How to Look Beyond Your Child’s Behavior to Who They Really Are




February 20, 2020

I’m sobbing. It’s like 8:46 am and I’m sobbing. It’s for the silliest reason.

I just dropped my kids off at school and, as per our usual, they got to pick the soundtrack in the car. It’s usually some Disney tune or another. This time, Moana won out. We can’t just listen to a few songs, either. Nope, they wanted that sucker to play from start to finish. By the time the last one hopped out of the car, a few songs still remained and, again as per our usual, I forgot to turn it off. I found myself humming along absentmindedly as I wound my way through the surface streets and over to the freeway toward my pediatrics’ office.

Finally that song, “Know Who You Are” comes on – the one where (spoiler alert!) Moana restores the heart to the lava monster, Te Ka, revealing the beautiful, hidden island of Te Fiti.

“I have crossed the horizon to find you,” Moana croons.

“I know your name.

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are

You know who you are.”

Like I said, I’m sobbing, big fat tears running down my face as I try to concentrate on the road.

I’m sobbing because, for the longest time, it was hard to see who my oldest daughter really was. She suffered from severe colic as a baby (and I followed suit with postpartum depression right behind her). She struggled with potty training, she had the hardest time sleeping. She tantrumed through her toddler years. She lashed out whenever she was emotionally dysregulated. She suffered from the very first month of her life under what I know now was an extreme level of anxiety.

My husband and I consulted her pediatrician and mental health experts. We had labs drawn. We tried occupational therapy. We had her tested for Autism. We went to multiple parent coaches and child psychologists. It seemed like we were working so hard to keep her together and to keep our lives together, too.

Sometimes, it felt like her anxiety defined her, no, consumed her – and our family. There were moments you could see glimmers of who she really is: a creative force who feels deeply and cares immensely; a brilliant mind who loves reading, imagining, and expressing. In her best moments, she is a light to everyone – happily singing and dancing. She cuddles in close for hugs and stories. She joyfully leads her sister in plays and dress-up performances. But those moments were often hard to come by, and could be shrouded by worry and fight or flight-fueled reactions in the blink of an eye.

As a pediatrician, I know all kids have trouble regulating their emotions and can be complete jerks, especially when they’re tired or hungry or scared, but this was something completely different. There were so many nights I all I could do was sit against the door inside her bedroom as she raged over an unpredicted turn of events (“No, we can’t go if Matt won’t be there! I don’t care if he’s sick.”) or over worries that wouldn’t let her be (“What if I make a mistake in dance class? I just can’t go! Everyone will laugh at me.”). I sat, and held my baby girl, unable to reason with her, and hoped beyond hope that someday she would be free of this force that so clearly kept her captive.

It seemed like time and age only heightened it all. Suddenly, her three-year-old sister became more emotionally mature than she did, comforting her with a, “It’s okay, sweetie, it will be okay” and patting her gently on the shoulder. Finally, after working with a young family in my own clinic who started anti-anxiety medications for their six-year-old, we turned to a psychiatrist for help. I don’t take prescribing medications for any child lightly, but taking the plunge into the medication world for own my little one felt even more daunting. At the same time, though, I knew we couldn’t keep on going the way we had been for so long. We were too tired and overwhelmed for that.

It took about two weeks for the medication to fully kick in and, although she was still six (and acted like it regularly), the lows weren’t quite as low. Her outbursts weren’t as grand. Her mountains (even meeting a friendly mascot at a local baseball game) were more like the mole hills other kids faced.

Slowly, as we chemically brought her back in balance, and worked with her therapist to maximize rewiring her responses to everyday obstacles, it was as if, after all that determined, heart-wrenching searching across the horizon for the one I knew was out there, I got to place the heart in my own fiery lava monster and she literally melted, relaxing into the true beauty I’ve always known she was. She became the exquisite (yet still quirky and sensitive) island I always knew was waiting to be unveiled.

We still go to therapy for her. We still do all the hard work to support her. Bedtime is at 8 pm sharp. She doesn’t miss a meal. We don’t pick activities we know will send her over the edge and now, thank goodness, she’s able to more logically explain that attending a Holiday performance with multiple set changes makes “her heart buzz and her tummy feel funny” versus screaming and hitting me as we enter the lobby. I can help her now because I know what she needs.

Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re going through a tough time with your sweet child who doesn’t appear so sweet to you at this moment. Maybe it feels like you’ve lost them to colic, or to a really hard developmental stage, or to a group of friends you don’t like or to some bad behaviors they’ve taken on or to or…. you name it. Remember, mama, that’s not THEM. It doesn’t define them.

