Most parents with an adult child have faced the temptation to
become critical of their child’s decisions. The transition from age 15 to 20
can be hard on both of you. You’re learning to give him or her space and
they’re trying to make adult decisions on their own.
You’ve given them direction and instruction for so long, it’s
difficult to make the switch to a supportive role, offering advice when they
ask you for it instead of when you think they need it. Honestly, you should not
tell a 23-year-old how you think they should live.
As a parent of an adult child, you have to move away from, “What
I want for you,” and “What I expect from you.” Most adult children refuse this
approach and interpret it as critical or unsupportive of their life goals and
dreams. Instead, say to your son or daughter, “I am observing something. Would
you give me permission to share what I’ve observed?” It’s really hard, but if
they say no, then bite your tongue and back off.
Now there are a lot of young adults still living at home. You
have every right to set very clear expectations and boundaries with a
23-year-old still living in your home. Be careful not to position your
conversation in a way that says, “This is what I want for you,” but instead set
boundaries within the home with words like “Your mom and I are willing to do
this…, and we’d like for you to do that while you are living with us.” Discuss
money. Maybe you want to help with your child’s tuition, car payments, gas.
Will they pay rent, help with groceries? Discuss relationships. Are their
friends welcome to come over? How late are friends of the opposite sex allowed
to stay? Do you expect your adult child to let you know when they’re going to
be late getting home or not coming home at all?
Your child has to make his or her own decisions. But it’s
important to define the things up front that you will and will not tolerate in
your home. Treat him or her like an adult and expect the same in return.
Remember, it’s your home—you set the boundaries.
Parenting continues, but looks very different as your child
enters into adulthood. Your job description changes as you release them into
God’s hands to accomplish what He intends for them. This is an important phase
for you to handle prayerfully and intentionally.
Intentional ONE THING Challenge
If you could do ONE THING and know that it would make a
significant, lasting, possibly life-changing difference in your life, would you
do it? Dr. Carlson shares the power of ONE THING and why you should get started doing your ONE THING
How have you successfully transitioned from parenting a child to
parenting an adult? We’d love to hear your stories. Post your comments.
‘ARROGANT.’ ‘RUTHLESS.’ AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY THEMSELVES
“I feel this team is in the midst of changing the world around us as we live.”— Megan Rapinoe, the United States’ star attacker and the World Cup’s top scorer
When the athletes of the United States women’s
soccer team celebrated their 13 unanswered goals against Thailand in the first
round, they were called “arrogant.”
When they tore past France in the
quarterfinals, they were called “ruthless.”
And when President Trump, responding to a months-old clip of
Megan Rapinoe using an expletive to say she wouldn’t visit the White House if
the team won the World Cup, told her to win
“before she talks,” she and her teammates continued talking.
As the historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
famously said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” On Sunday, the
American women’s team did just that — securing a record fourth World Cup
championship to maintain its reputation as the world’s greatest women’s soccer
team (and one of the world’s greatest sports teams, period).
In the process, the Americans did more than
shine as symbols of athleticism and teamwork; they affirmed themselves as
fighters for equality on multiple fronts.
Here are three ways the team has elevated issues of fairness.
The fight for pay equity
After the American women sealed their victory
in Lyon, France, chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” began to grow inside the
The American team will be awarded $4 million for
its win, while the winners of the men’s World Cup last year received $38 million.
Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, soccer’s governing body, said the
organization would double the total women’s prize for the 2023 tournament — but
it’s also expected to raise the men’s award in 2022.
In 2015, the
United States Soccer Federation awarded the women’s team $2 million for winning
the World Cup. In 2014, the men’s team earned $9 million even though it did not
advance past the first rounds.
Not surprisingly, the women’s national team is
not taking that disparity lying down.
In March, all the players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against
U.S. Soccer, accusing it of years of “institutionalized gender discrimination.”
They also noted that the argument that the men’s team generates more money simply
According to the suit, the federation had
expected a combined net loss for the national teams of $429,929 from the 2016
fiscal year, but largely because of the successes of the women’s team’s, it revised its projections to
a $17.7 million profit.
Defying the sportsmanship
As the United States team rampaged against
Thailand in its first World Cup match last month, the players
leapt and celebrated nearly every goal. Clare Rustad, a former player for the
Canadian national team, called the celebrations “disgraceful.”
Last week, striker Alex Morgan pretended to
sip from a teacup after scoring against England in the semifinal. Lianne
Sanderson, her former National Women’s Soccer League teammate, said the
celebration was “distasteful.”
“I feel that there is some sort of double
standard for females in sports,” Morgan said. “We have to be humble in our
successes and have to celebrate, but not too much or in a limited fashion.”
