Posts Tagged "parents"


Sweeteners can be ‘hidden’ in your kids’ food — and parents may not even know – National

by BBG Hub

Allidina says these sweeteners can be found in a variety of products children consume, including everything from Jell-O to some juices like Sunny D to ice cream. Other items include pop, cereal bars, yogurt and more.

She says anytime you see labels like “low sugar,” “reduced sugar” or “no sugar” should be a red flag.

“Technically, artificial sweeteners are not sugar and sometimes food companies mix them with real sugar to decrease the total sugar in the food.”

When your child loves sweetness

But some children just love sugar and sweet-flavoured food and often, parents struggle to remove it from their diet. And when sugar or sweetness is hidden, it can be even harder to monitor what your child eats.

“Navigating sugar with kids is tricky, but not impossible,” Allidina said.

“Skip the artificial stuff — especially for kids. We get the sweetness but with 0 calories, which can lead to more sugar cravings to fill the void.”

Parents should also focus on introducing whole foods without packaging or wrappers.

“These foods include, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and lean protein as much as possible.”

READ MORE: What happens to your body when you stop eating sugar?

And besides carefully reading labels, look at the ingredient list.

“Try to stay clear of foods that have sugar listed as the first three ingredients – sugar has many names,” Allidina continued. “If these foods are your kid’s favourite, you can still offer it but less frequently.”

When you can, be a role model yourself.  “If your child sees you consuming soft drinks and sugary foods daily, then you need to change,” she stressed.

“Remember, kids learn by example. So make sure you are doing your part.”

Sometimes, though, you can’t escape sugar. Children end up consuming sugar at school or at birthday parties with friends. It’s important to look at a child’s diet overall, Allidina said.

“Start with simple swaps such as replacing or diluting juice for water or milk and cut back on the frequency of sugary treats.”

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‘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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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

WATCH (Sept. 2, 2019): Kingston teen creates app to help open doors for people with disabilities

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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Children get headaches — here’s what parents can do – National

by BBG Hub

Headaches are common for all age groups, but when a child gets one, it may be hard for them to communicate how they feel.

Dr. Gerald Friedman, pediatrician and headache specialist based in Thornhill, Ont., told Global News headaches occur in children and increase in frequency when they reach adolescence.

“Approximately 50 per cent of children will experience a headache during their childhood,” he said. “Migraine occurs in five to 10 per cent of children.”

Older children with headaches are capable to talk about how they feel.

“For younger children with limited abilities to verbally communicate the parents should pay attention to episodes characterized by crying, appearing pale, vomiting and relief with sleep,” Friedman said.

READ MORE: Boy, 14, dies of rare neurological disease after complaining of a headache

Dr. Daune MacGregor, staff neurologist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, explains some research indicates one in 11 children have headaches.

“If you look overall and ask a school-aged population if they’ve had headaches, at least 60 per cent of them will tell you at some point in time they get it.”

And while some adults who have headaches never go to their doctors, both experts added if your child is experiencing a headache, especially for the first time, parents and health professionals need to understand what’s going on.

WATCH: How to tell if it’s a headache, migraine or brain aneurysm – and what to do next

“Obviously it depends on the frequency… but if you get a child who has recurrent headaches with periods in between then you’ve got to try to sort out what the origin of the headache is,” she said.

Even if your child is getting a headache maybe once or twice a month but they are not responding to pain medication, she says, they should also be checked out.

“It’s really a matter of sorting out whether or not the headache is what we call a primary headache disorder,” she said. “These are the ones that have genetic origins like migraines, tension-type (headaches) or stress-related headaches.”

Symptoms to pay attention to

Friedman says some headache symptoms are known as red flags and it is important to remember that headaches are symptoms.

“These include headaches which awaken the child from sleep during the night, or begin in the very early hours of the morning (between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.), especially if associated with vomiting.”

If a child is feeling a headache that extends to the back of their head, this would warrant further evaluation, he noted.

READ MORE: Changing weather conditions cause headaches in children, study finds

“Children who experience any of the red flag symptoms should see their doctor immediately. Children who experience headaches more than once a week should also be evaluated.”

MacGregor notes sometimes the pressure can change in a child bends over, for example, or there are other symptoms along with the headache that include weakness in the limbs.

She says children often describe headaches in specific ways. Sometimes this can include a pounding headache that makes the child feel sick or nauseous. Some children can describe their heads squeezing, aching or feeling pressure — either way, note down exactly how they feel.

