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. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

What does it mean to be a man?

Love this article on the Good Men Project by Jordan Kozey

"Truth be told, a short time ago I was vastly unaware of any concept related to manhood above wage earning, loyalty, and being strong/hard, until an ex-partner of mine quite viciously informed me that I was not a man. “What does that even mean?” I asked myself earnestly, biting back the pain of those icy bullets. In the wake of what obviously became a dismantled marriage, the question still burns in my heart, but it’s lighter, tender, and more fertile than before. Most significantly, I’ve learned that the answers emerge most effectively through self-compassion and care." Read more here!

This applies to all human beings as we journey along into evolution rather than revolution. More men contacted me (over the years) for relationship coaching than women, because they were literally losing themselves in their relationships. The focus was all about attention gained because of how much they spent on her and the reward of her affection for doing so. Women, in general, contacted me to find out “if he would commit.” I realized something was inherently false about how we match up.

Since those days I have researched men in their fathering roles and discovered most of the last century examined mothers relationships to their babies and children and did not include men. Considering the lack of social conditioning as children and the lack of attention by the research community, there are many awesome fathers who have gone unrecognized.

In general I began to suspect our American definition was not working for men any more than it was working for women. Case in point the midlife crisis. A fellow researcher discovered that men may seek a younger woman because of her child bearing years. They worked and became successful during their children’s growing up years and the mid life crisis may actually be triggered by empty nest syndrome. It was postulated that they maybe having an intense reaction to the loss of their relationship with their children. Being successful and workaholic patterns do not support healthy parent-child relationships over the short or long term. Many men who enter into mid-life relationships end up fathering again and do so quite differently the second time around.

I see the new trend of masculine questioning as a step forward for men, women and families. Awesome article! Enjoy!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
What is coaching?
What men want us to know about fathering.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fathering in the News!

Why is a focus on Fathering so Important? Not very often I hear from mothers who feel resentful that the focus is now on fathers. As if mothering never quite received its true recognition. I have to say as a woman and mother I do agree. Mothers were the central focus of attachment and bonding studies for almost 100 years, leaving out fathers completely. However, the interpretation of the research was often viewed in a negative light, such as, how much damage we were doing to our children because we were not doing it right. Mothers of the year never seem to hit the news media, indeed only the ones who killed or abused their children were often in the spot light. The reverse is true of fathers. For many years working in direct services, professionals know that the killing of women and children by men is so common placed that it rarely makes the front page of the news.

WHY?  I believe that the world will become a better place when we change the way we socialize our males. It truly is that simple. Research indicates that men who spend more time caring for their infant's experience an increase in the bonding hormone, oxytocin. The hormone that makes us bond with each other as human beings. Through this bonding and connection we become attached to each other. Who can't see where t his is leading us to?

Further more, there are many fathers who have never been acknowledged for their contributions in raising their children. Many times men are doing it all too, only they are quiet about it. Fathers who have been in both roles due to an illness or disease in the mother are not unusual. They are however ignored and unsupported. So here is fathering in the news today, four great articles, thanks to my Google Alerts! Read on and enjoy! 

Today's Post is from the HuffingtonPost Parents! 

What a great article! Thank you to Christopher A. Brown.

"According to the Pew Research Center's recent Parenting in America study, only 39% of dads say they do a "very good job as a parent." That's compared to 51% of moms who say the same about their own parenting.Why, then, do 6 in 10 of dads lack confidence in their parenting? One reason might be dads' lack of confidence in how well prepared they are to be dads. National Fatherhood Initiative's Pop's Culture study -- the most comprehensive national study ever conducted on dads' attitudes on fathering -- found that only 54% of dads "agreed" and 22% "strongly agreed" that they were adequately prepared for fatherhood when their first child was born.
Nevertheless, dads have the ability to learn to be better dads. Unfortunately, they lack the kind of help-seeking behavior of moms when it comes to parenting. In a way, dads are often their worst enemy when it comes to seeking advice and guidance on how to be a good father. As the Pew report on the Parenting in America study states:"
Click here to read the entire article!
"As you know, fatherhood is a joy!
… and sometimes, not so much.
The longer I am a dad, the more I’m humbled about the role. I talk to more and more men who are having difficulties with their kids, and they really aren’t much different from me. They try to do the right thing, they’re highly devoted to their families, and yet for some reason their kids make a wrong turn." Click here to read the full article! 


"FOR years, dads have been the butt of jokes for being completely incapable of looking after their own kids
They’re so totally hopeless their main role is babysitter rather than parent.
They put nappies on upside down, think French fries are a vegetable, and can never remember what pick-up time is for kindergarten.
Watch him leave the house without the nappy bag! Marvel as he forgets to pack the school lunches – again! See him struggle to put the pram up!"