“You see men celebrating all over the world in
big tournaments,” grabbing their crotches and that sort of thing, she said.
And Rapinoe, when asked about the team’s
celebrations said: “What do you want us to do? We work hard. We like to play
BOTH PARTNERS ARE NEVER EQUALLY SATISFIED IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP
Without extensive research, one might assume that both partners in a romantic relationship would have similar opinions and levels of satisfaction.
This is a myth.
Over 5 million individuals in a committed relationship have confirmed that each romantic partner has their own unique view of the marriage or relationship. Research by Prepare-Enrich has revealed that a romantic partner only has a 25% chance of predicting their partner’s level of satisfaction and opinion of the quality of the relationship.1
The reason this happens is that each partner has their own metrics by which to assess their level of satisfaction in a relationship.
Here’s a potentially fun activity.
Write down what you think gives your partner the greatest satisfaction in the relationship. Do not share this with your partner (yet).
Ask your partner, “What is one thing we do that gives you the most satisfaction in our relationship?”
Compare their answer to the guess you wrote down.
If you find that you are spot on, bravo.
If you find that you are off, congrats! You learned something new about your partner and can do more things that support your partner’s satisfaction in their relationship with you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I had no idea that was important to you.” Even from couples who had been married for decades.
Romantic partners are often unaware of how important a given issue is for their lover, because from their perspective it’s not a big issue, even if their lover has complained about it over and over again.
From Tom’s perspective, his relationship is great. He feels connected and close to Jake. Throughout their four years of marriage, Jake has complained about the lack of time spent together. Tom thought the time spent together was perfect.
Growing up Tom spent a lot of time playing by himself and had the freedom to do things he wanted when he wanted. Furthermore, his mother never complained to his father about how much time his dad spent working in the shop or out golfing. In Tom’s family culture, there was a lot more me-time than we-time.
So when Jake brought this issue up, Tom didn’t think it was a big deal. After all, it had never been a problem in past relationships.
But for Jake, time together signified love and importance. So, when that time together continued to be limited, Jake felt neglected and like he didn’t matter to Tom.
When Jake was able to reveal these hidden emotions and Tom was able to actually listen, Tom was shocked. He had no idea how important this was to Jake.
Putting Your Partner’s Satisfaction On Par With Yours
One of the key differences between happy and unhappy couples is the attitude of a two-person system as defined by Stan Tatkin, PsyD.
“A couple’s ability to operate as a coregulatory team determines the success or failure of that relationship and is fundamental to relationship safety, security, and longevity.” – Stan Tatkin, We Do
This means that if your partner is hurting, the relationship is hurting and as a result so are you.
This means recognizing that your partner has a different perspective and experience of the relationship and you have to check in with them and make corrections so the relationship will work for them and you.
Just as we might see in a three-legged race, you can’t win at the expense of your partner.
This is part of being a member of a two-person team.
You must remember that what satisfies you may not be what satisfies your partner. But if you collaboratively work together you can satisfy the team.
In Tom and Jake’s experience, they learned to honor their unique preferences for me-time and we-time by intentionally dialoguing about how they would spend their time together and how they could make that time more meaningful
During their weekly State of the Union meeting, Tom checks in with Jake about the quality of their time together by asking what Jake liked about the past week, and then asks how this week might look. During this conversation, Jake asks Tom about his alone time and ways they can, as a team, make adjustments to meet both partners’ needs.
Ironically, just having this topic brought up by Tom on a weekly basis has significantly made Jake feel loved and important, even on the weeks when there is the same amount of time together as there was before Tom caught on.
Because Tom makes a conscientious effort to show that Jake’s satisfaction is just as important as his. This is demonstrated by bringing up the question each week.
When you take the time to communicate, truly listen to each other, and team up to make changes in your relationship, you can get closer to having a similar level of satisfaction in the relationship—one that is happy, connected, and meaningful.
This research is cited in The Couple Checkup by David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg, and Peter Larson (p. 8). Furthermore, research indicates that a couple spending more time together does not make their assessment of each other’s relationship satisfaction more accurate. Rather, it gives them the illusion that they are more accurate. Source: Swann, W. B. J., Gill, M. J. (1997). Confidence and accuracy in person perception: Do we know what we think we know about our relationship partners? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 747–757. ↩
This is a paraphrased quote from The Couple Checkup (p. 8) ↩
Being sensitive and caring is usually considered to be a good thing, but if you take it too far then it can end up turning your life into a living hell. This is because people who are over-sensitive often end up being diagnosed with many other debilitating conditions such as severe anxiety or paranoia. Here are the most common signs of being way too sensitive:
1. Your stress becomes real pain.
Inner anxiety can eventually develop into physical pain, such as
headaches and stomach issues. Such symptoms may either be initiated from
accumulated stress, from the suppression of negative thoughts or from a single
incident that was especially traumatic.