Keep searching across the horizons to find them. If they’re young, first get the support you need to weather through it. Take care of yourself while you’re trying to take care of your little one. Then, collect data and get help from professionals (a pediatrician’s office is a good place to start). If they’re older and it’s a behavior you’re seeing that isn’t in line with the character you know they have, learn how to have choreographed conversations with them to get at the “why” behind what they’re doing.

Remember, our kids are always waiting and hoping for us to reveal their true selves. They’re waiting for us to tell them, “You know and I know who you are.”

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How to Look Beyond Your Child's Behavior to Who They Really Are


How to Take Care of Your Postpartum Mom Bod (Including Your Lady Parts)


Babies, Parents


February 17, 2020

Yep, I said it. Lady parts. Because, as Frida Mom said in their recently-banned Oscar ad depicting a new mom painfully hoisting herself out of bed, gingerly walking to the bathroom, and cringing while caring for herself on the toilet, “Postpartum recovery doesn’t have to be this hard.”

And yet, it is for almost all of us who deliver a baby. So, we’re going to talk all about it on the Podcast this week.

Dr. Jessica Voge, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and mom of two, walks us through what moms can expect in the postpartum period, including

If you’re a new mom or a mom-to-be, this episode is for you, my friend, because I believe you need real, honest information from experts, not Dr. Google. I also believe the postpartum period can be better if you have the resources, information, and support that you need. Winning at parenting without losing can start even before your baby arrives.

If you’re well out of the postpartum stage, this is your chance to really help someone out. Remember your experience? I remember mine, for sure, and I wish I’d had a little more help understanding how I was going to change (along with what to expect when it came to my baby’s health). Share this episode with a friend you think would benefit from setting real expectations around what the postpartum period is like. Our goal this week is to help women feel encouraged about what they can do to make the period immediately after birth better and feel prepared about what just takes time to improve.

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How to take care of your postpartum mom bod, including your lady parts


Successful Moms Are Intentional About the Way They Parent Their Kids




February 13, 2020

We’re on our final week as we dive into the core areas successful moms are intentional about: chasing their own dreams, spending time on things that matter, making space for themselves, investing in their mental and physical health, parenting in partnership, and the way they parent their kids.

This week, we’re focusing on the sixth core area: staying intentional about the way we parent our kids.

Moms who want to raise healthy, resilient kids realize something critical: they must parent according to an intentional parenting style and with specific parenting goals in mind. Like we know for pretty much about every other area of our lives, intentionality matters when it comes to raising children who thrive. Developmental and behavioral science backs this up. Yes, we can just wing it but the odds of a haphazard, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may kind of plan hardly ever works when it comes to parenting.

Parenting Styles

There are 4 major parenting styles: uninvolved, permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative (or as the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Ken Ginsburg say, “Lighthouse Parenting”). I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb to guess that none of you who are bothering to read this are in the uninvolved category, so let’s focus on the last three.

  1. Authoritarian Parenting: Authoritarian parents are strict, with very little negotiation. They use punishment frequently. They tend to not explain rules but have plenty of them. They have high expectations with very little flexibility.
  2. Permissive or Indulgent Parenting: Permissive parents generally let their kids do what they want and give very little guidance or direction. They don’t use rules often and let their kids figure out their problems on their own without offering assistance in decision-making. They are usually warm and nurturing but offer little structure.
  3. Authoritative Parenting: Authoritative parents have high expectations for their kids but the rules are clear and explained. They communicate frequently with their kids and are highly nurturing. Discipline is fair and they take their child’s viewpoint into consideration but don’t always give into it.

Why Does Parenting Style Matter?

The issue is, the way a child is raised greatly influences (along with a whole host of other factors like temperament, goodness of fit with a parent, and family stressors) how she turns out as an adult. Again, science. You can read more about it here. And, as you might surmise, the kids who are raised with authoritative parenting tend to do best overall once they enter adolescence and young adulthood.

Successful moms are continually seeking to understand child development and behavior. 

Understanding what’s normal, including why a newborn fusses all night and sleeps all day, or why a toddler flips her lid when the doughnut shop runs out of pink sprinkle goodies, helps. It helps in the moment, when we feel like we’re about to lose it ourselves, because it allows us to understand that this too shall pass. Maybe more importantly, though, it helps us get less fearful about our parenting. It allows you to see that, even if your two-year-old is acting like a complete jerk right now, he won’t act that way forever if you invest in long-term success parenting strategies – ones that ultimately teach kindness, self-control, and self-awareness.

Successful moms recognize that, as parents, we must consistently invest in our kids, both with our time and with our focused attention, no matter how busy we are with the rest of our lives.

