A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

*Priya did not expect to find her daughter at home that afternoon. But she did find her – hanging by a scarf from the ceiling of her bedroom, already dead. Krupa was 19.


It began like any other day for them.

The hustled morning. The coffee chit-chat. Her mild annoyance over Krupa neglecting to water the plants. The hurried breakfast. The instructions to drive safe. The roll of the eyes in response.

That nightmarish afternoon, when Priya couldn’t find a way to get into her own apartment after teaching a swimming lesson, her wildest imagination could not conjure up the possibility of her “happy” daughter ending up dead in her own bedroom.

Word spread fast. Police and strangers were bustling in and out of their home. Some sorry, some shocked, some relieved that it wasn’t their kid.

In an irony that did not escape anyone, Krupa’s room was filled with Post-it messages carrying intense motivational quotes. Stickers with hand-written messages covered an entire wall. Great role models sweating it out on posters. Actionable messages. To-do lists on her tabletop. Dreamy bucket-lists. 

This girl oozed positivity. And then killed herself.  

The only words that escaped her mother’s lips were, “ She never gave a clue! She looked so happy!”

Not surprisingly, this incident remained on the minds of other parents – especially those in the neighborhood – for the next few weeks. Fear crept in and clenched them without warning – during a quiet cup of coffee, through a conversation with a friend, in the middle of work, while hustling their child through homework. The silence of the nights became particularly terrifying. 

Why did she do it? Where did her parents go wrong? Did she try to communicate?

The questions were many.

How much did we know about our kids? What are they thinking right now? How did she miss it? What am I missing? How would I know? 

Suddenly, their own kids looked like strangers to them.

The rise and rise of suicides

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a recent study found that suicide rates have surged to a 30-year high. The issue can now be described as an epidemic. It has also been reported as the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10-24. 

Here are 10 eye-opening insights from child psychologists and teen suicide experts gained from years of working with suicidal teens, their support groups, and their parents.

1 | Denial can be the culprit

Talking about suicide prevention is hard. To make it worse, this phenomenon seems to be on the rise in even seemingly happy and well-connected families – so what are we really missing?

Sarah Zalewski, a licensed professional counselor and cognitive behavior therapist from Connecticut who works with hundreds of teens every year, reiterates this rising occurrence. “This is true – some children commit suicide who nobody would suspect of even considering it. Unfortunately, children are not well known for their ability to see the big picture and to assess a current situation accurately.”

The somewhat good news is that most teens do exhibit symptoms, and they can be detected if observed closely. Many experts confirm that most of these symptoms may be subtle – minor changes in their behavior like an increase in aloofness or apathy and isolation from friends and family. Things that are easier to notice are the loss of interest in personal hygiene, their possessions, and food.

“Denial is a very powerful defense mechanism, and many adults miss the signs of an impending suicide attempt by denying the importance of the subtle changes they notice in their child’s demeanor and behaviors,” warns Dr. Gayani DeSilva, a psychiatrist in practice at Laguna Psych in Laguna, California.

2 | The damaging myth of the happy family

Many parents mistakenly assume that providing a happy growing experience for their child is synonymous with successfully shielding their own negative emotions from them. Experts point out, however, that genuine engagement happens only when the child is able to see, display, and digest a range of emotions – and perceive them as entirely normal.  

Cara Maksimow, a licensed professional counselor and founder of Maximize Wellness explains, “When families seem happy all the time, they may be teaching children that it is not okay to have negative emotions. Children’s feelings are not validated or normalized and hence they learn how to hide those feelings to fit in. These children don’t learn that feelings such as anger or sadness are normal parts of life and that there is validity in having a range of emotions.”

3 | The early years are crucial

Not enough can be said about how critical it is to establish a bond during the early years. Teenagers can’t be expected to come out suddenly and express themselves when they are already in the throes of intense emotions. The channels for communication need to be established in the early years.

Recognizing the fact that children are naturally resilient and helping them realize their inherent strengths will develop a strong sense of self and healthy self-esteem in the child. “Take every opportunity every day to point out the child’s internal strengths,” advises Dr. DeSilva.

