NY Times, “Raising a Moral Child”–What Matters Most?

Recently, a friend sent me the New York Times article entitled, “Raising a Moral Child” by Adam Grant.  

As parents, we all (or most of us) strive to raise children who are essentially, “good” and happy (as much as possible).  But what does “good” look like and how do we create that in our offspring? And how much does future success play into this equation?  According to this article, around the world more people care about raising kind children rather than successful children.  But they also point out that no matter what you value, it seems two strategies work above all: praising effort and modeling good behavior yourself.

The famous book Nurture Shock heavily researched the importance of praising effort above abilities (i.e. “You did such a great job with this book report, I saw how hard you tried” rather than “Your book report is great, you are SO Smart”).  The thinking is that effort is something we control- and can therefore repeat and improve on, whereas ability is either there or it’s not.

But does that approach work across the spectrum of behaviors? According to this article, it does not.  In fact, they conducted some studies and found that when it came to doing good deeds, “children were much more generous after their character had been praised than after their actions had been. Praising their character helped them internalize it as part of their identities.”

So, um, which overly-thought-out, self-analytical approach is a parent supposed to take?!? Apparently, age matters – at five, the attachment to identity wasn’t strong enough to have an effect and by ten, the identity was too strong.  8 is apparently the magic number for this approach.

The piece also discusses how we treat bad behavior – guilt vs. shaming – another interesting examination. At this point in the article, I found myself straining to think of specific times I’ve disciplined and if I shamed or guilted. I also felt like parenting can’t just boil down to waiting for our kids do “wrong” or “right” and reacting to that. And this is when they bring up the most important part: Above all, what matters most, is not what children here but what they SEE.    

We’ve all heard this before, but the more I read on, the more I really thought about how my behavior models their growth and morals.  I’m not at some major turning point, but I really am going to try to be aware of this in a much more conscious way – maybe even purposefully try to make sure they SEE me being giving, empathetic, patient and understanding.

Part Two of Interview with Harvard Doctor – C-Section Focus

Last week, I wrote about a product from Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, MPH, a radiation oncologist and mother of four who launched a company called Best Friends for Life (or BFFL) (which included a discount code for her amazing New Delivery Bag, so be sure to check the post if you haven’t yet!)

Below, I’m posting part two of our interview where she answered my questions about birthing, C-sections, hormones and mommy-pooches (i.e. the ever-present-refuses-to-leave belly fat).  She has really intellectual and thought-provoking views on these topics, definitely worth reading!

Q: Do you feel C-sections are being “overused” and that women are not cautious enough before undergoing this procedure ?

I will never judge another physicians decision about whether a woman “needs” a c-section or simply wants one for convenience and control issues.  The national average is 30% which is about a third of all births.  A c-section is major surgery and not without risks such as infection, bleeding, and even other serious complications.  When I hear women say that they want a c-section so they don’t ruin themselves “down there,” I cringe.  That just doesn’t seem right to me.

Q: How can someone best avoid a C-Section if they want vaginal birth? What might they not know?

 If you want to avoid an unnecessary c-section, you should discuss a birth plan with your OB and ask for the c-section average in his/her practice. If the c-section rate is over 50% and you don’t want one unnecessarily, interview another doctor.   Try to avoid scheduling an induction—sometimes the warning that the baby is “huge” doesn’t end up being the case.  Consider hiring a doula to coach you through labor; epidurals do tend to slow labor, so if you’re game, try natural—you get it over with faster and you usually recover faster.  I always tell people not to think that a c-section means no pain—you’ll end up with a scar and 6 weeks recovery, at least.

Q: How to best get rid of the post-birth “shelf” (the ‘lump’ of fat/swelling, etc. we all get in lower abdomen).  Is there something specific to do immediately? What about months later?

I called it the “pooch,” and the sooner you lose it after delivery, the better.  If you’re reading this now, and you’re still pregnant, try to limit your weight gain.  Most physicians recommend keeping it at about 30 pounds.

The best strategy after giving birth involves a healthy diet, lots of walking and try to get it off as fast as possible.  The longer you wait, the harder it will be to lose the weight.

The other thing to remember is that most people aren’t looking at your “pooch” after you give birth, just get out of maternity clothes and try to emphasize your great arms (from carrying baby) and your beautiful décolletage.


