Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

The Best Thing We Moms Can Do For One Another

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Before I explain what it is, I want to tell you about Leith Greenslade, a mom of three daughters (ages 12, 10, and 8) and vice chair at the MDG Health Alliance, an initiative in support of the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman, Every Child movement. Last May, she gave a presentation at Moms+ Social Good in which she discussed the low numbers of mothers in positions of power. (Did you know that of the 50 most powerful companies in the world, only 3 were run by moms last year?) She vowed to look into the statistics in a detailed way, creating a trackable list.

One year later, on May 1, Greenslade launched the Motherhood+Public Power Index. It took a solid four months’ worth of number-crunching in her “spare” time to learn how many U.S. moms held powerful positions, and the results were startling.

  • Of the top 40 leaders in government, 5 are mothers. (33 are dads; the rest are not parents.)
  • Of the top 40 college presidents, 9 are moms. (27 are fathers.)
  • Of the top 40 CEOs, 4 are moms. (35 are dads.)
  • Of the top 40 religious leaders, 5 are moms. (27 are fathers.)

“I knew the number of mothers would be bad, because the number of women in these positions is already low. But I was surprised by how bad it was,” explains Greenslade. (You can see exactly who these mothers are, and where they work, here.) Mothers make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, but we hold 14 percent of powerful positions. Fathers also make up 40 percent of our population—but they hold 80 percent of powerful positions. “And these aren’t men with one or two children,” Greenslade explains. “Many of these fathers have three or four children, or more. Moms with lots of kids do not rise, but dads with lots of kids do well.”

Here’s her larger point: These men are the ones making the laws and policies that determine how the workplace functions. (See: our embarrassing family-leave policies; our lack of affordable childcare; our still-too-rare flextime schedules.)  “We can’t expect them to really understand the constraints that ordinary working women face,” she says. “They don’t have any clue how we live.”

To that end, Greenslade has an ambitious goal: to get 30 percent of mothers in positions of power. “I know if we do that there will be a total transformation in the workplace and women will be able to shuffle between our two worlds,” she says. “I’m trying to create a movement where mothers feel supported and valued, and they don’t have to withdraw from the workplace when they feel they just can’t do it anymore.”

You’re probably thinking, “Great idea. But how do I help make that happen?” And now we come to the best thing moms can do for one another: We can create an environment that fosters and supports leadership among women in any form. Greenslade has outlined some very manageable ways to do that:

  • Get people fired up about the Index. Women and men, moms and dads. Share the numbers with your friends, your coworkers, the organizations you belong to, and your social networks.
  • Talk to your children about the disparity in the number of mom leaders and dad leaders. You can bring it to their level, pointing out, perhaps, how many (or how few) principals or superintendents in your school district are mothers.
  • Find the moms in power in your circle and tell them you’ve got their back, whether via email or a supportive shout-out on social media. (You can also broaden this to the women Greenslade named in her report.) Talk about them to your fellow moms.
  • Take any opportunity you can to lead. Maybe that means being a class mom, or running a PTA committee, or teaching your kid’s religious ed class, or raising your hand the next time your boss is looking for someone to preside over a task force at work.

Next up for Greenslade is to create a Motherhood+Public Power Index for China, Brazil, Russia, and India. And she’ll update the U.S. index every year, just before Mother’s Day. If we all do our part, whether big or small, those pitiful numbers just might start to grow.

Kara Corridan has two daughters, 6 and 9. She’s regretting not volunteering for any PTA committees this year.

Photo via Shutterstock.

Back To Work At Six Weeks
Back To Work At Six Weeks
Back To Work At Six Weeks

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Protecting Young Athletes’ Arms

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

This guest blog is from Glenn S. Fleisig, Ph.D., research director of the American Sports Medicine Institute.

You can hardly look at the sports headlines today without seeing that another star pitcher has blown out his elbow and is heading for the dreaded “Tommy John surgery,” which will sideline him for at least a year and perhaps curtail his career. Roughly 25 to 30 major league pitchers have the surgery every year, and one out of four has had it during his career.