Dr. Marissa Lagman-Bartolomoe, an assistant professor in pediatrics at the University of Toronto and a pediatric and young adult headache neurologist at the Hospital for Sick Children and Women’s College Hospital, told Global News other red flags include headaches associated with fever.

She adds rashes, blurry vision, dizziness and spinning sensations are also considered red flags. Age and sex can also matter, she added, for example, a teenage girl who is pregnant may be feeling symptoms of headaches.

“Any headache, even if they have a previous headache and its a sudden change and it is progressively getting worse over days or weeks, that is something they should [go to the doctor for].”

Treatment and prevention

Friedman says before treatment options are considered, a child has to be evaluated.

“(This is to) determine the nature and cause of the headaches,” he said. “The more common causes of childhood headaches include tension-type headaches and migraines, and the treatment options vary depending on the cause of headaches.”

Treatment options can include over-the-counter medicines like Advil or Tylenol, experts said, or prescribed medication. For some, treatment can include cognitive behavioural therapy or other types of relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing.

Lagman-Bartolomoe for most children, taking an over-the-counter medication and getting rest can help. Often, sleeping is a beneficial treatment option.

READ MORE: Canadian children’s hospitals report cases of rare, polio-like illness that can cause paralysis

She adds the causes for migraines, for example, are still unknown and more research has to be done from an adolescent’s point of view. Often, the symptom of a headache can be caused by several things like infection, sinus issues or fevers.

Other more worrisome (but not as common) causes can include infections, inflammation of the brain or bleeding in the brain.

Genetics can also play a factor — if a parent or an older sibling has a history of headaches, chances are a child will get a headache as well, experts said. “Up to 80 per cent of patients coming in with migraines will have a first-degree relative who also has migraines,” she said.

And children who have headaches, often have headaches in adulthood.

What parents can do

Friedman said parents should carefully look at their child’s nutrition, hydration status, and sleep patterns if they are experiencing headaches.

“A diary is often a helpful first tool to help the physician sort out what type of headache the child is experiencing.”

Lagman-Bartolomoe recommends parents to be observant of their child’s behaviour. “If the child is asking for the TV to be shut off or the light to be turned off… that’s important in their behaviour.”

If they are feeling nauseous, avoid giving them too much fluid and keep track of their diet.

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

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Nearly 1 in 4 teens have tried vaping — Here’s how parents can talk about it – National

by BBG Hub

More Canadian adolescents are vaping — and health experts are concerned.

The prevalence of vaping has increased in Canada and the U.S. among 16- to 19-year-olds in the last two years, according to a new study published in the medical journal BMJ.

According to a recent Health Canada survey, nearly one in four students in grades 7 to 12 have tried electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. What’s more, a 2017 study found that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are at risk of graduating to tobacco smoking.

Because more teens are vaping, it’s important parents talk to their kids about e-cigarettes. Here’s how to tackle the conversation.

READ MORE: Parents, vaping near children is just as dangerous as smoking — study

How to talk to your kids about vaping

First, educate yourself on what vaping is and how it can be harmful, said Julie Freedman Smith, a Calgary-based parenting expert and co-founder of Parenting Power. Sites like and Health Canada have helpful resources.

Most commonly, vaping is the inhaling of vapour from a battery-powered e-cigarette. These e-cigarettes can look like USB sticks, pens or cigarettes.

E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavourings and other chemicals, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

WATCH: Lung illness tied to vaping claims first life in U.S. — CDC

Like any serious conversation, timing is important when it comes to talking to your child about vaping. You don’t want to make them feel like they’re under attack; instead, you want to foster a productive conversation, Freedman Smith said.

“Plan what you are going to say and choose a time to have an open, honest discussion,” she explained.

“That means letting your teen know that this is what you want to discuss and choosing a time that works for both of you, rather than ambushing your child as they head out the door.”

READ MORE: Health Canada failing to address dangers of growing vaping ‘epidemic’ — cancer society

If you already know your kid is vaping, asking whether they are or not is inviting a lie, she added. Instead, tell them that you know they’re vaping because their teacher told you, for example, or you found their vape pen.

Again, reacting the moment you find out is not the best solution.

“Ask your child to share what is happening for them regarding vaping: how they feel about it, the health and legal implications. Share the facts you have gathered and clearly express your expectations: ‘we don’t want you vaping because…,’” Freedman Smith said.

“Work with your child to determine how they will respond to friends asking them to vape with them. What wording can they use?”

