Author Archives: Conceição

United Nations Commission

In March of 2016, Conceição and Juliana were delegates at the United Nations for the 60th Commission on the Status of Women where they advocated for the right of families to be an integral part of the development and education of their children.  Conceição was a lead speaker at a special meeting on refugees on the subject of “Empowering Mothers to Parent with the Brain in Mind.”

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Conceição & Juliana at the United Nations

 

As a result of their conversations at the UN, Reach was invited to contribute to a compilation of articles focusing on specific targets of the Sustainable Development Goals discussed during the UN Commission.  These articles were recently published in a book entitled Family Capital and the SDGs: Implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Reach’s contribution is below and serves as a great outline of “Parenting with the Brain in Mind™” during the first two years of life.

 


Using Family Capital to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

SDG #4 Quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities

#4.2 Quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education

Purposeful Parenting – Parenting with the Brain in Mind™

Goal #4.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure that all children have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.

This lofty goal is particularly challenging because it includes children from all cultural and social backgrounds, many living in very difficult circumstances. Poverty and trauma negatively impact the developing brain. Children living in poverty experience higher levels of developmental, learning and intellectual disabilities. Traumatic stress results in more problems related to anger, aggression and lack of compassion and empathy.

Beginning with the assumption that basic needs like food, shelter and safety are being met, achieving this goal will require that we focus on two things, the magnificent human brain and the family.

The brain – More than any other stage of development, the early years of a child’s life determine who that child becomes as an adult. When we look at early brain development two factors stand out. First is that the young brain develops at an astonishing rate. By the age of 2 years old, the brain is about 80% of the adult size! Second is the phenomenon called brain plasticity, the ability of the human brain to modify its structure in response to sensory stimulation, the use of motor function and the presence of adequate nutrition. Recognizing the importance of proper brain development in the first years of life is a critical first step in ensuring that children will enter school ready to learn.

The family – Given the importance of good brain development, it is fair to ask who is best suited to accomplish this? Based on 40 years of clinical and teaching experience at the REACH Family Institute, I know without question that the answer is the family. Parents are the best coaches and teachers their children will ever have provided they understand how the brain develops and how to apply that knowledge in practical ways in their daily lives. Why are parents best at this? Because nobody else loves a child more than his parents and immediate family! This is the anthropological reality of the family bond.

In our work with parents throughout the world, we teach them how to parent with the brain in mind, an approach to parenting that we call “Purposeful Parenting”. When we combine parental love with knowledge about “Purposeful Parenting” the results are powerful not just for that child and his family but for the community and society in general.

Our experience teaching “Purposeful Parenting” shows that it is both effective and economical. In Venezuela, where we worked with families from the low end of the socio-economic spectrum, parents of children with developmental difficulties were highly successful at accelerating the development of not only their struggling child but also the development of their other children. So there is a ripple effect that begins with one child, extends to others and eventually reaches an entire community.

Parenting with the brain in mind is not as complicated as it might seem. After all, parents successfully raised children for millennia until professionals took over. But it does require that the needs of the child be placed first and that all other needs follow, something that is not always easy or common in our modern society.

Professor James McKenna, former head of the Anthropology department at the University of Notre Dame and a leading expert on SIDS, says “Selecting a pattern of social care for a baby is essentially selecting a pattern of physiological regulation for the baby. They’re one and the same thing. There is no distinction.” Which is Dr. McKenna’s way of saying that the child’s needs come first and how parents meet those needs matters.

Here are some simple, practical and easy to implement steps that will have a profound impact on your child’s development.

 

Purposeful Parenting Best Practices

Newborn to 3 months

Often referred to as the 4th trimester, the first three months of life are a time for parents to get to know and bond with their new baby. Newborn babies are completely dependent on their parents for the fulfillment of all biological and physiological needs. Nature simply assumes that the relationship between baby and mother, which begins in pregnancy, will remain throughout the first years of life. How a mother is able to fulfill her role as her baby’s physiological regulating system affects how her baby’s brain develops and thus affects the baby’s future. Modern culture tends to rule in favor of decisions that separate mother from baby and the consequences of this decision may be greater than we think. The following best practices are particularly important in the early months of life and, ideally, should be extended for at least the first year if possible.

