Posts Tagged "Parenting"

2Nov

‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child – National

by BBG Hub

Your child will eventually pop the big question — “where do babies come from?” — and your answer will have a lasting impact on the way they think about what it means to be part of a family.

This is especially true if your child was adopted or conceived with donated sperm or egg (also known as third-party reproduction), because their origin story will affect them in many ways as they age,

That’s why, in Shelley Steenrod‘s opinion, it’s crucial to be open and honest with your child. She’s a professor of social work at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

READ MORE: How to build a growth mindset in your kids: ‘They are going to be unstoppable’

“It’s essential for kids to know who they are and where they have come from,” she said. “It’s very important for them to integrate all aspects of themselves and their history into their whole self.”

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If you choose not to tell your child the truth, you run the risk of them finding out later in a different way — like through a DNA test.

“We live in such a high-tech world, children are going to find out one way or another,” said Steenrod. “As the holder of that information, you want to be somebody who shares it with your child in a way that’s going to be loving and nurturing and not surprising.”

Here, Steenrod and other experts share tips for telling your child their unique origin story in a loving way.

Tell the truth from the beginning

Keeping your child’s story a secret can inadvertently associate adoption and third-party reproduction with feelings of “guilt and shame,” said Steenrod.

“Families can be created in all different kinds of ways, and that’s something to be celebrated.”


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That’s why it’s critical to tell the truth from the outset. For Steenrod, this means talking openly about your child’s origin story long before they ask questions about it.

“You’re building it into the narrative of your family’s story and planting seeds that later, can become flowers … you can then tug on and pull on to talk about more complex pieces of adoption,” she said.

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Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant


Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant

Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Ontario, agrees: “We need to start having these conversations with children right away,” she said.



“We are where we came from.”


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Martyn recommends building the story in a physical way, using something like a scrapbook. This will give your child an item they can go back to and say, “this is where I came from.”

“Emphasize how important they are, how much they were wanted and how much they were loved,” she said. “If this is what they are told early, they’re never going to question it.”

Expect to talk about it often

Your child’s origin story is a big part of who they are, so they’ll likely have questions about it for years to come.

At first, said Steenrod, focus on the basics. “Say ‘I want to tell you how families are made’ and then include all the ways out there,” she said. “Totally normalize it.”

Slowly and when you think they’re ready, reveal to your child a little bit more of the story.






Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea


Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

As your child grows up, they’re going to develop the cognitive and emotional resources necessary to have more advanced conversations about it.

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“There may come a time when they start to think, ‘If my birth mom could choose not to keep me, she could have chosen to keep me. Is there something wrong with me?’” said Steenrod.

That’s when you want to re-emphasize “the child’s strengths and how lovable they really are.”

READ MORE: How to stop a bully when it’s your own child

If your child’s origin story contains trauma or some other adult subject matter, it can be tricky to find a good time to tell them the whole truth.

According to Martyn, it’s up to you and your empathy to know when it’s the right time.

“At a very young age, it would be [something along the lines of] ‘your biological mom wasn’t able to take care of you because she was having a hard time,’” she said.






Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids


Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

When the child gets old enough, you can elaborate on struggle and pain — feelings that children understand. If their biological mother suffered from addiction, for example, you can explain the science behind addiction.

“All the while, you’re emphasizing that [the child] was your greatest gift,” Martyn said.

Emphasize love, connection and commitment

Many parents worry how this news will affect a child.

Parenting expert Caron Irwin suggests focusing on “tangible examples of the love and connection and commitment that your family has” during and after each discussion.

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“The thing that makes a family is the traditions and the rituals and the love and the connections and the things that you have that are unique among you all,” she said.

If you’re worried, try following the conversation with a “photo album of a special vacation” or “finish up … with the special hug that you have with your child.”

“Those kinds of things are going to … give them security,” she said.

READ MORE: Sisters ‘pre-create’ wedding photos with dad who only has months to live

Martyn backs this up — it can feel like the truth might hurt them, or it might make you less of a parent, but that’s not the case.

“They don’t need to be protected from their origin story,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong. That’s why we have to re-frame it and celebrate these differences.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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29Oct

More pregnant women are using cannabis despite its dangers: study – National

by BBG Hub

More pregnant women are using cannabis, research shows, despite warnings of its danger from health officials.



According to a recent U.S. study, the number of women who use cannabis while expecting has increased, and the number of women who use cannabis in the year before pregnancy has nearly doubled.

Researchers surveyed 276,991 expectant mothers in northern California and found the number of women who said they used cannabis in the year before their pregnancy grew from 6.8 per cent in 2009 to 12.5 per cent in 2017.

READ MORE: More Ontario women using cannabis while pregnant despite warnings

While the number of women who reported using the drug while pregnant was smaller, it still increased from 1.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent during the same time.

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Among the women who reported using the drug while expecting, daily cannabis use increased from 15 per cent in 2009 to 21 per cent in 2017.

The findings, published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, suggest that increased acceptance of cannabis use and a lack of awareness around fetal harm are factors in the uptick.

The researchers point out that evidence suggests heavier cannabis use might be “associated with worse neonatal health outcomes.”

“Despite this risk, however, U.S. data suggest that 71 per cent of pregnant women who used cannabis in the past year perceive no or slight risk in using cannabis once or twice a week,” the researchers wrote.






One year of legal cannabis


One year of legal cannabis

Another study by the U.S.’s National Institute on Drug Abuse yielded similar results.

Data collected from 467,100 pregnant women across the U.S. showed past-month cannabis use, daily cannabis use, and occurrence of cannabis use had all increased over the last 15 years.

Between 2002 to 2003 and 2016 to 2017, past-month cannabis use increased from 3.4 per cent to seven per cent among pregnant women overall.

During their first trimester, 12 per cent of women reported using the drug as of 2017, up from just under six per cent in 2003.

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What are the risks of using cannabis while pregnant?

The FDA recently released a warning about women using cannabis while expecting or breastfeeding, saying that “marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development.”

If a woman uses the drug while pregnant, THC — a cannabinoid found in cannabis — can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream, the FDA says.