WATCH: American dies after respiratory illness linked to vaping

Freedman Smith suggests parents offer reasons like, “It makes me feel sick,” “My parents will ground me” and “No thanks, it’s not for me.”

It’s also important to lead by example. Having a smoke-free and vape-free house teaches children that health comes first.

Health risks of vaping

Parents should be aware of the health risks of vaping so they can explain to their child why they’re concerned. It’s not enough to tell kids e-cigarettes are dangerous, Freedman Smith said. You need to tell kids how their health can be affected.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the CDC reports. Nicotine is addictive and harmful to people at any age but especially when it comes to youth.

READ MORE: Health Canada advocates push for e-cigarette crackdown amid surge in teen vaping

The stimulant can harm the developing adolescent brain, affecting the parts that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control, the CDC noted. Research has found that there’s a “strong and robust” linkage between vaping and subsequent tobacco use.

There are several different vaping products on the market, and each contains a different set of chemicals, which is the first cause for concern, Jeremy Drehmer, a health researcher, previously told Global News.

“We’re really in an unknown kind of abyss,” Drehmer said.

“Studies have found that [e-cigarettes] have volatile organic compounds in them that are cancer-causing,” he added, but we don’t necessarily know how much of these compounds exists in each product.

WATCH: EPS, nursing students warn kids about vaping

E-cigarettes also use aerosol — defined as particles dispersed in air or gas — which contains very small, ultra-fine particles.

“Much like tobacco smoke, these can get in and embed into the lungs, causing inflammation and all sorts of health problems,” Drehmer said.

Have ongoing conversations

Like with other substance use, parents need to have ongoing conversations with their children about vaping. These conversations can be informal but should happen on a regular basis, Freedman Smith said.

Freedman Smith suggests parents chat with kids over meals, during car rides or while out walking the dog.

READ MORE: Canadian health officials on alert after reports of vaping illnesses in the U.S.

“When you are with your kids, you can ask their thoughts: ‘Do any of your friends vape? Is it a popular thing in your peer group? What do you think about it? What have you heard about the health risks?’” Freedman Smith said.

“You could also call a family meeting… to discuss this specifically.”

It’s also important to reiterate that you care about your child’s health and you do not want them to vape. You should not assume your kid knows how you feel about it.

“Explain it is illegal [for youth], and there are multiple known health risks and some still waiting to be discovered,” Freedman Smith said.

“[Say], ‘In our family, we look after our health.’”

— With a file from Meghan Collie

[email protected]

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

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Controversial U.K. animal expert wants parents to ‘train’ babies like dogs – National

by BBG Hub

A public television network in the U.K. is facing backlash for recently airing a documentary called Train Your Baby Like a Dog.

The series, on Channel 4, features two sets of parents who struggle to control their young children’s behaviour. Enter animal behaviouralist Jo-Rosie Haffenden, who recommends using dog training methods — like encouraging good behaviour with treats — as a way to manage misbehaviour.

“If everyone parented their child the same way we’re training our dogs, we’d end up with much more caring and compassionate human beings,” Haffenden said in a Channel 4 press release.

READ MORE: What happens when children don’t take sex-ed classes

In the show, Haffenden can be seen working with a three-year-old boy named Greydon, who has “daily tantrums and violent outbursts.” She also works with an 18-month-old girl named Dulcie, who refuses to sleep alone.

According to her website, Haffenden studied applied psychology and went on to earn a postgraduate degree in animal behaviour. Using her knowledge of animals, she aims to show people similar animals are to humans.

The documentary was announced on August 13 and met with criticism. Prior to its airtime on August 20, more than 30,000 people signed a petition that called for the show to be cancelled.

One of Haffenden’s most controversial recommendations is using a “clicker” to teach kids right from wrong. London-based organization Autistic Inclusive Meets, who started the petition, argues that this is especially worrisome.

According to the dog food company Pedigree, clickers are commonly used to train dogs “to associate the sound of a click with a food reward.”

“The children are shown no dignity or respect in click training behaviourism,” Autistic Inclusive Meets noted in the petition.

READ MORE: Children who watch ‘Sesame Street’ may perform better at school, study finds

In a statement provided to Huffington Post U.K.a Channel 4 spokesperson said that “throughout filming and broadcast, the welfare of all contributors in the program is of paramount importance and the process is supervised by qualified child psychologists.”

“The program explores a new approach to childcare, grounded in positive, science-based motivational techniques that are used widely by parenting coaches and animal behaviour experts.”

