Ask the Experts: Mom Care - MetroFamily Magazine
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Ask the Experts: Mom Care

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We asked local experts to weigh in on their tips for staying on top of your parenting game.

To find more answers to other common parenting questions, check out our collection of Ask the Experts.

Thai-An Truong: My best tip is to stop trying to stay on top of the parenting game! But in all seriousness, there's no competition and you will burn out continuing to try to stay on top. Let go of external comparison with other moms. Look inward on your inner joy and sense of connection with the kids to gauge parenting health.

Sometimes we think our priority is making the kids happy (i.e. giving them what they want). While happiness is important, what may be more important is their sense of safety and trust in you. This sometimes means setting consistent boundaries, creating structure and letting them know why. It may not create happy, warm-fuzzy feelings, but a safe, trusting environment allows kids to thrive.

Simplify your life and do less instead of more. You don't need all the extracurricular activities to be a "good mom" or to have healthy kids. Have mindful moments with just you and the kids; no phone, no distractions, no cleaning. It'll increase your enjoyment when you're in tune with them instead of multitasking. And, have mindful moments with just you to nourish your spirit and recharge.

Give yourself grace. Learn from your mistakes (which we'll all continue to make) instead of using them to beat yourself up on a regular basis. That guilt is there because you want to do your very best in this tremendously important role. Fortunately, according to research by Fosha (2000), we only have to stay attuned to our kids about 30% of the time to raise healthy children.

If you're constantly depleted and drained from chasing perfectionism, ask yourself what you're running away from? It could help to see a therapist for self care.

Thai-An Truong is a therapist and mother who is passionate about helping pregnant and postpartum parents overcome depression and anxiety so they can feel like themselves again and enjoy life with their baby and family. After overcoming my own battle with postpartum depression and anxiety, she opened Lasting Change Therapy, LLC in South Oklahoma City to dedicate her counseling services to helping families recover. For more information, visit

Dr. Kelly Stephens: Go easy on yourself and lower your expectations. Leave wide margins in your day for things you don’t expect and try not to over schedule yourself and your family. Don’t assume your baby will meet every milestone exactly on time. I recommend parents try to stay off social media and limit news consumption because it’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game.  Let your children fail and try not to worry over a ‘B’ or ‘C’ grade in school. But, prioritize what’s really important and realize that just because you can buy, do or enroll them in everything, doesn’t mean you should.

Dr. Kelly Stephens, III has been practicing for 30 years and specializes in pediatrics at Mercy Clinic Primary Care I-35 Edmond.  He says, “seeing kids grow up and overcome problems, while watching parents get more adept at handling their little bundles of joy, these are the true rewards of my calling.” Learn more about Dr. Stephens at

Sunshine Cowan: It took me a great deal of time to recognize that I needed to take time for myself in order to be the best parent that I could be for my children. For a long while (and especially when my two were babies and toddlers), I allowed myself to feel great guilt for working fulltime while raising my young family. I justified to myself that if I was already missing out on time during the day with my children, I should not take away additional time that I could be spending with them. I need to add here that these feelings of guilt were of my own making – I was well supported by my husband, employer, and friends, yet I still placed pressure on myself to be the “perfect Mom” –- whatever that means.

I now recognize that a date night with my husband, coffee with a colleague or a quick getaway with friends is not selfish. It is the opposite. I come back rejuvenated and ready to be the parent that I want and need to be.

For me, staying on top of my parenting game still means researching “stages and phases” as well as figuring out the characteristics of each of my children so that I can parent them well. We work in our home to follow strategies that researchers describe as “goodness of fit” – creating environmental expectations for our children based on their individual, underlying temperament. This leads to parenting the child(ren) you have (and if you have more than one it often means parenting each child differently) rather than falling back on strategies that may be ineffective for your child.

Dr. Sunshine Cowan is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma where she coordinates the Community/Public Health program. Although she teaches many courses in her role with the university, one of her favorites is a course on human development. Sunshine has been married to the love of her life, Jerel Cowan, for more than 20 years; together they have two children, Canyon and Ponder.

Uganda Richardson: Staying on top of your parenting game means different things to different parents. Raising a Secure Child by Hoffman, Cooper and Powell writes “our early relationships give us an arena in which to try to gain a coherent sense of who we are, who the other person is and what we’re doing together”. The book dynamically writes about how the quality of connection is what matters in a two- people/dyadic relationship.

When teaching parents about relationships within the Circle of Security parenting program, I enthusiastically encourage parents to focus on being “good enough” for their children. This means not focusing on perfect parenting, but being okay, with your love you have for your baby.

Other helpful books to read are:

  • A Love and Logic parenting book
  • The whole brain child
  • The Connected Child.

Hopefully, being on “top of your game” does not require perfection, but allows you to be good enough for your baby!

Uganda Richardson’s heart is to offer support, training and assistance to overwhelmed parents. She loves the phrase “holding your hand, while you put your foot to the fire”. She uses an eclectic therapy approach, combining aspects of multiple approaches, such as Circle of Security, Thera-play, TBRI, Art and play therapy. She is trained in EMDR and is a licensed clinical social worker.

To find more answers to other common parenting questions, check out our collection of Ask the Experts.

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