Mentoring Fathers by By
Every child needs a strong male figure in their life and one Arizona organization is working to make sure those men are prepared for the responsibility. Phoenix-based organization Father Matters aims to give fathers in socially- and economically-deprived communities a strong mentor in their lives and teach them how to become a mentor of their own.

Vance Simms, a life coach, founded the group in 1997, after Simms noticed the “tremendous need” for fathering, according to the organization’s website.  Simms grew up without his father and wanted to be a presence in the lives of his own five children.

The organization does not just target men: Father Matters is dedicated to providing tools to women in order to improve the well-being in their homes and communities.

Click here to read the story!

Remember to find me on Social Media (see the links to the right) and check out my services on the page links above. Best, Mary Kay

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Discipline is not punishment. Discipine means to teach!

So I get questions about how to discipline children. What I find is that most people confuse the word discipline with punishment. Punishment works in the short term, it stops the behavior right now. It does not prevent the behavior in the future. Case in point, going to prison. What are the prisons full of? People who keep coming back. People who will never tell you they were raised and surrounded by love, compassion and understanding. Furthermore, everything science tells us about punishment says it is inferior to positive reinforcement. Reinforcement whether it is positive or negative is certain to increase the behavior that you do want (+) or that you don't want (-).

I love the work of Byron Katie. The work of inquiry of asking ourselves and the people around us empowers us and them. I love the work of the Nurturing Parenting Program. No person incarcerated has ever shared with me, I grew up being nurtured (spoiled). As if spoiling equals nurturing. Spoiling is not about nurturing. Spoiling is about living with out boundaries. I love the work of self compassion by Dr. Neff   I love the work of Dr. Brown the Parenting Manifesto

Children are smaller than us. We as adults are obligated to do our very best, to protect, guide and raise our children with respect, not less responsibility, more responsibility. We are not to be the enemy of children. We do not own our children they are not our property to do was we please.

Enjoy this video of a little boy reading Byron Katie's book Tiger, Tiger is it so? In Grandma's Reading Room. Books I endorse! Grandma's Reading room! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Children grieve too!

Many times parents ask about talking to their children about death. Often they feel it is better to keep children away from hospitals and funerals. What happens when a child is "protected" is that they are shut out from reality. They feel emotionally abandoned. Children may not always understand death and dying however their bodies and hearts know that something is amiss. If you can't talk to them about death, buy a book that explains it and read it to them. Afterwards allow them to process and ask questions. You don't have to have all the answers, they just need you with them as they journey through life.

I highly recommend the book, I miss you! Here is a link to Amazon Buy Here on Amazon
Today's Reading in Grandma's reading room. 

Remember parenting coaching is an investment in your child's emotional future. Check out my services on the page above. Best, Mary Kay Keller

Friday, January 8, 2016

Grandma's Reading Channel!

Hello Readers,

I am working up a blog post about Grandparents and their contributions in the lives of their grandchildren. There is a lot of controversy right now about grandparents rights to visit their grandchildren due to the prevalence of cut offs (being denied access to grandchildren). There are two sides to the story and I intend to address each side by presenting research and interpretation of said research in story form based upon my training and expertise as a qualitative researcher. I speak of quality because the quality of a child's life is imperative and supersedes (in my opinion) the rights of adults. Babies, toddlers, children of all ages and stages, including teens are developing human beings who deserve a higher standard of care.  Optimal environments are required for optimal development and this is the responsibility of all adults in the lives of children.

In the meantime my own grandchildren have moved some distance away and I like any other grandparent who understands this move with my head, cannot avoid the heartache of missing them. I was so grateful and blessed to have attended each of their births by the requests of my own adult children. I was able to hold them, massage them, bathe them, and sing to them as did my own grandmothers. Being in their early lives bonded us biochemically. This bond, I know from my own childhood experience, lives in our hearts and minds forever.

It was through sitting with my grief and sadness that I was inspired to create these videos of reading to my grandchildren. They so enjoyed being read to as toddlers and when they were in pre-school and even into elementary school before we parted. Additionally, they are growing up, as all children do, and developmentally, their brains are wired to socialize intensely with children who are age appropriate. I know it is time for me to recede into my own life and watch them fly!

I do believe that these videos will be something they can return to whenever they choose and come to treasure when they have families of their own. And in the meantime I think of children who may not know the experience of being read to by a grandmother. Maybe their grandparents died when they were young, or before they were born or their family is estranged for whatever reason. I hope that this is my gift to the world for all the amazing blessings that have been my honor to receive through becoming a grandmother and enjoying the amazing human beings I call my grandchildren.

Grandma will always love you and in my heart you will always be!
Visit my reading room every Wednesday Morning for a new Reading!
Soon I will post a schedule of Live Streaming!
Click here to enter Grandma's Reading Room