Category Archives: Uncategorized

Superparents Need Not Apply

Yeesh. If I’m going to stick to my promise of posting at least one blog post a week then I’d better post this puppy in the next few hours.




I’ve been watching a new show called America’s Supernanny on You may be familiar with the original Supernanny, Jo Frost, whose “UK nanny teaches parents to parent” TV show prompted much talk around the ol’ water cooler (virtual and otherwise).

I’m not supermom by any stretch but watching the first few episodes of America’s Supernanny has made me sweat and cringe on more than one occasion: There have been horrible bouts of swearing, hitting, threatening, punching, soda-drinking, sugar imbibing, and head-butting… and that’s often just sibling to sibling.

Today “Miss Deborah” was pointing out to one set of parents with four young boys that they were, in fact, clueless. And, indeed, they did seem pretty clueless. They had a beautiful large home, lovely furniture and toys and it was obvious that the boys were loved. But, when it came to discipline, there was none. They (almost literally) let their kids get away with murder because, as the father pointed out, he “didn’t want to be the bad guy.”

Um, really? That’s how you see it, mister? You’re their parent for ____ ‘s sake. Parent your children. Letting them get away with murder isn’t doing you or them any favours. It’s astounding to me that some parents don’t get (or choose not to see) that setting limits actually makes things easier for kids and the family. Drinking a Coke at 10 pm and then swinging from the rafters may be a fun night out in university but it sure ain’t appropriate for a seven-year-old. I think Miss Deborah is right on target with her no-nonsense approach to good parenting.

Have you seen the show? What do you think?


Invest in Summer

My wonderful one-year corporate communications contract has now come to an end. I’ll miss the stimulating work and my fantastic colleagues. But, to engage a cliche… as the corporate door shuts and the drafty cottage window opens, I realize that I will now have abundant opportunities for outdoor summer adventures, playing with my kids, freelancing gigs and, of course, bolstering this blog!

My aim is to post once a week or more for the remainder of the summer. There are quite a few topics that I’ve been mulling over in my head. These include:

  • The Triple P parenting program
  • How seasons/weather affect mental health
  • The link between intelligence and ADHD
  • Alternative health/wellness tools for depression, anxiety, ADHD and other mental heallth issues
  • The important connections between pets & people

What are your plans/hopes/dreams for the summer? Are there any topics you’d like to see covered in this blog? I’d love to hear from you and receive your comments and questions.


Iguana spend the summer with you

Time to take a stroll around the local pond… until next week!

Mean Moms Rule, Right?


Heard of the new book, Mean Moms Rule by Denise Schipani? I was given an advance copy and have made time to flip through most of it. Full disclosure: I am familiar with Schipani through an online writers’ forum.

In the book, Schipani asserts that “doing the hard stuff now creates good kids later” or, to spell it out even more fully: don’t cop out on your kids ‘cuz it’s easier to give in; once you’re a parent, you’ve got to step up to the plate and do your job.

While a lot of the author’s rules and regs for being a “mean mom” appear to be common sense, much of it was actually a good reminder for me – and I’m someone who is quite happy to qualify as a mean mom.

Mean Mom Rules include:

  • Prepare them for the world, but not the world for them – Philosophical thinking here; let’s make sure our kids are savvy enough to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
  • Don’t follow the parenting pack — In other words, be a leader not a follower.
  • Take (or take back) control — Confession: Lately, I find myself catering to my children’s whims. While that’s fine sometimes, it can’t – and shouldn’t – be the case all the time. Sometimes momma’s gotta take a nap (or watch TV or chat on the phone or do her Pilates DVDs).
  • Say no. Smile. Don’t apologize. Repeat as necessary — I love this one! Let’s not apologize for being parents, shall we?

While these MM rules are solid, most parents know that what works for your family one day may not work the next. And, that seems to apply to all kids – mental health issues or not. I’ve found that softening on certain rules occasionally makes life sweeter and calmer for all of us.

If you’re looking for common sense advice that justifies your instinct to be a good parent – not just a good friend – I suggest you order yourself a copy of Mean Moms Rule.

4 Reasons Why Every Kid Needs an Outlet for Self-Expression


Creativity Alive

Hello, Readers. I was approached by my guest poster, Lauren. She inquired about writing an article for I admit being both flattered and skeptical but, I was pleased with Lauren’s submission and post it here. I hope you enjoy it!

Everyone needs to have something in their life that they love to do and are good at. Far too often we see parents trying to figure out what their child loves to do, or, even worse, demanding that they partake in some sort of after-school activity in order to “do” something. However, when left to their own devices, all children will gravitate toward the things that they love to do.

And, more often than not, the things they love will develop into a special talent. Not only is this an important part of childhood development, it’s an important aspect of life for people of all ages. So, whether you child loves art, music, writing, science, sports, or fashion, the importance of unique self-expression cannot be stated enough. Read on for the top reasons why your child should be allowed to find his own way to do what he loves.

1. Builds Confidence

When a child discovers an activity that he or she loves, they will want to practice that activity as much as possible. This will lead to mastery and a huge boost of confidence for the child. Learning how to work hard toward something that they cares about, and seeing the positive results of that hard work, will bestow your child with the confidence to pursue all types of new things.

