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The conversation on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is still new, but researchers and medical professionals are beginning to understand the connection between adverse childhood experiences and adult health problems. Researchers have found a relationship between childhood abuse or family dysfunction and the leading causes of death in adulthood, including cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and lung disease, along with many common health issues like depression, autoimmune diseases, and inflammation. All of this may seem scary, but there is hope for those who have experienced ACEs and are now struggling with their adult health, and there is hope for those who are currently raising children and trying to interrupt any ACEs in their lives.


This YouTube video provides a background to ACEs research.

Here are seven things you should know about ACEs:

 1 | ACEs exist

Many people do not give ACEs credit for causing adult health issues. They say, “We all had a hard childhood.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “You just gotta toughen up.” Some of this is true. Researchers have found 64 percent of people report at least a score of one on the ACE Survey. Most of us did experience some kind of trauma or unpredictable chronic stress as children. Some of us had very little and some of us had a lot. These childhood events can have a major effect on us and most children do not have the ability to deal with the chronic stress of ACEs. ACEs do not make a child stronger, they break them down.

Research has shown that people who have experienced ACEs are more likely to suffer from health conditions, participate in harmful behaviors, have relationship problems, and struggle with emotions and handling stress.

Our ability to overcome ACEs depends on our resiliency. Some of us were able to work through our trauma and move forward. Others experienced chronic stress while their brains were developing or held onto the stress, which later manifested itself into autoimmune diseases, depression, fibromyalgia, heart disease, or cancer.

We may not even realize we have experienced ACEs, or what effect they have on our health, our social interactions, and our parenting. Diseases and health conditions can arise for a number of reasons, but having experienced an ACE increases the likelihood. When we develop resiliency, we are better able to overcome our past. Once we recognize our hurt, we can understand our position and work toward healing.

2 | ACEs are scored

Researchers found 10 main areas of chronic, toxic stress that affects children. The survey is available online here. The areas include physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, abandonment, parental drug and alcohol addiction, parental incarceration, parental mental illness, seeing a parent being abused, or needs not being taken care of. Knowing the most important stressors for our children can help us to avoid them as we parent. Knowing our own ACE score can allow us the first step in overcoming our past. When you know your own ACE score, you are better equipped to speak with a medical professional about the impact your childhood is having on your health.

3 | You are not alone

Researchers have found that 64 percent of adults have had at least a score of one on the ACE survey. Of those, 87 percent of those had experienced two or more. The higher the ACE score, the more likely the adult was to have health problems like heart disease, depression, cancer, or autoimmune diseases. Many adults go through life with these illnesses and do not even realize the effect their childhood had on their adult health.

4 | ACEs effected a child’s developing brain

Chronic, unpredictable stress during childhood can cause serious changes to a child or teenager’s developing brain. These biophysical changes can cause inflammation of the brain and health issues as an adult. Damage is done at the cellular level to the developing brain, causing the cells to age and leaving us prone to diseases later in life.

Not only this, but when a young child or teenager is experiencing chronic stress, they are in a constant state of fight-or-flight, releasing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This causes us to have an unhealthy response to stress hormones when we do experience them. Chronic stress causes us to not be able to regulate our stress hormones, which brings on inflammation. Basically, we are on constant red-alert. This YouTube video shows the effects of chronic stress on the brain.

When stress is healthier for children, they develop the ability to handle stressful situations. When stress is chronic or unpredictable, children are unable to cope effectively with the release of stress hormones. The release of these hormones can actually shrink the developing brain’s hippocampus, further causing trouble for managing stress and processing emotion. What happens to our brains while they are developing is the foundation for the rest of our lives.

5 | We aren’t talking about all stress

There is a difference between the stress that causes an ACE and the regular stress of growing up and it’s important to make the distinction. Chronic, toxic, unpredictable stress includes things like abuse, seeing a loved one being abused, being bullied, not feeling loved, being hurt by loved ones, etc. The regular stress of growing up includes studying for a test, worrying when homework is forgotten, or dealing with the reasonable consequences for not doing chores or talking-back.

Parents should not shield their children from small stressors as they grow. These help the child develop a healthy understanding that the quality of their life depends on their choices, builds character and resilience, and helps them understand how to handle stress hormones effectively. On the other hand, parents do need to be there to protect children from stressors like psychological, physical, or sexual abuse.

6 | This is not about blaming your parents

Many parents parent the way they were raised, or are products of the environment in which they were raised. When our own parents were raised with chronic stress or trauma, it’s hard to expect them to parent any differently. The important part is to give them grace and to use this knowledge to grow yourself and break the generational trauma. Working through your own childhood will help you to overcome your own ACEs and work toward better health and parenting.

7 | ACEs do not define you or your parenting

A high ACE score does not mean you are doomed to be a bad parent or experience health problems. Just as we can heal a pulled muscle, we can also heal a traumatized brain. Taking steps to recognize past hurt and work through the pain can work wonders on our health. This along with a healthy diet, exercise, and medical and therapeutic help can help us overcome our ACEs. We are able to overcome our past hurts and not pass those along to our children. By allowing them to experience an appropriate amount of good stress, consulting with them and walking them through hardships, providing love, empathy, and loving limits, we can stop the generational spread of ACEs and protect our children’s developing brains.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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