These practices have physiological benefits as well. Dr. Christopher Willard, faculty at Harvard Medical School and author of “Growing Up Mindful affirms that “spending a lot of time with children in the early years helps develop the brain so it can respond more efficiently to stress and mental health issues if they arise in later years.”

4 | The real cause is untraceable

The causes of teen suicide are often unknowable and worse, untraceable. Experts agree that many factors contribute to mental health issues. Meredith Rene Chapman, M.D, a psychiatrist at Children’s Health GENECIS program in Dallas, who specializes in helping teens with gender dysmorphia, explains that “apart from health issues like chronic pain or physical pain, chronic anxiety left untreated can exacerbate the tendencies for suicide. When a youth’s ability to cope is overwhelmed by stressors, the risk of suicide increases manifold.”

5 | Substance is an accelerator

Adolescence is a strange mix of invincibility and vulnerability. Teenagers are more than willing to push the limits on risky behaviors, merely as a mechanism to establish their own identities. Many teens experience the rush of alcohol and marijuana for the very first time, and the experience could mean the beginning of a vortex.

Dr. DeSilva goes on to explain, “Substance abuse and intoxication increases the risk of suicide 60-80%. The substance does not matter – it could be a depressant like alcohol, or a stimulant like cocaine. Intoxication alters a person’s ability to keep a realistic perspective and see options. Particularly in teenagers, when they have a sense of invincibility coupled with their lack of experience that there are multiple ways to solve current problems and manage their feelings, they are at particular risk of attempting suicide.” 

6 | The word is not taboo

Most parents seem to talk to teens about sex, college, money – but to bring up suicide is taboo. Understandably, there is a certain reluctance on the part of parents to broach this hideous topic, but parents need to know that the more it is openly spoken about, the less taboo it is. As Zalewski reassures us, “Broaching the subject is not going to create suicidal thoughts in someone who doesn’t already have them. This has been established in research multiple times.”

7 | The circle is indispensable

One of the best tactics to detect suicidal tendencies is to make friends with your child’s friends. Get to know their circles. Invite them over. Organize get-togethers.

Here’s Zalewski again: “90% of the time I find a child who is suicidal, it’s because a friend of the child has tipped me (or another adult, who then calls me) off. Often, the suicidal child is making statements on social media that are scaring their friends. But again, these kids are more likely to come to you if they know they can approach you. These tips can save lives!”

8 | The role of schools is not to be taken lightly

It’s not a myth that the teen brain undergoes real changes in the brain during this time. One of the most important considerations for schools would be a later start time in the morning. This could also be one of the easiest adjustments to make. 

According to Dr. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep expert and author of “Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic,” teenagers require significantly more sleep than adults during this growth phase. “There is a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and suicide in sleep-deprived teenagers,” affirms Dr. Rosenberg.

Even though it may seem eerie to equip schools with suicide-prevention experts, especially after the infamous Palo Alto suicide clusters, schools need to build better systems for imparting coping skills to kids.

“Schools need to institute a better screening method for suicidal tendencies among children,” says Dr. Willard, encouraging schools to build a conscious effort around preventing stress and competition around academic performance.

Parents can certainly help. As counterintuitive as it may seem, revel in your child’s failure. Make your child’s failures as important as their successes, as this will shift the focus to the effort rather than on the results. As several studies have pointed out, cultivating this “growth mindset” is the key to building the cornerstone quality of resilience – especially for children at a fragile point in their lives.

9 | Eliminate the stigma

Another huge factor is the stigma around mental health. Dr. DeSilva says, “If a teenager broke his or her leg, he would have no issue going to a hospital and getting treatment for the fracture. Symptoms of depression are not treated the same way. Teaching kids about mental health and symptoms and normalizing treatment the same way as for physical symptoms is the key to their telling their family or friends about their painful emotions.”

One of the ways to do this is to have a strategic plan for how to handle substance abuse, bullying, and depression. Having a licensed therapist associated with the schools to consult on these issues regularly will help. A curriculum invested in teaching students basic emotion-regulation skills is also a must-have.

10 | Identify the role of society

To be sure, a society whose children want to kill themselves needs a lot of work. Even a small shift towards the positive can yield big results.  

Dr. DeSilva muses, “Perhaps (devoting) a segment on the daily news to local school activities and children’s contributions – as we do to professional sports teams or the local politics – will make me watch the news again!” Giving responsibility to kids significantly reduces their risk of depression.

