Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Parenting in the Digital Age!

So we live in a digital age!
I read articles every day warning people we have become slaves to technology. I too feel concerned when I see families entirely engrossed in the smartphones not talking or holding eye contact. Yes, everyone needs to remember human contact is still a necessity, eye gazing, tone inflection, touch etc are a vital part of nonverbal communication which is 90% of human communication. Eye contact and touch are powerhouses for infusing intention & emotional connection.

At the same time, it is essential as a family life educator to accept what is (the situ) and find ways to engage family members. I also encourage seeing the world through the eyes of the children. Unlike myself children, today have no experience prior to the boom in technology. Speaking and reaching today's digitally proficient child is critical. Setting aside attachment to the good ole days is my baggage to unload prior to working with families, otherwise it becomes criticism which regardless of what we have been told isn't helpful and no one is as skilled at giving it as they convince themselves they are....we #CFLEs need to meet people where they are....

Family games were a favorite of mine Growing up. Here is a great app for families with children of all ages and stages to enjoy!

A great example of a digital family tool is Kahoot!
Preloaded game quizzes or make your own family quizzes, i.e., vacation quizzes about the area you are going to or what you remember from past vacations, family fun times, pets (a day in the life of your pet), etc.

Topics that have a base for the entire family to play require sensitivity to the ages of the child etc., challenge parents to get into the live everyday experiences of their children. Include the reverse, put the children in charge of building quizzes to see what they come up with and gain insight into what their thinking and experiencing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coming soon!

What are the subtle ecological barriers discouraging fathers from intial bonding contact?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fathers and Depression after birth (Sad Dads)

This is a follow up article of two previously published articles on the National Fatherhood blog!

Research now finds that 1 in 4 new dads become depressed after the birth of their child. Becoming a father is every bit as stressful and life changing as becoming a new mother. There are the sudden changes in social lives, private lives, family relationships just to mention a few. There are stressors placed on careers, finances and time when becoming a parent.

Article in Fit Pregnancy Post on Dad's with Post Partum

The major differences between becoming a new mother and a new father is that women most often were conditioned and coached from childhood to be with babies and children while many fathers were not. Then when their first child comes along they are suddenly expected to cope and support the mothers of their babies. Men who have been conditioned to "fix" everything are suddenly faced with a new born infant. A living human being incapable of speaking words. Interpretation and instructions are required.


Would you be surprised to learn that when their baby is born men too experience changes in their hormone levels. Their testosterone drops and their estrogen rises. Studies have shown that when fathers spend more time caring for their infants their bodies also produce oxytocin! Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, it is what makes us feel all warm and fuzzy around our baby and why we smell our babies. Men do indeed suffer from depression and the symptoms are different and they come on further after the baby is born. When we consider that 90% of fathers are involved at the time of the babies' birth but this involvement drops to less than 50% by the time their child enters school we need to be concerned about how to support fathers in their new fathering role.

How can we support fathers after the birth of their baby to prevent post partum depression?

We can begin before the baby is born. Fathers who are attending the medical appointments, the birth classes and any other event that involves the mother and baby can be included into the conversation with appropriate eye contact and acknowledgement of his presence. Include fathers in the dialogue about their baby's welfare. Fathers worry about their baby's well-being too (Keller & Rehm, 2015). Fathers need this additional support from professionals involved with the mother and the baby because the father is a part of this ecological family unit!

Is this a systemic issue?
We spent nearly one hundred years studying mothers and babies and formulating the attachment and bonding theories. All of this research, 1920 Hammett and rats, 1930s Harlow and monkeys, 1940s-60s Ainsworth and Bowlby humans, were conducted with mothers and babies. Not once were fathers included as an important impact in the lives of their babies.

During my doctoral research on infant massage, I asked the question, can fathers benefit from massaging their babies? Fathers did indeed benefit from learning to massage their babies and continued to massage their babies. Fathers stated they felt more competent and confident in caring for their new babies. Confidence and competency are both noted in the research as complimentary factors of better parenting skills and self esteem. All of which make us feel better about ourselves.

