According to The Gottman Institute, 69% of couples experience conflict and disappointment during the transition to parenthood. This tender time of sleep deprivation and system-shock expectedly stresses even the most rock-solid relationship foundations and places couples on a startling learning curve. That's not to say new parenthood is never peppered with delirious joy, maybe even a few glowy-parenting-magazine moments, only that it's realistic to expect (and attempt to prepare to cope with) challenges along this complex journey. Thus, it's compelling to consider the possibility of reduced suffering and improved outcomes if we are able to invest resources in relationship care during parenthood transitions. Bringing Baby Home, a program for new parents out of The Gottman Institute, has found in couples who participate in the program: better coparenting capabilities, improved quality of father-baby interactions, reduced hostility, and positive impacts on infant development and temperament (look here for comprehensive research findings). They also report a reduction in maternal depression and the baby blues among program participants.
Bringing Baby Home is available to folks in a few states throughout the country--if a workshop isn't accessible to you, try the Gottmans' book And Baby Makes Three. In Portland, this innovative two-day program is offered quarterly (the next class is set for January 2014--here's the schedule and Bringing Baby Home Portland website). For couples expecting a child, who have recently had a child (their first, third, sixth...), or those who continue to struggle with adjustment issues in parenthood years after baby, Bringing Baby Home uses scientific research and public education to improve the quality of life for couples and their families. Skillfully and compassionately led by expert practitioners Beth Bassett, LPC and Karlaina Brooke, PsyD, couples will learn parenting and relationship skills that strengthen friendship, improve intimacy and reduce adjustment stress. Bringing Baby Home is a powerful tool that appropriately encourages us to focus on emotional wellness, relationship health and the impact these issues have on child, parent, and family development.
With a mental health practice primarily serving young families, I predictably face questions about parenting. I routinely bear witness to the distress that accompanies insecurity, fear and overwhelm in parenthood. This distress is often amplified by pregnancy/postpartum depression and anxiety (or the lingering symptoms and effects of PPD/A as children grow). Plus, we're all familiar with the plethora of expert (and novice) advice ranging dramatically in approach, adding to (causing?) the confusion and frustration.
This is why I have much gratitude for the groundbreaking work of the Walsh family: Erin, Dr. Dave, and Monica. Their business, Mind Positive Parenting, has become one of the "go-to" parenting resources I enthusiastically offer my clients and community--I highly recommend this to parents, professionals working with parents, and anyone (parent or not) who's part of a "village."
Erin Walsh is a friend from college, where we grew together in friendship and feminism while working at the university's Campus Women's Center. A skilled educator and a natural leader with unrivaled Midwestern warmth, Erin joined her parents' institute, its mission to "equip parents and communities to raise children and youth who can thrive, meeting the challenges of the 21stCentury." Using brain science to inform their work, these folks are leaders in the conversation about raising healthy, empathic children (read more about them here).
Mind Positive Parenting helps deepen our understanding of the intersections of child development, media and research, while empowering families to effectively translate and use this information. Perhaps most profoundly, they insist upon each family's uniqueness, a truth that challenges sweeping generalizations and rigid measurements of "success." They openly speak to the tricky balancing act that is parenthood with a smart, nonjudgmental and refreshing approach. Find them on Facebook and follow their blog to keep up with their useful, compassionate work.