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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

10 Tips for Vacation Planning for Children of Divorce

posted by Linda Mintle

child playingSummer and holidays can be a time of challenge for children of divorce. It may be unsettling for a child to vacation with a non-custodial parent. From the child’s point of view, he/she will be in strange places, with strange people, with a parent less familiar with daily habits and needs. This may create some fear and anxiety about the vacation time.

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So if you are a non-custodial parent planning a vacation with your child, or you have custody and are wondering how to prepare your child to be with the non-custodial parent, here are some suggestions to make your child feel more comfortable.

#1–You and the non-custodial parent make vacation plans for your child together. As incredible as this sounds, it will be easier on your child if you both work together. Arrangements should be made in advance and agreed upon.

#2–The itinerary for the trip must be shared. The custodial parent needs to know where the child will be–phone numbers and addresses. I know some non-custodial parents resist this idea but in case of an emergency, the custodial parent needs to know how to find his/her child.

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#3–Send copies of important medical information on the trip. The non-custodial parent needs to know how to handle a medical emergency or problem and have the pediatrician’s phone number, insurance information and medical records.

#4–Be careful not to put guilt on your child. Your child should never be made to feel guilty because he/she is going on vacation with the other parent.

#5–Work out any disagreements about the vacation away from the child before the vacation. Don’t put your child in the middle of disagreements between you and your ex.

#6–Plan for separation anxiety. Send a photo with your child. Include his/her favorite blanket, pillow, animal or toy. Discuss ways to communicate–email, telephone, post cards or letters.

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#7–Be positive about the vacation. Talk nicely about the non-custodial parent and help your child anticipate a great time.

#8–Normalize fears and anxiety. Tell your child it’s normal to feel a little anxious. Hopefully, that anxiety will fade as the trip progresses.

#9–Send a camera and smile at the time of pick-up. Now is not the time to bring up unresolved issues with your ex.

#10–Pray. Keep the non-custodial parent and the vacation on your prayer list. Pray for protection and positive interactions between parent and child.

 

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Autism Risk Linked to Newborn’s Placenta

posted by Linda Mintle

baby feetOne in 50 children are now diagnosed with autism (CDC). Right now, there are no definitive tests to tell whether a child will develop autism, but we know that the earlier we detect autism, the better we can serve a child.

So how about detection at birth?

A new study by Yale researchers and UC Davis’ MIND Institute discovered a tool they can use to detect who is likely at risk when a child is born. The study looked at the abnormalities in the placenta at birth. Specifically, researchers found abnormal folds of placenta in newborn children. Placenta is responsible for feeding nutrients to a baby and removing waste from his or her blood. It is discarded at birth so easy to use for detection.

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Based on the placenta, researchers could identify whether or not that child was the younger sibling of an autistic child, a risk factor that puts a child nine times more at risk for developing the condition. Kliman, the senior author, discovered that the placentas from women whose older children had autism was remarkably different from those who did not. Interestingly, when researchers at UC Davis’ MIND Institute (who have also been studying the causes of autism)  sent 217 placenta samples to Kliman, he was able to correctly identified 90% of them coming from a younger sibling of an autisitc child.

Risk doesn’t mean autism is automatic. The study has to follow these babies who were identified in order to determine which of those children will actually become autistic.

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But finding this marker will allow researchers to identify the genetics that set the stage and the environmental triggers involved. Cheryl Walker, the study’s co-author and assistant professor at University of California, sees obesity, nutrition, weight gain or diabetes in the mother, and exposure to chemicals that disrupt hormones factors as influencers of fetal growth and tissues, like those in the placenta and the brain.

The take away for parents: The test can be done even before delivery and if the marker is found, early intervention, when the brain is more open to change, can be done. Again, the marker only means the child is at risk. Further studies will follow those kids and see which ones show signs of autism.

 

Source: Biological Psychiatry. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health; the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis; Yale University Reproductive and Placental Research Unit; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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A Spiritual Take on Angelina Jolie’s Decision to Fight Cancer Risk

posted by Linda Mintle

So many families have been touched by cancer that just the mention of the word is scary to hear and often feels like a death sentence.  While this is not always the case and many cancers are treatable, the fear is often tied to better known risk factors and more awareness. This week, actress Angelina Jolie brought that reality to the forefront by going public with a personal decision she made.

Jolie is a carrier of the gene defect (BRCA1) that greatly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. According to reports, once the genetic marker was found, Jolie was given an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. With surgery, her risk dropped below 5%. The risk is different for every woman. The AP reported that while Jolie’s risk is high, only 5% to ten percent of all breast cancers are linked to the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes. The gene mutation is rare.

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Jolie, given the odds, had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. Her mother died at age 56 from ovarian cancer and Jolie wanted to increase her chances of being alive to raise her children. She felt empowered by the decision and went public to help other women know their options.

Dr. Lyndsay Harris, The Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Case Western Reserve University wants you to know that there are other options for those with a family history of breast cancer—regular screenings every six months with mammograms alternating with MRI, medical therapy to greatly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, and removing the ovaries to prevent ovarian and breast cancer.

In the end, what may have been right for Jolie, may not be right for other women.

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When my mom was given a cancer diagnosis twice in her life, we naturally felt afraid. But as a Christian family, we took this fear to God. We prayed for healing, we consulted doctors, agreed to certain procedures and said NO to others. We allowed the Holy Spirit to lead us. Both times my mom was healed of cancer. She lived to be almost 85 and did not die from cancer. Others I know, had different outcomes and their faith and petitions to God were no less than ours. Ultimately, God holds our days in His hands.

For the Christian, the decision regarding prevention and treatment needs to be steeped in prayer, not fear-based, but made with solid information and wise counsel from treating physicians. CANCER is a word that challenges our propensity to fear. The words of 2 Timothy 1:7, encourage us not to react in fear, not be empowered in our own strength, but depend on God to lead and guide us. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. If you are facing the risk of cancer, be empowered by our God, who alone is wise.

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Do not be anxious about anything (cancer), but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (decisions). And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7.

People of faith are not alone in decision-making. God listens to our requests and asks us to bring all things to Him in prayer. If you face a tough decision like Angelina did, take it to God in prayer. Be led by His Spirit. Whatever you feel led to to do, rest in His peace.

 

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Would You Do What Angelina Jolie Did?

posted by Linda Mintle

Some would call it a brave move. Others might see it as fear based.

Angelina Jolie revealed that she underwent a double mastectomy to prevent getting breast or ovarian cancer. According to the New York Times, Jolie tested genetically positive for the BRCA1 gene that greatly increases a women’s risk for ovarian and breast cancers. Her mother died at age 56, from ovarian cancer. Jolie wants to be around to raise her children and says she is sharing her story with the public in the hopes of bringing awareness to one way of preventing these types of cancers.

The National Cancer Institute tells us that the gene BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genetic mutations associated with the risk of ovarian and breast cancers. The genes can be determined by a blood test at a hospital or doctor’s office and sent to a lab that specializes in these screenings. The cost of the test ranges from hundreds to several thousand dollars, and may or may not be covered by insurance. For a celebrity, that is not a problem, but for the average woman, cost can be prohibited.

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Dr. Michael Sabel, associate professor of surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School says, “The dilemma we’re facing is more and more women are choosing to remove both breasts. We’re greatly overestimating the risk of women with breast cancer developing another breast cancer.”

Do you agree?

Would you get tested for the genes if cost wasn’t an issue?

If you tested positive, would you have a double mastectomy like Jolie did?

Let’s get the conversation started.

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