Baton Rouge Parents Magazine

August 2007 Issue
Why the “Mom” Vote Counts PDF Print E-mail

Sub feature Title: Why the “Mom” Vote Counts

By: Bonnie Owens

Date: August 2007


Picture: 0807-MomVote.jpg


I am a child of the 60s. I remember, quite vividly, waking up to see a cross burning in my neighbor’s yard because he, a white man, had stopped earlier that day to help a black woman change her tire. And some of his white neighbors had seen him and decided to send him a message about whom he could and could not help.

I remember hearing about a mass of black men marching from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to effect change in the civil rights arena in this state.

I remember riots taking place in downtown Baton Rouge. And I remember hearing that black children were coming to our school for the first time. And I imagined how it would feel to have someone with different skin and hair sitting across from me.

I grew up during a turbulent time in the South.

But, I remember, in fact, it is one of my earliest memories – my mother voted.

She voted to bring change to this land. She voted to show me that I could have power. She voted because it gave her a voice. And she voted so that she could be an example to her four daughters that if any change at all would come to this area, it would come through her voting her conscience in the booth.

The first few times I went with her into the booth, I know I did it just because it was fun—almost like a game. Then, as I grew older, I realized the sanctity of the booth. Once she pulled that lever to close the curtains, she could change her corner of the world with a flip of a few levers. Even though she and my father had talked about how she “should” vote, he would never really know for sure if she voted the way he had “encouraged” her to vote or if she voted the way her heart told her to.

When researching this story, I was amazed to find that, on the internet, when I typed in the words “women and voting” or “women and voter registration,” I found numerous titles. Most fell into two categories: one had to do with a more feminist slant about women and power and voting; the other had to do with women in Afghanistan and their winning the right to vote for the first time. I believe these have something to say about American women and why they vote or don’t vote. Do American women vote because they are radical feminists who believe that women should “take back” the “power” that voting will give them (did they ever really have it in the first place?)? Or should American women vote because they can—as so many women in other countries can’t?

There are voter registration drives taking place all over this country, especially with a presidential election being fought a year and a half before it’s actually going to take place. Kindercare childcare institutions even have voter registration cards available for moms who use them as daycare providers. Women can go online to the League of Women Voters’ website and register online. It doesn’t even matter where you live; they’ll have you signed up with just a few clicks of the mouse. If a woman wants to be able to vote and isn’t registered to vote, she can be registered in a few short minutes.

There are articles about how women decided the last Congressional election. And there are mantras being recited over and over about how politically empowered women are in this present day and age.

But I keep coming back to the words of early suffragettes who fought long and hard and won the right for women to get to vote.


“The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guarantee of your liberty. That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Money to carry on this work has been given usually as a sacrifice, and thousands of women have gone without things they wanted and could have had in order that they might help get the vote for you. Women have suffered agony of soul which you can never comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!

The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Understand what it means and what it can do for your country.

Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. No soldier in the great suffrage army has labored and suffered to get a ‘place’ for you. Their motive has been the hope that women would aim higher than their own selfish ambitions, that they would serve the common good.”


                          Carrie Chapman Catt                       August 26, 1926



So, when I wonder why women don’t vote, I read these words, and I realize that, besides the usual excuses of “No time,” “I’m tired,” or “My vote doesn’t really matter,” most women don’t really know the sacrifice that was given so that they can vote. And, I thank my mother.

Where is the Sandman? PDF Print E-mail

Sub feature Title:  Where is the Sandman? 

Getting the sleep he needs

By: GINA Roberts-grey

Date: August 2007


Picture: 0807-Sandman.jpg


t is no secret that many adults do not get enough sleep, but often overlooked are children who can also suffer from sleep disorders that snowball into a host of other problems. A 2006 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that children get an average of 1.5 hours less than the recommended 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night on school nights, and nearly half of all adolescents sleep less than eight hours on school nights.  

 “At least once a week, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of students fall asleep in school, 22 percent fall asleep doing homework, and 14 percent arrive late or miss school because they oversleep,” says Dr. Preetam Bandla, clinical director of pediatric sleep services at the Swedish Sleep Medicine Institute in Seattle, Washington.

Inadequate, poor, or restless sleep infringes on just about every aspect of child’s life. Insufficient sleep can lead to problems such as headaches, inability to perform well in school and depression. “Studies show that adolescents who get insufficient amounts of sleep are more likely than their peers to get lower grades,” says Bandla, “Sleep deprivation can also impact memory, learning and mood.”

Interestingly, some children with the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea often appear hyperactive and have problems paying attention or staying on task. “They get easily frustrated, and exhibit symptoms that mimic Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, when in fact, they’re sleep deprived,” says Bandla.


Why not?