READ MORE: Cannabis during pregnancy linked to higher risk of pre-term birth

The government agency also said if a mother uses cannabis while breastfeeding, it can remain in breast milk. This exposure can affect a newborn’s brain development and “result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.”

The U.S.’s National Institutes of Health also raised concern around expectant moms and cannabis.

“Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with effects on fetal growth, including low birth weight and length, and these outcomes may be more likely among women who consume marijuana frequently during pregnancy, especially in the first and second trimesters,” the NIH wrote.

A recent study out of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute found that cannabis use in pregnancy was associated with “significant increases in the rate of preterm birth.”

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Why are women using cannabis while pregnant?

Canadian researchers say more women are using cannabis during pregnancy because they are not informed of its risks.






Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis


Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis

Research out of the University of British Columbia found that around one-third of pregnant women think it’s safe to use cannabis while expecting and are unaware of potential health risks to their child.

The findings, published earlier this year in the journal Preventive Medicine, looked at data from six U.S. studies and found that “more women seem to be using cannabis during pregnancy than ever before, even though evidence of its safety is limited and conflicting.”

The UBC researchers found that one of the main reasons women may think cannabis is safe is because there’s not enough communication between patients and doctors when it comes to the drug.

READ MORE: Study finds ‘scarce evidence’ to support cannabis as a treatment for mental health disorders

“We know that from other types of research that when there’s no communication and there is lots of uncertainty in literature — which is true for cannabis use — then it is very important that health-care providers … educate [patients] about risk,” Hamideh Bayrampour, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at UBC’s Department of Family Practice, previously told Global News.

“When there’s no communication, women may feel like [cannabis use] is not significant or important.”

Bayrampour added that her findings also indicate that many women don’t consider cannabis to be a drug, or that it’s a harmful one.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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29Oct

How to stop a bully when it’s your own child – National

by BBG Hub

Parents naturally want to protect their children from bullying, but what happens when your own kid is the one doing the taunting?

“For children who do the bullying, [their] parents very rarely know that it’s happening,” said Dr. Wendy Craig, the head of the psychology department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. and the scientific director of PREVNet, a bullying prevention organization.

“They’re not going to hear it from their children.”

Bullying is a real problem in Canadian schools, research shows, and it can have serious consequences.

READ MORE: Grieving Toronto mother questions whether bullying led to son’s death ruled suicide

In a classroom of 35 students, between four and six kids are bullying others and/or are being bullied themselves, according to research published by PREVNet.

While it takes different forms, bullying is targeted abuse that is often repeated. Children who bully use power and aggression to hurt or control their peers.

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Bullying has negative affects for both victims and perpetrators: children who are bullied can develop mental health issues, suffer low self-esteem, have academic problems and even attempt suicide.

For those who bully, the harmful behaviour can lead to academic problems, difficulty in relationships, substance use and delinquency, PREVNet noted.

Warning signs your kid is bullying others

While most parents don’t realize their child is bullying, experts say there are warning signs.

Craig says kids who bully tend to be aggressive with others, or have combative ways of solving conflict.






B.C. father says more action needed to stop bullying


B.C. father says more action needed to stop bullying

“They might be become emotionally disregulated,” she said. “So they get angry quickly, and they might have a perception that is ‘everybody’s out to get me.’”

They may also have items in their possession that do not belong to them, Craig said.

“They may not be able to give you a good explanation as to why because they might be involved in extorting or taking things from other students,” Craig explained.

Because bullies abuse power to exert influence over others, child and teen bullies may be socially skilled or popular at school.

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READ MORE: Experts say zero-tolerance policies aimed at stopping bullying aren’t working

Parents should watch out for “asymmetrical relationships” with peers, said Tracy Vaillancourt, the Canada research chair of children’s mental health and violence prevention at the University of Ottawa.

These unbalanced relationships mean a child may have friends who seem “to give in” to all their requests and demands, Vaillancourt said.

There’s also factors that put kids at risk for engaging in bullying. These including challenging home situations, witnessing bullying or coercive behaviour modelled by others, or being victims of bullying themselves.

It’s important to note, however, that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to identifying bullying behaviour in your child, said Toronto-based child psychologist Joanne Cummings.






Ontario education minister responds to boy’s tragic death, reportedly victim of bullying


Ontario education minister responds to boy’s tragic death, reportedly victim of bullying

A lot of parents only discover their child is bullying when school staff informs them, Cummings added.

“Every person who bullies is different,” Cummings said.

“That’s a really big point because we sort of stereotype and think bullies do it because they are insecure or they feel gratified [from it], but that may or may not be true in every case.”

How to deal with your child if they’re bullying others

Before you talk to your kid about bullying, it’s important you process your own emotions, Cummings said. It can be very hard for parents to hear their kid is harming others, and they often are in denial.

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READ MORE: Family, friends of Hamilton teen fatally stabbed gather to mourn at funeral

Vaillancourt adds parents may also become defensive, which inadvertently rewards their child’s behaviour.

“You cannot fix what you don’t acknowledge,” she said.

If a teacher or principal is the one informing parents of a kid’s behaviour, it’s important caregivers work with the school to solve the bullying problem, Craig said.

“Engage with the school — they’re experts and know how to deal with it. They can also refer and support you in getting the supports in place that you need for your child,” Craig said.

“You should also come up with a progressive discipline approach so that your child has a clear idea of what your expectations are and what will happen if they violate these expectations.”






Calgary Board of Education releases independent review on school bullying


Calgary Board of Education releases independent review on school bullying

You may also want to talk to the parents of the child your kid is bullying, Vaillancourt adds. Though this rarely happens, she says reaching out to parents can help deal with the situation.

“The parents of [bullying] targets would be comforted to know that you acknowledge that your child’s behaviour is not appropriate, and that you are taking steps to remedy the injustice,” she said.

Listening to your child and having an open and honest conversation is key, said Craig. Talk to them about what bullying looks like and why it’s wrong.

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These conversations should not be one-offs, but ongoing.