2. You care about what others think.
Your anxiety over what others think of you applies to pretty
much everyone you meet, not merely your friends and family. You may feel that
people are analyzing your every move, when in reality your harshest critic is
3. You find it hard to accept critical feedback.
Whether it’s from your boss or your mom, negative feedback really seems to leave a huge impact on you. This is particularly important to be aware of since overly-sensitive people already struggle with their own perception of themselves, and such feedback could further aggravate symptoms.
4. You feel discomfort in large crowds.
Huge crowds are often highly agitating for sensitive people, as
too many things happening at once can overwhelm and exhaust. It goes without
saying that such people would do best to avoid dense cities like New York and
Miami, where emotions on the street are way too palpable.
5. You feel self-conscious in romantic encounters.
Even if you have been with the same person for quite a while,
you still often let your anxiety get the better of you and end up questioning
your partner’s every move. Every minor disagreement feels like the apocalypse,
and you are frequently overwhelmed with emotion in the aftermath.
6. You often feel unhappy online.
Social media makes it all too easy to compare ourselves to others, and this often results in sensitive people feeling even more inadequate than they did before. This can weigh deeply on your mind until they end up affecting your day-to-day life. We’d recommend simply logging off and staying off if it makes you feel better.
7. Bad days impact your sleeping and eating habits.
Bad days turn into more than just a need to blow off some steam but may end up
causing your anxiety to skyrocket, which in turn can affect your eating and
sleeping habits. Usually, you end up focusing intensely on every bad aspect of
the day, replaying scenes in your head until you realize that it’s been hours
since your last meal!
8. You are easily startled by bright lights or loud noises.
Sensitive people are easily startled
by bright lights, loud noises or anything else that is unexpected. Because of
the need to feel prepared for everything, anything that shocks the system is
highly frustrating and a cause for concern!
9. Group outings challenge you.
Group outings are challenging for sensitive individuals because leading a conversation or trying to win the attention of others seems to go against a sensitive person’s passive personality. After such outings, you feel drained and need to recharge your social batteries.
10. Driving is a nightmare.
If you’re a sensitive person, it’s
very probable that you hate driving. While your road rage may not necessarily
be aggressive, you have a tendency to be easily driven to fury when people cut
you off. Rush hour is the largest stressor of all, as anxiety levels increase
and your number of inhibitions disappear.
11. You get ‘hangry.’
After a few hours without eating,
your hunger will consume your mind, causing you to act way more aggressively than
is acceptable. You never meant those things you said when you were hungry, but
now it’s way too late to unsay them.
12. There’s way too much drama in your life.
Your friends are always marveling at
the amount of drama in your life. If you’re finding that your life is starting
to resemble a never-ending soap opera, it could be because you often end up
blowing most stories out of proportion due to your sensitive nature.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. ─ Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
Research shows that about 25 percent of people will experience Empty Nest Syndrome. A syndrome is really a collection of responses that come together to become a pattern or condition. Empty Nest is depressed and lonely feelings that come after your children leave home. Many parents admit that of all the transitions in life, empty nest can be the most difficult. We see an increase in divorce at this stage in life because the children have been the focus for decades.
Let’s look at four facts about the empty nest time:
Life is made of seasons. Ecclesiastes 3 says, in everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven …. There’s a time to be born, there’s a time to die and there’s a time to build up and there’s a time to tear down. There’s a time to raise children and there’s a time to let them go.
Empty nest is one of the many normal losses. The word loss here is used because you’ve been investing in your children every day and now that looks different.
Just because you have an empty nest today doesn’t mean you’re going to have an empty tomorrow. Thirty-six percent of millennials are living at home again with their parents.
Empty nests make room for buried issues to come to the surface. When the last child leaves home, those areas in marriage relationships are now exposed.
Understanding that these challenges may come during this season can help you to navigate them more effectively.
Today’s One Thing
Talk about empty nest with your spouse or a close friend if you’re a single parent. Pray together and ask the Lord to help you understand the season you are in and how to prepare for the seasons ahead.
AT 75, TAKING CARE OF MOM, 99: ‘WE DID NOT THINK SHE WOULD LIVE THIS LONG’
Susan B. Garland
Not many years ago, Lynda Faye planned to spend her retirement gardening in Amherst, Mass., and visiting her eight grandchildren. Not on the list of golden-years pursuits: caring for a frail elderly parent.
Ms. Faye is 75, and her mother, Yetta Meisel, a widow, is 99. The former art teacher fills her days helping her mother bathe, making her meals, picking up medications, scheduling home aides and transporting a wheelchair for excursions.