Sleeping arrangements – Nature intends for mother to be in close proximity to her baby so that she can respond to the baby’s biological and physiological needs in a timely and loving manner. Sleeping close to mother provides for this and promotes brain development. Sleeping with or close to baby is normal. It has been done for nearly all of human history, is done throughout the world and serves important biological purposes.

Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding provides the ideal nutrition for babies. In addition, it is an ideal opportunity for emotional bonding that involves extensive touch as well as mutual gaze. Mutual gaze is the term neuroscientists give to that special moment when mother and baby’s eyes are locked in a dance of mutual admiration. Neuroscience research shows that the development of empathy and compassion is directly dependent on the number of mutual gaze experiences a baby shares with a primary caregiver (usually mother) during the first year of life. Think about it, every time you and your baby are looking into each other’s eyes you are growing his brain and helping him become more compassionate!

Skin to skin tactile stimulation – Touch is critical to the development of babies especially in the early months of life. Research shows that when premature babies are caressed or massaged frequently they gain weight faster, spend less time in the hospital and are less stressed. The most convenient time to provide this kind of stimulation is during breastfeeding. Infant massage is another great form of skin-to-skin tactile stimulation.

Respond to crying – The newborn baby’s way of communicating is through crying. That is how they express their needs! It is very important to respond in a timely manner when a baby cries so he learns that he is safe, loved and cared for. You can also communicate with your little one. Talk and sing to your baby. Let him know how much you love him, how tired you are and so on.

Tummy time – Human babies are designed to start moving on the tummy! Provide frequent brief moments throughout the day for your baby to spend time on the tummy. Every time your baby is awake and you are not changing, feeding or loving him put him on his tummy. As baby grows and gets stronger you can increase the time he spends on his tummy. Complete freedom of movement is important so make sure his arms and legs are free so he can easily move them. Make sure you are with your baby at all times while he is on his tummy. The first thing you will notice is that your baby will resist the force of gravity and try to lift his head. Do this often and he will very quickly strengthen his neck and develop good head control.

 

3 to 6 months

Floor time – By 3 months of age the baby should have good head control, enjoy being on his tummy, be looking around at whatever is at his level and be making lots of arm and leg movements trying to move. The more opportunity you give the faster and earlier he will learn to crawl. Baby’s arms, feet and legs should be bare and he should be on a smooth surface to make it easier for him to move. At this stage you can place your baby on a clean, warm, smooth floor or a firm, smooth mat. You should be on the floor with him, talking, singing, reading books and playing with him. As your baby gets stronger he will be able to play with toys while he is on his tummy. The baby will learn to roll from tummy to back and vice versa. Eventually, your baby will start to move. At first, your baby may turn in circles or go backwards but eventually he should learn to go forward. Now he needs the opportunity to tummy crawl a lot! This is a very important stage of development and should not be skipped.

Sensory Development – Continue to provide baby with lots of pleasant tactile opportunities like tickling, caressing, hugging and so on. Musical instruments are fun at this stage but if you don’t have them you can use whatever is around your house. Kitchen utensils, Tupperware and pots and pans make great instruments for you to play for your child. You should talk a lot to your child. The more you talk the earlier he will understand language. Everything around your child is new to him. So, the environment you are in provides lots of new things for you to teach. Every time a child sees a new thing his brain is developing. Take advantage of this!

 

6 months to 1 year  

Floor time – Now that your baby is army crawling a lot he should be very strong. The next important stage is called creeping. Creeping is when a baby is moving on his hands and knees! At this stage you want to give your baby lots of stimulation to develop balance – swinging, holding him close and spinning, rocking, etc. By now your baby should have good head control but make sure this is done in a safe manner. As balance improves he will get up on his hands and knees. At first, he might rock back and forth but once he feels confident he will begin to move forward. At this stage a carpet or a firm mat is the ideal surface but babies can creep on almost any surface. Now he needs the opportunity to creep a lot!

Sensory Development – As for the rest, continue following the previous advice for providing visual, auditory and tactile stimulation, gradually making everything more sophisticated.