READ MORE: Back to school raises concerns about bullying

“We need to be open to what our children do and recognize children as individuals who are learning how to engage in relationships in positive ways,” Craig said.

“You need to be observant of your child’s behaviors and how they treat others… Have you noticed a shift in their behaviors? Have you noticed that they’re aggressive? Do you intervene? You need to be consistent and supportive.”

Will bullying stop?

These conversations can help reduce the risk that a child will continue to engage in bad behaviours. Cummings says many children partake in bullying behaviour at some point in their development, and most outgrow it.

“They get caught, they get lectured, then their empathy is raised,” she said. “They come to an appreciation of why what they did was wrong and they move off that behavior.”

Still, to ensure a child does outgrow bullying, parents need to be engaged in their lives. It’s not enough to assume a kid will stop on their own — especially if they’ve repeatedly bullied others.






Family friend speaks at vigil for Hamilton teen fatally stabbed outside high school


Family friend speaks at vigil for Hamilton teen fatally stabbed outside high school

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“When you have a student who has been identified as bullying others in at least three situations, that’s when you should start thinking about if it’s chronic,” Cummings said.

In such cases, a child should see a professional such as a psychologist to address the underlying issues. If the bullying continues, victims can be seriously harmed.

“Kids who have had real peer victimization — they’ve been injured or humiliated in a really severe way — it becomes as adverse of a stressor as child abuse or other forms of abusive relationships,” Cummings continued.

“The child’s coping mechanisms for stress in their brain and nervous system get reset. They’re always looking for great danger.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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26Oct

How old should a child be before they can trick-or-treat on their own? – National

by BBG Hub

There comes a point in every child’s life when trick-or-treating with their parents is no longer “cool.” Instead, they want to go out with friends.

As a parent, this moment can be scary and full of unanswered questions: Are they old enough? Can they handle the responsibility? Can I trust them?

Unfortunately, said parenting expert Vanessa Lapointe, the answers to those questions won’t be the same for everyone.

READ MORE: Celebrating Halloween can get expensive. Here are easy ways to cut costs

“It’s not always as easy as [saying] a straight-up age,” Lapointe told Global News.

Whether your child is ready to go door-to-door without you will depend on a variety of factors, including your location, their personality type and more.

Here, Lapointe offers some things to consider before approving your child’s first solo adventure.

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Factors to consider

The first thing to think about is the size of your neighbourhood and how many people would go out on Halloween.

“I grew up in a really small town … so it would’ve been really normal for us [to go out alone] at quite a young age,” Lapointe said.

Now, Lapointe lives in a suburb of Vancouver, where she receives an average of 400 kids at her door on Halloween. “It’s like mayhem.”






Candy or cannabis: can you tell the difference?


Candy or cannabis: can you tell the difference?

Once you’ve given thought to the kind of environment your neighbourhood will present for your child, consider how it could affect your child.

“We have to map that onto, developmentally, where your child is at and what they’re going to have to be able to manage in order for that to be a fun experience for them,” said Lapointe.

“Ultimately, what we need is for kids to be able to be independent and out enjoying Halloween night in the same kind of way.”

READ MORE: Fake cobwebs and other Halloween decorations could be hurting wildlife

Development happens at a different pace for every child, according to Lapointe.

“If you have a kid who’s not quite as mature, they’re not going to be able to manage a particularly chaotic environment really well until closer to 11 or 12 years of age,” she said.

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“Are you dropping them off in a neighbourhood unfamiliar to them or are they trick-or-treating around their home neighbourhood? Are there checkpoints along the way if something were to happen? How busy do you expect it to be?”






How to carve pumpkins like a pro


How to carve pumpkins like a pro

For Lapointe, it also matters who the child is going to be out with. She has two sons, ages 12 and 15.

“Even for my 15-year-old, sometimes the ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ in terms of the activity that he’s requesting independence around depends on who he’s going to be with,” she said.

“Ask yourself what kind of tone that group of friends will set [for your child].”

Independence can be a good thing

Experts say autonomy, even experienced in small bouts, can be a great way for children to develop confidence in themselves.

“It’s a wonderful thing for kids to be able to face a challenge, rise to the occasion and conquer,” said Lapointe.


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“It gives them a boost in terms of self-esteem. We’re really doing right by them to give them those kinds of opportunities.”

READ MORE: ‘Sexy’ burgers and ‘hot’ Mr. Rogers: The designer behind those viral Halloween costumes

Lapointe advocates for a “ladder up” approach, increasing the amount of independence your child is allowed over time.

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“You could allow your 9-year-old to go with their friends and walk ahead of the parents, maybe even half a block,” said Lapointe. “Then you kind of linger behind from far away, you’re watching [and] you can get a sense of where they’re at.”

This can play into what happens next Halloween, when your child asks to go trick-or-treating alone again.

“You don’t have to sink or swim.”


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Parenting Playbook: How to keep your kids safe in crowds


Parenting Playbook: How to keep your kids safe in crowds

Parenting expert Caron Irwin agrees  — you should be preparing your child slowly over time, if trick-or-treating without you is something they’re set on doing.

“If they haven’t had any experience doing anything independently, like walking to a friend’s house to play or walking to school … I’m not sure that Halloween would be a great first sort of foray,” she said.

“Previous experiences really help signal whether your kid has the skills and the strategies to manage and cope with the environment.”

READ MORE: RIE parenting: An alternative way to raise kids that’s about ‘perceiving a child as a person’

As an added bonus, Irwin says promising your child small moments of autonomy can give them something to strive towards in all the other months of the year.

“They would have to earn that privilege by representing that they have the respect, understanding and maturity to understand and uphold the family rules,” said Irwin.

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How to prepare your child for trick-or-treating alone

It’s important to make your child aware of potential danger, but sometimes, this can paralyze them with fear.

Lapointe knows the double-edged sword all too well. “We’re giving our kids all of our anxieties. We’re the ones that wire that into them,” she said.

“As a parent, think about how to not be fear-based in the way you share that kind of information with your children.”






