Having a Baby with Down Syndrome (poll)

Baby hand and footLast month, someone very close to me (I will call her Naomi) went through a very tough decision. She discovered on the 19th week of her pregnancy she was carrying a baby with Down Syndrome. Although she works as a social worker, she had no doubts about what she was going to do, but the people around her were not so sure.

Down Syndrome can be detected during pregnancy by checking the amniotic fluid (Amniocentesis) or after birth by a quick physical test. In 1866, a British physician named John Langdon Down described the condition. Almost 100 years later, Jerome Lejeune discovered it was caused by an extra copy (whole or part) of the 21st chromosome. The chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome is 1 in 733, but it becomes more common with the age of the parents.

Apart from very distinctive facial features, the average IQ of kids with Down Syndrome is 50, as opposed to the general IQ average of 100. Their health is very poor and their life expectancy is very low, and even though their life expectancy is increasing, the intellectual and physical disabilities remain part of their life and the life of their parents.

Would you keep a baby with Down Syndrome?


Happy Holidays from Family Matters

Thank you cardWe are taking some time off from researching, coaching and writing and heading off on a family vacation. After all, this is why we do what we do – to help ourselves have a better family time together.

It has been an awesome year for us. We were very proud and happy that our daughter Eden, our happy thought, joined us in writing this year. We have had many personal achievements at work, in our relationships and with our kids. The only wish we have for ourselves is that next year will be even better. Better is a good formula for a happy life.

We want to thank all of the 150,000 readers we have had this year and give special thanks to all those who have posted comments, shared their opinions and contributed to the community of parents and educators around this blog. Whatever your personal views, we love to read them and engage in a discussion on the important aspects of parenting with you.

Read more wishes for the holiday season

Handy Family Tips (11): Electric toothbrush

Braun electric toothbrushYes, the toothbrush does a great job.

Yes, the ability to change brush heads is a great idea.

Yes, the family pack is a great idea.

Yes, a single charger for two motors is excellent.

Yes, having 4 little compartments to hold 4 brush heads is awesome.


What is that silly idea with the colorful rings at the bottom? When the heads are inside the container, how can you tell if this is your brush or belongs to your partner or child?

Read more about my handy electric toothbrush tip

Handy Family Tip (7): Smelly bins

Rubbish binsI hate it when we are ready to take the rubbish bin outside and it drips. Yuck! I remember when we lived in the USA and there were garbage disposers (insinkerators) everywhere, I never had that problem. Oh, how I loved it. Without the garbage disposer, I have a feeling our home is a garbage production facility, exactly like the animals thought in the movie “The Hedge”. We have so much trash it is not funny.

Rubbish is not something people talk about much, but in a business course, the instructor once asked us what would happen if for one week, one week only, the cleaners (or garbage collectors) did not come to work?

It is different when we talk about a family, but in a sense, a family is like a small business, so what happens if one day, the cleaners do not show up for work or when the bin is overloaded?

Smelly bins are something I really hate and over the years, I have tried many things to overcome the smell.

Read more about how to handle smelly bins

From the Life Coaching Deck (3): Hyperactive Kids

Hyperactive boyOver many years of work, I have seen many kids whose parents claimed they had ADD (Attention Deficit disorder) and/or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and wanted to know what I thought about giving them Ritalin.

Luckily, I am not a doctor and I do not need to prescribe medication to kids, but when parents want my opinion, I usually say, “Try as many other things as you can before you consider Ritalin”.

In fact, this happened to me again recently.

Luke is a 6-year-old boy who came to see me because he was diagnosed with (are you sitting down?) ADD, ADHD, autism, Asperger Syndrome, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The doctor was pushing the parents hard to put him on Ritalin, but his mom did not like the idea. She changed his diet and said there was a significant improvement at first, but felt that after 6 months of a strict diet, the effects had worn off and he was becoming more agitated and getting into trouble at school again.

Read more about how to treat hyperactive kids without medicine

In Excess

Old farmhouse In the not-so-distant past, most people lived in small places and had to do things themselves. They grew crops, cared for animals, sewed their own clothes, built their own houses, met the same small group of people from childhood to old age and learned about the rest of the world only when strangers came to town.

When something broke, those “olden days” people had to fix it themselves or take it to a specialist, such as the blacksmith or the cobbler. Time was cheap and materials, like metal and medicine, were very expensive and hard to get. There was a lot of time, so life was slow. There was a lot of space and travel was slow, so there was little change.

The world’s culture evolved around this lifestyle. The main values taught to kids were self-sufficiency, industry, thriftiness, modesty, discipline and courtesy. When they grew up, they also learned faithfulness and responsibility.

I have a feeling your parents may have tried to instill some of these values in you too, even if your life was quite different. I know mine did, as did the parents of all my friends.

