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Mike Christie grabbed us with his emotional essay, “All Parents are Cowards,” published in the New York Times. In it, he talks about growing up with an agoraphobic mother, how skateboarding helped him break out on his own, and what it was like to return to his mom’s side as she was dying years later.


Mike is the author of the short story collection, “The Beggar’s Garden,” and the novel, “If I Fall, If I Die.” Follow him on Twitter.

Parents: Mike and Cedar

Kids: son August, 5-and-a-half; son Lake, almost 2

Parent Co.: Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired you to write your moving piece in the New York Times?

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Mike: Sure. My mom died in 2008 of cancer. That was just before my first book was published. It was a collection of short stories. I was having a child or about to have a child. He hadn’t been born yet, and she passed away. It was pretty quick. For my next book I wrote a novel based on my relationship with her growing up and also somewhat based on my life. It is pretty fictionalized. I just found myself returning again and again to memories of her and looking back on my life and going home. I remember being with her when she was critically ill. It was very much a grieving process for me. Then also an examination of my own life as a parent so far. I’m sorry that’s a long answer.

You say, “Your experience of parenthood so far,” – how old are your kids?

(Our first son) was growing up while I was writing the novel. Then when I wrote this piece it was six months ago. He had just turned five at that point, I suppose. I also have another son who was about one at that time. He’s almost two now.

It’s a lot of fun. We live on a little island off the coast of Vancouver. It’s good because we can just point him outside. It’s really safe and natural and fun.

That’s particularly interesting considering you grew up with the antithesis of free-range parenting. Your mom, because of her own mental illness, kept you very close to her. Then you met this peer. Was it the boy that you met or the skateboarding that sort of pulled you out of the house?

It was both. There were some instrumental particular boys that I hung out with. Yes, it was more just the sight of skateboarding that revolutionized my life. I tried other things. I tried everything. It was just something about skateboarding itself that just completely overtook me – to my mother’s complete horror. She just hated it.

She’s a very creative person. She loved the artwork and the music, that aspect of it. She loved that it was noncompetitive and all that. At the same time when I’d come home bashed up and sprain the ankles and breaking things it was really hard for her, as it would be for any parent but particularly … 

Right, I was going to say I can imagine that would be hard for any parent. Even my daughter who’s almost seven and started taking skateboard lessons last year – she was doing nothing approaching what I can imagine you were doing as an eleven or twelve year old. Maybe this is where the Times got the headline right – there is a level of fear that we all experience as parents.

Totally. Nothing will terrify you like becoming a parent. There is nothing scarier. It’s one thing to worry about yourself, but it’s a completely different fear, and magnitude of fear, to worry about someone who’s completely helpless and someone who you love more than you love yourself. It’s brutal.

Do you struggle with, as I certainly do and a lot of parents do, trying to understand your separateness from your children, trying to understand and accept that they are their own humans with ever increasing autonomy and ability to make their own decisions?

Yes, I certainly do. I’ve gone through periods of pulling back almost too much and then going in and being too much of a helicopter dad. Yes, I struggle with it all the time. It’s something that you never get over. I don’t think there is a solution to it. There is no perfect level of involvement.

We as parents, and especially this kind of new parent, there’s a real difference between the way that I parent versus the way that my parents did or the parents of my peers. We’re thinking about it much more analytically than people have in the past. We’re coming up against these really unsolvable problems like, do you let your kids fall off the playground structure or are you there every minute? Do you catch them? Do you send them off to some war-torn country so they can build character like some super dogmatic free-range parents would advocate for? It’s not either of those. It’s somewhere in the middle and that’s hard.

Yes, it can be especially hard because there’s so much room in the middle. We can understand on an intellectual level that the best choices are somewhere in the middle, but even there, there are so many possibilities. What things do you look for when you’re making decisions about your kids that show you, or clue you into the fact, that you’re making the right decision?