 

1 to 2 years

Floor time – If you have given your baby lot’s of opportunities to crawl on his tummy and creep on his hands and knees he should be getting ready to walk. Keep doing lots of balance activities, rocking, swinging, spinning and so on. Your baby will walk when he is ready. It might be at 10 months, 1 year or 14 months. The important thing is not how early he walks but that he has he gone through all the important stages of mobility! If he has, from here on just keep giving him the opportunity to use his function. He will keep getting better and better.

Sensory Development – Continue reading to your baby, talking and playing. Just keep increasing the sophistication of everything you do and HAVE FUN watching and being part of your baby’s development!

 

Quality vs. Quantity

Questions about the quality of our interactions with children vs. the quantity of those interactions have weighed on parents’ minds for decades.  With our current economic situation where both parents often feel the need to work, this issue takes on even more importance as parents try to make decisions about how to balance work with raising a child.

What does neuroscience say?
Babies and young children need quality interactions and they need a lot of them!

Parents want to do a good job and provide the best they can for their children.  So the question is: What can we do to show our children that they are truly valued?  How can we give them the best chance to grow up to become capable and compassionate adults?  How can parents best meet their child’s needs and encourage good development with whatever time limitations they have?  How can we as a society help parents accomplish this?

Let’s start at the beginning. Young children, especially babies, are needy.  Their needs are biological needs vital to the proper development of the young brain.  Because this is a biological imperative, babies cannot be expected to adjust to their parents needs, schedules or plans.  They require large amounts of attention, stimulation, physical connection, hugs, kisses and playtime because that is what their brains need at that time.

Babies and young children need quality interactions and they need a lot of them!  Neuroscience research demonstrates that development in the prefrontal cortex is dependent on the number and quality of one on one interactions during the first year of life.  These interactions develop the human quality of empathy, a sense of security, healthy emotions and social skills to handle what lies ahead.

Which is to say that in the early years both quality and quantity are really important.  At this stage parents should be focusing on their children’s needs and how they can best accommodate them.  For parents who must work full time, one suggestion is to enlist grandparents, friends and neighbors that you trust to help you provide the best environment for your child.  We need to once again become a society that takes care of each other so our children learn to do the same!

So it isn’t simply a matter of stay-at-home parents vs. working parents.  A parent who stays home but spends the bulk of the day focused on their own projects while their child is sitting in front of the TV or computer screen is technically spending more time with their child.  But it isn’t quality time.  Quality time requires engagement, conversation, creativity and purpose.

As children grow up this dynamic slowly changes! With neurological maturity, as children become more independent, they no longer need as many interactions with mom and dad.  Indeed, parents who are still catering to their older children’s needs instead of encouraging or allowing them to grow and solve their own problems are not doing their children any favors.

The key to surviving this balancing act is knowledge.  The more parents understand about how their child’s brain develops, the more effective they become with the time they have available to them.  If that time is limited, it is even more important to make sure that it is used wisely.

As a way of meeting this great need for parent education, REACH offers its “BrainFit Kids™ Workshop Series” for parents of well children and its “How to Unleash your Child’s Hidden Potential” workshop for parents of children with developmental difficulties.  These workshops are designed as a more in-depth solution for parents who want to learn how to provide the very best for their children.  Please feel free to write us at [email protected] for more information.

Raising valued, compassionate and capable children

 

In my last post, I featured the Nelsons and the miracles they have achieved so far with their daughter, Mackenzie. Now I want to share with you how our program affects the lives of the siblings of the children we work with.

We are always delighted when families come for their appointments with all of their children. Since the families and their children spend a minimum of one whole day with us this allows us to get to know all of the children. In fact, we often have everyone participate in the evaluation as a way to avoid singling out the child we are working with and to make it more fun for all.

The REACH Family Institute’s vision is for all children to be valued, compassionate and capable.  The brothers and sisters of children on our program are great examples of this. Why, you might ask? How can they all have these characteristics in common?

Compassion…
When handled correctly, having a brother or sister with difficulties can teach incredible lessons about life and love!