Real talk, mama. I’m all about you taking care of yourself – go to your yoga class, meet up with a friend after work, plan a getaway with your partner – but when you’re with your kids, you’ve got to limit your distractions and feed into their little souls. For me, that means putting down my phone. It means really listening. It means single-tasking instead of multi-tasking, and it means that I have my priorities fine-tuned to the “t.” You don’t have time for extraneous tasks and to-dos, not if they keep you from having enough minutes in the day to accomplish what matters most to you and spending time really connecting with your children.

Above all, successful moms focus first on developing resilience in their kids.

They see that short-term, superficial measures of success for their children are less important than long-term, meaningful measures like joy, contentment, and contribution. They care about building character and problem-solving skills way more than they care that their kid is the smartest or the best or wins the most awards. They want their kids to know the value of hard work and they don’t shy away from letting their kids fail in safe ways because they know the only way for our kids to truly succeed as adults is to give them opportunities to fall and get back up again when they’re little, supported by the adults who love them most.

Being a successful mom is no easy feat but, thank goodness, when we don’t overcomplicate it, it is completely feasible. Take care of yourself, be intentional with your kids, look at the big picture – these are the things that successful moms do again and again so they can do away with what the world says is important and focus on what really counts.

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Understanding Parenting Style for Modern Moms


How to Stop Losing It with Your Kids




February 10, 2020

Ever lose it with your kids? Ever feel like you’re ALWAYS losing it with your kids? You’re not alone. Carla Naumburg, PhD, LICSW, felt like she was constantly yelling at her kids just a few short years into motherhood. She went on a quest to figure out how to be less angry, stressed and frustrated and more calm and happy. She wrote How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids to help the rest of us do the same. This week on the podcast, it’s my pleasure to bring her to the Modern Mommy Doc community. You can listen here to the episode.

Missed any of the other episodes?

You can listen to them all here. We’re just 2 weeks into our launch of The Modern Mommy Doc Podcast and we’ve been honored to welcome so far:

Jancee Dunn, Author of How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids

Lauren Smith Brody, Author of The Fifth Trimester

Jessi Duley, Founder of BurnCycle

Ken Ginsburg, MD, Author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens

Taylor Pierce, Couples and Sex Therapist

The Book: Available March 17, 2020

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Successful Moms Are Intentional About Parenting in Partnership




February 6, 2020

We’re on week fiv of six diving into the core areas successful moms are intentional about: chasing their own dreams, spending time on things that matter, making space for themselves, investing in their mental and physical health, parenting in partnership, and the way they parent their kids.

This week, we’re focusing on the fifth core area: parenting in partnership. Here’s how successful moms do it:

They Ask for Help

Here’s the thing, mama. You just can’t do it alone. Not even if you think you can.

I’m kind of a Lone Ranger by nature…or at least I would be if I could get away with it. Half the time I feel like it’s easier if I just do everything myself and don’t have to rely on anyone else. The thing is, though, doing it all alone and never reaching out for help means two things: 1. all of the pressure is on us for our work projects, home improvement endeavors, finances, kids’ emotional well being,… fill in the blank… to go well and 2. we over-function, leaving us exhausted and resentful. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way, it’s better to have a team...and to actually rely on that team.

They Build Partnerships

If you haven’t read Jancee Dunn’s How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids and you have a male partner, you need to, Sister. Her book talks all about how to build a team mentality with your partner based on equity and mutual respect. Notice I did not say equality. Equality is overrated when it comes to partner relationships. I said equity because, in the end, that’s what most of us really want and that’s more realistic. Sometimes in my relationship with my husband, I’m doing ninety percent of the work and carrying ninety percent of the responsibility. That’s perfectly okay as long as, on a regular basis, the scales are fully tipped in his direction.

The Build Villages

Successful moms understand they aren’t the only person in their homes or communities who can care for their children well. Hello, grandparents, daycares, nannies, friends, partners!

Easier said than done, right? When we’re used to being the only one in charge, it can be exquisitely painful to do away with our role as the parenting information and expertise gatekeeper. It can also be crazy hard to get out of a martyr mindset, proud of the fact we’re the ones who do the most and carry the heaviest loads.

It’s so worth it, though, Mama. Having a support system is absolutely critical for our own health and for the ultimate health of our kids.

The Sixth Area Successful Moms Focus On: Intentional Parenting

Next week, we’ll be getting into the sixth and final area of focus for highly-successful moms: being extremely intentional about the way we parent. Until then, you can get more information, inspiration, and practical tools to win at parenting without losing yourself on The Modern Mommy Doc Podcast.

You can listen to our most recent episode here:

The Book: Available March 17, 2020

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Successful moms parent in partnership

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