Common causes such as an increased number of extra-curricular activities, homework, and environments that are not conducive to restful sleep top the list of reasons kids aren’t sleeping. Certified clinical nutritionist, Kaayla T. Daniel, Ph.D., says “Nutrition is also a major factor in the epidemic of children’s sleep disorders. Many children can’t sleep because of excess caffeine in their diets.” Daniels is one of many health experts who say this is particularly true of children who not only drink caffeinated soda, but also consume energy bars and energy drinks. “And many candies also contain caffeine,” Daniels says, “additionally, many of these children are not drinking milk or eating foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, which can help them relax and sleep.” 

Instable schedules also disrupt a child’s sleep patterns and contribute to behavioral insomnia. Being up later than usual to attend a sports practice, poor sleep hygiene, an inconsistent bedtime routine and bedtime, parental intervention at bedtime such as holding, rocking, patting or laying with your child all contribute to this type of sleep disorder. “These factors lead not only to difficulty falling or staying asleep, but interfere with morning awakenings,” says Bandla.

Underlying health issues also contribute to restless sleep or sleep deprivation. Approximately one out of five preschoolers and school age children snore. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially severe sleep disorder, “which can also be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids that obstruct the airway,” says pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon, Nina Shapiro, M.D., assistant professor, UCLA School of Medicine, Pediatric Otolaryngology, Division of Head and Neck Surgery. Shapiro adds, “Children with sleep apnea can stop breathing several times or more an hour.”


Invite sleep

Experts stress that creating an environment that promotes sleep is one of the best defenses to behavioral insomnia. “The environment also reduces the chances a child’s sleep will be disrupted by nightmares,” says psychotherapist, Jennifer Waldburger, a recognized expert in sleep, parent education and child development. Make sure that your child has a consistent sleeping environment and one that is conducive to sleep.

Jacqueline Golding, licensed psychologist in Pleasanton, California, adjunct professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association adds, “Children’s rooms should be quiet in the evenings, both before and after bedtime.”

It is equally important that your child’s room be kept at a temperature comfortable for him. Golding says, “The room needs to be dark, particularly in the summer, when it stays light late. 


Start early

How and when should you begin to prepare your child mentally and physically to enjoy a full night of restful sleep? Develop a calming bedtime routine that starts 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime for your child to begin to mentally and physically unwind. Waldburger states, “A warm bath is relaxing and brushing teeth and hair creates consistency.”

If you incorporate reading a story before your child goes to sleep, choose calming, relaxing tales. “And, if your child watches television before bed, limit him to shows that aren’t too exciting,” says Golding.

“The key is to do the same thing every night, preferably in the same order, so that the child’s brain knows that it’s almost time to sleep,” says Golding, “Stimulating and active play, and exciting books or movies are best limited to before dinner time,” says Golding. And reserve the time after dinner for relaxing activities.

Evaluate his bedtime making sure the amount of sleep he gets each night allows enough time in bed to meet his sleep needs. To best promote restful sleep, children should go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. Children should know when bedtime is and should be told in advance that it’s coming. “For example, if you start your bedtime routine with a bath, your child knows that it will be bath time as soon as we’re all done playing this game, or after the teddy bear has two more cups of tea,” suggests Golding.

Remember that some sleep disorders can be the result of health issues that require medical evaluation. Experts caution that if your child’s sleep issues and daytime symptoms persist beyond a week or two, consult his pediatrician.



When Big Brother Goes to School PDF Print E-mail

Subfeature Title:  When Big Brother Goes to School

By: Sonya Shaver

Date: August 2007


Picture: 0807-BigBrother.jpg


When Sarah Ambrose’s oldest child started preschool, he sailed through the milestone with ease. It was his little sister that broke down screaming each day as he left. “I think she felt left behind,” mom recalls. “She never adjusted to him going to school until she went herself the following year.”

Much attention is given to helping children make a smooth transition on the first day of school. But parents might find that younger siblings can also have difficulty adjusting to the change. Whether its loneliness, jealousy, or interrupted naps at pick-up time, they can all mean the same thing: a crying, cranky toddler. If you find your younger child lamenting over big brother or sister’s departure each day, try this:

Establish rituals and routines

“It’s tempting to want to explain things to toddlers, but what really sinks in for them is ritual and routine,” says Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, psychologist and author of Playful Parenting. That doesn’t mean you have to go out for ice cream every morning. “It’s not about bribing; it’s about consistency,” he says. The predictability of a routine is what matters. So maybe you can meet a few parents by the playground after drop-off for some toddler time. An added bonus: you get to connect too.


Let your younger one reverse roles 

Now’s a great opportunity to let your toddler play in ways he can’t when big brother is around, says Cohen. For example, let him win a game, finish first, tackle you, or knock you down. Give him a chance to be the best, the strongest, or the fastest, a role he likely doesn’t get to take when the older sibling is around.