The general focus of people was on getting things and keeping them. There was little choice, so what people got, they enjoyed.

Today, life is radically different for most people. Most people live in big cities, have easy access to large amounts of food, drink, clothes and other goods and are exposed to a never-ending stream of high-pressured information through the TV, the radio, the Internet, the mobile phone, printed media and various other means.

The general focus of people should be on choosing things and enjoying them. But it is not.

Read more about how to relax

People are Dying!

Junk foodMy friend said to me, “Look around you. There are more sick people than there ever were. The food we are eating is not nutritious enough. There is too much antibiotics in meat, too much processed food and too much cancer. People are dying because of extra use of chemicals in their life. What’s your opinion?”

I had to make a decision on the spot. I knew she wanted me to support her for her kids to recognize it as something “all mothers think”, not just her being fanatic. The problem was that it was just her being fanatic.

I said, “Really?! I am looking around and I’ll tell you what I see. My dad is 77 years old and he is a pretty healthy person. My mom is 71 years old and loves doctors and medication. 6 years ago, she came to visit us and we travelled around the North Island of New Zealand for 12 days. We spent most of the day on our feet and even trekked (with then 3-year-old Noff) for about 6 hours. My mom did very well and she was 65 then. My dad did even better than she did and he was 72 years old. I am looking around and what I see is that those sick people who eat junk, food that is not nutritious enough, consume too much antibiotics with their meat and gobble up cancer-inducing processed food, those people live longer”.


Before you think I am crazy, here are the facts.

Read more about junk food and life expectancy

How to Keep Your Kids Healthy

Happy healthy girlHealthy kids are every parent’s hope and prayer. I remember during my pregnancy, while everyone was talking about the sex of our baby and our plans and wishes for its future success, the older people said, “The most important thing is that you have a healthy child”. We joked about is as an old people’s saying.

I turned into an “old person” when my 1-year-old daughter Eden was sick with pneumonia. She was on antibiotics for 6 months because as soon as she got off it, she got sick again. By the time she turned 2, she had had pneumonia for 6 months. We were at the mercy of the doctors and their medication, taking her to the hospital and worrying about her health. The head of the children’s ward at the biggest hospital in our area, who saw her for 6 months at his private clinic, said to us, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your daughter is asthmatic. She will have to be on medication 6 months out of every year, so you’d better get ready”.

She was just so young and fragile and we were so scared we understood why those “old people” had wished her health.

Our life changed when we took responsibility over our own health and Eden’s and realized we had the power to raise healthy, happy kids.

I believe that kids’ health (and their parents’ health) is an important part of parenting. I am in a constant search for tips and tricks to keep my kids healthy, so I decided to ask the Top Parenting Bloggers about their attitude towards ensuring their kids’ health.

Read more about how to keep your kids healthy

Model Parenting

Thin young model We happened to watch a TV piece on top models’ body image, eating habits and self-inflicted damages.

Top model Jessica Gomes (24) said the pressure on models to be slim was enormous and that models are afraid to miss out on work opportunities in the highly competitive fashion industry, so they use some excessive methods to keep themselves trim. She said models run for days on a mix of lemon juice and maple syrup, which also “cleanses”. To keep their energy up and be able to work, they drink coffee and use Cocaine.

The article mentioned Ana Carolina Reston (see her in the pictures), a famous Brazilian model who died from Anorexia at the age of 21, weighing 40kg (88lbs). Her mother told the press Ana had eaten nothing but apples and tomatoes for 2 months before she died.

Although the article did a very good job showing models who decided to eat normally and still got excellent jobs, Ronit and I were left with a very painful question:

Where are those top models’ parents?

Read more about model parenting

Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (11): Government Policy Suggestions

clip_image002[3]Parenting and families are important parts of our society. However, many decisions made by governments recognize the role of parents in building the future only partly. Unfortunately, ignoring the important role parents play in building our society has a direct impact on every section of our life.

When parents cannot support themselves, it is hard to expect them to support their children. Many of the skills required to be a good parent cannot be developed from feeling enormous love towards the kids. I used to say that “love is the answer”, but although love is the foundation of parenting, it is not enough in order to raise healthy, happy, good, smart, social, successful and contributing citizens.

Governments can support parents by investing in the right places to prevent greater expenses in the future. For example, if parents could support their kids’ health and wellbeing, the health system could be smaller. If parents could support their kids’ relationships or to manage their finances, the welfare system could shrink and the government could invest more in development, infrastructure and economic growth.

This week, I asked the top parenting bloggers for suggestions we could give government policy makers to support parents and improve parenting and here is what they thought about it. It is interesting to read what they think. Enjoy!

Read more about government parenting policy changes