prepared my cookies and teas, gathered breastfeeding cream, a pump, and belly bind. I folded baby's diapers and clothes, praying for those important first weeks.

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Perhaps the most important thing I did was to join a due date group with like-minded mamas to learn and grow with, and to share all the information, research and tips we could.

Much of my preparation was mental and spiritual prep-work. I read tons of books about birth, including faith-based books about labor, a practical guide to an "emergency" birth, and a natural pregnancy and childbirth guidebook. (And yes, I did end up using knowledge of each of these resources!)

Each of my two births were very different. With my first child's birth, I did not know much about birth or my options. My water broke at the onset of labor and I labored grudgingly in the one hour car ride to the hospital. Once there, I begged for an epidural.

This time around, though, I approached labor differently.

I chose to experience unmedicated labor, even though it isn't an easily understood decision. There were so many unsolicited opinions from people about what I should do with my body, and it was hard to not feel bombarded with all of the negative talk surrounding birth. But by having the support of the due date group and learning the wisdom that has been passed down in generations about childbirth, I wasn't deterred in my decision.

I knew that I needed to focus on not being overtaken by the potential overwhelm of birth. I remembered that I had a right to informed consent and that I could find kind of positive help I needed to give birth the way I knew I needed to. I chose to memorize biblical and positive affirmations to recite during birth to help calm myself through the contractions, and focus on what's at hand, rather than panic.

Labor began

The day my son came, I woke up before the sun at 4am and headed for the bathroom. I felt nauseous and achy like I was going to throw up and have diarrhea all at once. It was a very distinct, disgusting feeling throughout my body. Yet even with that feeling, I was in denial that labor was really starting.

My water was intact, and I was expecting my water to break at the onset of labor, as it did with my first. I was having some contractions, although extremely erratic. They were not consistent with clockwork, but they didn't stop, either. I would have a contraction that lasted five seconds, then a break for 20 minutes. Another contraction, this time for 20 seconds, and a break for seven minutes. I tried using an app to track and time the contractions for a bit, but ultimately that proved to cause more anxiety than peace.

So I turned the app off, and focused on being present. I was so calm. I let the contractions come and go. My family didn't even know I was in labor until they woke up with the sunrise! (I didn't want to wake everyone up—silly me, being in active labor!)

I was grateful to labor on my own in a quiet house in the early pre-dawn hours before the house and outside world woke up. I kept my composure, breathed through contractions, read and prayed, and let the birth process happen on its own.

When the contractions did not stop, I realized this was the real thing.

Once everyone was awake, I realized that I should probably be doing more to prepare, like get to help! We haphazardly packed a bag and rushed out the door to drive an hour to the place chosen to have our baby. I was not excited for that long car ride. I remember laboring in the car before, and it was miserable for me. I also knew how quick my past labor had been, and had this deep feeling, perhaps a mother's intuition, that we wouldn't make it to our destination in time.

I knew that this labor was progressing very quickly, and the baby was going to be born soon. Yet we went.

Giving birth in the car

My family got into the car and we drove, planning to meet more family at the hospital to take over the care of our toddler for a few days.

I labored in the car for 40 minutes until the ring of fire came. I knew what this meant: He was crowning, and we had to park. I tried to get into the best squat position I could, facing the seat, relieved that the car had stopped at this point. I repeated my affirmations over and over, and tried to focus on staying as calm as possible.

And he was born in the car, in the back of a small town grocery parking lot.

My baby was 6 pounds and 6 ounces, born at 9:15 in the morning, as I was facing the seat backward and squatting in the passenger seat of the car.

I didn't really push. A combination of by body's contractions and gravity seemed to do all the work. I was squatting upright, and the baby to just sort of plopped out. Head first into the car seat, with my hand to guide his head down, and a bit of the cord and fluids followed.

