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I just got back from an amazing trip to Alaska. That part of the country is so special and nothing like I have ever seen before. It’s truly a different culture and way of life out there with small towns, minimal materialism, living off the grid, and very cold and wet weather.


Although I was in awe of the incredible nature we saw and the science and history we learned, I found myself having thoughts like, “How can anyone live here?” and “What do they do for fun in the middle of nowhere?” and “I could never stand that weather.” Then I wondered why these judgmental thoughts were filling my head.

I’ll be the first to admit that my biggest flaw in life is that I am too judgmental. Sadly, this attribute has gotten me into trouble in my relationships quite a bit over the years. Let’s just say that I may have been too honest at times with friends regarding issues that did not sit well with them. I also tend to see the flaws in others before I see their positive traits.

How did I get this way? I can tell you without a doubt that I come from a long line of judgmental relatives. My grandparents passed it down to my parents and they passed their outlook on to me. Fortunately, I recognize this as a problem in my life, and am now concerned that I will pass the “judgmental gene” to my children. Because I know firsthand how being judgmental can hold us back and cause stress and disappointment in our lives, I am trying very hard to do what I can to break this cycle and give my children an opportunity to see the world in a less judgmental way.

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Why we judge others

We all make numerous judgments throughout our days, even if we don’t always realize it. Judging is a natural instinct that humans formed a long time ago to defend ourselves from situations that could cause us harm. We needed to be able to make quick judgments based on our observations to decide how we should react.

However, over time this instinct became less necessary for survival and is now part of our social behavior. We now tend to judge other people and situations because we do not understand them. When we are not familiar with someone or something, we become fearful and our immediate reaction is to judge them in a negative way to “protect” ourselves. We want to feel safe, so we label others as right or wrong, good or bad. Many times this judgment is due to a lack of empathy and compassion based on behaviors we learned from our upbringing (yes, our parents!).

The problem with being so judgmental is that it can put a strain on our relationships and eat away at us internally. When children grow up learning to judge the world in a negative way, this can affect how successful and happy they are throughout their lives. According to Healthy Place, “snap judgments, arbitrary thinking, and social pigeon-holing become the customary methods of rejecting that which is different or disagreeable. This narrow mindedness has devastating consequences in the areas of interpersonal problem-solving and tolerance for authority, while it also sets up the child for a variety of social problems as they age.”

In addition, psychology experts believe that being judgmental of others is actually a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. When we notice our children exemplifying this type of behavior, it can be a red flag to dig a little deeper to find out what is really going on with them. Your daughter may be complaining about the skinny girls at school because she is unsatisfied with her own weight. Your son may ridicule the math whiz in his class because he is struggling with math and feels inadequate.

What we can do about it

Children enter this world with compassion, a natural and automatic response that has allowed humans to survive throughout history. The human brain is wired to respond to others who are suffering because helping them makes us feel good. However, even though children have the instinct to help others and be open-minded, it is our job as parents to teach them about differences and how to approach life in a non-judgmental way. Here are some tips for raising less judgmental kids:

Avoid judgmental language

Our kids absorb everything we say and do. If we use judgmental language, they will too. If they hear racist, sexist, biased, and critical statements about others, that will become their norm, therefore it’s important that we are mindful of the language we use.

Be careful not to make everything either right or wrong. Instead of saying “it’s wrong,” try saying, “I disagree.” Consider using “It’s socially unacceptable by some people,” as opposed to stating that something is “right.” Also, try to avoid labeling people as “good” or “bad.” In most cases, what we think is bad is just new to us, so we are worried by it. You can have an open discussion about different issues to explore it from various angles and come to a conclusion together, or agree to disagree.

Travel to new places

Although I had some judgments about others on my trip to Alaska, overall this experience opened my eyes to how others live and my views about them. It also inspired me to dig deeper into my judgmental attitude with this article, so it worked! If you can, take your children with you on trips to other cities, states, and countries. Having these types of experiences will truly broaden their perspective.

Expose your children to diverse people and situations

Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and take your kids to new places they’re not familiar with. A wonderful way to do this is to volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen, hospital, retirement community, school for children with disabilities, or out in nature. Providing opportunities to interact with all types of people will give them a chance to see how other people live and make them feel good about helping others.

Use facts, not opinion

People become judgmental when they’re unable to distinguish between facts and opinions. Avoid presenting your views and opinions about everything to your children. Instead, have a discussion based on facts and observations so that they have the chance to form their own ideas. When you do give an opinion, be sure to tell them that that’s what it is.

Celebrate differences

Let your children know that everyone is unique and special in their own way. They will meet people who look and speak differently from them. Take the time to tell them that it’s okay to be different and talk to them about the differences they observe. Explain that it’s not okay to judge others based on things like race, speech, and clothing. Expose them to various religions, cultures, appearances, and illnesses. Some great ways to do this is by reading books, watching shows and movies, attending multi-cultural events, and trying new cuisines. The more they interact with other types of people, the more they will accept them.

Reflect

As I have learned, many times our judgments are actually about us, not them. Train your kids to question their own judgments so they can discover what the real issue behind their thinking is.

Find teachable moments

You won’t have to look very far. Today the news if filled with examples of how judging others can get ugly. From bullying to nasty messages on social media to stereotypes and racism to hate rallies, we have endless opportunities to teach our children how to change course and be more open-minded to accept all people and experiences in the world. Do you best to keep an open and honest dialogue with your children at every age.

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Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

This article is sponsored by Nordstrom. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

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Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

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It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

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Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

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Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

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Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

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These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

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There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

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