Let’s Talk Helicoptering

I was sent this video about six months ago, and with the topic of motherhood and parenting this month on the blog, I thought it appropriate to bring it out into the conversation. It features Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success who was in town speaking at St. John’s School here in Houston.

And, wow.

Lythcott-Haims is a former Dean of Freshman at Stanford University. You will not believe the stories she tells involving the level of involvement some college parents invest in their kid’s lives. She shares a very unique perspective in that she was witness to the evolution of “helicoptering” which she says began early to mid 1990s, when she and her colleagues were highly amused and perplexed by, for example, parents selecting their kids’ college course load. Fast forward to today and this overparenting is the norm. Additionally, as a parent she’s squarely in it and admits to succumbing to it.

Here she is giving a Tedx talk to an audience of high school students, an abbreviated version of the link above which is tailored to parents.

Listening to Lythcott-Haims speak is eye-opening to say the least. As I listened, I kept finding myself thinking about my own childhood. What happened to the days when your mother said things like “Be home before dark.”  and “If you are bored, go play outside with the garden hose or use your imagination.”  OR “Please wear shoes today.”

Ah, the gift of simpler times. Now, mind you — I grew up in a sprawling suburbia outside of Houston, Texas in the 70s and 80s. It was an emerging mecca of half dirt roads and half civilization. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I guess the reasons are so vast and complicated as to how we, as parents,  have gotten to be where we are today, but one thing is for sure — our kids have lost their ability to just be kids. And this, more than anything else, makes me sad.

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Trust Your Gut by Lauren Brindley

Guys-By now you know that with this blog I am committed to telling real stories that are vulnerable and raw. We’re not sugar-coating here at Elaine’s Musings!

I love the vulnerability of this piece by my friend guest guru Lauren Brindley. She writes of her infertility struggle and its unlikely cause which had been the root of health issues since adolescence. As with a health or other concern, sometimes when the answer is unclear it takes real digging and an open mind to find a solution.

Lauren’s got some great gluten-free resources at the end of this piece. (Oh and how cute are those boys!) Elaine


Even as a student in junior high I knew something wasn’t right. All of my friends got their periods. I did not. This became a joke for some of my friends but a nagging worry and source of embarrassment for me. When I finally got what I thought was my first period it lasted for nearly ten days and from that point my “periods” were highly unpredictable, sometimes only coming two or three times a year. Not content with the explanation that “many young women have irregular periods” and at my Mom’s insistence, we began a decades long search to figure out why.

We sought a specialist and it was quickly determined that I wasn’t having actual periods but what they call “breakthrough bleeding.” I apparently did not ovulate, so a few times a year my body would shed the uterine lining that had built up in expectation of eggs that never came, and that was the bleeding I experienced.

Throughout my high school years I endured endless tests like blood tests lasting three hours at a time with my blood taken at varying intervals over the course of a morning. I had to keep daily temperature charts. (Try explaining that to your fellow teenage friends, or worse yet, their moms when you spent the night out.) Other times I had excruciatingly embarrassing full body exams.

The answer to my fertility woes was simple. Finding that answer was anything but simple.

None of this lead to any discoveries but it did lead to my doctor prescribing (a then 15-year-old girl) fertility pills to stimulate ovulation. (Luckily I wasn’t sexually active but ask yourself how many girls would answer that question honestly in front of their moms so their doctors could prescribe a pill to help. Can you imagine the dangers of giving fertility pills to a teenage girl in today’s world?)

The fertility pills didn’t work and after a few years of this testing and misery I’d had enough. I told my mom I was probably never going to be lucky enough to have children and that I would just have to worry about it later. For the time being I was sick of the exams and sick of the unpredictable surprise bleeding. So I did what so many girls do when they encounter “irregular periods,” I saw a new doctor who promptly put me on the pill.

Did this solve anything? No. It was merely a Band-Aid that gave me regular, predictable “periods.” At least then I wasn’t caught unawares when my bleeding began. (Oh the dread of wearing white jeans and not knowing if that was a “safe” wardrobe choice.) My doctor at the time told me that many girls’ bodies “learned to ovulate” by the regularity of the pill and that once off the pill, ovulation would come.

IMG_8454Fast-forward many years to when my husband and I wanted to start a family. I had been off the pill for over a year and nothing was happening. After a series of tests my OB/GYN told me I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and referred me to a fertlilty doctor. The fertility doctor confirmed the diagnosis and after several more tests said that while I did not fit the criteria of a typical PCOS patient (I was neither hairy, nor obese, for example), it was the only answer for my inability to ovulate.

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