“Ironically, we did not think she would live this long — she wasn’t all that healthy,” Ms. Faye said, noting years of painful stomach ailments and arthritis. Besides difficulty walking and some cognitive impairment, “she is doing fantastic.”
Ms. Faye and her mother are part of what many experts say is a growing phenomenon: Children in their 60s and 70s who are spending their retirement years caring for parents who are in their 90s and beyond.
of longer life spans, many adult children and their parents are now “aging
together,” said Kathrin Boerner, an associate professor of gerontology at the
University of Massachusetts Boston.
in their late 60s and early 70s thought this would be a time of life when some
of their responsibilities would drop off,” Dr. Boerner said. “Even though it
may be a gift to still have your parents, it can be really rough.”
forcing Ms. Faye to abandon her retirement dreams, her mother’s longevity has
taken a financial toll. In 2001, Ms. Faye, an only child, persuaded her parents
to move to Amherst from Rochester, N.Y. They paid for an addition to Ms. Faye’s
home, where they intended to live. Instead, her parents moved into a
three-bedroom condominium nearby. Ms. Faye and her husband, who is 77, turned
the addition into a bed-and-breakfast suite. “It was fun — I loved it,” she
Mrs. Meisel’s husband died five years ago, she qualified for a state program
that paid some of the costs of home aides. While Ms. Faye ran her B&B, she
paid for round-the-clock care for Mrs. Meisel and her mother’s other expenses by
dipping into a nest egg of about $250,000 that her father left. Within several
years, the money was gone, she said.
On the advice of a financial adviser, Ms. Faye has put her house — with her “fabulous” gardens and an art studio — on the market. The B&B is closed. Ms. Faye and her husband moved into Mrs. Meisel’s condo, and her mother moved into a one-bedroom unit in the same building.
To save money, Ms. Faye cut back on the home aides. She cares for her mother three days a week, and Mrs. Meisel’s Social Security and the state program pay the balance for her care. The $200 left over each month from Mrs. Meisel’s Social Security payment does not cover the rest of her expenses; Ms. Faye said she chips in from a $1,000 monthly pension she receives from a government administrative job.
With no assets of her own, Mrs. Meisel would be eligible for nursing home care paid by Medicaid. “I could have said to my mother, ‘Off to the nursing home with you,’ but I couldn’t say that to her,’” she said. As difficult as her responsibilities are, Ms. Faye said, she considers herself “incredibly fortunate” to have a mother with a good sense of humor and who thanks her regularly.
Dr. Boerner is using a federal grant to study the relationships of 120 parents who are 90 and older and whose children are 65 and older. She found that many late-in-life caregivers, typically daughters, suffer from their own failing health, which can worsen with the stress, physical tasks and isolation that often accompany caregiving. And the financial picture can become dire. “When parents outlive their resources, the child spends resources meant for their own later life,” Dr. Boerner said.
The situation can be difficult enough for families who are close and loving. But if the parent and child had a “toxic” relationship many years ago, the child can become particularly stressed as old resentments bubble up, and the quality of caregiving could suffer, she said.
The deleterious impact on an older caregiver’s health may continue after a parent’s death. One study found that married daughters who cared for their mothers were more likely than non-caregivers to become depressed and to develop high blood pressure. Single men had higher incidences of heart problems than non-caregivers. These conditions persisted after the parent died.
“It’s hard to get rid of these chronic conditions once you have them,” said Courtney Harold Van Houtven, a co-author of that study and a population health sciences professor at Duke University School of Medicine.
To alleviate stress and to stay healthy, experts recommend that late-in-life caregivers take breaks, get regular checkups, maintain social connections and exercise. Ms. Faye said her exercise regimen, Pilates and running her two Havanese through a dog agility course, “helps keep me sane.”
But taking personal time could depend on the family’s ability to pay for home aides, adult day care and other “respite” programs. Medicaid picks up some costs for people with limited assets, but the number of hours allowed differ by state.
To figure out what’s financially doable, it may help to seek professional advice. An accountant will calculate tax breaks for home care and other services. Local senior programs could offer guidance on free and reduced-cost programs, including counseling for burned-out caregivers.
A geriatric care manager can estimate the costs of different kinds of support a parent may need over time, said Steven A. Starnes, a certified financial planner with Grand Wealth Management in Grand Rapids, Mich. With these assumptions, a financial adviser can assess what the caregiver can afford.
A financial review, Mr. Starnes said, may “help people get more comfortable with spending money on some level of support” — perhaps adult day care once a week. But children who are draining their own retirement savings should consider a nursing home that accepts Medicaid, and then pay for restaurant outings and other extras, he said.
“I don’t recommend putting your own financial security at risk to help your parents,” Mr. Starnes said. “Of course, it’s easier for me to say it than for someone emotionally to do it.”
