16
Jul

Race and Racism

I want to discuss the pink elephant in the room.  I want there to be open and honest talk about race and racism.  Regardless of where your opinion lies regarding the outcome come the the George Zimmerman trial, there needs to be more talk about race relations in this country.  Not only do we need to have this conversation, our children also need to hear it.
 
It boggles my mind that so many news outlets are saying, "It's not about race."  We will never know to what extent race played a role on the night of Trayvon Martin's death. However, the race discussion is going on as we speak.  It is evident in the L.A. riots from last night.  It's evident on Facebook.  Everyone is talking about race.  However, everyone is tip-toeing around the issue.
 
Now is the time to be open and honest about all the possible ways the race and racism are factors in everyday life.  Race and racism exist and existed.  Why not take the opportunity to talk about Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr? Malcolm X? President John F. Kennedy? Robert Kennedy? Assassinations? Civil Rights Movement?  Let's analyze the past and the present.  Let's talk about how far we have come.  Let's talk about how far we still have to go. No matter what, let's talk.  The pink elephant of race and racism cannot and should not be ignored.  This is a great time to talk to our children about race and racism.
 
Our children will not know about history if we are unwilling to share it.  Lessons learned are important to review.  It is important to have these discussions as a family.  Consider starting this conversation by discussing the history of segregated schools.  Your child may have learned about Brown v. The Board of Education (http://bit.ly/13qEbYe). However, talking about it as a family will leave an indelible mark on our children.  
 
Consider taking them to a museum that shows artifacts from that time period.  Seeing is believing and feeling, especially for children.  I know when I went to the Children's Museum of Indiapolis, I was moved by their exhibit on Ruby Bridges.  She was a 6 year old girl who was the youngest to integrate and attend a "white school" in 1960.  The exhibit is called "The Power of Children: Making a Difference."  Pictures of the exhibit are available online (http://bit.ly/1oxlajs). Use the website as a tool to help you have an open dialogue with your children; the museum has a family guide available in PDF format (http://bit.ly/1tjlk4I). Race and racism a important topics to discuss; our children need to hear it from us, not just school or the TV.
10
Jul

Grateful for Music in the Car

Grateful for Music

Today, I had yet another long commute to work.  But today, all the right songs came on the radio.  It made the ride so much more fun than usual.  I was listening to some fun dance music from the '80s and '90s.  I'm sure other drivers thought I was insane as I danced and sang the whole way to work.  

 
Some days, when the simplest thing goes your way, all the other crazy unpredictable moments become okay. Today, I'm grateful for music.  It reminds me to enjoy the little things - that even a long, lonely car ride can be fun.
9
Jul

Child Sexual and Physical Abuse

It is never easy to see a child who has possibly been sexually abused. It's especially not easy when the family tells you that no one other than family members have every been with, cared for, or babysat the child.  As a pediatrician, I have had to see the pain on a mother's face that not only does she need to consider her child may have been abused, but also it may have been by someone close to her, someone she loves.  It's heart wrenching for everyone involved. Such was the case today.  It moved me to write this, as many people need help or information.

 
Unfortunately, child abuse is common.  The news frequently has reports about sexual and physical abuse.  We often don't think someone we love could hurt our children.  Unfortunately, they can and they do.  The reasons why are complex.  The reasons don't really matter.   The reality is that families are under a great deal of stress.  In addition, children often have special needs.  This puts children at an even higher risk of abuse.  Counseling may be helpful for some families or children.  However, it's important to know the warning signs. Because even if you are not a family with stress, you undoubtedly have people in your life that are dealing with stressful events in their lives.  This may impact you if they have access to your children.  Protect your children at all costs possible.
 
What matters is that you prevent it from happening in any way, shape, or form.  Although we constantly hear about horrendous child abuse, we don't hear or discuss the just as potentially paralyzing cases of emotional and verbal abuse, or even neglect.  Whether it is your child or not, if you see or even think you know of a possible case of child abuse, consider calling in a report.  Even if you are not sure, it will not be held against you.  Chances are you could save a life.  It is anonymous.  You will not be tracked in any way.  Every state has an emergency abuse hotline. In Florida, it is 1-800-FL-ABUSE.  As a pediatrician, I am under a legal and ethical obligation to report any possible child abuse.  Yet, if each of us were more involved with what we see around us, we could help protect all of our children.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics has some very helpful information titled, "What to Know About Child Abuse" http://bit.ly/12BdNf7 and "Child Abuse: What Evry Parent Should Know." http://bit.ly/1aW8IGs
3
Jul

