Amy from The Thoughtful Parent on Child Development
Tell us more about yourself, your family, and why you decided to start your blog. What inspired the name, The Thoughtful Parent?
I’m married to my wonderful husband, Patrick and we have a 3 year-old son, Evan. I have the best and most challenging job in the world—stay-at-home mom. Before becoming a mom, I was in graduate school finishing up my doctorate in Human Development and Family Sciences. I was surrounded by research on child development and parenting every day, but I realized how little of this information ever reached parents—the ones who could really use it. I knew I wanted to keep up with the research arena even as a stay-at-home mom, so I came up with the idea to start a blog all about child development and parenting research. I considered a lot of different names for the blog, but felt The Thoughtful Parent was a nice fit. I think it captures both the idea of thoughtfulness in the sense of being sensitive, but also thoughtful in the sense of really being intentional about the way you parent.
Where do you get the inspiration for most of your blog topics?
Blog topics can come from almost anywhere. Sometimes it will be an issue I’m dealing with my own child or something I see a friend dealing with her child. Other times, there might be a hot topic in the press that has gotten a lot of attention and I feel I want to give the research perspective on it. At times I have also gone back to my graduate school notes and written about topics or concepts that I feel are important for parents to know about that might not get as much press.
What are a few things you can tell our moms about child development and parenting? What do you think is especially important for them to know?
I main point I try to get across in my blog is that I’m not a parenting expert; parents generally know their child and all their individual needs and quirks the best. However, it is helpful as a parent to understand what research tells us about parenting issues because that research is based on hundreds (if not thousands) of children. This gives us the perspective of what the “average” child looks like. Based on that information, you can then figure out where your child fits around that “average” and that may influence your parenting decisions.
You’ve recently added a post on your blog about sleep training. What do you think is the best way for parents to sleep train their babies?
I really don’t think there is one right way to help your baby get to sleep. You really do have to see what works for your child’s temperament and for your family’s lifestyle. As I mention in the post, it is helpful to know what is biologically and developmentally appropriate for babies at each stage in regards to sleep. For instance, most people know that newborns need help and soothing to go to sleep. However, as babies get to around 6-9 months, most are able to do some amount of self-soothing. Now, this is good information to know, but how a parent uses that information is up to them. Many parents love having their babies sleep in bed with them, while others are firm in wanting them in a crib. As long as the parent and baby are safe and getting good rest, the choice is really up to the family.
What do you think is the best way for moms to recover from Postpartum Depression? Do you think it is avoidable?
The key word for this question is “recover.” I don’t have a great deal of experience with Postpartum Depression, but from a research perspective it is important for moms to seek out help. Babies with moms who suffer from depression are more likely to have difficulties establishing a secure attachment, which can lead to relational problems down the road. As a new mom I think it’s often hard to discern whether the emotions you are feeling are just hormonal changes (and sleep deprivation) or if you really have a problem with depression. I would say if a mom has any thought that her emotional problems are more severe that just hormones, she should talk to her doctor. As I mentioned it a recent post, there does seem to be some genetic predispositions for depression, particularly postpartum. Many women, of course, would not know if they have a genetic predisposition for this unless another female relative had experienced it. If this is the case, they should be especially watchful for signs of postpartum depression. Either way, the sooner help is sought; the sooner new moms can establish secure, healthy attachment relationships with their babies.
Do you have a motto or saying that you and your family live by?
I wouldn’t say we have a motto but in general I think we try to be grateful for all the blessings we have and really live each day to the fullest.
When you find the chance, what do you like to do to relax?
With an active 3 year old, there isn’t much down time, but if I have the chance I love to bake and read. I have always loved baking and find all the mixing, measuring, and creating a finished product to be relaxing. Reading a good novel is another treat for me. After years of primarily reading research articles, a novel is a great change.