Even when they do not pay for care, many older caregivers make financial sacrifices. In some cases, children, particularly women, are retiring earlier than they planned or are cutting back on hours, experts say.
Margaret Willits, 70, and Judi Flamenbaum, 72, who are sisters, left full-time professional jobs to care for their mother, Frances Silverstein, a 100-year-old widow. The three live in a two-bedroom apartment in Brookline, Mass.
Three years ago, when she was 97, Mrs. Silverstein was living alone in Brookline, and Ms. Willits was working full time as a nurse in charge of assessments at a nearby nursing home. She cooked her mother’s meals, did her laundry and ran errands. “I was no spring chicken, and I was doing all this running around,” Ms. Willits said.
Mrs. Silverstein’s walking ability had declined, so Ms. Willits decided to move her mother into the nursing home, where she could keep an eye on her. Mrs. Silverstein paid the facility with the roughly $20,000 in her Individual Retirement Account, and Medicaid picked up the tab when those funds were depleted.
Four months later, the nursing home closed. The sisters decided their mother would not fare well in another facility, so Ms. Willits found a place large enough for three people. Both sisters are divorced.
Ms. Flamenbaum retired from her job at LaGuardia Community College in Queens and moved to Brookline. Ms. Willits had found another full-time job, and Ms. Flamenbaum planned to care for their mother while her sister worked.
“I loved my job,” Ms. Flamenbaum said. “It was a difficult time, and my friends thought I was crazy. We were going to travel.”
But the demands of caregiving forced Ms. Willits to cut to part-time administrative work she could do from home — a loss of earnings she said put a dent in her retirement savings. She had planned to work for two more years.
Mrs. Silverstein’s Social Security pays for part of the rent and some bills. Medicaid pays for an aide six hours a day for six days a week. When the aide is in the apartment, the sisters visit restaurants and museums, meet friends and go to the movies. “You have to be good to yourself,” Ms. Willits said.
Even with a knee replacement, Ms. Willits can move her mother from a chair to her walker. Ms. Flamenbaum’s scoliosis and osteoporosis make physical work more difficult. If their mother eventually needs additional care, the sisters said, she will probably move into a nursing home.
The sisters said they are preparing for their own longevity. Their apartment building is run by a nonprofit organization that provides a range of services for seniors, and they said they have told their children that they do not expect them to become caregivers. “I would not do this to my child,” Ms. Flamenbaum said. “Put me in a nursing home.”
Mrs. Silverstein says she keeps busy watching CNN and listening to books on tape. Though she and her daughters, she said, “don’t see eye to eye on certain things,” Mrs. Silverstein praised the care they provide.
“Their life has been really rough since I can’t really move too much,” she said. “I am very lucky — they have been wonderful in every way.”
I am a
lawyer, a law professor and a writer. I am also a divorced mother of two young
children. I’m often asked some version of: “How do you excel at work and be the
best mother you can be?”
working mother gets this question, which presupposes that a “work-life balance”
is achievable. It’s not. The term traps women in an endless cycle of shame and
many women, I often prioritize my job. I do this because, as the head of a
single-parent household, I’m the sole breadwinner. My ex-husband, who has joint
custody, is an amazing father and my life would be impossible without him.
Neither of us pays the other support.
My choice is more than a
financial imperative. I prioritize my work because I’m ambitious and because I
believe it’s important. If I didn’t write and teach and litigate, a part of me
would feel empty.
2013, I was the trial lawyer on a case to free an innocent black man improbably
named Kash Register. As a teenager in 1979, because of police and prosecutorial
misconduct and witnesses who lied, he was condemned to serve life in prison for
a murder he did not commit.
years later, he was still behind bars. Even though we had presented the
district attorney’s office with what we believed was overwhelming evidence
of my client’s innocence, it insisted on what was essentially a retrial in
front of a judge.
time, my son was 4 and my daughter was 2. One month before the retrial started,
I moved from San Francisco to a tiny apartment close to the courthouse in Los
Angeles. I went long stretches without seeing my children. They were
lovingly cared for by their father, their grandmother, my son’s preschool
teacher and my daughter’s babysitter. When I would fly home, I was often not
fully present. My client needed me more than my children did. So he got more of
me. A lot more.
these months, my son had a lot of questions. “Why are you gone so much?” “Why
are you always on the phone talking about that guy with the funny name?” I
explained what was at stake. The good guys are fighting the bad guys. If we
lose, it means racism won and a man’s life was destroyed.
you going to win?” he wanted to know.
my job,” I said.