The main reason is because they grow up with well-developed and well-organized brains! Our parents learn about brain development and how to raise their children with the brain in mind.  They learn that the way you speak with your children, how you play with them, the physical opportunities you give them and the love and attention they receive all has an impact on brain development and organization. They also learn to recognize any developmental issues early on and are able to address them right away. When parents raise their children with the brain in mind the results are astonishing! Children who have well-developed and well-organized brains are children who learn everything easily. They experience success in school and are not afraid to take risks. They are not afraid of failure! They are children with very high self-esteem!

Another quality that we always see in the siblings of our kids is compassion. The part of the brain responsible for compassion, the prefrontal cortex, begins to develop at birth. Charles wrote in a previous blog about the “mutual gaze” and it’s importance early in life for the development of compassion and empathy. Another important component of this is the modeling of parents. The siblings of the children we work with see their parent’s love in action by watching, and in most cases, being part of the work their parents put into the Home Program. A child who sees his or her parents loving, encouraging and working with their brother or sister who has difficulties learns that everyone should be respected and loved regardless of their level of function. They learn that their parents will always love them and respect them no matter what. When handled correctly, having a brother or sister with difficulties can teach incredible lessons about life and love! You bet these are children who grow up to be extremely compassionate and respectful of others!

Charlie and I have one daughter, Juliana, who grew up around children with developmental difficulties.  Psychologists and teachers often questioned us about the potential negative effects of her spending so much time with “those children”. They should not have worried. She grew up to be the compassionate person she is today mostly because of the beautiful lessons of love and respect that she learned from those children and their families. For a wonderful testimony about this check out Chris de Vinck’s essay, The Power of the Powerless, in which he lovingly describes the impact on his life of being raised alongside his severely brain-injured brother.

And that brings me back full circle to the Nelsons. Desiray, Mackenzie’s mom, like so many moms who do our program, is in awe at the level of ability her younger child has achieved as a result of her applying what she learned working with Mackenzie. Elliana was toilet trained at 19 months of age, and has superb language, concentration and physical ability. What is even more amazing is that at the tender age of 2 years Elliana already makes sure Mackenzie is always included in what she is doing. Elliana says things like, “Mackenzie also wants cereal! ”, or  “Mackenzie also wants to play!” Only two years old and already concerned that her sister not be excluded from anything! We have seen many hundreds of children like Elliana over the years and I never get tired of young children who are valued, compassionate and capable in action! Wouldn’t the world be a better place with more children like Elliana?

 

 

 

 

 

From blindess to sight

At a time when there is so much negativity in the world it is important to remember all the miracles that happen on a daily basis. I’d like to share one such miracle. This month we want to celebrate the Nelson family – Derek, Desiray, Mackenzie and Elliana.

A little background: Desiray was only 23 years old when their first child Mackenzie was born. Mackenzie had a stroke in utero and as a result her cortex did not develop. She was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Hydranencephaly. The parents were told their baby would not survive past the age of two.

Can you imagine the anguish these young parents felt? But they didn’t give up. The next few years they met with numerous professionals looking for answers. But all they were given was a list of what their child would never be able to do. But under Desiray’s very sweet soft-spoken nature was a core of steel. She was not willing to accept the prognosis and began the search that ultimately brought them to REACH.

We saw Mackenzie for the first time in August 2008, just a couple weeks short of her 2nd birthday. The flight alone from South Dakota to Medford was a major undertaking. The Nelsons faced many obstacles beyond the normal nightmares of flying with children these days, including flight attendants who did not understand that Mackenzie couldn’t sit on her own and a missed flight in San Francisco. These young parents had our utmost respect before we even met them!

From Blindness to Sight…
”The therapists were astonished with Mackenzie’s progress and abilities. They showed Mackenzie several pictures on flash cards then asked her to choose between 2 pictures, and as we would expect, Mackenzie got them all right.”

We fell in love with Mackenzie at first sight. What a little trooper! When we evaluated Mackenzie we found that she was functionally blind, could hear sounds, had no understanding of spoken language and could only make a very limited number of sounds. Her response to pain was inappropriate and her body was so tight that she would cry in pain when placed on her tummy. Her arms were tight and held close to her body and could not be lifted above her head. Mackenzie’s hands were always clenched in a tight fist. Seizures, health, eating and sleeping were all big problems.

