I knew early on in my graduate studies, that there had to be more to parenting children than intuition. Long before there was Google and parenting websites and blogs, there were books and parenting magazines; and people were having children, and couples naturally figured out how to be parents. After all, we are all wired for survival and protection of our young, right?
Jump Starts for Growing Families has grown up over the past 30 years while I was developing my career in the mental health field, and personally growing my family. My graduate education began with studies in Child Development; I wanted to learn more about how parents’ behavior affects a child’s development. After earning this first Masters, I worked with families experiencing challenges parenting their children, doing home-based family therapy.
In the early 1980s my husband and I, newlyweds, moved from the East Coast to Colorado so I could attend the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. The Social Work perspective has been invaluable throughout my career, looking not just at what is going on inside a person, between partners, or in family interactions but also in considering other influences outside the home.
In Denver, I continued developing my professional interests and education. This coincided with starting, and growing our family while I was in school. A decision was made to extend my two-year program to three and a half years. I went from being a full time to part time graduate student, and during my tenure at DU gave birth to my two children thirteen months apart. Living 2,000 miles from extended families, my husband and I were on our own to figure things out, and we enjoyed discovering “our way” of parenting.
The dual path of motherhood and graduate studies posed many challenges and presented opportunities. I was fascinated watching the developmental changes in my children. I was also curious about changes in myself, being a Mom. The university library provided access to professional literature on the “transition to parenthood.”
At the time, research on the transition to parenthood focused primarily on Maternal-Infant attachment. I was surprised that little had been written about fathers’ roles in infant development. I identified an important missing topic – the emotional meaning of becoming parents and the assumption of this new identity. Another noteworthy discovery was the lack of attention to the ways in which a baby’s presence can affect a couple’s relationship.
I have been in private practice since 1990, seeing individuals, couples, families, and children. I see children of all ages, and work with their parents, helping them learn to recognize what is effective with their child, given his unique temperament and personality. I promote the idea that when a parent’s response fits, it is effective; and when it’s ineffective it is the parent’s responsibility to try something different.
Developing parental flexibility is fundamental in nurturing calm babies, toddlers, and parents. Couples are more successful in their relationship, and in parenting when the focus stays on finding an effective response. I enjoy helping couples get back to “we are in this together and will figure it out.”
Jump Starts is dedicated to taking the intimidating part out of asking for help. Our goal is to promote the perspective that it is natural to ask for help when you are thinking there must be a better way.
I look forward to helping you on your journey – Growing Your Family!