I have missed meetings to
take my kids to the park or a museum, and picked them up early to go to karate
class. Recently, I turned down an offer to teach an extra class for a
significant amount of money because I didn’t want to lose that time with them.
there is always another client to defend, story to write or struggling student
who just can’t wait. Here are things I have missed: my daughter’s seventh
birthday, my son’s 10th birthday party, two family vacations, three Halloweens,
every school camping trip. I have never chaperoned, coached or organized a
my choices make me sad. My daughter’s seventh birthday was the worst. She
cried, and I did everything I could not to. I felt sick to my stomach. But I
had a trial starting the next day, six hours away.
picked the date, not the judge, because I knew that the other side wasn’t
ready. Delaying even a few days would have meant losing a crucial advantage. I
wasn’t going to risk it knowing what was on the line for my client.
I sometimes feel doubt, shame and fear. I know I’m not a “normal” mom, because
my kids tell me so. I remind myself that this does not make me a “bad mom.” I
also remind myself that if I were a dad, I would be getting accolades for all
the times I scheduled a doctor’s appointment or arranged a play date.
proud of what I have accomplished. I am prouder that I can support myself and
my children. But sometimes I wonder if my choices will damage them.
2017, my son’s third-grade class had a midday Thanksgiving potluck. Driving
back from court, I dashed into the Whole Foods, bought the first thing I saw —
a loaf of lemon poppy seed poundcake — and rushed over to school. The room was
full of mothers with a smattering of dads. I was the only person in a suit. I
put the lemon poppy seed loaf on a table, next to another mother’s homemade
stew. My son looked over at me and winced.
After the meal, it was
time for presentations. Each child had been given a piece of orange paper
shaped like a leaf with prompts to answer: “I appreciate my parents because”
and “this helps me to.”
one, the children stood up and read what they had written. Many of them talked
about how much they loved their moms, because they made them delicious food or
gave them a safe place to live.
uncomfortable as I listened, my smile frozen on my face. What on earth was my
son going to say when it was his turn? That he lived in two different houses
and routinely ate boiled hot dogs and chicken fingers while his mother told
true crime stories? That he had once told me, politely, as we sat down to
dinner, “Mom, I think you forgot the vegetable”?
was one of the last children to speak. He stood up and, in a clear voice, said:
“I appreciate my parents for being lawyers because they get people
out of jail. This really helps me reflect, do the right thing and have positive
looked over at me, the barest hint of a smile on his face. I wanted to leap out
of my pint-size chair, raise my fists in the air and yell, “That’s my boy.” I
have his orange leaf on the wall in my office. Sometimes I look over at it when
I’m working late at night.
my kids get it. I think they do. I love them beyond all reason, and their
existence gives my life profound meaning. And I have the same feelings about my
A lot of parenting
questions boil down to: Is this a thing, or is something wrong? We’re doing an
occasional series explaining why certain things seem to happen to your kid (or
to your body or to your relationships) as your child grows. This week, we’re talking
about prenatal and postpartum night sweats.
For this week’s edition, I put
out a call on Twitter for questions about your
weird prenatal and postpartum symptoms — and, wow, did you all deliver. In a beautiful and bizarre
outpouring, you told us about painful carpal tunnel, constipation, thyroid
malfunctions, excess drool, itchy nipples, strange divots in your thighs and
shins that won’t go away, cured aversions to cilantro … the list goes on,
because the human body is a magical, horrible wonderland. I tallied the responses, and by my extremely unscientific calculations,
night sweats seemed to be the most common unexplained symptom from our
respondents (e.g., “I
had to sleep on a beach towel because of all the sweat and the milk leaking”). So that’s what I’m
delving into today.
Q: Are pregnant and postpartum
night sweats really a thing?
A: Waking up with a soaking nightgown during or
after pregnancy is common. In a study of about 430 women published in 2013, for instance, researchers
found that35 percent reported nocturnal hot flashes while they were pregnant, and 29 percent reported them postpartum.
In pregnant women, night sweats peaked during week 30, while in postpartum
women, they peaked during the second week after birth.
Why it’s happening is a little more complicated,
so we asked four ob-gyns and a researcher who has studied night sweats about
what might be going on in your body, and what you can do about it.
Why are pregnant women so damn
The short answer is, we don’t know for sure,
because there’s a lack of systematic research on the topic (more on that in a
bit). But it probably has to do with their ever-shifting hormones.
During pregnancy, there’s a huge rise in the
levels of progesterone and estrogen. Once you give birth, the levels of those
hormones fall off a cliff.
Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and director of the
women’s biobehavioral health program at the University of Pittsburgh who
studies night sweats and hot flashes, said that nocturnal hot flashes in
pregnancy seem to mirror hot flashes in menopause, and that those hormonal fluctuations might
play a role. (Several of the experts I
spoke with said that prenatal and postpartum night sweats were a rehearsal for
menopause … yay?)