I’ve developed this rule that I have to wait five seconds before I say anything that I worry may be intrusive. I find it’s a nice little buffer. My son will be doing something that’ll be semi-dangerous or getting there and I’ll say, “Rather than heading this off at the pass or jumping the gun potentially on something that could turn out to be nothing just take a breath and don’t jump in and don’t open your mouth.” That’s one strategy that I find really helps. It’s so difficult. It’s just minute by minute. You’re in the moment making a thousand decisions a second with your kid. It’s so hard to say what is the ideal strategy.

It’s true. Then it’s hard, too, when you’re trying to adjust for developmental progress and things when you realize, “Oh, actually …” Maybe that’s what those five seconds or one minute are for – maybe that breath is the time where you realize, “Oh, my kid knows better now. That’s great.” 

Totally. I used to get really angry at my mom for what I felt was not acknowledging my movement towards independence and not being like, “Oh, my God, you’re making food for yourself.” She wasn’t welcoming those things. It was almost like she was horrified by my steps towards independence. Even later in life she would say, “Are you okay driving?” I’d be like, “Mom, it’s a small town in Ontario. I’ve driven a motorbike from Vancouver to Mexico. I know how to drive. I’ve done this stuff.” It was her inability to adjust to increased levels of independence. Now I’m finding out that is really hard to do.

Even if you’re not agoraphobic!

No, totally. It’s really hard no to. I forgive her. There are so many moments I wish I could take back now in terms of my own frustration with her. Now I know how hard it is. It’s really hard to adjust to the fact that your baby’s not a baby anymore or that your kid is now an adult who gets embarrassed. It’s so strange for me to do that, or going to be strange for me with an adult child.

I find it so frustrating: The fact that we can’t see that until we become parents ourselves. We just can’t understand what our parents are going through on a daily basis and where their fear might be coming from. Truly so much of what our parents were doing that drove us crazy was all coming from a place of love and a desire to protect us. Right or wrong, it’s almost always well-intentioned. It’s so hard to see that before you became a parent. Even if you’re an adult who’s not a parent, it’s still hard to understand that.

That is probably the best answer to your first question. Writing the essay was all about me coming to the realization, coming to a place of forgiveness, and a place of understanding for what my mom went through and how hard it is to parent. I attributed it all to her illness and all to her quirkiness. It’s hard for everyone. It’s certainly hard for me.

I spoke with comedian Greg Fitzsimmons a few months ago about his parents’ struggle with depression while he was growing up and his own struggles with depression. We talked a little bit about how tricky it is to be very aware of the fact that you’re consciously fighting against, in some ways, how you were parented or where your parent’s mental health came into them parenting you and just how complex that is. I’m curious how you dealt with that? You don’t have feelings or tendencies towards agoraphobia. Still you’re affected by it simply by being your mother’s son. Are you constantly checking yourself for any signs of decisions based in fear?

Anyone who’s grown up with a mentally ill parent – or anyone who’s grown up with a parent – will say that they’ve had a profound effect on them. Especially when you’re growing up with somebody who’s really struggling in the house, you take on all kinds of roles that aren’t necessarily ideal to be taken by kids. I like to think of it as you adapt. You adapt to the environment that you were raised in. You adapt very well. You come up with some really great and ingenious ways of getting your needs met and staying a person.

Then the problem arises when you move outside of that world that you’ve adapted to so well and you realize that you are no longer adapted to this world. It’s almost like you’re a polar bear moving to Africa when you leave home. I really had that experience. I was completely unprepared for life outside our home. For me it really manifested – I had a lot of relationships with women who were really in trouble. Not necessarily agoraphobic but really struggling with mental health or with addiction or all kinds of stuff. With my mom I was very much her caretaker during a lot of the stuff and sort of reassure-er. I continued that adaptation. I continued that role out in the world.

Right, it becomes your identity.

It becomes your identity and it was completely unsuccessful. Obviously. That took a long time to figure out and recognize in myself.

And then outside of that, and I wrote about this in the piece, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a skateboarder or because of my mom, I mean, I actually have had a lot of tragedy in my life, as well. So, I don’t know why but I’m very in tune with how things can go bad, and how things can go wrong because I’ve seen it happen a fair deal. I’m constantly trying to keep that in check. I’m constantly trying to keep my alertness and my hyper-vigilance under control because I live in a pretty safe world and I act like I don’t.