This may naturally lead parents to wonder whether baseball is a dangerous sport—not just for pros, but for our kids.

The answer: Absolutely not. Baseball is a great sport and generally a safe one, especially when the proper guidelines are followed. Based upon nearly 30 years of research at the American Sports Medicine Institute, my colleagues and I have identified key factors for pitchers to minimize their risk of injury.

Last year Major League Baseball (MLB) formed a task force of medical and scientific experts, including me, to look at pitching injuries and take action to make the sport safer. The first thing we found was that Tommy John elbow injuries are indeed on the rise in pro baseball. Our opinion was that these injuries to “the big boys” are directly connected to a sharp rise in elbow and shoulder injuries among adolescent pitchers. Our task force concluded that the best way to prevent pitching was to make recommendations for all levels of baseball—from youth leagues on up to the Majors. MLB then teamed up with USA Baseball to launch a new initiative, including a website of recommendations, called Pitch Smart.

One of its key components is recommended limits for pitch counts and rest between pitching outings. The frequency and amount of pitching has been scientifically proven to be a key factor in determining who gets hurt versus who stays healthy. So kids 8 and under should be limited to a maximum of 50 pitches followed by two full days of rest before pitching again, while 9- to 10-year-olds should max out at 75 pitches, followed by four off days for recovery. (The limits gradually increase as a player gets older.)

How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer

Pitch Smart provides a number of other safety recommendations that center on what to do to protect your child’s arm: avoid pitching with arm fatigue, avoid pitching on multiple teams (like a traveling and a school team) with overlapping schedules, and avoid playing both pitcher and catcher (since these two positions put the most stress on the arm). Young pitchers should also wait to throw curveballs and sliders and take at least a four-month break each year from competitive pitching.

Prevention of arm overuse is more important now than ever before. When I was a kid many moons ago, my brother Wayne (a current member of Parents board of advisors) and I would play sports with our friends year-round. Sometimes it was organized play, like the school baseball team or the town soccer league. More often than not, though, it was simply free play with friends in the neighborhood.

Clearly times have changed. No longer do most young kids wander out with the simple instructions from Mom and Dad to “Be home by dinnertime” or “Be home by dark.” Free play has been replaced by organized, adult-supervised activities including travel teams and private lessons. Although the current system was created with the best intentions, it has significantly increased the risk of overuse injuries.

Besides educating parents about safe baseball practices, Pitch Smart is also engaging the baseball organizations themselves. Major League Baseball and USA Baseball recently announced the development of a program designed to assist the public in identifying organizations that have adopted our guidelines and principles. The list of compliant organizations includes Little League Baseball, Perfect Game, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), and Dixie Baseball Boys and Majors.

It’s exciting to see how many organizations, coaches, and parents are turning to Pitch Smart for guidance. The idea behind it is straightforward and logical: Let your kids be kids. Let them play baseball and many other sports, get physical activity, and have fun—while staying healthy, so they can stay on the field.

Glenn S. Fleisig, Ph.D., is the research director of the American Sports Medicine Institute. He is an advisor for Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, Little League Baseball, Motus Global, and MomsTEAM Institute.

Photo of boy pitching via Shutterstock

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Your Next Manicure

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Pregnant women are told to be careful when they get their nails done, to bring their own non-toxic nail polish from home. But according to a series in The New York Times it turns out the people at most risk at nail salons are the women who give us our manicures and pedicures.

I have long said that there is only one aspect of life in NYC that is less expensive than anywhere else in the country: manicures and pedicures. Within three blocks of my Brooklyn apartment I can get a manicure at four different nail salons for $10 or less. A pedicure will run me about $15. In the summer I get a pedicure every two weeks, and I sometimes bring my 9 year-old daughter with me. She likes to get alternating colors on her fingernails, and she was so excited when her feet finally reached the whirlpool in the pedicure chair.

