Ask the Guidance Center Experts

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In this monthly column, therapists from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center answer your questions on issues related to parenting, mental health and children’s well-being. To submit a question, email NSCFGCexperts@gmail.com.

Question: I had my beautiful baby girl two months ago, but being a mother is nothing like what I expected. I am so depressed most of the time that I have trouble getting up in the morning, let alone taking care of my baby. I’m also paralyzed by fear that something bad will happen to her. How can I be so sad when this is supposed to be one of the best times in my life? I feel like the worst mother in the world.

  • Distressed Mom

Dear Distressed Mom: It’s very possible that what you are experiencing is a condition known as postpartum (maternal) depression. First off, please know that this is not about whether or not you are a loving and dedicated mother. It’s a disease like any other, and there are steps you can take to get better.

While many women experience some mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child, 15 percent to 20 percent experience more significant symptoms of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

The symptoms can include feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself. These symptoms can also begin during pregnancy, not just after they have the baby.

The good news is that help is available. One resource is North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center’s Diane Goldberg Maternal Depression Program. Services include:

  • Screening and assessment
  • Individual, couple and family therapy
  • Crisis intervention consultation
  • Psychiatric evaluations and medication management, where needed
  • Support groups
  • Back-to-work family support
  • Help with self-care

Another great place to find help is the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, postpartumny.org, (855) 631-0001.

While motherhood is wonderful in many ways, it’s OK to admit it can be really hard, especially in the beginning. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help!

Question: My son is in fourth grade and is insisting all his friends already have a cell phone. We think it’s too soon. What should we do?

— Old-fashioned Parents

Dear Old -Fashioned Parents: There is no “right time” to give your child his own cell phone—but acquiescing to the “but everyone has one” plea is definitely not a smart move. Is he apart from you often beyond school hours and active with extracurricular activities? That might make it a useful means of communicating with you. Is he typically responsible with his possessions? Is he good when it comes to respecting limits you put on screen time?

If you feel like it might be useful for him to have a cell phone but you think he is too young for access to texting or the Internet, look into plans that only allow phone calls.  Other plans will allow for just calls and text, but that’s all.

Stay tuned for next month’s column, when we’ll talk about how to regulate your child’s use of phones and other tech devices.

During the pandemic, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is seeing clients remotely via telehealth platforms or, when deemed necessary, in person. To make an appointment, call  (516) 626-1971 or email intake@northshorechildguidance.org.

 

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