The documentary still aired on August 20, and parenting expert Kathy Lynn understands why parents are angry.

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

“Your child isn’t a dog. It’s that simple,” Lynn told Global News.

“When we’re talking about our children and teaching [them] right from wrong, we’re using language, we’re talking to them, we’re communicating with them. We’re not just yelling orders at them.”

According to Lynn, treating a child like a dog isn’t a good idea for a number of reasons — the first being that the child is a human, and they will argue back if they feel disrespected.

READ MORE: Becoming a father can negatively affect men’s mental health, survey says

“They need us to set limits, of course, but they don’t need us to be barking orders and giving them treats,” she said.

“We don’t relate to dogs in the same way [as children]. Both dogs and children need training, no question, but we don’t sit down and have a conversation with a dog.”

For starters, Lynn is worried about classifying behaviour like Dulcie’s inability to sleep alone as “problematic.”

WATCH BELOW: Predators could be playing online games with your child

“If a child is crying, it’s because they’re hungry or they’re having a bad dream or they’re afraid of the dark,” she said. “Children cry as one method of communication with parents… and parents need to learn to listen and pay attention.”

Young children don’t yet have the language to explain why they’re upset, and it’s up to parents to understand this.

“A child who’s crying in the middle of the night needs you there,” Lynn said.

In her view, episodes of poor behaviour — like Greydon’s tantrums — are actually opportunities to teach your child how to communicate effectively.

READ MORE: 1 child a year dies on average from being stuck in a hot car, study says

“We need to be raising our kids to communicate with us,” she said.

By treating your child as you would a dog, your child is sent the message that “they won’t be heard,” said Lynn.

“Children aren’t stupid. If it gets to the point where they know that no matter what they say, nobody’s going to pay any attention, some of them will withdraw and stop trying.”

WATCH BELOW: New Zealand parliamentary speaker babysits during House debate

Other kids will act out “as they try even harder to get their parents’ attention,” Lynn said.

“Neither of these are an outcome we’re looking for.”

Instead, Lynn encourages parents to work with children to determine how they feel.

“[Try to discern] what their needs are [and] how we can best meet their needs [while] also letting them know that there are rules and there are expectations,” she said.

READ MORE: Should you take your baby to the chiropractor? Experts weigh in

Lynn also takes issue with Haffenden’s practice of rewarding good behaviour with treats, as one does with a dog.

“We don’t need to [give] humans a treat every time,” she said.

“We expect our children to behave well. I’m not saying to ignore [good behaviour], but if we bend over backwards every time they do something correct, they’ll start to think [basic behaviour] is going above and beyond.”

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

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Meet the parents who took their kids out of school to travel the world – National

by BBG Hub

When Hannah Miller was 11 years old, her parents sold all of their stuff and took the family abroad.

Their intention was to return after one year, but that didn’t happen. Miller’s family liked travelling so much, they kept doing it.

“We’ve been to every inhabited continent so far,” she told Global News.

During their travels, Miller and her three siblings were “world-schooled.” Her mom, Jennifer Sutherland-Miller, says world-schooling means elevating the principles of homeschooling by creating teachable moments in new, foreign surroundings.

READ MORE: More Canadian parents opting for home-schooling — Fraser Institute

“I’m a big supporter of public education as one way of educating kids, but it’s certainly not the only way,” she said. “We opted to take our kids out of school and do the job differently because we wanted so much more for them than was going to be available.”

‘There are two ways to travel’

Miller didn’t return to a traditional classroom setting until she was 19 years old, when she started an undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. However, she said that in some ways, she felt more prepared for post-secondary education than some of her peers.

“I already had been managing my own schedule. I knew how to self-study so while many of my peers were really struggling to maintain their own classes, I was doing OK,” Miller said.

READ MORE: How to take the environment into account while travelling

“We did do school on the road like you would at a traditional school. We did algebra, we did science, we did English,” she continued.

“Our typical school day would be a few hours of that, and then we’d go out and have adventures… We’d do real-world activities as well as school activities.”

According to Sutherland-Miller, who used to work as a teacher, their travels weren’t random. In fact, each trip — and the activities planned — were very carefully curated with her children’s learning in mind.

WATCH: The benefits of a back to school routine

“We very intentionally crafted our travels, as well as what we did on our travels, around their long-term education,” she said. “For us, this was a strategy towards giving them more tools in life and building their educational and academic lives as well.”

For the Millers, prioritizing education often meant taking the road less travelled.

“There are two ways to travel,” said Sutherland-Miller.

