Monday, November 10, 2014

Using "Mom" Instead of Her Name

For years, I have exhorted early interventionists not to use "Mom" or "Dad" when referring to parents or, worse, when addressing them, as in, "Mom, do you have anything you'd like to add?" In today's New York Times, Heather Havrilesky writes about "Our ?Mommy? Problem" (click on title). She mentions this bad habit and a whole lot more about the expectations today's mothers face.

Just last night, I was at a social event (can you believe that?!) and a mother of a 5-month-old asked me what she should be doing with her baby. She was worried she wasn't doing the right things, she worried when her baby cried and she couldn't soothe her immediately, and her (this mother's) days were often boring. I asked, "Do you talk to her? Do you play with her? Do you read to her? Do you respond to her when she makes sounds, including crying? Do you do things YOU like to do in your day?" Answers: yes, yes, yes, yes, sometimes. I told her to work on the last one and she'll have this mother thing licked. Like many mothers, she thought that all day every day had to be about the baby--and she isn't even American!

I also realized how lucky our early intervention parents are, getting weekly visits from a friendly, knowledgeable, supportive person--our home- and community-based early interventionists. Some parents are surprisingly isolated in their roles as parents. And when the child has a disability, of course, that's exacerbated.

You'll notice I said "weekly." More infrequent visits are, as Dathan Rush says, checking in, not digging in.

Read the New York Times article!

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