My name is Tracy and as a daughter of Deborah McNelis, I have come to learn a LOT about early brain development over my 36 years and feel very fortunate in having the opportunity to gain this knowledge. But, this has lead me to wonder lately: Why wasn’t this critically important information provided to me during my pregnancy or in the hospital when my children were born? So I felt compelled to share my thoughts and questions in this post since as a mother myself, and knowing personally how important this all is, I share the heartfelt desire of my mother: genuinely wanting the best possible outcome and well-being for all children.
Think about it…
As a society, we make sure parents have a car seat correctly installed when a newborn leaves the hospital, we tell pregnant mothers about how important prenatal vitamins are, we provide them with resources to learn about labor, CPR, and breast-feeding, but we give them no information or resources to learn about the fact that their child’s brain will be undeveloped at birth and it will have certain essential needs to be met to be the healthiest it can be. Think about if it was any other important organ… if they had an undeveloped heart… we would intervene, if they have undeveloped lungs we intervene… so why don’t we, why can’t we even just discuss the child’s brain development with every new parent? Why isn’t this a standard, routine conversation between a doctor and a new parent? Especially since we have the facts and SCIENTIFIC studies which prove what a growing brain needs, how much of an impact it can have, and how detrimental to the child, and to the society at large it can be to ignore those needs. Shouldn’t it therefore be a conversation and a topic brought up to all parents of newborns? Shouldn’t there be a resource offered to all new parents to learn about the topic if they then so choose? Haven’t we learned yet that preventative measures and sharing knowledge are usually more cost effective for everyone than trying to remedy a problem or damage that has already occurred?
Is it that doctors are possibly not aware (on a large scale) that this information has been proven for over 25 years? Are they maybe fearful of overstepping their boundaries and think of this as an individual parenting choice that they shouldn’t share an opinion on? If that’s the case, I would remind them it is not opinion, it is factual; it is KNOWN and proven what is healthiest for a child’s brain development. I am simply proposing that giving them some valuable knowledge on the subject might be helpful and would let them make the most informed parenting choices. And wouldn’t that information be best coming from the doctor that helps them with the development of their child during the pregnancy and from the doctor who cares for the child after birth?
Maybe the issue is the brain itself… it is the most complex organ in our body, and it may seem mysterious still in many ways to many people. Also anything under the heading of ‘mental health’ is unfortunately often seen as something far different than physical health and as such is treated much differently. But this information regarding brain development does relate to and directly influences physical health. The brain is a physical organ, it physically grows in size over time, it also physically grows connections between it’s physical neurons. This information can be shared in a straightforward, easy to understand way and once understood, optimal choices can be implemented into everyday life with a child in very practical and simple ways.
I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote (from 1999) as I’m sure many of you reading this do, so I just wonder what have been the roadblocks resulting in this information not being routinely shared far and wide. If this knowledge were consistently passed along and understanding was expanded just imagine how many more voices there would be to advocate for what is best for children and their development. It could branch out further into education practices, health care practices, legislation changes, and overall greater investment into meeting the real needs of all children. After all…
“When we know better, we do better” -Maya Angelou
My mother is ready to push forward, even more than ever to fight for this information to get a broader reach, and to make this goal a real MOVEMENT. Are you with her?!
I invite you to talk about this with people you know, share articles or quotes or questions that will start a conversation on the topic. Think of who you know that could also broaden the reach of this message and who else would be willing to listen and join us to make a real difference for all children.
With an invigorating enthusiasm my amazing advocate for children of a Mother is starting to move forward on a BIG idea behind the scenes and she can’t wait to share it with all of you. The time is NOW to get enthusiastic and get moving. Leave a comment if you agree! Or get in touch with Deborah directly firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s all do this together!