Family Matters: Cultivating a Growth Mindset in kids


Family Matters: Cultivating a Growth Mindset in kids

When speaking to your kids about potential danger, Irwin recommends using the term “tricky people.”

The term gives you a chance to explain that there are “people in the world who have different behaviours, say things and will respond in different ways to children or people who are vulnerable,” said Irwin.

“[Tricky people] will try to trick others into doing something outside of their values, their comfort, their norm. I think that’s a very tangible way to define it for kids.”

This will make it easy for your child to identify “tricky people” when you’re not around, said Irwin.

READ MORE: Riding solo: What age should a child take transit alone?

Lapointe focuses on empowerment.

“Give them the idea that the world we’re living in is big and exciting and okay to be adventuring around in, and then have your conversation flow from that kind of energy rather than … from this fear-based, scary kind of place,” she said.

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“Give them the road map, let them know what the rules are, but you don’t have to load them with fear.”


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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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20Oct

Parents feel squeezed by child-care costs. Here’s where they want help – National

by BBG Hub

Steve, 32, knows all about the struggle to find affordable, high-quality child care.



The new father lives in Ottawa with his wife and 11-month-old son. Until recently, both of them worked full time, Steve in marketing and his wife in child care. (Global News has agreed to withhold the family’s last name to protect anonymity.)

Things drastically changed when Steve’s wife had to leave her job because they couldn’t afford daycare, and the irony of the situation isn’t lost on the young parents.

READ MORE: Paid leave, tax credits, more benefits — What the parties are promising parents

“Child care in Ontario is so expensive … with how little she makes teaching 10 other kids, it made more sense for her to stay home with our son than to go back to work,” Steve told Global News.

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It would have cost the young couple more to pay for daycare while earning dual incomes than it did for Steve’s wife to remain on maternity leave.






Cameras in daycares: pros and cons


Cameras in daycares: pros and cons

Steve works a typical Monday-to-Friday workweek, but his wife had shifts that changed all the time. For this reason, he says their “ideal” child-care program would prioritize flexible hours.

“Our ideal program would have hours that reflect a typical workday [and] costs that would allow the daycare workers to earn a decent wage.”

Unfortunately, Steve’s experience isn’t the exception — for most Canadian parents, it’s the rule.

Lindsay Williams and her partner live in Toronto with their two kids, aged five and 10 months. She’s currently on maternity leave but she worries what will happen when she needs to go back to work soon.

READ MORE: 66% of pregnant women not getting major recommended vaccines — CDC

She’s started the daycare search, but it’s tough to find somewhere that checks all of her boxes.

“We both work full time [so] we need an extended day spot for my five-year-old and an infant spot for my 10-month-old. We need care Monday to Friday,” she told Global News.

“Preferably, we’re looking for care close to our home or close to my work … [and] we’re looking for a clean, safe environment with a registered early childhood educator. We’re [also] looking for centre-based care with play-based learning.”






Do kids need preschool? Early childhood education professor weighs in


Do kids need preschool? Early childhood education professor weighs in

Williams placed her first child on daycare wait lists when she was pregnant, but she still had to wait 17 months before securing a spot.

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“I had to harass daycare [centres] by calling them non-stop,” she said. When she finally found a spot, she was forced to end her maternity leave two months early in order to qualify for the centre.

Williams took the spot because it was the only one she could find, but the service has been less than ideal.

READ MORE: How to talk to kids about climate change without scaring them

“The timing of daycare for my son has always been a struggle with my work hours … I’ve had to pay people to take him to daycare or pick him up on top of paying the daycare fees,” she said.

The “ridiculously high” cost of care has also been a struggle for Williams and her husband.

“To send both our sons to daycare — if we find a spot — we calculated that we would be paying $2,600 a month. At that point, is it even worth me going back to work?” Williams said.






HIV prenatal care home aims to keep mothers and babies together


HIV prenatal care home aims to keep mothers and babies together

“We would struggle financially on my partner’s earnings as he’s a contractor … his work is up and down and his hours vary. I would lose my career — something I worked so hard for — my paycheque, my adult interaction.”

Williams is looking for affordability and accessibility, but it’s also important that her children are well taken care of.

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“We’re leaving our sons with strangers for the majority of the day,” she said.

About 60 per cent of Canadian children under the age of six received some form of child care from January to March 2019, a recent Statistics Canada survey found. That’s nearly 1.4 million children in just three months.

According to child-care experts, the care services available aren’t good enough to handle this many children across the country. There’s a lack of options, and when care is available, it’s typically a massive monthly expense.

To improve child care for Canadian families, experts say there needs to be more of a focus on three main principles: making child care affordable, accessible and high quality.

Affordability is most important

Unfortunately, the high cost of care is a major issue for parents, and the price tag varies widely across the country.

According to Statistics Canada, the average monthly cost of full-time care in 2011 ranged from $152 in Quebec to $677 in Ontario, and that’s not even 10 years ago.

(Editor’s note: When Global News asked Twitter users if they had this problem, the response was overwhelming. Read some of their stories below.)

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Sharon Gregson, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, joined the fight for more affordable child care when she became a single mom of four children in the early 1990s.

“I needed affordable child care to go back to university [and] to work,” she said.

She quickly realized good quality, affordable and accessible child-care centres were few and far between.

“There are a few basic tenets that are true of all quality child-care systems: they are affordable — or even free — for families, educators have good levels of education and are well-paid, and they’re publicly funded.”

High child-care costs can impact all aspects of how a family lives, Gregson said — from how they eat to the kinds of extracurricular activities they can access and everything in between.

READ MORE: Unemployment is low. The economy is growing. Why do Canadians feel like they can’t get ahead?

For Diana Sarosi, Ottawa manager of policy and advocacy for OXFAM Canada, affordable child care is actually a women’s rights issue.

“Care responsibilities are a huge barrier to women’s economic equality,” she said. “[Women] often have to make tough choices when it comes to working or caring for children … this still disproportionately falls to women.

“Women do double the amount of unpaid care work that men do.”


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For Sarosi, it’s critical to provide better child-care options so that women don’t have to make these difficult sacrifices.

