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How did we get to this point, when our method of communication has gotten progressively shorter and shorter over time? The other day on Twitter there was a hashtag asking people to tell a story in three words. Just. Three. Words. When pre-teens and teens only “talk” to their friends using brief phrases and emoji’s, what are we left with?


Here are five aspects of communication that are being sacrificed when our children grow up speaking and writing in phrases, which can only hinder their development over time:

Emotional connection and expression

We use words to express our feelings to others about our observations, concerns, and hopes. How will our children learn to do this if they are cutting out an enormous opportunity for verbal and written expression by dumbing down the message?

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Researchers are assessing whether emoticons help us communicate better or hinder self-expression. They have found that on one hand, it is nice to have an international symbol for certain emotions that we can easily click on to communicate how we feel about a Facebook post. However, emoticons convey a limited choice of emotions, reducing ways to truly express our full range of feelings we have on an issue. 

It also cuts out the opportunity for people to use descriptive words to say how they feel because they are given a shorthand option to simply click on one image that is supposed to capture their thoughts and feelings. This is, unfortunately, limiting opportunities for expression, If our children grow up with this quick option, it will impact how they express their emotions as they grow.  

Additionally, when we hide behind our devices instead of talking face-to-face with those who we love, we miss out on a major chance for emotional connection. According to Psychology Today, this kind of communication interferes with actual conversation and undermines our ability to connect with others. Social media actually becomes a barrier to connecting with others. As children are constantly exposed to these quick impersonal ways of “expressing” themselves, they miss out on learning how to accurately convey their thoughts and feelings both in writing and out loud.

Non-Verbal Communication

Nothing beats looking into someone’s eyes to truly understand what they mean and how they feel. A huge part of our daily communications depends on visual cues like facial expressions, body language, posture, and tone of voice. In fact, studies show that only 7 percent of communication is based on the written or verbal word, while 93 percent is based on nonverbal body language. Sitting behind a screen sending a few words or images is not going to help you really understand how the person on the other end thinks and feels.

As children spend more time in this world of snippets, they are losing the ability to pick up on these non-verbal expressions which can be so important in understanding others.

UCLA scientists found that sixth-graders who went five days without using a smartphone, television, or other digital screen did much better at understanding human emotions than those who spent several hours a day looking at their electronic devices. Patricia Greenfield, the author of the study, explained that sensitivity to emotional cues is decreased when in-person social interaction is replaced with screen interaction. Learning how to read other people’s moods is a skill that takes a lot of practice. Sadly, many children today are missing out on developing that skill.

Social skills

Children and teens miss out on a whole slew of social skills when they only communicate in short statements online. Learning how to interact in-person with others and to speak in public are critical skills for future success. Our kids need to practice these skills throughout their childhood to get ready for critical moments in their lives like school presentations, college and job interviews, and making an announcement at a social event.

Other basic social skills are also being affected. In an article on Huffington Post, Melissa Ortega, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, pointed out how children are struggling to deal with face-to-face conflict because they are used to hiding behind their screens to communicate. They are not getting enough interpersonal exposure, and Ortega said that conversations take practice.

Experts are also seeing how this type of limited communication is influencing the dating world. Teens raised to just text and not hold a personal conversation are limited in how they can express their feelings to their peers. The lack of direct communication is impacting their ability to build trust and develop an emotional connection with others.

Creative language, grammar, and spelling

Another way that brief communication is changing our children’s lives is in the classroom. The way kids are communicating online is creeping into their school work, leading to sloppy grammar, spelling mistakes, and reduced creativity. The best literature throughout history is filled with embellished language and imaginative stories. If our children limit the number of words they use to tell a story or to debate an issue, the entire premise of communications changes.

The Association of American Educators indicates that social media has led to students talking in “text-speak,” causing an overall trend of bad grammar, bad punctuation, and bad spelling for the sake of convenience and speed. Abbreviations used on social media are also making it into coursework, which is clearly incorrect language. The Guardian reported that a paper released by the English Spelling Society concludes that the internet has revolutionized the English language and made spelling mistakes the norm. This is not a surprise since we now rely on crutches, like auto-correct, that reduce the level of thought required to write.

Meanings of words

How many times have you misinterpreted what someone wrote in an email or text? So much is lost in translation when we are unable to see or hear how the person is communicating specific words to us. If children are primarily communicating with friends and family by typing phrases, that leaves many opportunities for the message to be misconstrued. This can lead to stressful situations. The reader may jump to the conclusion that the writer intended to be hurtful when in reality it was just how the words were interpreted. Brief communication can then lead to negative emotions like anger, depression, or anxiety over how someone thinks they are being treated.

An article in Forbes discussed how the instances of misinterpretation are growing in the business environment. As people are rushed, stressed, and primarily communicating by quick electronic messages, they are not taking the time to consider the nuances of their writing. This is leading to more conflicts about the tone of emails.

The problem grows worse with our children who are gossiping and making plans with friends in group texts using symbols and acronyms. How does someone really know what it means when the writer uses all capital letters? Are they yelling, joking, or just highlighting an issue?

When someone responds to you with a one or two-word answer, does that mean they are brushing you off? With this type of communication, we are left to draw conclusions with very little information. If our children do not learn how to tell people exactly what they mean using complete sentences, how will they ever be happy and successful?

What can parents do about it?

A day doesn’t go by when we don’t hear suggestions for limiting our children’s screen time. We are all struggling to implement this in our homes. What else can we do to encourage our children to communicate more thoroughly and effectively?

  • Read every day with your children at all ages. The real key is to also discuss what you are reading. Ask tons of question and encourage your kids to summarize the stories.
  • Create games that involve developing a story together. For example, fill a jar with topics and then ask each family member to write or state three sentences. Keep building the story.
  • Teach your children how to debate and encourage them to join a debate team when they get older.
  • Encourage your children to journal so that they can practice expressing their thoughts and feelings in writing. Ask them what adjectives they used and challenge them to develop their thoughts even more.
  • Have fun analyzing each other’s or stranger’s body language in person or on television.
  • Eat meals together as a family and include your children in conversations about all types of topics from how their day at school was to current affairs.
  • Provide public speaking opportunities for your children, even if it is something as simple as ordering their meal at a restaurant.
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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

$69.95

Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

$79.95

Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

$135.00

Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

$79.95

Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$79.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

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

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:

Kindness

Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.

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Responsibility

Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.

Patience

Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.

Politeness

Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.

Flexibility

Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.

Empathy

Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.

Cooperation

Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.

Gratitude

Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.

Respect

As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
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Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.

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This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.

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Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).


Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

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  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


ORDER A BOX

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.

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But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

Life
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