I attempted to squat fairly awkwardly in the seat to hold my fresh son and rub the vernix into his sweet skin. We were in love, and I felt invincible. I immediately felt relief of all the pain and tension. The rush of oxytocin and hormones from birth made me feel on top of the world. (In that moment, I almost forgot that my toddler was in the backseat watching, eyes wide open—he was so quiet!)

The ambulance was called, we were checked out, and all was well. I waddled to the ambulance while the EMTs held towels around me and baby. They needed to take me to the hospital to make sure we were okay. I sat in the back of the ambulance stroking my baby, relieved to have more space to stretch out.

At the hospital, we sat in a room for a while until they figured out what to do with us, since the baby was already here. We stayed overnight and I reflected on the birth as I could.

Reflecting on my car birth

In some ways, I was sad. This is not what I wanted first moments with my son to be like. Although I was prepared for birth and felt incredible afterward, I felt sort of exposed to the world during the process. My body was depleted—and ultimately, my baby was born in the car (not exactly something that was on my bucket list).

I felt grief for the way (or rather, place) that my labor happened. But I was also thankful for a powerful, unmedicated birth. I grieved the loss of expectations, while being thankful for the reality. And that's okay.

I did it. We did it. This birth was a sprint, not the marathon so many women talk about.

Nothing about my labor and contractions were predictable. I did not have much knowledge about birth before I was pregnant, but the preparation during my pregnancy helped me feel more at ease. Despite the situation, I didn't feel that it was challenging. I felt able, or at least as able or prepared as any mother can be, for labor.

The feeling of being in labor is indescribable—the juxtaposition between pregnancy and postpartum, the time in labor where you are in the hyphen of here and there, a time that forever changes your life and family.

It was truly vulnerable and powerful—an unusual presence of two feelings that left me over-the-moon. As soon as my son was born, the feeling of pain was gone, just like that. And in its place was exhilaration; a rush of adrenaline and awe. I did it completely on my own, in the front passenger seat of the car!

Our bodies are absolute miracles. I grew into a mother of two that day, and with that, my new mission was born: to help other mothers learn and experience the feeling of being empowered by your birth and labor, not in fear of it. I decided to become a birth and postpartum doula, to empower, coach and be alongside other mothers in their own journey in birth and motherhood.

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Life

For starters, this article is not to be confused with 10 ways to win a power struggle. I know, I'm disappointed too, but there is no way to win a power struggle with a 3-year-old. They can refuse to put on their shoes all day—they have nowhere better to be!

More importantly, you don't necessarily want to win a power struggle. Sure, you may occasionally triumph in a battle of the wills with your child, but I doubt either of you will emerge from the experience feeling good about yourselves or your relationship.

Plus, as nice as it would be to have our children just do what we ask without argument, our goal isn't to raise little people who blindly follow orders. Rather, we want to raise children who are able to compromise, accept advice and guidance and follow a trusted authority.

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What we can think about is how to make the most of the inevitable power struggles we find ourselves in with young children, and how to come out of them with our relationship intact.

Here are 10 ways to turn power struggles with your toddler into a win:

1. Demonstrate how to compromise

One of the best ways to teach children how to be kind and reasonable in their interactions with others is through modeling. I know, no pressure, right?

Instead of standing over them and yelling at them to pick up their toys while they sit there with their arms crossed giving you the evil eye, try offering to put away the blocks while they put away the dolls. Or, try offering them five more minutes before clean up time. Extend the olive branch and see if you can gain their cooperation rather than their obedience.

In time, you can involve your child more in coming up with the solution. Say something like, "I want you to clean up your toys and you don't want to. What's a compromise we could use here?"

2. Model empathy

It can be really hard to show empathy for something that seems completely ridiculous to us. Can you really have empathy for someone refusing to eat their breakfast because you gave them the blue spoon? Maybe not.

But you can show empathy for how hard it is to not get what you want, or to not have the control you wish you had over your own life. You can say something like, "I know the red spoon is your favorite. It's hard for you when it isn't clean."