Do all pregnant women get hot flashes?
No. While every person who has given birth
experiences these hormonal fluctuations, not all of them get night sweats, and
we still don’t fully understand the underlying physiology as to why this might
be, said Dr. Thurston. More than just hormones are
probably causing the hot flashes, and they don’t just happen at night.
The hormonal shifts are part of a complex set of
changes that happen during pregnancy, said Dr. Jen Gunter, M.D., an ob-gyn, frequent New York Times contributor and author of “The
Vagina Bible.” (Dr. Gunter said she remembered sweating so much at night when
she was pregnant with triplets that she’d think, “my bed is a swimming pool.”)
“There’s an increase in body temperature, and there’s changes in the blood
vessels — they dilate more and increase blood flow to the skin,” said Dr.
Gunter. So some women may find that they’re more sweaty in general, not just at
According to what little research has been done,
African-American women and women with depressive symptoms are more likely to
report night sweats during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Women with high
pre-pregnancy B.M.I.s were also more likely to have night sweats during
pregnancy but not necessarily postpartum.
First, report your night sweats to your doctor
or midwife, said Dr. Dara Matseoane-Peterssen, M.D., chief of general
obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. If you’re
experiencing other symptoms along with night sweats, such as a fever or a
racing pulse, that may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as an
infection or a thyroid issue.
If your sweats aren’t a sign of something more
serious, exercising can be an effective
first line of attack — whether you’re pregnant or not. Dr. Julie Chor, M.D., an assistant
professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago, said there’s some evidence
that women who exercise are less likely to experience nighttime hot flashes
than women who don’t. While experts aren’t sure why this may be, exercising during and after your pregnancy is beneficial to your health in general, so you might as well try it
(as long as you’re following safe exercising guidelines).
Focusing on creating an optimal sleep
environment can help you avoid creating a veritable saltwater marsh in your
bed, too. If your household and energy bill can tolerate it, set your bedroom’s
temperature to around 65 degrees at night, said Dr. Thurston. Dr. Colleen
Denny, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and
gynecology at N.Y.U. School of Medicine, also suggested keeping cool water and a cold compress by your bed, and
dressing in layers so you can take them off as the night, and your sweating,
As a fellow night sweater during pregnancy, my
personal suggestion is to keep a second set of night clothes by your bedside so
that you can make a quick change out of your wet pajamas in the middle of the
night without groping around in the dark.
Why don’t we know more about night
“There are major gaps in knowledge about women’s health and women’s bodies,” said Dr. Thurston. Women
overall have been less likely to be represented in clinical trials, because researchers have
historically been men. And pregnant women in particular are “severely underrepresented,” in part because of fear of
harm to their fetuses. Many of the experts I spoke with mentioned that we’re
just starting to care about the health of the mother, and not just the health
of the fetus, as vital to the overall health of the pregnancy.
But there is also a lack of study on the
day-to-day experiences of women, said Dr. Gunter. Something like night sweats
could just be a “nuisance” symptom — which is to say, uncomfortable but
ultimately not harmful. But these sorts of symptoms could also be associated
with better or worse pregnancy outcomes, and “we don’t know because they
haven’t been studied,” Dr. Gunter said. In preparation for our interview, Dr.
Gunter scanned her copy of the latest edition of a 1,400-page medical text
book, and there were just two lines about sweating, referred to as “increased
cutaneous blood flow” — she couldn’t even find the word “sweating” in the index.
Dr. Thurston emphasized the importance of
reporting these kinds of symptoms to your midwives or doctors, not just to rule
out serious problems, but also to add to the body of knowledge that exists on
women’s health. “The more we know about these symptoms in the medical
community, the more we can generate research around them,” she said.
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15).
When John Benson decided to make some financial investments in a new business venture, he was very excited about the possibilities for a handsome financial return. His business and financial background had served him well. John felt strongly that his wife Jenny would not understand the complexity of his investment, so he casually mentioned it to her. When she asked a few simple questions, John became defensive and justified his plans for investing in the venture.
A year later, after investing a large sum of money, John received a phone call from the investment company. All the investors who had put money in the company were going to lose their investment with no ability to recoup it.
This story could be retold repeatedly across the world. God’s principles for making decisions require input from both spouses, regardless of their level of expertise. If you are not married, make sure you seek wisdom from a few close associates you know and trust.
God has called married couples to be one. If we seek to make decisions independently, then we benefit from only 50% of the intended resource God has placed within our grasp. In marriage this stewardship of decisions requires two people. God blesses this union by honoring the decisions made with the motive of glorifying God and relying on His Spirit to lead in our decision-making process.
Before you make a major decision, get confirmation for your decision from your spouse.