How To Talk with Overweight Teens

It's not easy to lose weight.  It seems even harder to talk about it.  Even though it's everywhere on TV, even though there is a crisis in America, there is still a social stigma about weight.  Now, imagine being an overweight teen today.  It's even harder than before.  Facebook & Twitter have made online bullying easier than before.  More of our children are overweight than before.  And despite the fact that there are more tools to help them than ever before, we still have a problem.  How is is it best to discuss weight with your teenager?

 
It turns out, the best way is to bypass the conversation about weight, diet, and exercise.  That is a sure fire link to failure.  Instead, it may seem like walking a fine line, but talk to them about a healthy lifestyle.  In essence, it is the same discussion.  However, HOW you discuss it affects how they feel they are perceived which ultimately effects the outcome.
 
Portion control is important.  However, if all I do as a pediatrician & all you do as a parent is discuss limitations, it is a set up for failure.  Our weight loss strategy is doomed at the start.  However, if you discuss healthy choices, your teenager is in control of their decisions regarding food.  If we discuss exercising as a necessary part to weight loss, it's another sure fire strategy to failure.  However, if we discuss having fun in a physical activity, then your teenager can feel good about his/her choices regarding physical activity.  
 
First, is education.  We all can improve our healthier food choices.  Education can come in the form of your pediatrician, books, online sites, an a good nutritionist/dietician.  Second, is the ability of the teen to choose for his/her self.  Third, if we follow the same paradigm as our teen, then we are being a good role model for our family.  They are more likely to follow by example.  Fourth, if the family make healthy lifestyle together, it doesn't single out the overweight family member & everyone lives healthier.  Lastly, we need wiggle room to feel okay with the occasional "less than healthy" lifestyle choice.  If it's not a habit, it can actually help out in the long run.  Joining the "not healthy club" can allow the teen to feel less isolated & more like their peers.
 
If we focus on what they "can't eat" & "aren't doing", then we are only focusing on the negative.  Discussing healthy lifestyle choices, allows the overweight teen to be more in control, resulting in a positive outlook on their lives. 
27
Jun

Supreme Court DOMA Unconstitutional

Yesterday, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional "as a matter of equal protection." DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton.  DOMA effectively prohibited legally married same-sex couples from receiving Federal benefits, such as social security benefits, tax recognition, family medical leave, Veteran's benefits, and much more.  In a second ruling, the U. S. Supreme Court affirmed Federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples. This has undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on many children and families of this great nation.
 
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, stated, "(DOMA) ... humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.  The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives."
 
Regardless of political or religious opinion, the rights of children and their financial, emotional, and physical health comes first.  Now that the U. S. Supreme Court has affirmed Federal recognition of same-sex civil marriages, these families and their children, will now have access to legal benefits and a security that they never had before.
 
Every day, we are given a multitude of opportunities to have open conversations with our children.  Given the Court's recent ruling, that DOMA was unconstitutional, now is an important time to talk to our children about tolerance, life's issues, equality & more. 
24
Jun

Flu Deaths | Prevention with Vaccine

The 2012-2013 Flu season started & peaked earlier than it typically does with cases documented as early as September  2012 and peaking in December 2012.  In addition, The past Flu season brought had a higher death rate for both seniors and children.   149 documented children's death occurred due to Flu.  This is about 3 times higher than the average season.  In addition, senior over the age of 65 wet hit hard as evidence that they accounted for more than half of the hospitalization rates in the U.S.
 
While it is summer time, it is important to think about Flu shots now.  Typically, physicals are done in the summertime.  That is also the perfect time to receive the Flu vaccine.  Your child will be protected before the season & before they are exposed to other children when school restarts.
 
For more information about the recent Flu season, disease and vaccine, please go to http://bit.ly/14sECUM and   http://1.usa.gov/19vwc22.
 