Q: I see you are a radiation oncologist, and one topic many moms are concerned with a bit after baby is contraceptives – do I use hormones, non-hormones, etc. What’s your view on hormone-based contraceptives and links to cancer? 

Hormones are a cause for concern.  When considering birth control pills or hormone methods, make sure to discuss your family history of breast or ovarian cancer with your OB.  Your partner will be willing to try other methods if it’s risky for your health.


Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Becoming pregnant and then a mother will be the most important and intimate “second job” that you will ever take on.  If you have a career, don’t feel like you need to make a rash decision whether to continue after you have your baby.  Take your time and try to keep all options open. If you have financial restrictions, think of creative ways to keep your job and see your baby as much as possible.  Never close any doors in a hurry, you never know when you will need to work outside the home, and there should be no guilt or pressure either way.

Remember to take care of your own health, in addition to your new baby.  Get as much sleep, exercise and eat as healthy as possible.  Work on your relationship with your baby’s father/your partner.  It’s important to have someone there to raise that baby by your side and to help you in all ways.  Lastly and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all learn from our mistakes.  It’s recovering that matters.





Discount: Mommy Bag Featured on Katie Couric + Important Info from Harvard Doctor!

Recently I was introduced to Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, MPH, a radiation oncologist and mother of four who launched a company called Best Friends for Life (or BFFL).  This website is chock full of important health information for moms and expecting moms (and yes, she was educated at Johns Hopkins and Harvard.  So, she be smart).

Dr. Thomson also decided to create a line of items dedicated to hospital patients, including the “Mommy Delivery Bag” – an adorable bag that houses everything you need for the hospital when you bring that baby into the world! She really did pick the absolute BEST products- like their axillapilla® pillow, perfect for nursing (SO smart), the bio-oil for scars, and cute little packages to organize everything (details below). The pillow is so good in fact, that it was featured on the Katie Couric show! The bag is super cute, it actually makes you excited to go to the hospital.

Now, here is the best part – Miami Dearest readers can receive a 15% discount on this bag by using the code “FRIENDOFMIAMIDEAREST” (all caps) at checkout.  It only lasts until the end of the month though, so hurry up!

I spoke to Elizabeth about the bag itself, why she chose each item, and general women’s health care issues.  Today is part one of two – all about the cute bag.  Later this week, I’m going to post part two of this interview where we get into mom health issues such as the rise of C-sections (and if this is good, bad, or otherwise), using hormones for birth control, and getting rid of that famous “mom pooch”.  Yes, discounts are fun, but so is health awareness – especially if it means a flatter stomach :) So be sure to tune in later this week for the second half of this piece!

The bag itself is made of lightweight, stain resistant pack cloth, has metal feet to keep the bag off the hospital floor, and is roomy enough room for clothing and other essential personal items. It’s also great as a general mom-bag, btw, did you see the STAIN RESISTANT part?

Q: Dr. Thompson, tell me what is in the new Mommy Delivery bag? Why did you choose to include each of these items?

A: I put the Mommy/Delivery BFFLBag together to take the guesswork out of packing for the hospital.  Moms are so busy and everyone is looking for practical ideas that simplify their lives.  So, I just packed a bag the way I would want it—both as a mother and as a physician—all the things I hoped a patient would already have.

The bag itself is a beautiful, multicolor striped duffel, which makes it perfect for post-recovery trips to the gym or the beach.  It comes loaded with essentials for labor and delivery, including:

  •          Toiletries to look and feel fresh before and after labor
  •          Earplugs for a quick cat nap
  •          Amusements to keep you occupied while waiting
  •          Note pad to jot down baby names and your to-do list
  •          Cards to get a head start on thank you notes
  •          Flip flops for that wonderful first shower
  •          Cozy socks and pashmina so you can stay warm and look great in those first new mom-shots
  •          A nursing/comfort pillow the “axillapilla” for the ideal position
  •          C-section incision supplies, maxi pads, and perfectly shaped ice packs for “down there”
  •          Mybody® skin care sampler to maintain that glow

NOTE: The bag also contains a collapsible water bottle, nursing pads, Bio-Oil for scars and stretch marks, and KIND bars (so brilliant, I forgot to bring snacks for myself, and the minute those meds wore off, I was starving beyond belief).