We went over our evaluation and explained what we needed to do to get her to the next level. Desiray and Derek were thrilled that we focused on Mackenzie’s abilities rather than her disabilities. We designed a developmental program based on our findings and taught the Nelsons how to carry it out at home. Despite the fact that both parents work full time, with the help of Desiray’s parents and volunteers they have been able to carry out the full program!

Since August 2008, the Nelsons have brought McKenzie to us every 4 months for re-evaluation. So what has changed in Mackenzie’s life since then? I’m sure you’re very curious to find out! She is much looser and can now easily lift her arms over her head. She enjoys spending time on her tummy and can crawl down an inclined plane. Now her response to pain is perfect! She can follow simple instructions and loves to feel soft blankets and hold on to her stuffed toys. Mackenzie is a very happy child who knows what is going on around her and has the most contagious laughter. Her health is excellent, she very rarely has seizures, she eats well and sleeping is no longer a problem.

Mackenzie is about to begin kindergarten. Recently, as part of the entrance process, she was evaluated by the Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls. Here is what Desiray reported to us: “The therapists were astonished with Mackenzie’s progress and abilities. They showed Mackenzie several pictures on flash cards then asked her to choose between 2 pictures, and as we would expect, Mackenzie got them all right.” Yes, Mackenzie not only sees details at near point but she can also recognize pictures!

Desiray went on to say, “Mackenzie evaluated above what was expected of her by the therapists and I was a proud momma!” Desiray went in expecting to once again stand up for her daughter and fight for the opportunity to show what Mackenzie could do. But this time was different. Mackenzie performed and the therapists ended up being believers! Mackenzie has progressed in all areas of ability! What an achievement!

We also often see enormous growth and change in the parents of our children. They live with their child’s problems on a daily basis but choose to focus on what can be done to improve their child’s life. This is true of the Nelsons and especially of Desiray. She is still a soft-spoken person, but don’t mess with this mother when it comes to her children!

Desiray and Derek teach us all important lessons in persistence, determination, and a tremendous appreciation of the miracle of human development and potential!

Family of the Month

Through our work, Charlie and I have the privilege of helping some amazing parents. Many accomplish what some call miracles. From time to time, with their permission, we will celebrate a family by sharing their child’s story with you. We’ll call this our “Family of the Month” post. Charlie and I hope that these families will inspire you, demonstrate the potential of all children and convince you to never accept the status quo!

Today I want to celebrate a family who did REACH’s program for 2 years back in the early 90’s. We had not seen or spoken with them for many years but a couple of weeks ago we ran into dad at our local Grower’s Market. The boy we are featuring is now 25 years old and to protect his privacy, at the family’s request, we are not using their names. However, the father told me that if anyone wants to speak with him directly about his experience to just let us know and he is happy to speak with you.

The reason I chose to feature this family is not only because of their son’s success but also because of their choice to have dad be the one to stay home to raise their son as mom went to work. In our society “stay-at- home” dads are still rare and if “stay-at-home” moms are devalued you can imagine how much worse it is for “stay-at- home” dads! Society often looks down upon them. In two recent blog posts we talked about the importance of good fathering and the negative statistics when fathers don’t do their job. Here we want to celebrate a child’s success thanks to his parents taking parenting seriously and his dad’s extensive involvement with him.

Here is our interview:

How old was your son when you started our program and how long did you do it?

Our son was about six years old when we started the program and we did the program for two years.

What were your son’s difficulties and what was his diagnosis?  

Our son’s most apparent difficulty was the presence of absence seizures.  That was all that would have been recognized and would constitute his diagnosis. However, intermixed with these seizures, which we called “dazes” were tics and some food sensitivities. Other neurological/developmental issues were less apparent, to an untrained eye, and the full constellation of “symptoms” became clearly evident as we embarked on “the program”.

Why did you choose to do our program?

The program made sense. Its fundamental approach and philosophy was sort of self-evident. In our first discussions with Charles and Conceição our paradigm of thinking dramatically and fundamentally shifted. For instance, our son’s seizures were not the problem, but the “symptom” of the problem.  As parents, that essential truth profoundly changed our thinking and has guided us from that day forward in all matters of health. We felt lucky to have Charles and Conceição in our hemisphere, let alone right in our own backyard.