Accessibility is critical

Right now, finding daycare with flexible hours close to your home or work is an extremely difficult task.

Sarosi believes making child care in Canada more universal would be one way to make this process easier.






New report looks at value of real-life friendships


New report looks at value of real-life friendships

“This doesn’t mean that in every municipality, the exact same program needs to be in place … It means that everyone who wants child care has access to child care,” she said.

“In municipalities, there are different needs. [Child care] has to be tailored to those specific needs.”

For Morna Ballantyne, executive director of Child Care Now, making child care affordable and accessible can be made possible by creating a publicly owned and operated system.

READ MORE: ‘Stretched thinner and thinner’ — Timberlea mother says no federal candidate has earned her vote

“The current situation is that child care is really left to … what we call ‘the market,’” she said. “The child care that’s available is available because individuals or organizations — it could be for-profit or not-for-profit, like a church — decide to set up a child-care service.”

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There are some government stipulations regarding how these businesses are allowed to run — like limits to how many children they’re allowed to care for at once — but the service isn’t publicly delivered or publicly funded, and that concerns Ballantyne.

“People set up shop in a variety of ways, and then parents have to go and find those services and pay money,” she said. “Some parents will get some assistance from the government, depending on where they live, but the service itself isn’t 100 per cent funded by the government.”






Voter trust low among party leaders


Voter trust low among party leaders

Ballantyne believes this can lead to widely varied costs across the country and unregulated, inconsistent services.

“We have a situation now where there are lots of communities that are being under-serviced. When there’s limited supply, it tends to be those with the highest income levels who are serviced,” she said. “With a publicly managed system, we can manage the supply and demand.”

High-quality care must be a priority

While affordability and accessibility are certainly necessary, Don Giesbrecht, CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation, believes high-quality child care is equally as important.

“This isn’t just about throwing money at [the problem].”

High-quality child care can be “really beneficial for young children in terms of their development,” he said. “The first five years of [life] are the most important years in human development.”

Research bears this out. According to a 2010 study, good-quality child care can have a positive impact on peer socialization, and it can help prepare young kids for school.

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READ MORE: Climate change emerges as one of the top ballot-box issues among voters — Ipsos poll

Geisbrecht said high-quality childhood educators are needed to create strong curriculum and pedagogy for young children, but “recruiting and retaining” continues to be one of the long-standing issues in this sector.

This is due, in part, to low wages.

“It’s not just about compensation, but that is a primary motivator,” Giesbrecht said.

Ballantyne agrees.

“You want to make sure the caregivers are qualified … that they’ve actually had training in early childhood education,” she said. “You also want to make sure that there’s not high staff turnover because we know that really impacts the quality of care.

“For all of that, you need to pay sufficiently high wages to attract people into the sector and to keep them there.”






Will childcare costs in the GTA ever come down?


Will childcare costs in the GTA ever come down?

Ultimately, it all comes back to funding.

“We want public funding, public management and planning … so that these three things can happen simultaneously: the number of spaces can be expanded, the quality can be assured to be good and … the fees are actually affordable,” said Ballantyne.

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“You can’t do one without the other.”


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3Oct

U.S. schoolteachers ban 5th graders from dating after too many ‘broken hearts’ – National

by BBG Hub

Teachers at an Indiana elementary school implemented a “zero dating policy” for fifth-grade students arguing that young relationships lead to “many broken hearts, which carry over into the classroom.”

In a recent letter sent to parents, three teachers from Jeffersonville’s Riverside Elementary School wrote that many students are dating and “breaking up within days of each other.” To avoid these devastating breakups, students were given a deadline to end their relationships.

“To combat students having broken hearts, we have implemented a zero dating policy. We are still encouraging our fifth graders to have many friends and to develop strong friendships,” the teachers wrote.

READ MORE: How to talk to kids about climate change without scaring them

“All three classes have been spoken to about the importance of this matter. They were given Tuesday and Wednesday to make sure that relationships have ended.”

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One parent posted on Facebook that her son, who has a girlfriend, was “furious” over his classroom’s new no dating policy. The woman added that “broken” hearts are part of growing up.

“The school has no right to pressure my child and put a DEADLINE on when he ‘has to’ end his relationship,” a woman named Briana Bower wrote.

“That’s MY child and I will not enforce this new rule of theirs. As long as he’s not holding her hand or whatever at school it’s none of their business who he calls his girlfriend.”






Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea


Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

Many people commented on Bower’s post agreeing that the ban was unfair and possibly harmful to students.

One commenter suggested the school should have sent home a letter informing parents on how they can talk to their kids about coping if a crush no longer likes them instead.

“Why hasn’t the school just had discussions with the kids about relationships/friendships etc.?” wrote another Facebook user.

“How does telling kids to break up actually address kids’ emotions?”

READ MORE: How maternity leave can hurt a woman’s career — ‘So much can change’

Responding to the letter and dating ban, a spokesperson for the school board told local news outlet WDRB the school is no longer forcing kids to end their relationships.

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The school says the teachers’ letter was poorly worded and not reviewed by the school’s principal or district officials.

“The intentions of our teachers were to protect student feelings, encourage developmentally appropriate friendships and protect instructional time. In retrospect, the phrases ‘zero dating policy’ and the request to take Tuesday and Wednesday to ‘end’ relationships misrepresented the intentions of the teachers,” the statement said.

READ MORE: Imaginary friends can have ‘real-life’ benefits for your child, experts say

“As educators, we diligently teach our students that words have power. This situation is an example of how the word choice took away from the intended positive, proactive approach to protect the social, emotional and academic learning of the school day.

“Our teachers would just like for parents to have conversations about staying focused on academics at school and maintaining healthy friendships.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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2Oct

How to talk to kids about climate change without scaring them – National

by BBG Hub

Helping your child understand the world can be challenging enough as it is, but when it comes to climate change, it can feel overwhelming.

“As a parent and through working with parents, it is something that is constantly on people’s minds,” said Harriet Shugarman, a New York-based climate advocate and founder of Climate Mama.