Prepare for the homecoming 

When David Beck, age three, is missing his older brother during the school day, he and his mom, Daniela, focus on preparing for his brother’s return. “We’ll make him a picture or bake cookies, something to distract him but still focus on his brother coming home,” says David’s mom.


Pump up the play dates

This might be a good time to start your toddler in a morning preschool program, or simply make more time for play groups. The siblings met each other’s peer needs before, says Cohen, so the younger one may need some more interaction. Plus, when the older child returns home after a busy day of negotiating and playing with peers, she may be ready for some down time, not more social play.


Don’t try to do it all 

Just because you have one less child in your charge, resist the temptation to do too much once the older child is in school. You may think your younger one is more portable and flexible, so you try to run errands, pay bills, make dinner, and conquer every other item on your to do list with toddler in tow. Cohen cautions that this usually doesn’t work. Remember that your little one still needs you. He suggests setting aside at least half an hour each day to give your 100 percent attention to the younger sibling. That can also make the transition easier when big sister or brother comes home needing some one-on-one with you.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your own feelings during this time, too. Cohen says parents often have strong emotions when their child starts school. Whether its relief, sadness, or memories of your own start-of-school experience, be prepared to address those emotions when they surface with your child. Talk to your spouse, a friend, connect with other parents. Remember that your whole family, kids and adults alike, may need a little time to adjust to this big step.


What is an Alpha Mom, Anyway? PDF Print E-mail

Sub feature Title:  What is an Alpha Mom, Anyway?

By: jessica fisher

Date : August 2007


Picture: 0807-AlphaMom.jpg


It’s true that the mom on Leave it to Beaver didn’t have a Blackberry, but she was definitely cutting edge for her time. Fifty years ago, television moms like June Cleaver were the ones to emulate. From her pearls and high heels to her immaculate home, she attracted the attention of women across the nation as they peered into her television household, and sighed, “I wish I had what she’s got”. But, times do change. Since then we’ve seen the Super Mom take center stage, working hard for her money. Then the 90s woman began drawing everyone’s attention (and advertising strategies). The Soccer Mom, complete with non-fat latte and mini–van keys in hand, juggling the busy schedule of her family with ease. Now, there’s a new girl in town. Her name is Alpha Mom. If you haven’t heard about her yet, you probably will soon.

Finding a good definition of who she is can be difficult. According to Word Spy (the sleuth of new words and phrases) defines alpha mom as “the dominant woman in a group of mothers.” According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, she is “a modern mom who is confident and in control, a well informed decision-making multi-tasker.” News reports have described her as a hip, educated, technologically savvy, and a type A-personality mom.

And what’s so interesting about her is that she’s got market researchers hopping. Since moms in this new demographic spend the time to research the best products and services for their children, companies are counting on them to share that information with their friends. Corporations from Japan to Detroit to Overland Park, Kansas have already targeted this “type” as the one to win. Nintendo and Cadillac have pursued moms of this profile in recent advertising campaigns. Sprint recently recognized the importance of this trend, stating, “Alpha moms may be leading the charge in using technology to help them ‘do it all’ effortlessly, every mom can find easy ways to get plugged in.”

Regrettably, when a certain group attracts a lot of positive attention, those who don’t fit that profile tend to feel slighted. Whispers of a negative reaction to the “alpha mom” have been heard, prompting mothers to take sides. Slacker Mom vs. Alpha Mom? Do we really have to choose one or the other? There are many days when I probably land solidly in the “slacker” category. And there are rare moments when I am at the top of my game and get my to-do list accomplished. Then I might be considered an alpha mom. But can’t I be both?

The reality is that no mom perfectly fits the profile that Madison Avenue puts together. Each woman is one-of-a-kind, based on her personality, upbringing, likes and dislikes. Combine that with a husband and kids with their own unique characteristics and you will see that no family can fit the stereotype. We each serve an important purpose in this life. Each of us is unique; each has something to offer.

Mom, let’s care for one another, learn from one another, share our strengths and weaknesses. Support the moms you know when they have hard times. But you don’t have to do it exactly like the others do. Look well to the ways of your household. Do what you can to be the best mom for your kids. Learn from each other and smile along this journey called motherhood.


Vision Therapy PDF Print E-mail

Sub feature Title: Vision Therapy

By: Dr. Susan Jong

Date : August 2007


Picture: 0807-VisionTherapy.jpg


How that summer is almost over and school is just around the corner, parents everywhere are scurrying around to make sure their kids are prepared and ready to tackle another academic year. If you’re like most parents, you have an ongoing mental list of the necessities:


Backpack (Didn’t he say it

  had to be mesh?)

Enough uniforms that fit

School supplies (Thank

  goodness for the list) 

Books for required reading

That should do it!


