Mums on a Mission
As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I’ve seen a lot in my 30+ years of practice. I’ve seen babies born, children get sick and get better, and I’ve seen children die. I’ve seen more of this than most people see in a lifetime, many lifetimes.
I’ve seen too many babies born to drug-addicted mothers. The mother’s drug addiction is something far stronger and more powerful than I can comprehend because they cannot stop it even knowing the harm that it is causing their unborn child. These innocent little newborns, within hours of birth, suffer the painful withdrawal from opiates. Much the same way an adult withdraws, they cry, they shriek, they’re highly irritable, they have tremors that can lead to seizures, they can’t sleep, they scratch and sneeze and yawn, and still can’t sleep. In the hospital, we help them to wean off the opiate that they have been supplied with for 9 months in utero. This can take up to six weeks.
I’ve taken care of a two-year-old boy with a very small head due to an underdeveloped brain because his mother drank a pint of blackberry brandy every day of her pregnancy. I’ve witnessed some amazing things too. I’ve attended the delivery of quintuplets. I’ve cared for conjoined twins attached at the chest. I’ve seen numerous babies born between 1 ½ and 2 pounds survive and grow into healthy young children.
I have also seen kids born into families of wealth and privilege who had no rules or boundaries set on them, leaving them at a loss for guidance, leading them into serious trouble or landing them in the pediatric intensive care unit. I have worked with parents who just didn’t understand what their kids needed – they felt like failures as moms because they didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what was right for their child.
In all of the thousands of newborns and children I’ve cared for, they all have one thing in common. Kids are dependent on us as their parents for everything. They are at our mercy. They are helpless, vulnerable little beings when they are born. As they grow they are looking to us to teach them about life. They are innocent, open, little sponges that absorb everything. They take in everything we say, we do, we teach, the behavior we model. They pick up on the unspoken communication, the nonverbal gestures, even the energy we emit. What they receive from us is their ultimate guide because we are their world. That gives us parents tremendous power and influence over our kids. Do we all know what to do with this power? And do we know how to best provide for and serve our children? I believe that most of the time we do. But what about those challenging times of tantrums, fighting, arguing, not doing what you ask? Why do kids behave the way they do and how can we get the best behavior out of them?
Behavior stems from certain needs not being met. We all have needs that suit our unique personality. So do kids. Some of their needs are physical, but most of them are emotional. When these needs are not met, challenging behavior comes out. Behavior is simply the symptom that something deeper is going on. Some kids need to move a lot – run, jump, explore, while others need time to rest and be quiet. Some kids need structure and to know the rules. Some kids need less structure and more freedom. Some kids need a lot of time alone. Other kids need a lot of time with friends and social activities. Some kids need frequent reminders and direction to get through the day, other kids need the space to figure things out on their own. They’re all individuals, with their own emotional needs. When their needs aren’t being met then things don’t feel right to them and they act out. Their unique needs drive their behavior, their temperament, and their personality. Because they are dependent on us, they’re counting on us as their parents to meet these needs. Once we understand what they need from us we are able to provide for them
Do you know what your child needs to grow and thrive? Do you know why he or she has a meltdown or gets in trouble at school or acts out in a particular way? Once we understand what they really need from us then we are able to provide it to them so that they can feel better about themselves, confident and in control of their behavior. That is what makes for happy kids and confident moms. Well-adjusted kids and successful moms – that is what ‘Mums on a Mission’ is all about.
Julie is a parenting coach and a child health expert. She has worked in pediatrics for over 30 years, as a pediatric nurse practitioner and as a pediatric acupuncturist. She has three sons of her own, now in their 20’s. Julie works with parents in helping them navigate the challenges of parenting. She shows parents different ways of approaching their kids’ behaviors and what to do when the same old routine of trying to correct the behavior isn’t working. These new approaches relieve the stress and confusion of parenting, making life a whole lot easier.