“You can go to Mexico and stay at an all-inclusive resort and hang out on the beach and body-surf and drink all of the free drinks… or you can go to Mexico with a checklist of the things you want your kids to learn.”

READ MORE: Canada’s air passenger bill of rights: What travellers won’t see until December

Sutherland-Miller loved world-schooling because it allowed her kids to “connect with culture in a way that’s more educational than you can ever learn out of book, documentary or TV show.”

While it may seem like a lot of work to world-school your children, Sutherland-Miller said it was no more work than it is to “parent any child intentionally.”

“It took my full-time life for the last 23 years,” she said. “Education was a very holistic and integrative process in our family. Our kids were part of everything, from waking up and cooking breakfast to going to bed at night and everything in between. We learned together.”

WATCH MORE: How to keep kids from getting bored over the summer

Where the effort is needed is in a shift in intention about “the way you want to live your life,” Sutherland-Miller said. “It’s not for everyone, but for us, it’s been a really wonderful way to spend their childhood.”

Family counsellor and parenting expert Alyson Schafer thinks world-schooling is an awesome opportunity, but it comes with some risk.

“You can’t replace the type of education that you’d get out experiencing the world with anything that would happen in the classroom,” she said. “It provides a tremendous foundation for future learning.”

READ MORE: Want to take a family gap year? Here’s how 2 Canadian families are making it work

It’s one thing to read about the Egyptian pyramids, it’s another to see them in real life — and that distinction is what makes world-schooling so special.

However, Schafer said there’s much to consider before pulling your kids out of school and hitting the road.

‘Scaffold learning’ and re-entering formal education

“There’s nowhere in the world that you’re going to travel where you’re going to practice your multiplication table,” Schafer told Global News.

She fears that some parents who don’t have experience in education will forget about progressions that children must be taught before they learn more advanced skills.

WATCH: Grade 10 students in Ontario will learn about financial literacy

“Math [is] a scaffold style of learning. You can’t move onto the next concept until you get the first one,” she said.

Missing the first phases of math, for example, could hurt your child whenever they re-enter a formal education system, Schafer explained.

“I do think people have to be wise about thinking about when they reintegrate their kids into the system. You will have to cover [those areas] in some fashion [so they don’t] take a hit in those subjects when they come back,” she said.

It can be tough to focus on multiplication when you’re steps from the beach in Bali

Homeschooling is difficult as it is — homeschooling abroad is a whole other beast.

“You’ve got a greater pull for other things [your children] want to do,” said Schafer. “You’re in the middle of Bali, and all [your child] wants to do is go to the beach and see the coconuts.”

It’s not common for parents to play a dual role as a teacher in Canada and doing so can have detrimental short- and long-term effects on a parent’s relationship with their child.

READ MORE: ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning ‘basic life skills’

“Being both their teacher — criticizing their handwriting and correcting their grammar — [and their parent] can create stress on the relationship if it’s not handled well,” Schafer said. “Not all parents are good homeschoolers.”

For Schafer, what works best will be unique for every single family.

“It’s not one size fits all,” she said.

Your child may need more social integration

Some kids can move seamlessly in and out of different social groups, while others struggle. Schafer encourages parents to consider their child’s social needs before asking them to pick up and move.

“If you’re at a critical friend development year, and your kid isn’t there… most kids can figure it out,” she said. “But if you’ve got a kid who is adamantly opposed, and you’re pushing your own agenda because you have an idea of what a great year would look like for the family,” that’s cause for you to reconsider your decision, Schafer explained.

“You need to consider your motivation.”

WATCH: Travel Tips — Multi-generational family vacations

Schafer also wants to emphasize that world-schooling isn’t always an option due to the cost of travel — and that’s OK.

She’s worried that some parents feel like if they can’t world-school, they’re letting their kids down.

“It’s an affluent thing to do,” she said. “Not world-schooling doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent.”

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

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The stigma of more children after one is sick: Why some parents feel guilty – National

by BBG Hub

Ragne Reid faced a lot of scrutiny when she became pregnant with her son, Jax, while her nine-month-old daughter, Mira, was undergoing cancer treatment.

“My family doctor suggested that I have an abortion, but we were trying so hard to save the life of our daughter, there was no way I could justify ending the life of another baby,” she told Global News.

“I was seeing a chiropractor at the time who shook his head and told me that I needed to be more careful. That was the last time I saw him.”

READ MORE: Caring for the caregiver — Raising a child with a disability or chronic disease

Reid, who lives in North Delta, B.C., also faced criticism from friends.