Before you start patting yourself on the back for a job well done, you need to add one of the most important but often overlooked necessities–one that could make the difference in your child’s success in school and ultimately his or her life.

Just ask Taylor and her parents. From first to third grade, she was an A/B student. In fourth grade, she started a downward spiral with academics – she failed fourth grade and the second time in fourth grade was worse than the first time.  By fifth grade, she was barely making Ds. Because of her poor grades, she became very shy and would hardly speak to anyone. “We started to pull her out to home school her but decided to get her tutoring instead. After several months in tutoring, the tutors told us that Taylor wasn’t moving as fast as she should and suggested that there may be other problems”. Taylor’s mom just didn’t know what it could be. They were fortunate that our eye doctor referred us to a specialist in vision and learning problems.

Taylor had a severe problem with maintaining clear focus on words up close and also being able to change her focus from far to near and near to far. This explained why she couldn’t copy off the board or want to read her homework assignments. She always asked me to read it to her and I did even though I knew she was too old for that but if we didn’t - homework would have taken forever! After completing an in-office vision therapy program to eliminate the focusing difficulties, Taylor (and her parents) is proud to report that she is back on the Honor Roll!

Or you could ask Michael and his parents. Two years ago, Michael was a struggling 3rd grader whose grades started to drop along with his self-esteem. Both he and his parents couldn’t understand why this former Honor Roll student was having so many problems with school. Was it ADHD? Was it too much time with his friends? Was it too much computer time? Was he just being lazy like others thought? Luckily, another parent suggested getting his eyes checked by a doctor who specializes in vision related learning difficulties. We thought Michael had perfect vision - he could always spot the golden arches before anyone else could but we wanted to rule everything out. We are so happy we did! Michael is a totally different child now – he’s back on the Honor Roll, his confidence is high and he reads constantly. He still argues with his younger brother but it’s no longer out of frustration. And yes, Michael could see the 20/20 row of letters on the eye chart but more importantly, Michael had problems with maintaining proper eye alignment and eye focusing while reading. Because of these problems, Michael often saw blurry and double when he was doing his homework or class work. He never realized the blur or double images were abnormal – Michael thought everyone saw the way he did! With the help of an intense vision therapy program, Michael was able to learn how to use his eyes to work for him – not against him.

His parents wondered how a child with 20/20 vision could have all these visual problems. Having 20/20 vision merely means having the capability of seeing a certain size letter 20 feet away from your eyes. Having 20/20 eyesight only means you have ONE of over TEN visual skills critical for learning.

Studies show that 1 out of 4 children, like Taylor and Michael, suffer with undiagnosed vision problems that interfere with their ability to read and learn. Vision is a learned skill that involves all the visual skills to provide the complex links between your brain, eyes and muscles. Many students are often misdiagnosed as AD(H)D, dyslexic or slow when they actually have undiagnosed vision problems that are interfering with their ability to read and learn. A lot of these children have 20/20 eyesight and will continue to pass vision screenings, leaving parents struggling, trying to cope and searching for answers to their child’s difficulties.

  If your child is struggling with reading or learning, it’s important to understand that children usually won’t tell you if the words on the page are blurry or double because they think everyone sees the same way. All parents and educators should become familiar with the symptoms of vision problems that interfere with learning.



Is your child smart in everything but school? Does your child:


   Avoid reading?


   Get frustrated trying to read or do homework?


   Have trouble keeping attention on reading or homework?


   Do well in physical activities but have trouble reading?


   Take much longer doing his/her homework than it should?


   Have trouble making out words?


   Have trouble keeping his/her place when reading?


   Often squint or rub his/her eyes while trying to read?


               Complain of headaches during or after reading?


   Often mis-pronounce or misunderstand words?


   Have problems with reading comprehension?


   Find it harder to read at the end of the day than in the morning?


         Make lots of errors when copying?


       Skip words or repeat lines when reading out loud to you?


         Reverse letters like b’s into d’s when reading?


      Have dizziness, nausea or other physical symptoms after reading?


        Have a short attention span? ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia?


         Work below potential?



Undetected vision problems can lead to poor academic performance and ultimately, low self esteem. The good news is that once these vision problems are identified, they can actually be corrected!

To find out if your child’s vision is interfering with the learning process, specialized testing by a developmental optometrist is needed to evaluate:



            Eye movement control


            Eye teaming ability


            Depth perception


            Visual motor integration


            Visual memory




            Focusing near to far


            Sustaining clear focus



If you suspect your child has a vision problem that may be interfering with academic performance, have your child evaluated by a developmental optometrist. A developmental optometrist specializes in testing all the visual skills critical to reading and learning.

For more information regarding the critical link between vision and learning or to find a developmental optometrist, go to or or call the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at (888) 268-3770.

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