How did the program help your son? How did he change?

We embraced a holistic approach to our son’s health and well-being. We started a diet with an emphasis on organically grown food, embraced homeopathy and pretty much rejected allopathy. We realized from somewhat empirical evidence, that a gluten-free, dairy-free diet might also prove beneficial. We still abide by holistic principles, although diet is much more free now.

Intensity, frequency and duration are the operative words for implementing the neuro-developmental changes we hoped to achieve with our son.  The absence seizures responded accordingly. First they were not as intense, then they weren’t as frequent, then they weren’t as long and then they were gone. It was pretty convincing.

How did the program change/affect you and your wife as parents and you particularly as a father?

As parents, we realized the success of the program and the benefits to our son depended on our full 100% commitment. Beyond trying to be good parents, probably nothing else we would be able to do would have potentially such a dramatic influence. Of course, we didn’t know that going in, but as the program developed noticeable developmental changes became obvious. For instance, fine and gross motor skills that were lacking or behind for his age were now taking shape.

As a father, if you are going to talk the talk, you better be prepared to walk the walk, or creep, crawl, wind sprints or whatever we did which made our son more likely to reach his potential.

In a more general sense, why did you decide to be a “stay-at-home” dad? How did that experience enrich your life?

My wife and I already decided that one of us was going to be home full time raising our son. I was really lucky to be the one who got to stay at home. I have experiences that others don’t, including my wife. There’s joy and guilt that I was so fortunate.
What is your son doing today? Can you give some of the highlights of his journey post-program? 

He joined the Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout; played soccer, violin and piano. He enrolled in a university and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and has a job in his field. When his seizures were the worst, I often wondered if he would ever be able to ride a bike or drive a car. Today, there’s nothing he can’t do. That likely would not have been possible if it were not for the interventions of Charles and Conceição.

Anything else you think parents should know? Any other comments or information you want to share?

You need to have an open mind and be prepared that the world may be different than you believe. The program is not a pill. It takes commitment and hard work. But it’s the only game in town that can potentially pay such powerful dividends.

 

Helping families in need

Providing services to all families regardless of their ability to pay is a constant challenge. There is nothing more difficult for us than knowing a needy family wants to follow the REACH Home Program and not having the funds to help them. REACH receives not a penny of financial assistance from the local, state or federal governments. We depend completely on private and corporate donations and parents who can afford it paying for our services. In an attempt to help everyone, REACH keeps the Home Program fees as reasonable as possible.

But, of course, for some this is still not enough. Some parents give up and settle for services they can get at no cost even though they are not satisfied with their child’s progress. Others become creative and find ways to raise funds. These parents see the REACH Home Program as an important investment in their child’s life. They discover that our Home Program is a lot less expensive per year than private therapy and they get much more therapy and much better results.

We appreciate the extra costs parents have when their children have developmental difficulties. Recently a local doctor referred a six-year-old boy born with half a heart to us. As if the heart problems were not enough, a year ago during his fifth heart surgery he suffered four strokes leaving him with a number of functional problems. You can imagine the medical expenses this young family is facing! So finances were an issue.

Last week, determined to give him a chance at a better future, his family partnered with us to hold a fundraiser called “Piknic in the Parking Lot”, an event that included a silent auction with live music, face painting and a jump house. It lasted for three hours and raised enough in donations to cover the costs for the entire first year of consultations. The families and children had a wonderful time and left feeling proud of the help they were giving to such a deserving family. Now that is what I call a community taking care of one another.

For parents who want to organize a fundraiser to cover their child’s consultation fees with REACH, we are happy to partner with you. The advantage of partnering with REACH is that your community knows that the donations will be used for the intended purpose and they are tax deductible. If you are considering partnering with REACH and would like more information please feel free to contact us. Finally, we are always looking for ways to raise more funds so that we can help more children. If you have any suggestions for us and for parents who need financial help please leave a comment.

Honoring the fathers in my life

As Father’s Day approaches in the United States I can’t help but think of the importance of two men in my life, my father and my husband.