25 LESSONS YOU WILL APPRECIATE WHEN YOU’RE READY FOR A SIMPLER LIFE
When things aren’t adding up in your life, begin subtracting. Life gets a lot simpler when you clear the clutter that makes it complicated.
It’s time to focus on what matters, and let go of what does not.
For almost a decade now, Marc and I have been learning to do just that—live a simpler life.
Not simpler as in “meager.” Simpler as in “meaningful.”
We’ve been working on eliminating many of life’s complexities so we’re able to spend more time with people we love and do more activities we love. This means we’ve been gradually getting rid of mental and physical clutter, and eliminating all but the essential, so we’re left with only that which gives us value.
Our overarching goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the things people fill their lives with, leaving us with space for what truly matters. A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing and stress, but instead contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects we love.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we have zero clutter and complications. We’re human and living in the real world with everyone else. We have a home, possessions, computers, gadgets, distractions and occasional busyness. But we have reduced it to make space.
Today, after finishing up a call with a new course student who’s working diligently to simplify various aspects of her life and business, I’ve been reflecting on this simpler life Marc and I have created for ourselves, and I thought I’d share some of these reflections with you.
Some lessons I’ve learned about living a simpler life:
A simpler life is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. Thus, you are wealthy in proportion to the number of unnecessary things you can afford to live without.
Simplifying is not merely seeing how little you can get by with, but how efficiently you can put first things first, and use your time accordingly to pursue the things that make a difference and mean the most to you.
Overcommitting is the biggest mistake most people make against living a simpler life. It’s tempting to fill in every waking minute of the day with to-do list tasks or distractions. Don’t do this to yourself. Leave space.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. There are so many activities that sound fun and exciting. We check Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and see what others are doing and immediately want to add these things to our lives. But before you let these new ideas get the best of you, remember that by adding too many things to your life, you are subtracting space. And that space is vital to focusing on what matters most.
Distractions are both more tempting and more damaging than we realize. When we fill our lives with distractions, its often because we’re scared of what life might be like without constant social media, TV, video games, snacks, chats, music, etc. Don’t numb yourself with noise. Don’t let distractions hold you back. Control your distractions before your distractions control you.
You can’t live a simpler life if you’re unwilling to change and let go of what you’re used to.
Priorities don’t get done automatically. You have to make time for what’s important to you: time with your significant other, time with your kids, time for creating, time for learning, time for exercise, etc. Push everything else aside to make time. By saying no to more things that sound really exciting, you get to say yes to more of what’s truly important.
Letting go of old routines and habits and building new ones can be hard, but it’s easier if you do a 30-day challenge. Let go of something for 30 days and see how it affects your life. (Letting go of cable TV was one of the best decisions Marc and I made a few years back—no more continuous, distracting noise in our home, and no more advertisements for stuff we don’t need.)
Buying more stuff doesn’t solve our problems. Neither does more snack food or another TV program.
Shopping isn’t a hobby, and it certainly isn’t therapy. It’s a waste of time and money, and inevitably leads to a cluttered life.
When we travel lightly, we’re freer, less burdened, and less stressed. This applies to traveling through life too, not just traveling through an airport.
It’s not how many, or how few, things we own that matters. It’s whether we make those things count. Thus, it’s better to have three good books on your bookshelf that you’re actually going to read rather than 300 you never get around to.
Decluttering your physical space can lead to a less cluttered mental space. These visual distractions pull on us and distract us in more ways than we often realize.
Overthinking is one of the most rampant sources of stress and mental clutter. The key is to realize that the problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of overthinking you’re doing with the problem. Let it go and be free.
Positivity always pays off in simplifying outcomes. So before you waste it on anger, resentment, spite or envy, think of how precious and irreplaceable your time is.
Stay out of other people’s drama. And don’t needlessly create your own.
A simpler, more positive mindset can be created anytime and anyplace with a change in thinking. Because frustration and stress come from the way you react, not the way things are. Adjust your attitude, and the frustration and stress evaporates.
The simplest secret to happiness and peace in the present is letting every circumstance be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and making the best of it.
Gratitude always makes life easier to deal with. Because happiness comes easier when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
Make mistakes, learn from them, laugh about them, and move along. Waste not a minute on outcomes you can’t control.
There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.
The truth—your truth—is always the simplest path forward. If you listen closely to your intuition you will always know what is best for you, because what is best for you is what is true for you.
The feeling you get from doing something important (and true) is far better and less stressful than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were doing it.
For the cynics out there who might say the list of lessons above is too long to be “simpler,” there are really only two steps to simplifying:
Identify what’s most important to you.
Eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.
Of course, that advice is not terribly useful unless you understand how to apply it to various areas of your life… which is why I gave you the lessons above.