2. Reminder That Everyone is Different

During the childhood years, there can be so much pressure to do and like the same things as everyone else. But, as adults, we now know that just because the coolest girl in school loves gymnastics, it doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to like or be good at gymnastics, too. When your child has the chance to explore his own likes and dislikes, discover activities that he excels at, and become confident in those gifts, the world begins to become a broader and more accepting place in his own mind.

3. Creates Unique Personal Goals

How many times have we come across a grown adult who has only just begun to consider doing something with his life that he actually cares about? When a child has the opportunity to express and explore the things that come most naturally, he will have a head start on discovering his hidden talents and sources for future success.

4.  Reinforces Well-Rounded Development

The school system as we know it does not place much emphasis on development of creative outlets for students, and if a student does not fit in to excelling at either academics or sports, he or she runs the risk of feeling very left out.  And, even if your child loves something that is practiced in the school system, like sports, for example, he or she may not make the team. Unfortunately, these educational models do not do enough to foster the development of a well-rounded individual. Children, whether at home or in the classroom, need the opportunity to explore and develop in all areas, and finding a unique form of self-expression will allow them to do so.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at: blauren99 

Kudos for Calm

Zen parenting

Last year, a colleague told me about the free Celebrate Calm newsletters she receives on a regular basis to her email.

“Celebrate Calm,” I thought, “What’s that? Some kind of yoga/ meditation/ zen announcement?”

Nope, it’s none of the above though it can bring on a zen-like understanding. A business owned by American behaviour consultant, Kirk Martin, Celebrate Calm appears to be a variety of things:

  • Various sets of (rather expensive) CDs on topics related to parenting, ADHD and family dynamics
  • Free newsletters and blog posts
  • Paid coaching, workshops, videos and phone counseling

As a writer and avid reader, I am picky about the media I consume.  Interestingly, the Celebrate Calm newsletters have almost always proven to be right on target and sometimes even a bizarre illustration of exactly how I’m feeling or what I’m currently concerned about. Examples? Here are some of their recent newsletter topics:

  • When kids lie or say, “I hate myself!” and “I’m so stupid!”
  • I refuse to change my child…
  • Homework Lies that Destroy Families 

Like many of you, I occasionally sign up to receive digital (or hard copy) newsletters about any number of things: business, kids, parenting, books, authors, finances, etc. and often end up clicking the ol’ spam button after a few issues. But, not so of Celebrate Calm. If you’re a parent who struggles with parenting (and hey, who doesn’t?) I am happy to share this resource with you. If interested, sign up on the top right-hand corner of the Celebrate Calm home page.

Room at the Inn?

Remember me? It’s been a while, I know. Happy New Year.

Full-time work is kicking my butt – in a good way. Mostly. It’s amazing how quickly the time has flown by; nine months of full-time communications work under my belt.

On the mental health research front, I’mImage gaining more insight from colleagues who are experts in treating mental health crisis. The health care organization I work for provides services, conducts research and “shares wisdom” around mental health issues and I’ve been soaking it all in.

However, no matter how much insight one has gained, children’s mental health will never be straightforward. It can be a lonely road and those involved must be brave as the journey is mostly uphill.

There is so much to learn and the research and outcomes seem to be constantly changing. For us, thankfully, we have resources in our region and our kids’ teachers, principal and special education teacher are incredibly helpful and supportive. It’s good to know that someone’s looking out for my child(ren) because I can’t be there all the time. Community is everything.

Even though I’d love to stay here and ponder the philosophies of mental health, it’s late and it’s a weeknight. So, on that note, I will publish this short post and bid you all happy dreams.

Until next time…

You Are What You Eat

Yes, it’s been (quite) a while since I’ve posted. I know… I know…The life of a multitasking mom strikes again.

However, I am pleased to provide this post today! In the last year, I have been lucky enough to cultivate a relationship with nutrition expert, author and blogger, Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD CHHC. She’s one of the Real Food Moms who offers her advice and expertise on all manner of food and nutrition-related topics.

Tracee and familyThis Q and A on the correlation between food and mental health is a bit long for a blog post. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that her answers provide food for thought. (Couldn’t help but add that pun!)

Q) I know there’s a link between nutrition and mental health in children; has this evolved to be more specific?

A) You may have heard that artificial preservatives, such as BHT and BHA are being investigated for provoking chemical sensitivities. Many studies on mice have shown that these preservatives cause learning deficits, difficult sleeping, developmental delays, aggression, decreased orientation reflex. I can say that removing artificial preservatives from the diet could also relieve behavioral symptoms as aggression, hyperactivity, and developmental delays.

In terms of artificial flavors: Many people are affected by MSG, and children who have special needs are especially vulnerable since they might not be able to communicate their discomfort, which may manifest as a headache or nausea. Removing artificial flavors from your child’s diet is the safe way to go, and could help to reduce behavioral problems.

There’s a well-known 2007 study published in The Lancet stating that artificial colors in children’s diets contributed to hyperactive behavior. In light of this, the UK’s Food Safety Agency released this statement on July 20, 2010: “An EU-wide health warning must now be put on any food or drink that still contains colours that are thought to cause hyperactivity in some children.