While nail services are dirt cheap here in New York, for many moms, no matter where they live, a mani-pedi is an affordable luxury. It’s pampering that helps us feel a little better about ourselves without breaking the bank. Which is what made the recent New York Times stories so horrifying.

The reporters for the Times spoke with salon workers and doctors to reveal that many of the workers, almost all women, suffer from long-term health problems caused by the chemicals they wield to make people like me look a little more polished. They are suffering from cancer, lung diseases, and debilitating skin injuries. Even more heartbreaking, some women have discovered they can’t carry a baby to term, or the children they do have suffer from cognitive and physical disabilities.

Really, we shouldn’t be surprised. Solvents, polishes, and acrylics – all ubiquitous in nail salons – are full of known dangerous chemicals. Three chemicals in particular seem particularly bad. One is listed as a reproductive toxin. Another can “adversely affect the developing fetus” according to Environmental Protection Agency. A third chemical is formaldehyde, a confirmed human carcinogen. In 2016 formaldehyde will be illegal in cosmetics in the European Union. But apparently we’re just not that concerned about it over here.

And not only are these salon workers risking their health and the lives of their unborn children, they’re doing it for incredibly low wages. Most are paid below minimum wage, and sometimes they’re not paid at all. Yes, tips make up some of the difference, but not enough to pay a living wage. One salon in Manhattan pays manicurists only $10 a day. Most of these women don’t speak much English, and some are in the country illegally. That gives them very little power to speak up.

Let me quickly add that while the situation is dire in New York, this is a national problem. There are over 17,000 nail salons across the country, and chances are if you think your manicure is a bargain it’s exactly the opposite for the woman doing your nails. Sarah Maslin Nir, the lead reporter on the Times’ stories, says the greatest lesson she learned doing her reporting is that, “There’s no such thing as a cheap luxury. It’s an oxymoron. The only way that you can have something decadent for a cheap price is by someone being exploited.”

My first reaction, of course, is that I should start doing my own nails at home. But, if I do that and everyone else does that these women will make even less money, which doesn’t seem like an ideal outcome. The Times offered three suggestions for being a “socially conscious nail salon customer”, but, frankly, the first two seem unrealistic. Yes, it would be a good idea to interview my manicurist to find out how much her base salary is. But, honestly I can’t imagine doing that while her boss stands nearby.

The best suggestion is probably the third one: Pay more, since the lower the price of the service the higher the probability that workers are making rock-bottom wages. But then, of course, nail services become more of a special occasion treat, at least for me.

The good news is that the stories spurred action. New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced emergency measures to protect exploited salon workers including inspecting salons, instituting new wage and health rules, and launching a multi-language campaign to educate workers about their rights.

I doubt change will come overnight, though. For my part I am going to do my nails at home more and do some research to find an ethical salon to patronize. I won’t forget these women’s stories the next time my nails need a little TLC. After all, what may be a cheap luxury for me is costing these women something of incalculable value—their health and well-being.

Jenna Helwig is Parents‘ food editor and the author of the cookbooks Real Baby Food and Smoothie-licious. Follow her on Twitter.

Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

Image: Manicure via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Must Read, News, Safety, The Parents Perspective

Speaking Up About National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Parents has had an ongoing partnership with Child Mind Institute, and we applaud its efforts to end the stigma associated with children’s mental health issues—and to help make sure that all children get the treatment they need. As part of its annual Speak Up For Kids Campaign, the Child Mind Institute Mental Health Report was released today, and it contains the latest, most reliable information about the scope of children’s mental health in America. These are just some of the powerful statistics:

  • 17 million young people have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.
  • 40% percent of kids with ADHD aren’t getting treatment.
  • 60% of kids with depression aren’t getting treatment.
  • 80% of kids with an anxiety disorder aren’t getting treatment.

