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My husband and I are raising four kids together. This year they are 12, nine, five, and three. Both my husband and I were born in the ’80s and we were both raised like typical ’80s kids. We played outside unsupervised, we drank from the hose, we rode our bikes to neighbors’ houses and to the store down the street. We prepared our own meals at an early age and stayed home alone at early ages, too.

As our children have gotten older we’ve noticed that our default is to parent like our parents did. Sometimes these are conscious choices, and other times we just fall into the same patterns and routines our parents implemented for us. We have also noticed we are in the minority these days. Most of the parents we encounter are far less laid back than we have been in our 12 years of parenthood. We are often intrigued by the evolution of parenting we have witnessed between our own childhoods and now.

At this point in our life, most of our friends have multiple children. We spend a lot of time around a lot of kids and are witness to a wide range of parenting styles.

One thing we have noticed over the years is the varying level of awareness in the children of different families with whom we are acquainted. Some families’ children regularly practice self-control and empathy, express concern over disobedient and reckless behavior in their peers, and respond quickly and respectfully to being told no. Other families’ children tend more towards unawareness, compulsive and aggressive behavior, and disregard of rules and boundaries.

Because these varying degrees of awareness seem consistent inside varying family units, we have concluded that it is a result of parenting practice. But we have never been able to connect what parenting practice might affect this.

Many of the parents we know are what my 12-year-old refers to as “overprotective.” They hover, they say “no” a lot, they correct and reprimand nearly constantly. I think all of this is done with good intention. We all want our children to be well-behaved, to make good choices, and to be safe. Most of their intervention seems to be with those things in mind.

At first glance this appears conscientious and effective. Maybe even necessary. But this week I had a lightbulb moment and I think I am onto something. Throughout our 12 years of parenting, we have received many comments and questions about how laid back we are and how well-behaved our children are. I have never directly connected the two. Until now.

I think children are given an internal alarm that warns them of danger and makes them aware of others and of action and consequence. And I think when parents hover, when we reprimand and remind and warn every few minutes throughout our children’s day, we silence that internal alarm.

I picture it like an alarm clock. When we train our bodies to awaken to an alarm clock, our inner alarm clock remains dormant. We create a dependency on the external alarm clock so our inner alarm clock no longer has purpose and therefore no longer works as it was created to work. We become conditioned to listen for the external alarm clock and not our natural, inner alarm clock.

When children are constantly shadowed by an overprotective parent, their natural, inner alarm clock that warns them of danger, tells them their behavior is harmful to another child, and tells them it is important to listen and obey the adults, no longer works properly. They have been conditioned to listen for the external alarm clock so they are no longer connected to their inner alarm clock. If someone else isn’t reminding them to stop, they don’t stop.

I know the intentions of overprotective parents are good. We all want our children to make good choices and we all want our children to be safe. But I also think our good intentions sometimes have bad applications. While the intention of helicoptering is to protect, I think the application might actually endanger, because we cannot be with all of our children every second of every day for the rest of their life. If we could, we could safely remain their alarm clock. Because we can’t, it is vital that they connect to their own, inner alarm clock.

There are a few simple practices one could start with for quieting the parent alarm clock so the children can hear their inner alarm clock. They will vary somewhat according to the age of your children. I listed them in order of the child’s age at the time of implementation:

1 | Keep the house relatively un-babyproofed. Teach them boundaries through conversation instead of locks.

2 | Let them get dirty. Being dirty is a natural part of being a kid. It teaches them the natural rhythms of life. The saying at our house goes, “Dirty feet means it’s been a good day.” My kids will check their feet at bedtime and announce, “It’s been a good day!”

3 | Never reprimand them for accidentally breaking or spilling things. Think of these moments as teaching moments. Let them clean up their spills and messes. They are learning action and consequence.

4 | Let them dress themselves and get ready for the day and for bed. These small routines can empower them and teach them responsibility, self-awareness ,and decision-making skills.

5 | Let them play outside unsupervised. Outdoor play creates non-stop learning moments. Stay near a door or window to keep an ear or eye out if they are younger, but let them explore the outdoors without intervention.

6 | Let them argue. We intervene if there is yelling, name calling, or physical harm. But if they are just arguing, we let them argue it out. This teaches them relationship skills, communication skills, and empathy.

7 | Let them prepare their own food. This will evolve dramatically with age. Start simple with them getting their own water at dinner or pouring their own cereal. Go from there.

8 | Let them be responsible for their own chores and homework. Around here, privileges are earned through responsibility. They know what chores and homework for which they are responsible. They are granted levels of privilege that match their level of responsibility. This is another great way to teach action and consequence.

9 | Let them stay home alone. My husband and I were in elementary school when we started staying home alone. Some parents we know wait until middle school. Gauge with caution. Start with 30 minutes while you are nearby. Go from there.

10 | Lastly, teach through conversation. Talk about life and family and kindness and responsibility at the dinner table, in the car and sitting together in bed at night. Use calm conversation to teach them about what to do rather than emotionally lecturing them about what not to do.

I know parenting is a sensitive subject. We all want to do right by our kids. It hurts when we question if we have done so. If you are or have been a helicopter parent and find that reading this rings true for you, please know that it is okay to try something new. I know you have been doing your best. Sometimes our best yesterday looks different than our best tomorrow. Every morning offers us a new day and new chances. I am never more grateful for this than I am in my role as a parent.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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