Q) What can mothers eat/avoid while their child is in utero to possibly avoid mental health issues?
Mercury exposure may be harmful to child development. However, fish and seafood are important for pregnant women because it supports growth and development with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids including DHA, lean protein, vitamins and minerals. Here’s a link to a list of fish and seafood with lower levels of mercury:

Simple Food Recipe BookThe recommended levels of vitamin D, folic acid, choline, iron, Omega 3  fatty acids are important for brain development and to decrease risk of mental illness.

You’ve probably heard many times that it’s important to eat foods high in folic acid; these foods not only help kids grow and learn but they are important to neurological health, too. Good examples: green vegetables (spinach, broccoli), citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, limes), whole grain products like high fiber cereals, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and crackers.

There’s also new research in the area of schizophrenia prevention that talks about the potential for Choline (In the form of Lecithin) to prevent the brain changes that may predispose people to schizophrenia! According to the Institute of Medicine, women should consume 425 milligrams of choline per day—the equivalent of almost four whole eggs. This value is higher for men and pregnant women.  Foods that have choline in them: cow’s liver! Need other suggestions? Peanut butter, iceberg lettuce, and cauliflower.

Q) Is junk food the enemy of mental health?
A) Junk food is not nourishing to the body in general. The brain is an extremely delicate organ which needs vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to function properly. You don’t want your brain working hard trying to deal with potentially harmful substances from food – you want it working at peak capacity!

Q) Is it too difficult to generalize or can you say that a healthy diet full of whole grains and whole foods can ease many mental health issues in kids?

A) When children eat real food as nature intended without artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, their body is receiving most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs and not is competing with substances that are not nourishing to the whole body and could be harmful.

Q) Can you provide examples of success stories related to this topic?
I have had children (as clients) who have removed sugar from their diet who were able to focus clearly. I have also had children who removed a lot of junk food from their diets and ate real, unprocessed food and headaches and irritability went away.

So, what’s your take on this topic? I’d love to hear your success stories or whether you think there is in fact no correlation at all!

For more information on nutrition expert, Tracee:

Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD, CHHC
Author, Nutrition Counseling

Full-Time Work and Kids’ Mental Health

The work-from-home reality?

As mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve taken on a full-time contract and have been working steadily for the past few weeks at my employer’s head office which is (thankfully!) near our home.

As a long-time freelance writer, I’ve enjoyed many perks: choosing my own clients, working whatever hours I choose (within reason), selecting interesting and challenging projects and, most importantly, spending time with my kids and picking them up from school every day.

Now, we’ve been able to cobble together an excellent plan to make up for this last month of school drop-offs and pick-ups and I’ve hired a fabulous person to help care for the kids over the summer so we’ve got that covered. My one real concern before accepting the contract: would my kids be okay? I’m so used to making them the priority that I wondered if they would suffer emotionally if I wasn’t around as much.

The good news? I think my kids’ (and my own) mental health is just fine! They seem to be thriving and, due to my husband working from home more often, haven’t seemed to notice my absence as much as I thought they might. Working out of the home allows me to meet new people, enjoy a steady paycheque, learn new skills and gain knowledge about an important field, and, perhaps, allows my children to gain independence and new skills as well.

What’s your experience with working full-time? Do you find it stressful and challenging or beneficial? Do you think children suffer emotionally when both parents work outside the home?

After 25 Years, It’s Time to Say Good-Bye…

What's around the corner?

Just kidding! That’s Oprah’s line, not mine.

However, after 31 straight days of posting on this new blog, I am saying good-bye — to daily posts, that is. It’s been a productive, useful month as the WordCount Blogathon comes to an end today. Perfect timing because I’m just about to take on a full-time contract and I need to concentrate on that right now.

Thank you for reading and for your insightful comments about children, mental health, philosophy, music, creativity, socialization, trauma, psychology and more. I hope you’ll stick around for my semi-regular posts and feel free to email me at lisahotta (at) or post a comment here if you have any news or questions.

Good-bye (for now) sweet readers. Enjoy your summer.

Will the “Genderless” Baby Grow Up with Good Mental Health?

Storm clouds gather

You may have heard of the Toronto-based couple who have decided to leave their baby’s (Storm) gender a mystery. Storm’s parents already have two boys who are home-schooled and have more freedoms than most children.

And, Storm’s parents have decided that Western society puts too much emphasis on male behaviour vs. female behaviour and want Storm to be able to pursue what he or she wishes to do and say. There’s a good overview of the story on the CTV news web site.

On one hand, I applaud Storm’s parents for sticking to their beliefs and morals and pursuing a way of life that is controversial and unpopular. On the other hand, I worry about Storm. He/She is only four months old right now but foisting grown-up values on a small child may come back to haunt the family later. Will Storm be resentful about the attention? Will he/she rebel against his/her parents and become uber-conservative or outlandishly liberal? Will Storm’s mental health suffer because of this experiment?

What say you readers? How will Storm weather this “genderless baby” storm?