“You have to make dinner and get life going, but [climate change] is also an emergency so we need to figure out how to bring it into our lives, not in a paralyzing way but in a positive way.”

READ MORE: Youth rally around the world in global climate strike

Because climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our planet right now, Shugarman says it’s vital parents talk to their kids about global warming — now.

But how? The first step, Shugarman says, starts with self-education.

Educate yourself first

Shugarman says parents should become informed about the depths of the climate crisis. How can you talk to your kids about the realities of climate change if you don’t understand them yourself?

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Election promises, costs and the upcoming federal debate


Election promises, costs and the upcoming federal debate

When climate change is understood, Shugarman says adults can not only explain the science to their kids, but they can also give themselves time to process the emotions that come with realizing our planet is in need.

It can be very upsetting to think about dying species and destroyed wildlife, and what the future holds.

“It’s like going through the steps we experience with grief: you can’t believe it, it can’t be true, sadness — all of those five stages — but then we move [to] hope and showing our children that we’re doing what we can,” she said.

This sense of optimism is what will help children realize they can be part of the solution, Shugarman explained.

READ MORE: Majority of Canadians believe in climate change — here’s why some still don’t

It’s also good for parents to know what their child’s school is teaching them about climate change so they can answer any additional questions their kid may have, Shugarman added.

Start early and speak often

Talk to your kids about global warming at an early age and have ongoing conversations — not one-off talks.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, to speak to your children in age-appropriate ways, Shugarman said. An eight-year-old will have a different understanding of the environment than a high schooler will.

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WATCH: Trudeau meets Greta Thunberg before climate march in Montreal






Trudeau meets Greta Thunberg before climate march in Montreal


Trudeau meets Greta Thunberg before climate march in Montreal

For very young kids in preschool or lower elementary school, Shugarman suggests reading them stories about protecting the environment. Another good way to incorporate climate conversations into everyday life is by showing children — at every age — the importance of the environment.

“Whether you’re at the beach or in a park, use all those opportunities to point out how wonderful our planet is and then help them understand that there are threats to it,” Shugarman said.

“Showing children what it is that we need to protect is really critical.”

What’s also important, Shugarman says, is assuring kids that parents are doing what they can to help protect the environment. It can be incredibly overwhelming for kids to learn about the dire aspects of climate change so you want to offer them comfort.

READ MORE: Plastics in our oceans — How one Canadian is trying to clean up

One way to do this is by developing a “climate plan” at home. This can outline actions that family members will take to engage in greener practices or activities that the family will partake in together.

“Let them know that you’re doing everything that you can to move solutions forward and slow down what’s happening [to the planet],” Shugarman said.

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Lead by example

“Actions speak louder than words,” Shugarman said.

Explain to your kids why you are doing something when you do it. For example, if you’re bringing a reusable coffee cup to a cafe, tell them it’s to help eliminate waste. If you’re not buying a certain brand’s products because of their environmental practices, let kids know why.

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More municipalities declaring climate change emergency


More municipalities declaring climate change emergency

If your child wants to get involved in environmental action, help them find groups or organizations. Bring them to climate strikes, too, if it is age-appropriate.

“Help them write a letter to their member of Parliament or city mayor,” Shugarman said. “Help them use their voice.”

Be honest but optimistic

Many people experience climate change anxiety, and it can be incredibly hard for kids who are concerned about the future of their planet to feel at ease.

Parents should not lie about climate change, Shugarman says, but be realistic while maintaining optimism. Remind children that the responsibility of global warming doesn’t fall just on their shoulders and that many scientists have been working hard to combat this crisis for years.

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READ MORE: Canada positioned itself as a world leader on climate change — is it?

Children can also find inspiration from other youth, like Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. Seeing how powerful their voices are can offer hope to both children and adults.

“Especially in the last little while with these organized [strikes], we are listening because our kids are speaking truth to power,” Shugarman said.

“They’re sharing their concerns, and people know that the way kids present it, it’s the truth. They’re speaking the truth.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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30Sep

Ottawa woman creates Facebook group to connect new moms online and in person – Ottawa

by BBG Hub

An Ottawa mom who started a social media group to connect with other new parents after having her first child now has a growing group of new friends.

Brianna Chapman says she decided to found the Facebook group Dope Moms of Ottawa to combat the isolation she felt even before her baby was born.

“When I found out I was pregnant, it kind of really started to hit home for me that I was gonna be alone on maternity leave,” Chapman said.

Becoming a new parent can bring about feelings of loneliness, she explains, as your daily routines suddenly revolve around feedings, naps and diaper changes rather than business meetings or social gatherings.

Whether you’re the first of your friends to have a child or a veteran parent, Chapman says some moms find it tough to make time for friends when there is a little one to care for.


READ MORE:
How maternity leave can hurt a woman’s career — ‘So much can change’

With their partners away for the majority of the day in some cases, it can be tough for parents to find someone with whom to share ideas or concerns, Chapman says.

While there are dozens of Ottawa groups for new parents to join when looking for advice, Chapman says she noticed there were very few that actually looked to get people out of the house to meet up.

“It was more of a forum for Q&A, specific training questions, developmental questions, that kind of thing,” Chapman says. “But there wasn’t really anyone that was spearheading women to actually get out and meet in person.”

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While there is little research about new parents and isolation, a recent survey of 2,000 moms by the website ChannelMom.com found that more than 90 per cent of moms in the U.K. admitted to feeling lonely, with 54 per cent of them feeling “friendless.”

When it comes to moms and their mental health, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says a social media group might just be the thing that helps.

“Some of these social media platforms can be used to tap into the wisdom of others with similar experiences — a type of crowdsourcing of knowledge,” said Nikki Hudson, program and project management officer at OPH.

“Social support is a key coping strategy during difficult transitions. Talking about problems or worries in a safe and moderated environment may help parents and caretakers feel better and someone may be able to assist — knowingly or unknowingly — by sharing experiences and offering suggestions.”

Chapman says one of the other aspects of these groups, especially online forums, is the tendency for members to get “cliquey.” Chapman says she has a zero-tolerance policy for judgmental moms and strives to make the group inclusive.