“[They] suggested that it was irresponsible for me to consider bringing another child into the world,” she said. “I do think there are taboos around having a second child after [your] first was so sick.”

However, Reid and her partner were told that Mira’s cancer didn’t have a genetic component so they just tried to “shrug it off.”

“Although I was worried… we had no idea how she got her disease, and [we] thought that the same circumstances and environment was present for the new baby as was present for our sick baby,” said Reid.

Mira, 10, and Jax, 8. Courtesy of Ragne Reid.

Helping parents understand the “cause” of the first child’s illness or disability should be a top priority for primary caregivers, according to Dr. Peter Azzopardi, chief of pediatrics at the Scarborough Health Network.

“Most worrisome to me is, often, a parent tries to assign blame in terms of what happened to the first child,” he said.

“It’s important to get to the bottom of that issue so the parent doesn’t feel like the cause of that issue.”

In his view, it’s only with a full understanding of the first child’s condition — and the risk that it could be passed on — that parents can make an informed decision about having another child. This often requires an extensive amount of genetic testing, he said.

Genetic testing helps parents understand risk

“The most important thing is what is the nature of the child in the family that already has the disability?” Azzopardi said. “What is the problem and what is the risk that it could be passed on?”

If the problem is defined as potentially having a genetic component, the parents will be tested in order to determine the risk of it affecting another baby. Some illness and disability will be genetic, but others will have “nothing to do” with a family member having risk — like issues that arise at birth.

Regardless of the results, genetic testing helps parents to do away with the common feelings of guilt or shame that can occur after welcoming a child with a disability.

READ MORE: ‘It has made me a better person’ — What it’s like to raise a child with autism

For Nicole Boucher, a mom of two based in Toronto, genetic testing helped her feel more in control, even if only slightly.

She and her partner have always wanted a big family, but her first pregnancy didn’t go as planned. During an ultrasound, doctors found a cyst in the back of her son’s brain that caused it to form differently.

After her son Jacob was born, doctors performed genetic testing to determine the details of his illness.

“He has a single gene mutation that they’ve never seen before. They don’t know what it means and they can’t really give us a prognosis,” said Boucher.

Jacob, 3, and Caden, 5 months. Courtesy of Nicole Boucher.

However, doctors were able to determine that he has epilepsy, a development delay and visual impairment.

The genetic testing also showed that Jacob’s condition was de novo, which meant neither of the parents were carriers. “That was one of our biggest fears.”

For Jacob’s first year of life, his parents were just focused on “keeping him alive.” But with the genetic testing on their side, they decided to “let whatever happen, happen,” said Boucher. “And along came Caden.”

Having another child is ‘such a personal decision’

In Azzopardi’s experience, it’s common for parents in Reid and Boucher’s position to face stigma about having another child.

“I do think that parents get second looks from other people when they decide to go on and have another child, [but] it’s such a personal decision,” said Azzopardi. “It’s also very culturally laden in terms of taboos in certain cultures about having other children.”

Ultimately, Azzopardi believes parents know what is best for their family, and Calgary-native Rachel Martens agrees. She works at CanChild, a non-profit research and educational centre that focuses on improving the lives of children with developmental conditions.

READ MORE: Like mother, like daughter — Living with the same disease as your mom

“There are many things to consider from a couple different lenses,” said Martens. “Do you have a sufficient support system in your life to help your family? Is your significant other prepared to take on added responsibilities?”

Choosing to have another child is a complex decision in and of itself — disability or illness just adds to that.

“The uniqueness of who you are as a parent and a person plays a role in this decision,” she said. “It’s important to remember who you are in this and to never apologize to others when it comes to whatever future you decide for your family.”

Luke, 13. Courtesy of Rachel Martens.

Martens is also mom to a 13-year-old boy who has Mosaic trisomy 22, cerebral palsy and autism. She and her partner decided not to have any further children, and it works for them.

“We went back and forth on the subject for a few years, but [after] a brief brush I had with cancer, [we] made the decision to stay with only one. We received a lot of flak from some family [for] our decision but honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are pretty stuck on our kiddo,” she said.

“For us, the decision came with working towards who we felt our identity was as a family unit. We make a heck of a trio.”

Finding non-judgmental support from the health-care system

While Mira was in treatment, Reid had enough on her plate without taking into account the judgmental comments and unsolicited “advice” from those around her.

