Category Archives: Kids

Topics on kids, school, parenting

Sweet drinks linked to depression

Sweet but sad and mostly corn syrup.
Sweet but sad and mostly corn syrup.


A Harvard University School of Public Health team linked sugar sweetened drinks to risks of chronic diseases (Brownell, KD et al. 2009) while articifially sweetened drinks are associated with an increase in weight gain (Yang, Q, 2010). Researchers noted that cutting down on these drinks that contain artificial sweeteners would naturally lower the risk of depression.

Researchers have more recently found that both naturally sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks ranked high in the diet of those who were diagnosed with depression.

Specifically, the risk of depression was greatest in those who drank diet iced tea, diet soda and diet fruit punch. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were 38 percent more likely to develop depression. People who drank more than four cans of soda per day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink any of these kinds of drinks.

Study authors noted that those who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression. (Chen, H, Guo, X, Park, Y, Freedman, ND and Shinha, R.) There have been other studies that question the dietary effects of caffeine and tannic acid in coffee for certain people such as in pregnant women, young children, people with insomnia, those with kidney and liver disease.

Justice – Hill Harper on Epidemic Incarceration of Young Black Men

The son of a psychiatrist father and anesthesiologist mother, Hill Harper is not just an actor (CSI: NY  and Covert Affairs) but also an author of a number of books meant to encourage young black men  and women. His latest, Letters to An Incarcerated Brother,  tends a growing cancer of racism in America – the epidemic incarceration  of our young men.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Hill points out that one in six black men is incarcerated now. He expects that one in six number to increase to one in three. That fact along with the letters he received from so many inmates caused him to listen, learn and then aid the young men who have been locked up so young, long before they have had any chance to  discover their real worth and power.

How to reduce “Baby-Mama” drama

Probably one of the most intense of dramas that frequent the therapy office is that of distraught, frustrated folks trying to co-parent. They rely on the court, the visitation schedule, the child support orders to communicate their interpersonal pain.

One can’t understand why the other left the relationship but they can understand how to make visitation difficult. One may have trouble being heard in person but they can make themselves heard through a subpoena. Often they don’t realize they are playing out dramas from their own childhoods – issues they can’t or don’t know to address. This is an instance when employing a therapist to mediate and facilitate more effective communication between estranged partners is a child-saving decision.

As early in the process as possible, begin using these steps to reduce the drama:

1.  Set a good intention in place around your interactions. Be determined to be courteous no matter what.  Remember, your kids are watching you. For example, say something like, “I really appreciate your patience in working on this” or “I want us to come up with a schedule that works for both of us”.
Or, how about a big intention like, “We are not going to let our relationship problems make our kids miserable or constantly worried. If nothing else, we’re going to keep them out of the drama”.

2. Stay calm. Give your co-parent an “out” when the situation gets tense. Try keeping a calm, low voice tone and say, “I can see this is so upsetting for you. Maybe we should think about it a little more and talk in a couple of days”.

3. Acknowledge your co-parent’s strengths and best efforts. “You’ve always been better at scheduling than I. I’m so glad that the baby can always depend on you….” or “You are such a good mother. Johnnie’s clothes are always so well organized. I really appreciate that!”

Now, you might be thinking, “Why should I make him or her look good when he or she has been such a jerk?” Because it makes you look even better. It also gives you some power over the situation, since if you’re kind or appreciative, your ex-partner might calm down and be nicer to you.

Try it! Consider it to be your own personal research into what will make your life easier.  Try different approaches and make note of what works better. Remember, there can’t be an argument if you won’t participate.

For a great resource to help you handle custody & support issues, check out attorney Alicia Crowe’s manual, Real Dads Stand Up

Can we help save the next Hadiya?

Today, Hadiya Pendleton, the 15 year old teen from Chicago’s south side who was shot in a neighborhood park while trying to avoid the rain, was laid to rest. Having performed at the Inauguration of President Obama, just a few days before her death, her picture has appeared in the news all over the world. Her smile, her academic accomplishments and her hearty goals stand in contrast to the assumptions Americans have about the face of victims of gang violence.

Whether it’s Chicago or New Orleans or Philly or L.A. or Memphis or the South Bronx or Newark, it doesn’t matter. Urban violence is staggering. Every death involves someone’s son or daughter and takes away someone’s chance for a good life. As mental health providers, we may not be especially trained to deal with gang violence but we do understand the escalation of depression and desperation that leads to suicide and homicide. We do know what behavioral signs to look for, signs that indicate that a person needs help. So, on the community level, along with teachers and the church we can have a powerful role in disseminating ideas that help change the rising suicide of our children. Gang violence is suicide. Gang participation grows in the absence of concerned and available parents, in the absence of school success, and in the absence of jobs. Gun violence cannot occur without guns, guns that are stored in the homes of parents every night.

In the last year or two, many parents have come into therapy parroting a belief that we find puzzling. After listing the many offenses of their child, they say “You can’t stop kids from getting into trouble. They have to have their fun.” This leaves me wondering what planet I was brought up on. Most of us were stopped from having dangerous “fun”. Most of us were stopped from “getting into trouble” before we could even get started. Why were our parents so successful? Because they did not have that belief. Because there was usually an adult at home or nearby who made sure we didn’t get into trouble. Because we were not exposed to all the trouble that could be gotten into. Our parents intended for us to do what we were told. Current parents lack time and support. More than anything they lack the conviction that they are in charge and that they are supposed to not only set the rules, but enforce them.

Of course, it isn’t just about discipline, supervision and participation in our children’s lives. It’s also about an acceptance that children have feelings, needs that they can’t express or defend and need to have some say so in the requirements that we place on them. If they don’t know where or what college is, why would they work blindly to get there? If we seem unhappy and overburdened in our jobs, why would they want one? Children need for school to be interesting and to have a purpose and a plan that fits their personalities and interests. We can help that happen by helping to expose kids to positive experiences and whenever we have a chance, pointing out to them their special strengths.

What do you think?