9
Jan

New Year's Resolution 2013

 

This year, I'm keeping my New Year's resolutions simple.  The ever popular "weight loss" resolution is not on my list.  This year I want to actually be able to attain some of my goals.  So, here it goes.  I will drink more water every day.  I will exercise more.  I will spend more time in faith .  Notice, I didn't include any deadlines or specific numbers.  Yes, 8 glasses of water per day & 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week are recommended.  And every religion has a set of rules and/or commandments.  However, I have tried to follow recommendations & rules in the past.  When I have failed, I've felt disheartened and very much a failure.

 
So, this year, I'm letting go more.  I'm just trying to do "more."  Perhaps without strict rules, there will be more freedom and success.  Maybe that's the trick. Maybe by letting go, you receive more.
 
So what are your New Year's resolutions?  Do your kids have any?  Keeping it simple is the key with kids.  Consider, "I will eat more vegetables."  "I will make my bed more often."  "I will say, I love you, more."  Maybe you and your children can share some resolutions?  Generally, there is more success in numbers.

If you'd like to find some easy New Year's resolutions for your kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a great article, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Healthy-New-Years-Resolutions-for-Kids.aspx. 

1
Oct

Disney Where's My Water Game

It started out as a cute Disney game app.  "Where's My Water?" quickly became an addictive game.  Poor underground Swampy needs a bath.  A network of pipes, water, steam, mud, locks & so many more obstacles have to be manipulated in order for him to get his much needed water.  It's a wonderful puzzle for your brain.  Over time, Mystery Ducks and Cranky's Story (in picture) have been added.  Good news is that it keeps my child thinking.
 
Bad news is ... I wish I could play.  Alas, he comes first.  So, when he plays, I live vicariously through him.  Angry birds didn't get me, but Swampy ... there's no other like him.  Do you have any addictive games you'd like to share?
8
Mar

Beautiful Skies in Traffic

As I sit in bumper to bumper traffic, I am try to find something positive in this very "stuck" moment.  About 40 minutes later, I decide that maybe if I take a picture of the moment, perhaps I can find the beauty in it.

 

Of course, looking at the picture, I see the clouds pop out. I had focused on the cars and being stuck. However, I had completely missed the sky.

 

Then, at the end of my long ride home, what should appear but a lovely sunset with another enormously large and beautiful cloud above the sunset.

 

Dr Wayne Dyer's words come to mind, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

 

What a beautiful canvas God painted tonight 🙂

 

Wishing you all a beautiful canvas ... tonight and tomorrow too.

14
Nov

Evelyn Lauder Breast Cancer Ribbon

Today, the world mourns the lost of a great health advocate. An advocate that we perhaps we didn't even know we needed. She was an activist and advocate for breast cancer awareness. 

Did you ever wonder who came up with the Pink Ribbon for breast cancer? Evelyn Lauder and her friend, Alexandra Penney, the former editor-in-chief of SELF magazine co-created the Pink Ribbon in 1992. Ms. Lauder was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. She made it her mission to bring breast cancer awareness to the forefront. She made is okay to say the words "cancer" and "breast" out loud. In the past, it was whispered at best. Now, it is a loud roar.

Evelyn Lauder and Alexandra Penney started a breast awareness campaign through the company Estée Lauder and SELF Magazine. Estée Lauder began handing out breast cancer pink ribbons at the counters to its customers. Self Magazine promoted it in their issues with a special annual issue to boot. And it took off from there. Ms. Lauder created the Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign (http://www.bcacampaign.com/). Fundraising efforts linked to the Pink Ribbon supported the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, of which she was the Founder and Chairman. According to her website, http://www.evelynlauder.com/, "The BCRF is the first and largest national organization dedicated solely to funding clinical and/or translational research in breast cancer at major medical centers around the globe." To date, the BCRF has received $350 million in donations. In addition, Ms. Lauder's advocacy helped lead to the congressional designation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ms. Lauder also helped to establish the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Evelyn Lauder is an example of living a full life. Initially, she was trained as a teacher. After marriage into the Lauder family, she joined the company. Eventually, she became Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide at Estee Lauder, creating the famous and successful Clinique line of products. In addition to Clinique, she helped develop the fragrances Beautiful and Pleasures. She was also an accomplished photographer. We can all learn a lot from Evelyn Lauder's life of advocacy and personal fulfillment. Evelyn Lauder died from complications of ovarian cancer at the age of 75 years old.

To learn more about the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the pink ribbon, and breast cancer awareness, please go to http://www.bcrfcure.org/about.html.

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