This shows our children that we see and care about how they're feeling, and it is often enough to help them move on.

3. Show the strength of your relationship

Perhaps the most important win that can come out of a power struggle is a stronger relationship. Power struggles are incredibly draining for us and for our children, and it can be hard not to emerge from it angry and tired.

Once you've recovered, spend some time repairing your relationship and let your child know that, no matter what, you still love them for exactly who they are.

4. Model how to apologize

At some point you will inevitably lose your temper over a power struggle you have with your child. It's almost impossible not to. When this happens, it is a great opportunity to show your child how to apologize.

While making children say "I'm sorry," doesn't teach them remorse, when we apologize it teaches the importance of admitting when we do something wrong.

You might say something like, "I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier. I was so frustrated when you wouldn't put on your shoes and we needed to leave, but yelling wasn't a good choice. May I give you a hug?"

5. Teach them to read their bodies

Children frequently become argumentative when they're tired, hungry or thirsty. They are not good at reading their own body's signals, yet the way they feel physically dramatically affects their behavior.

When you find your child buckling down and refusing everything you ask them to do, teach them how to pause and scan their body. Explain to them that when they are feeling this way, it is sometimes because they haven't eaten or rested in a while.

Teaching your child to be in tune with their body is a lesson that will last well beyond the stage of power struggles.

6. Let them learn from natural consequences

Many power struggles center around things we ask our children to do for their own good. We ask them to bring a coat so they won't be cold. We ask them to use the potty so they'll be comfortable. We ask them to do their homework so they don't get in trouble at school.

Next time you feel a power struggle coming on, ask yourself what would happen if your child didn't do what you asked. Is there a natural consequence that would be meaningful, but not harmful? If so, let the situation unfold.

You might say something like, "I think you should wear a coat so that you're not cold, but it's your body, you can decide."

Later, when they're too cold and have to leave the park, you can talk about what happened. Sure, your child will be mildly uncomfortable for a while, but you will avoid a daily power struggle about coats.

7. Show them it's okay to change your mind

Some rules are really important and we simply cannot back down. Other times, you may make a minor request in passing, only to set off a monumental power struggle. Do you have to stick to what you said simply to avoid backing down to your unreasonable child?

No, of course not, what message would that send?

If something isn't important to you, simply tell your child that you've changed your mind, not out of exasperation, but simply because it's not important to you.

Say something like, "Wow, I can see this is really important to you. You know what, now that I think about it, I'm okay with it if you wear your princess dress to the park, if you're okay with it getting dirty."

This demonstrates that it's okay to give in to what someone else wants sometimes, we don't have to be in a power struggle just to avoid backing down at all costs.

8. Teach respectful disagreement

Power struggles can be an excellent opportunity to teach our children how to disagree, respectfully. After all, there is nothing wrong with our children having a different opinion, we just don't want them to express it by flat out refusal or laying on the floor screaming. You can explain this to your child, offering them an alternative way of expressing their opinion.

Say something like, "Wow, I asked you to get dressed and you really don't want to. You could say 'I'm not ready Mom, may I wait five minutes?'" If your child is already emotional, try having this discussion later when they've calmed down.

9. Practice problem solving skills

Involve your child in coming up with a solution for ongoing power struggles. Do they argue every day about what's for breakfast? Invite them to look through a healthy cookbook with you and choose a new recipe to try.

Do they say no and run away every time it's time to leave the park? Sit down with a pen and paper and involve them in coming up with a good solution for when it's time to go.

This is a great exercise in creative problem solving and children are far more likely to go along with a solution they helped create.

10. Show them they can trust you

In the midst of a battle of wills, it is generally useless to use logic, to explain your reasoning to a child who has already decided that they are, under no circumstances, backing down.

Later though, when all is calm and you have both recovered, sit down with your child and explain why you were asking them to do something.

Explain that you asked them to get in their car seat because it's so important for safety and you care about them. Explain that you asked them to put their toys away because it's important for your family to have a nice and tidy home to live in.