Finally, research on Infant Massage and mothers found that when mothers who reported depression symptoms watched their babies being massaged or massaged their babies, they reported less symptoms of depression afterward. It only stands to reason that this study requires replication on fathers to determine if the same results are possible. What if massaging their baby decreased their symptoms of depression and the mothers too. Massaging the baby can also make the baby sleep longer and be healthier. Both are positives for the parents. Instead of sad dads and moms maybe the family as a unit could greatly benefit from Infant Massage as one strategy of depression prevention.

Who all can benefit?
First time fathers, fathers in the military facing separation from their baby, fathers who are divorced or separated, fathers who are incarcerated from non-violent offenses and fathers who are step fathers, father who have adopted and grandfathers too. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What dads want us to know about them!

When I was working on my Doctorate Degree I dreamed of researching optimal care giving practices. I had a list of several and at the top of my list was Infant Massage. I really counted the time it would take to reach doctoral status so I could begin.

First I completed an extensive review of research articles on the science of Infant Massage. When I successfully submitted this 112 page document for my preliminary exam in the doctoral program I discovered that only 2 of the original 300+ articles I had screened included fathers. This caught my attention and I continued my doctoral research focusing on fathers and their interactions with their babies.

 Since then I have one peer reviewed article published on the results, one to submit and several in draft, presented in the only TED talk to date on Fathers, published on several National Blogs and now am developing a series of videos, Baby Perspectives, to highlight the importance of massaging our babies!

Click on the first video in the series of Baby Perspectives.

Thank you for visiting today! 

Dr. Mary Kay Keller How can I be of service?


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fathers Day is right around the corner!

Father's day is right around the corner. It made me stop when I realized how close it is as my own father died early last year. I learned some very valuable life lessons from him. He taught me how to tie my shoes. I earned the feeling of mastering a skill. He taught me how to dance by letting me stand on his polished (Army) dress shoes. He taught me how to ride my bike. I learned confidence and competence. I can still hear him asking me, "are you going to ride the bike or let the bike ride you because if the bike rides you, you won't like where you end up!"

So I pondered Father's Day and what it means to so many of us. Some had wonderful fathers who were their warriors, their guide, their safe haven. Some had fathers who were barely there and maybe absent most of the time. Some may not have had a father in their early years or any years. They may have had other men who were father figures to them.

I pondered about fathers, first time fathers, step fathers, single fathers, gay fathers and the men who may have desired to be fathers who never had the opportunity. I pondered fathers as we all know it takes two to give us life. Yet the research has been so lacking in supporting fathers until the last 10-15 years. So here is my Celebration to fathers everywhere! In the upcoming weeks I will post a series of highlights on Fathers. They maybe my musings or they maybe video blogs. Who knows?

TODAY Remember the most amazing Father's Day ever is a Gift Certificate for a Daddy/Baby Massage class. Infant Massage is 1 of 3 intense bonding care giving activities. It's a gift that lasts a lifetime! Schedule a class at +1.626.817.3093 or buy a Father's Day Gift Certificate here! 

I have links of interest on Fathers Activities! Enjoy!
Dr. Mary Kay Keller

Celebrate Dad with Freeform's 'Funday' Father's Day Weekend Programming

Finding Dory!

STAR WARS THEME: Fathers Day Infant Massage Class Hileah, Florida

#DADBETHERE Logo Design Contest

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Join the U.S. Chapter of International Infant Massage and Babies R Us in a collaboration Across the Nation on June 11!

On Saturday June 11, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. this collaboration will bring 

"The Many Science Based Benefits of Infant Massage" 

to the Tallahassee Big Bend Area!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller who conducted research at Florida

State University on Fathers' Experiences Massaging 

their babies will be presenting the Science based benefits

of massaging your babies and toddlers! 

Dr. Mary Kay Keller will share what you will 

experience in a infant massage class, who all benefits 

from a class, how to schedule a class and where classes 

are offered.

This is a FREE Event! Don't miss this opportunity to learn 

about the one care giving activity that supports bonding 

and attachment almost as intensely as ~breastfeeding.