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She also believes the main goal of getting these moms to meet in person really takes away the disconnect people tend to have on the internet, which can lead some to make comments they wouldn’t necessarily make in person.

“I think that’s really understood when you join,” said Chapman about her policy. “You can read through the posts and see that it’s just a super encouraging and really supportive environment.”

While meeting in person is the point of Chapman’s group, Hudson says that even if some moms aren’t comfortable with the public meetups, the online forums are still helpful, especially if some moms have difficulty accessing other forms of support.

“People with similar experiences can better relate, offer more authentic empathy and validation,” said Hudson.

“Sometimes, this support isn’t always easily accessible or for some. It may be difficult to share in person, hence social media is a nice alternative and fairly accessible channel for most parents and caregivers to stay informed, engaged and connected with their peers and health professionals.”

The group will celebrate its three-month anniversary on Oct. 6 and has grown to more than 1,100 members — way more than the initial 50 who came to the first meetup.

“I literally started it because I just wanted to make a couple of friends that were close to me that I could go for coffee with,” Chapman says.

“It never occurred to me that it would get so popular.”

Chapman encourages any moms who may feel shy about meeting with a group of people to come out anyway. She says she strives to make the group a safe place for moms to come with their babies, meet other moms, share some advice or even spend some time venting about their partners.


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“I’ve been in that situation where it’s really hard to get out and meet new people,” said Chapman.

“And if a mom’s not comfortable coming in because she feels like she’s not going to talk to anyone, I will personally go up and talk her. The sense of community really matriculates from the group in these meetups.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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26Sep

How maternity leave can hurt a woman’s career: ‘So much can change’ – National

by BBG Hub

When Janet found out she was pregnant, she was petrified to tell her boss.

The communications professional, who asked Global News to change her name to protect her identity, was 27 when she became pregnant. She thought taking maternity leave would diminish her chances of being promoted.

There were also no other mothers with young children at the Toronto agency where she worked, and she worried that co-workers would view her differently.

WATCH: The pros and cons of 18-month parental leave





“I’ve read many stories and articles about the struggles of being a working mom and offices not being adaptive [and] I was fearful of what could happen,” Janet, now 31, said.

Janet’s boss, however, turned out to be very supportive and accommodating. She was even allowed to work from home a few days a week during her pregnancy.

Returning to work after her mat leave, though, was more challenging. She was constantly exhausted and felt like she had no work-life balance.

READ MORE: ‘A plop is quite different than tinkling’ — Why are we afraid to poo at work?

She also learned she may have missed out on professional opportunities while on mat leave.

“During my maternity leave, a co-worker quit, and I would have been up for that role had I been in the office but I wasn’t,” she said.

“[I] thought going back would be easy, but really taking a year [off] from the communication world is crazy; so much can change.”

The realities of maternity leave

Janet’s position is not unique.

According to Tammy Schirle, a professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., there is evidence that motherhood affects women’s paycheques.

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“There’s been a large number of studies showing that having a child has long-term negative implications for women’s earnings,” Schirle told Global News. “Men don’t experience the same negative consequences for becoming fathers.”

A recent report even found that fewer than half of fathers take all the paternity leave on offer, and most men still see changing diapers as a woman’s job.

Schirle also says time taken away from work may mean “giving up opportunities for training and promotion.” This, in turn, can impact a woman’s earnings.

“Moreover, in some workplaces, a maternity or parental leave might be frowned upon,” she said. “That is a reality for many parents that might affect their chances for promotion.”

READ MORE: 18-month parental leave rollout raises questions for Canadian employers

Research backs this up.

A recent study out of Wilfrid Laurier found that extended parental leave can hurt women’s careers. In Canada, extended leave allows parents to take off 18 months from work instead of 12 months.

The study found women who take mat leave for longer than 12 months are often seen by managers as less ambitious or dedicated to their job. (It’s also important to note that extended parental leave can pose financial problems for parents, too.)

WATCH: How to raise mindful children





The Canadian Women’s Foundation highlights steep costs of daycare in cities like Toronto and Vancouver can also delay a woman’s return to work after giving birth.

The “motherhood penalty” is one of many factors related to the gender pay gap, the foundation says, and it’s important to note that women of colour, Indigenous women, new Canadians and women with a disability may be affected even more.

Schirle also points out that women view motherhood and their careers differently. Not every woman wants to return to the workforce after giving birth, whereas some professionals want to return as soon as possible.

“While it used to be the case that women generally worked to supplement the family income, women now build their own careers and are often the higher earner in the family,” Schirle explained.

READ MORE: Canadian men least likely to take paternity leave due to financial concerns — report

“I tend to think about maternity leave in the context of women building careers, but it’s important to consider women with less attachment to the labour force as well. In the latter group, some will have very precarious employment prospects, while others have stable options they are quite happy with.”

Changes in the workplace

Lauren Bondar, 35, has taken two maternity leaves. After her second child, the Toronto-based PR professional decided to start work at a new company.

Bondar says her current workplace, NKPR, is very understanding of her being a mom while also having a career.

WATCH: Half of fathers admit to being criticized about parenting 





“In PR, which is predominantly a female-dominated industry, I think companies today understand that flexibility and support of working moms and parents is key to their overall business success,” Bondar said.

“I also think being a mom makes me better at my job.”

Schirle says women who plan on becoming mothers often seek workplaces that have clear parental leave policies in place. If a woman has a job-protected maternity leave, she will face fewer negative career consequences when she returns, Schirle said.

READ MORE: Paternity leave is great, but childcare policy still needed — experts

“Career planning and becoming a parent are decisions that cannot be separated — especially for women,” Schirle added.

Making career moves

Janet became pregnant again two years after her first child was born. Two months before she was set to go on her second maternity leave, a manager role became available, but her company hired externally. She felt she was overlooked for the job.

She eventually decided to find a new job instead of returning to the company.

At her new job, she felt like she had to prove herself by staying late, coming in early and answering emails all the time.

READ MORE: Canada’s health-care system isn’t designed for parents with disabilities, say experts

“I don’t think it’s ever fair for mothers, to be quite honest,” Janet said.