My dad was a workaholic. He grew up on a farm in Portugal, left school in the 2nd or 3rd grade, and immigrated to Brazil in his late 20’s looking for a better life. He was a true self-made man. Starting as a bartender, he worked his way up in the restaurant business and eventually became a part owner of many of the best restaurants in Rio de Janeiro. While we were growing up we did not see him a lot. He was not a hands on father. He disciplined when necessary but left most of the day-to-day childcare to my mother. But when he was around he was a fully attentive and doting father who instilled in each of us the notion that we were special and could accomplish anything if we believed in ourselves and worked hard.

 

My husband, the father of my daughter, on the other hand, was a very different dad. He is a college graduate with an expertise in child brain development and he was not about to be left out of the development of that brain! He was a very hands on dad from the day she was born. He chose to work fewer hours, and therefore have less in a material sense, so he could spend more time with our daughter and be present to see all her milestones. He changed diapers, read books, played games, fed her, put her to bed, was up during the night when she couldn’t sleep or was ill. We were fortunate that we worked together and could therefore organize our schedules so we could take turns working and being home. It was a very conscious decision on his part.

 

Unfortunately, not all men in our country are like my father and husband. In the past 50 years the number of homes without fathers has quadrupled. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in three children grow up without their father; in the African American community, it is two out of every three children. The effect of this on our communities is staggering. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative maternal and child health, incarceration, crime, teen pregnancy, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, education, and childhood obesity are all affected by father absence.

Here are just a few statistics related to father absence: 63% of youth suicides (5 times the average), 71% of all high school dropouts (9 times the average), 85% of all youths in prison (20 times the average), 85% of all children with behavior disorders (20 times the average) and 80% of rapists with anger problems (4 times the average) come from fatherless homes. Clearly, the need for and importance of loving and responsible fathers in our society is of the utmost importance!

Although their personalities and parenting styles were very different, my father and my husband had much in common. They both wanted to give their children what they didn’t have growing up. They both invested their earnings in the best education available for their children. They both wanted their children to know they were loved and valued. They wanted them to grow up to be happy, healthy, well educated, successful and just plain good people who could contribute to a better future. Both believed that being a good father was the most important thing they ever did. Every child should be so lucky!

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month thank the father in your life for what he has done to help make you the person you are today. And for those not fortunate enough to have a present, loving, responsible father let’s hope and pray that other men in their lives step up and take on this important job. The future of our society depends on it!

I’d love to hear about how the dad or father figure in your life affected you.

WELCOME, BIENVENUE, BIENVENIDO, BEM-VINDO!

WELCOME, BIENVENUE, BIENVENIDO, BEM-VINDO!

We are so excited to be launching our new blog along with our new website. This is a place for all parents – parents whose children are thriving, parents whose children are struggling, expectant parents and those of you who one day plan to be a parent! If you want to give your children the opportunity to be their best, this blog is for you!

Charlie and I teach parents about brain development, helping them raise their children purposefully with the brain in mind. We know that parents are their child’s most important teachers and that by teaching parents we empower them to make good decisions and choices regarding their children.

Upcoming posts

Quantity vs. Quality of Time

Brain Organization, the key to success

Why do so many children struggle in school

Nutrition, how important it is for my child’s development

In the course of our work we see some amazing changes – average children thrive, children who are failing turn around and succeed, children with poor social skills become socially adept, poorly behaved children behave appropriately, and sometimes even blind children learn to see, and immobile children learn to move.

While working with the parents of children with difficulties we often get to watch their other children develop also. And develop they do!!! Because our parents learn about brain development and organization, and apply that knowledge to all of their children, we see lots of kids grow up with above average ability and tremendous compassion. Those children will grow up to be bright and compassionate adults!

This blog is an educational tool to help you raise your children with confidence and purpose. We want it to be informative, fun, inspirational and practical. We will cover many subjects related to parenting and raising children, always keeping the development of the brain in mind.

Since our objective is to teach parents and answer your needs we welcome any requests for posts about specific topics that you want us to address. We also want to hear from you so please join in on the conversation. There’s a lot we can learn from each other!

We look forward to helping you. Stay tuned for the next post!