“I felt awful during the time that my daughter was sick,” she said. “I was trying to prepare for what I believed was the eventual outcome [of Mira’s brain cancer] and to figure out how to be a mother to my new baby.”

Mira finished treatment in December 2010, and Jax arrived — healthy and happy — in February 2011. Reid was overwhelmed.

WATCH: How a community can deal with children and youth to help break the cycle of poverty

“It was a lot of work looking after two [babies] that weren’t walking, and one that still had lots of medical appointments,” she said. “I was trying to deal with my own mental health at the time, too. I’m sure I had (maybe have) post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Reid said she tried to find a psychologist, but due to time and location constraints, it wasn’t possible. On top of that, she was struggling to learn about how to navigate the hospital system.

“It’s so complicated and difficult to navigate,” said Reid. 

Supporting parents like Reid is Joanne Doucette‘s job. Doucette is a social worker at the Child, Adolescent and Family Centre of Ottawa, and she’s seen first-hand the difference support from a person like her can make.

READ MORE: Becoming a father can negatively impact men’s mental health: survey

“My role is to look at each family’s situation. Each is so unique and so different,” she said. “When a first child has a really complex medical condition, often there are a lot of questions about whether another child will have the condition as well.”

In helping parents decide whether they want to expand their family, Doucette focuses a lot on ensuring they have a robust support system — whether it’s family, friends or a health-care professional.

“It takes a village to raise a child — and I think that goes for every single family — but when a child has a medical illness or disability, the need for that village is just that much bigger.”

One of the things social workers and therapists should do is provide emotional support, helping parents work through those feelings of guilt and shame so they can “be in a place where they’re able to make those decisions more clearly,” she said. “I support parents whichever way they go in terms of making those decisions.”

Ultimately, the taboo around having another child after your first falls ill or is diagnosed with a disability remains taboo. Breaking down that stigma is, in part, the responsibility of primary caregivers.

“Parents are the best experts on what they need for their kids and what they need for their family,” said Doucette.

[email protected]

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

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Becoming a father can negatively impact men’s mental health: survey – National

by BBG Hub

A new survey has found that becoming a father can be a more stressful, isolating experience than previously thought.

Conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Movember Foundation in June, the survey asked 4,000 fathers aged 18 to 75 in Canada and several other countries about their experiences as a new dad.

Of the respondents, who were also from the U.K., Australia and the U.S., 70 per cent said their stress levels increased in the 12 months after welcoming their first child.

READ MORE: Dad bias: Why are fathers disproportionately praised for parenting their kids?

Some 23 per cent of dads said they felt extremely isolated, too — 20 per cent reported losing a number of close friends in the same time period.

According to the results, new fatherhood also had a negative impact on physical health: 56 per cent of respondents said they experienced at least one new negative health behaviour in the year after becoming a dad. This included everything from exercising less to gaining weight to drinking more alcohol.

These results don’t come as a shock to Gregory Fabiano, a psychology professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in fatherhood.

Stigma associated with having mental illness as a man

In his research, Fabiano found men are generally less likely to seek support from the healthcare system due to stigma.

“If you look at the research, women are much better [than men] at accessing and engaging with resources that might help them,” he explained. The research supports these claims: a 2016 study found that Canadian women were more likely than men to seek help from their primary healthcare provider.

It’s not unlikely that this discrepancy extends to parenthood. “If you have a new mother, they may be more open to and maybe even have more opportunities to engage with ways to learn about what might happen to them,” he said.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Involved dads are happier and healthier, these researchers say

Fabiano believes this could be because the healthcare system has been slow to adapt to the realities of modern parenting. In 1976, Canadian stay-at-home fathers accounted for 1.43 per cent of the primary caregiver population. By 2015, that number had risen to about 10 per cent.

Fabiano experienced this firsthand when he became a father.

“I was really energized to be a really good dad and [to] be really involved,” he said. “We had my son, and two weeks later we went to the first doctor’s appointment. When we got into the room, I realized there was only one chair.”

WATCH BELOW: Dad’s exercise before conception may help child’s lifelong health

Fabiano offered the chair to the baby’s mother. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but once the appointment began, he felt largely underfoot. “They talked with the mom… there was really nowhere for a second parent to be so I thought, ‘I’m not going to go to these anymore,’” Fabiano said.

Mark Henick has had a similar experience. He’s a mental health expert and the principal and CEO of Strategic Mental Health Solutions based in Toronto, a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations and individuals provide meaningful, measurable mental health support.