Explain to them that you always, always, have their best interests at heart, that they can trust you.

The best way to handle power struggles is to avoid them. Still, you are human, and you are likely to get dragged into some power struggles from time to time. When that happens, just try to make the best of it.Your child will likely try to initiate many power struggles, but you don't have to actually join the fight every time. Remember that protecting and repairing your relationship is more important than winning any battle.

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Learn + Play

Meghan Markle is opening up about some of the challenges of pregnancy and life as a new mom. While most of us can't relate to her status as a royal we can totally relate to some of her feelings about motherhood.

Markle was recently interviewed by ITV News at Ten anchor Tom Bradby—and when Bradby asked her how she was doing she kept it real.

"Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I'm OK, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes," Markle said.

ITV News on Instagram: “'Not many people have asked if I’m ok... it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.' Meghan reveals to ITV’s @tom.bradby…”

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Many moms can relate to this, and it's something we at Motherly have often commented on. People always ask how the baby is doing, but don't always think to ask mama how she is. Of course, we want the people around us to care how our babies are doing, but mom needs to be cared for, too.

Bradby pressed on, asking Markle if it would be fair to say she is " not really OK?"

"Yes," she replied.

The most famous new mom in the world is saying that she is not okay. We applaud her for that because by telling her truth she is no doubt inspiring other mothers to do the same. We don't have to pretend that motherhood is free from stress and struggle. It is hard, even for someone with the resources Markle has.

The Duchess of Sussex has a lot of financial resources, but she has also been highly scrutinized during her pregnancy and early motherhood, which has added to her stress.

"Any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging," Markle says. "And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it's a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It's um… yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I'm okay, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

Media coverage of Markle's pregnancy and personal life were a factor in Prince Harry releasing a statement on the matter earlier this month.

"My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences—a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," it reads, in part. "There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face—as so many of you can relate to—I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been."

As Prince Harry suggests, there are certain things about Markle's struggle that many of us can relate to. Pregnancy and life with a newborn are hard, and trying to pretend you're okay when you're not (or as Harry calls it, putting on a brave face) can make it even more stressful.

Here's to it being okay for a new mom to say she's not okay.

The rest of Bradby's interview with Markle (and conversations with Harry) will air during the upcoming ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, this Sunday in the UK. Stateside, the doc will air Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Johnson & Johnson announced on Friday that it's initiating a voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of Johnson's Baby Powder due to low levels of asbestos contamination. In a statement posted to its website the company explained this is a "voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test indicating the presence of sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination (no greater than 0.00002%) in samples from a single bottle purchased from an online retailer."

The recall is only for one lot of 33,000 bottles of baby powder. If you have a bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder from Lot #22318RB stop using it and contact the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Care Center at www.johnsonsbaby.com or by calling +1 (866) 565-2229.

Johnson & Johnson stresses that this recall is a precaution and that it can't yet confirm if the product tested was genuine or whether cross-contamination occurred. The voluntary recall comes after years of allegations about asbestos contamination in Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder-based baby powder.

As Bloomberg reported in July, the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Johnson & Johnson due to concerns about alleged asbestos contamination in its baby powder. This came after numerous lawsuits, including a case that saw Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer. In July 2018, St. Louis jury ruled the women were right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks. Way back in 1981, the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates. In 1998, Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the variety of baby powder involved in the The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission's investigations and the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks.

In a statement on its website, Johnson & Johnson states that "talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world."

When Motherly requested comment on the recall and the safety of talc a spokesperson for the company issued the following statement:

"[Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc] has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its cosmetic talc is safe and years of testing, including the FDA's own testing on prior occasions--and as recently as last month--found no asbestos. Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos."

Bottom line: If you have one of the 33,000 bottles of Johnson's Baby Powder from Lot #22318RB, stop using it.

If you are going to use baby powder other than the recalled lot on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

[A version of this post was originally published July 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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