“The numbers are staggering,” says Parents advisor Harold Koplewicz, M.D., president of Child Mind Institute. “Mental illness is the common disorder of childhood and adolescence—it’s more common than asthma, peanut allergies, or diabetes—and 22% of kids have serious, debilitating symptoms. It is time for us to start a new conversation about this.”

Dr. Koplewicz is particularly concerned about anxiety disorders, and age 6 is the median age of onset. “When it’s not treated, anxiety can prime the brain for depression in adolescence and adulthood.”  The article in our May issue, “Anxious All The Time,” offers practical and reassuring advice, and Child Mind Institute has a comprehensive guide to finding good care for all types of mental illness.

Child Mind Institute is also honoring the winners of its Change Maker Awards, which celebrate leaders, organizations, and local heroes that are creating change in children’s mental health. Parents readers had been invited to submit nominations for the last two awards.

The Champion Award: Congressman Tim Murphy, Ph.D. A clinical psychologist from Pennsylvania, he recently unveiled his landmark mental health reform legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

The Activist Award: First Lady Chirlane McCray of New York City. She was inspired by her own daughter’s past struggles to dedicate herself to mental health advocacy and help make sure that young people are connected to the services they need.

The Corporate Advocate Award: Bloomingdales, led by CEO Tony Spring. The retailer took a stance on mental health at a time when few organizations were speaking up about it, and raised funds by selling limited-edition special products.

The Community Builder Award: Active Minds. Founded by Alison Malmon, who lost her brother to suicide, the organization raises awareness about mental health issues at colleges across the country.

The Local Hero Award: Angela Renz, LCSW. A social worker in New York City schools for decades, she has helped thousands of at-risk children, and educated parents and children about the dangers of stress and the benefits of teaching resilience.

Child Mind Institute says it best: “Speaking for children’s mental health is about more than words—it’s about making change for kids and families. Raising our voices lets struggling young people know it’s okay to ask for help. Sharing accurate information as well as our stories makes childhood mental illness real. And taking action together transforms children’s lives. Speak Up for Kids is about sharing knowledge—and creating change.”

Diane Debrovner is the deputy editor of Parents and the mother of two daughters.

Life with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder
Life with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder
Life with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder

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Should Kids With Lice Be Allowed in Schools?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

It’s never a pleasant topic to discuss, but we need to talk about head lice.

When I was young, I caught the tiny pests from another kid at daycare. I wasn’t particularly close with this girl, so I’m confident that we weren’t sharing hats or rubbing our heads together, but somehow, I ended up with lice anyway. This was years ago now, but my mom still shudders when she thinks about it. Because naturally, my sister caught them too, and my poor mother was forced to spend hours washing and combing out our long hair. And it wasn’t easy for me either—she bagged up all my stuffed animals for two weeks! (Experts have since determined that those grueling days without my plush friends weren’t necessary, as lice can’t survive without human blood. So even worse, my suffering was all for nothing!) Needless to say, the head lice era was a dark time in my family’s history.

I was interested to hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just updated their guidelines, saying that kids with lice should not be banned from school. Instead, the child should finish out the school day, be treated and then return to class the next day. Experts are reminding parents that lice are not a serious health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene—just a nuisance that can be dealt with.

I’m feeling a little conflicted about this. On one hand, I obviously trust that the experts know what they’re talking about, and I don’t necessarily believe that a child should be banned from school until every last bug is gone. But what if someone had forced that kid from my daycare to stay home? My whole family would have been a whole lot happier, I can tell you that much. Sure, lice won’t ruin your life—but they will be a massive pain to your family while they’re kicking around. (“Nuisance” is way too gentle of a word in my mind.) It seems to me that keeping your child out of school until you’ve gotten things under control is a reasonable request. Let’s just hope that no matter what the school policy is, parents will use common sense about when a child should stay home, much like with colds or other mild illnesses.

Tell us what you think: should kids with lice be allowed in school?

How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice

Image courtesy of Shutterstock 

Chrisanne Grise is an editorial assistant at Parents. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

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