It’s very important as a parent to align your idea of how dangerous the world is with the actual truth of how dangerous the world is. If you’re parenting a child in Afghanistan right now, you’re going to need some different skills than if you’re parenting a child in San Francisco. As a parent you really need to get a realistic view of the dangerousness and the amount of attention that’s required. Then also the media does a terrible job in actually giving us a good sense of how dangerous things are.

Right. That’s a really important thing to remind people of because, as you mentioned with the prevalence of media coverage of the terrible things, we’re just not supported naturally in that truth – in the reality of where we live. It’s skewed by the terrible stories that we hear all the time.

I’ve read studies about how our brain is not set up to deal with that amount of catastrophic input. That it actually can’t discern the fact that there is a flood happening an entire world away but that is not happening to us right now potentially. It’s very difficult to put up a barrier between the tragedies and the immediate reality. That’s really difficult.

Have you ever struggled with panic attacks in your life?

Yes, I’ve had them. I wrote about them in my novel a lot. There’s a lot of description of panic attacks. I did a ton of research. I used to get them more. I worked at an emergency homeless shelter for many years. It was really high stress and lots of crazy stuff happening. I would get them then. These days I don’t really get them at all.

I’m asking because I had them, panic attacks, regularly for seven years before finally going on medication for it. Everything you’re saying is exactly my experience with panic attacks. It was so hard to understand boundaries. Like, “That person is passing out at the concert, not me. I’m actually fine.” It turned into, “Oh, my God, that’s going to happen to me. Something is wrong with me!” I so deeply empathize with what you’re saying and how difficult it is. Especially when you put it in the context of parenting, how very important it is to really figure out the truth, to figure out what’s true, and stay there.

That’s right.

The way I always look at it is, if I’m there – in the truth, in reality – then my kids are there with me, and that’s where they deserve to be. Not in my made up terrible world.

That’s right. In some way you’re preparing them for a world that doesn’t exist. That’s the biggest disservice we can do… That “catastrophization,” as parents we really have to be careful of it. We have to be good at recognizing when something is a real problem and then recognizing when something is a scrape or is a knock on the head or something very benign. That’s so hard to do.

It is. It’s equally important to do. I’m always reminding myself of that. Sorry, I feel like I got us off on a little bit of a tangent there.

No. Tangents are much more conversational.

They are. That’s where the good stuff is. When you speak of yourself professionally now, do you call yourself a writer?

Yes, it’s funny. I have a weird relationship with the word. I have a serious case of impostor syndrome, really bad. I have to reassure myself. I’m like, “My major source of income is writing fiction. I published a book. I’m writing another book now. I have an agent. I guess that makes me a writer.”

That’s so legit.

Yes, I am a writer.

Do you still skateboard?

I do. Yes, I still love it… There’s actually a small park here on the island. We go quite a bit. I’m definitely not at the level that I was at one time. I still just adore it. If I had more time I would skateboard every day.

I’m wondering how becoming a dad has impacted your approach to your creative work?

It’s been really helpful which is funny because the lack of time and the lack of energy and the lack of sleep. You’d think that those things would deplete you or rob you of the ability to do creative stuff. I was this very unregulated human being before I had kids. Not even just partying unregulated. I was a very haphazard guy. I would stay up all night one night and sleep all day the next day and take a random trip somewhere on a motorcycle for absolutely no reason.

With kids, I find that their cycles regulate me in a way that I was incapable of doing to myself. Now I put my son on the bus. I go down to my writing cabin. It’s like, “Now is the time to work,” and before I never had that. It was like it’s always the time to work and it’s never the time to work so I never worked. Now, it’s focused my life and focused my respect for my own time and my ability to do it. For me, it’s been great despite all the more difficult parts like lack of time or sleep.

I find myself now, looking at my friends who don’t have kids, I’m like, “What do they do?” People that don’t have kids have become this mystical animal and I’m wondering what they do with their time. How do they fill up all those hours? I don’t know.

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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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News

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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