“We’re expected to give it our all at home and at work, and truth be told, many of us are exhausted. We wait for the clock to hit 5 p.m. to go home to our kids but fear the rest of the team will think we’re being lazy or aren’t committed.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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22Sep

Canada’s health-care system isn’t designed for parents with disabilities: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Jessica Vliegenthart was 20 years old when she became paraplegic after suffering a severe spinal cord injury.

Doctors said she was still able to have children, but she struggled to see how parenting could fit into her new life.

“I always sort of thought, you know, at some point in my life, I would probably [want kids]… but after my injury, I immediately wrote it off,” she told Global News.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to add to this nightmare.’”

READ MORE: Children with disabilities were excluded from B.C. schools more than 3,000 times last year: report

Vliegenthart says it took five years after the accident before she felt like herself again. “Spinal cord injuries are a massive physical trauma,” she said.

“I was lucky, I escaped a lot of the psychological trauma that can go along with it — I never experienced depression or anxiety or fear or anything like that — but it took me five years to re-calibrate.”

Around that time, Vliegenthart married her husband. Slowly, having kids was back on her mind.

“It was almost just like the next thing to do in life,” she said.

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But starting the process to have children was more complicated for Vliegenthart because of her disability.

“I had to go off some medication I’m on that makes my life livable. That was really hard.”

She was also worried about re-learning things as a mom who is also paraplegic.

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t believe it’: Why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle

“I’m a super active person… I had been travelling the world playing sports, now I have a full-time demanding legal career. I had gotten my life dialed in so well with my disability,” Vilegenthart said. “I was worried I was setting a bomb off.”

It didn’t help that, throughout her pregnancy, she had a lot of questions her doctors couldn’t answer.

“For moms with disabilities, especially when the mom has a (physical) disability and is carrying the child, trying to get the answers to questions about what’s going to happen and how things work… that data simply doesn’t exist,” she explained.

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She had the pre-baby jitters like most other expectant mothers, but they were compounded by fear about how her disability could affect her pregnancy.

“Not being able to look it up and have an answer sitting there was really frustrating.”

Lesley Tarasoff can attest to a major lack of data about pregnancy and disability in Canada.

For her research as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto, she has interviewed dozens of Ontario women with different types of disabilities about their pregnancy care experiences. One common thread exists: there’s very little information about it.

READ MORE: New rules present some greater barriers to air travel, disabled passengers say

“Just in general, a lot of health-care providers don’t receive a lot of training (or) education around disability broadly,” said Tarasoff.

Nearly 12 per cent of Canadian women of reproductive age has a disability… (but) we know very few doctors, nurses, social workers, et cetera have training around disability and pregnancy, specifically.”

This can contribute to feelings of confusion, fear and anxiety in expectant mothers who have a disability. It also makes it difficult to advocate for better health-care services — ultimately, it can perpetuate the barriers to adequate care that disabled parents sometimes experience.

Barriers to access

The needs of a parent with a disability will vary depending on the kind of disability they have, but one thing is clear to Tarasoff: most maternity care settings “aren’t really set up for women with disabilities in mind.”

“This is in terms of physical accessibility, but also around the different ways (people) communicate in learning and reading levels,” said Tarasoff.

Each time Vilegenthart saw a doctor, she was frustrated to find that the bed height wasn’t adjustable.

“For some reason, they don’t exist. Trying to get gynecological (and) obstetrician care… when you can’t get up on those beds is a challenge,” she said.

WATCH: Half of fathers admit to being criticized about parenting: poll





“I want to make it clear that my medical team did the best they could. I don’t want to make it sound like it was their fault, because, to be honest, they were kind of pioneers.”

The physical barriers continued after Vilegenthart had her son. She quickly realized that she couldn’t wear her baby in a carrier and also push her wheelchair — a reality which confined her to her house.

“The first six months was really challenging for me. It was like a force… I had to slow down,” she said.

READ MORE: Cancer patient was cut off from work disability benefits for 10 months — his story has warning for everyone

Access is worse the farther away you live from major cities.

“I’ve interviewed women as far as two and half hours away from Toronto who (…) come to Toronto for care because their community doesn’t have a specialist,” said Tarasoff.

Living in Kamloops, B.C., Vilegenthart had to travel to Vancouver for appointments regarding her pregnancy and her spinal cord injury. “You have to live in those places (or) you’re kind of stuck making it up as you go,” she said.

Everyone’s needs are different

“People with disabilities often make really great parents,” said Kristy Brosz, a medical social worker in Calgary.

She works with patients and their families after there is a diagnosis of disability or chronic illness.

“They’re very thoughtful about their priorities… they’re used to having to prioritize their day and be vulnerable.”

But these parents have unique needs, and Brosz says the medical system rarely provides specialized support for the pregnancy and parenting phases in a patient’s life.

“Often, patients are looking long-term (and want help) making choices about having kids or not… but a lot of times, the medical system is just saying ‘let’s focus on your diagnosis and treatment.’”

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In her work, Brosz tries to prioritize concerns like these, but it can be difficult to provide resources for people with lesser-known disabilities and illnesses. “In some ways, it does depend on what your diagnosis is (when it comes to) how much support you’re going to get.”

In reality, the needs of two patients with the same disability will be drastically different, which is why Brosz says there needs to be a more individualized approach to treatment.

“How do we capitalize on the strengths of a loving family?” she said. “A lot of patients have been living (with these symptoms) for a while, so they already know what they need,” and any external supports should focus on maximizing the systems a family already has in place.

READ MORE: Expert raises disability over proposed single-use plastics ban 

In Vilegenthart’s experience, having a community of other parents with disabilities has been life-changing.

“The single greatest resource out there is other people who have done it in your situation. Once I found a network of women with spinal cord injuries who had young kids… it was amazing,” she said.

“We ask each other questions about everything from labour and delivery to how to handle a kid’s birthday party when the place isn’t accessible to you.”

“Find other parents with disabilities who have figured it out, because somebody has figured it out.”

 

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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