And let’s not underestimate this statistic: “Guns are used in approximately half the suicides,” Zalewski points out. Guns definitely should not be in the hands of kids.

In a culture where nearly every other cause of death warrants a headline, somehow the disturbing phenomenon of young adults killing themselves is relegated to the back pages or goes unreported. The time for us to pay close attention to the emotional health of our society is now.

*Based on a true incident

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Rachel McAdams didn't talk publicly about her pregnancy or her birth story. There are some things this working mama wants to keep to herself, but the fact that she needs to pump at work isn't one of them.

McAdams was recently doing a photo shoot with photographer Claire Rothstein of Girls Girls Girls magazine when she needed to take a pump break. Wearing Versace and a neck full of diamonds McAdmans did what mamas all over the world do every day, and Rothstein snapped a pic that is now going viral.

In an Instagram post, Rothstein explains that she and McAdams had a "mutual appreciation disagreement about who's idea it was to take this picture," but the photographer says she remembers it being McAdams' idea, "which makes me love her even more."

In her caption of the amazing photograph, Rothstein writes: "Breastfeeding is the most normal thing in the world and I can't for the life of me imagine why or how it is ever frowned upon or scared of."

The photographer added that she wanted to put the image out there to change perceptions about breastfeeding, pumping, and working motherhood.

McAdams decision to normalize pumping through this glamorous image is especially cool when you consider that she's not really a social media person, and spends a lot of days in much less glam attire.

She recently arrived for her first interview since welcoming her son in the spring wearing a grey shirt, baggy pants and sneakers, reportedly telling the interviewer (Helena de Bertodano for The Sunday Times U.K.), "I don't even know what I'm wearing today. The shoes are held together with glue. Isn't that sad? I need to get a life."

"I have clothes on and that's a good thing," McAdams told Bertodano during that chat. Her attire for that newspaper interview was a world away from the clothes she wore for the Girls Girls Girls shoot.

During her Sunday Times interview McAdams declined to discuss her son's name or birthdate.

"I want to keep his life private, even if mine isn't," she explained. "But I'm having more fun being a mum than I've ever had. Everything about it is interesting and exciting and inspiring to me. Even the tough days — there's something delightful about them."

Most of us will never look the way McAdams does in this photo while we're pumping, but we can totally understand that sometimes, motherhood means you're wearing sweats and sometimes it means you're pumping in your work clothes (even if for most of us, that doesn't mean Versace).

McAdams may be keeping some parts of her motherhood experience private, but by showing the world this part of her day, she's normalizing something that desperately needs normalizing.

Some mamas pump, and the world needs to know (and accommodate) that.

You might also like:

To my children,

It's the New Year, and I have been doing a lot of thinking. I want to say, with all of my heart and all of my soul, that I am sorry. I want apologize for anything (and everything) I have said or done that made you feel less-than or sad or small.

I regret, so deeply, the hurt I delivered through harsh words or sideways glances, for steely eyes you didn't deserve and sarcastic replies you didn't understand. I'm sorry for being upset when I should have been more understanding, for resorting to frustration when I should have found more patience, for pulling away when I should have drawn near.

There were the times when you needed more from me, when you asked for more, and I simply couldn't provide. There were the moments when you wanted less of me, needed less from me, and I couldn't—or perhaps I just wouldn't—back away.

I start every day with a hope, a hope that I will be better than the day before.

Sometimes I succeed, but many times, I fail. Every so often, I fail in spectacular fashion. I think about all the times when I wasn't gentle enough or kind enough or attentive enough to you, about all the moments when I was too quick to anger and not quick enough to forgive.

You don't need me to tell you that I'm not perfect. Lord knows, you know far too well.

But I will say it to you, because I think it helps to hear me say it: I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am human. I have flaws and cracks and blemishes; they are a part of me, just as they are a part of you.

Sometimes, my dear ones, my mistakes are small—like forgetting to pack your lunch or mixing up the dates for Tot Shabbat, or picking you up an hour late from a play date or accidentally switching your piano primer with your brother's, or sending a snack I know you dislike because I didn't have time to go grocery shopping and have no other food in the refrigerator. But sometimes, they aren't so minor.