READ MORE: Daddy bonus? UBC study finds dads make more than their childless peers

However, despite his knowledge of the mental health system in Canada, he still struggled to find support specifically for fathers after his second child arrived.

“I’ve worked in the mental health sector and I’ve been deeply involved for more than a decade,” said Henick. “When I had my second child, I definitely experienced some symptoms of postpartum depression. But even for me, being somebody who knows the system very well, it was difficult to navigate and difficult to find help and resources.”

WATCH BELOW: Tips for parents who hate parenting

“I think we do still see a significant amount of stigma,” he said. “For men in particular, there’s the societal view that men need to be the breadwinners, the survivors, the strong one in the family… so they can’t express their emotions.”

Although none of these stereotypes are true, they continue to prevent new fathers from opening up about their postpartum depression — even though the dangerous condition is a common issue for men. According to a recent meta-analysis of 43 studies, 10.4 per cent of new fathers experience postpartum depression within three to six months after a child is born.

This stigma can make fathers feel excluded from postpartum care, which can leave the mental health impacts of becoming a parent untreated and left to grow more severe.

The impacts of becoming a parent

For both men and women, there are several different ways first-time parenthood can impact your physical and psychological health.

“On the practical front, a lack of sleep is extremely detrimental for your mental health,” said Henick. “If you’re waking up every hour or two hours [with a new baby], many studies have shown that interrupted sleep is even worse than not getting much sleep at all.”

READ MORE: Signs of postpartum depression in dads are often mistaken or missed, study shows

After welcoming your first child, most parents also experience a huge shift in the way they understand their identity — a shift which can have big implications for your relationships and other parts of your life.

“You’ve spent the last 30, 35, 40 years of your life defining who you presently are, and then all of a sudden, that has to change,” said Henick. “Now you’re a mother or a father. Now you’re responsible for another life.”

WATCH BELOW: Expert says parents should throw away behaviour charts

Fabiano agrees. “Becoming a parent is a very stressful life event,” he said. “It’s a very joyous and happy and exhilarating life event, but it’s also incredibly stressful.”

Sleep deprivation, increased financial responsibility, strain on your personal relationships and the needs of your child are just some of your new potential sources of stress and anxiety as a new parent. “A lot of life changes very quickly,” said Fabiano.

In his view, fathers need exposure to these changes (and the best ways to handle them) long before the baby arrives in order to be better prepared.

What new fathers need

“Dads need to be involved not only when the child is born but also when they’re going to preschool, learning to read, developing friendships and making decisions about college and career,” said Fabiano.

Expectant fathers should be prepared to be “actively involved” in their child’s entire developmental trajectory. In Henick’s opinion, this requires more conversations with young men long before they’re even thinking about starting a family.

“I think that we need to do a better job of that from even school age, assuming that fathers are going to be equal parents,” he said. “I think we need to do a better job of shifting that cultural difference. It’s not just the mother’s responsibility to raise the child.”

READ MORE: Postpartum euphoria is more than just feeling happy — experts say it can be a ‘lethal condition’

It also means encouraging more discussion about how men are affected by mental illness more generally — something that has yet to happen on a large scale.

“How to actually identify what emotions you’re feeling, what to call them and how to deal with them,” Henick said. “Generally speaking, we don’t have that conversation [with boys and men].”

Parenting coach Julie Romanowski outlines a three-pronged approach to preparing men for fatherhood.

WATCH BELOW: How cooking helps ease symptoms of anxiety and depression

“The first one is giving them the lowdown. “Saying, ‘hey, this is what you can expect,’” she said. She believes it’s crucial for the expectant father’s support network to be honest about how all-consuming the first few years of parenthood can be — especially since this is typically something only taught to women.

“Giving the father that information up front is ideal…. nothing is worse than fear of the unknown,” she said.

The second skill Romanowski teaches her clients is how to reassure oneself.  “Who reassures us parents? Nobody,” she said. “Learning how to tell yourself, ‘it’s going to be okay — we got this’ is crucial.”

READ MORE: Nearly one quarter of moms experience postpartum depression or anxiety: StatsCan

The third prenatal lesson every father needs is how to maintain his self-esteem. “There’s nothing like being a new parent that will shatter your confidence,” said Romanowski.

“Take time for yourself to develop and maintain that ]self-care] relationship,” she said.

Henick wants anyone struggling with mental health issues to know that “there’s hope out there.”

“People need to realize that… they should reach out for help and that there are people out there who can who can help them. These feelings are not forever,” he said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

[email protected]

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