Sometimes, my mistakes have to do with the way I've behaved, and the words I have said, and the way I have said them. For those times, and for all the times I failed to support you the way I should, or help you in the way you deserve, and love you in the best way I can, I am sorry.

I wish I didn't make so many mistakes. I'm a perfectionist at heart, but when it comes to parenting, there's still so much I haven't mastered. Even after almost a decade of doing this day in and day out, I still feel like a novice in so many regards and as green as I did on day one.

Precious ones, I've come to realize, no matter how hard I try, that I just can't get it right all of the time. I hope you can forgive my failings.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is a jumble of hits and misses. As many times as we try and succeed, we also try and fail. As much as we hope to do right, we often end up doing wrong. It is the story of the human condition—this mix of losses and gains, triumphs and defeats. It's all very messy (think sloppy joes and pancakes dripping with syrup kind of messy), and yet, it's all we know.

My darling ones, I want nothing more than to do right by you and be the best mother I can be for you. I want to love you unconditionally, support you unreservedly, and be present unambiguously.

In the New Year, I resolve to do better for you, to be better with you, and to act as if God is watching. You mean the world to me. You are everything to me. I love you, always and forever.

All my love,

Mommy


You might also like:

People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

A new study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

You might also like:


We know life gets a little (okay, a lot) busy around this time of year so if you haven't crossed off everyone on your Christmas list just yet, here's your reminder that you've still got time. Fortunately, that Amazon Prime membership of yours comes in handy... especially for the holidays.

Here are some of the best last-minute gifts to get on Amazon. Also, that extra couple of dollars for gift wrapping is *so* worth it if it's available. 😉

1. Tape Activity Book

So your little can create just about anywhere—on the go, in the car or hanging out at home.

Melissa & Doug Tape Activity Book, $6.47

BUY

2. Instant Pot

Mama, meet your new best friend. 4.5 stars with nearly 30K reviews.

Instant Pot 8-qt, $89.95

BUY

3. Silicone Teething Mitt

Offer relief to your teething one with a mitt that stays in place.

Itzy Ritzy Silicone Teething Mitt, $8.99

BUY

4. Roomba

Give the gift of never having to manually vacuum again.

iRobot Roomba 690, $279.00

BUY

5. Magnetic Tiles

These are always a favorite for kids of all ages. Build endless possibilities and work on fine motor skills—win-win!

Magnetic Tiles Building Blocks Set, $31.99

BUY

6. DryBar Triple Sec

Perfect addition to mama's stocking, or paired with a salon or blowout gift card. Adds *so* much texture and volume.

DryBar Triple Sec 3-in-1, $35.99

BUY

7. Plush Animated Bunny

Plays peek-a-boo and sings for baby.

Animated Plush Stuffed Animal, $32.97

BUY

8. 23andMe

Learn everything you want to know about your family history, where you came from, and even information about your genetics.

23andMe DNA Test, $67.99

BUY

9. Boon Bath Pipes

Make bath time more fun. They suction to the wall and can be played with individually or altogether in a chain.

Boon Building Bath Pipes, $14.99

BUY

10. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

For printing all of those adorable Instagram moments—and for getting *all* of the photos off your phone.

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95

BUY

11. Board Blocks

Kids can sort, learn colors and shapes, and work on their hand-eye coordination.

Wooden Educational Geometric Board Block, $6.39

BUY

12. Ring Doorbell + Echo Dot

A great bundle for the techie in your life.

Ring Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot, $169.00

BUY

13. Pai Technology Circuit Conductor

For the little who wants to learn to code, this offers endless learning fun.

Pai Technology Circuit Conductor Learning Kit, $69.99

BUY

14. Kindle Paperwhite, Audible + Headphones Bundle

Bookworms will love this bundle. Enjoy a new Kindle Paperwhite, wireless bluetooth stereo headphones, and 3 month free trial for Audible for new users.

Kindle Paperwhite Bundle, $139.00

BUY

15. Wooden Grocery Store

We love this imaginative play grocery store, complete with a beeping scanner and hand-cranked conveyor belt.

Melissa & Doug Freestanding Wooden Fresh Mart Grocery Store, $179.99

BUY

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.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.