Social Support and Me
This article is the first in my new column in The Milton Times, Raising & Roasting. It is about parenting, psychology, and family, friendly food.
Social support is one of the strongest predictors of health outcomes, including quality of life and general well-being. This is often explored in psychological research. Although I always knew having friends and community was important, I never appreciated it more than when I had my first child. Naively, I thought, I am a clinical psychologist, I work with kids and parents, and I babysat regularly in younger years ‘so I’ll be fine.’ And, I generally was, but being a mother challenged me on a whole new personal level. I discovered sides of myself that I didn’t know existed – parts that were insecure, angry, impatient, and sometimes lonely. We had recently moved back from N.Y.C. and though I grew up in town and my family was here, most of my friends were elsewhere. Thankfully, I met a few wonderful Mums when my son started at The Village School; these ladies became my parenting backbone. Sharing the highs and lows with them helped me enjoy this beautiful, tumultuous ride through commiserating, validating, and normalizing.
This column is a way for us all to share in the joy and challenge of child rearing, providing an honest look behind the curtains of our neighbors’ homes. I will interview parents across Milton. Before I air someone else’s dirty laundry (so to speak), I feel it is only fair to go first and answer the same questions.
What is your name and how many kids do you have?
My name is Bobbi Oldfield Wegner and I have a husband and 3 kids (7, 5, and 2). I grew up in Milton, moved away, and returned 6 years ago.
How do you define yourself as a parent?
We aim to create large, clear boundary of what is acceptable/non-acceptable behavior and allow lots of freedom in between. We want our kids to learn how to think on their own, be independent, empathic, and compassionate (a good sense of humor is icing on the cake).
What are you proud of?
I am proud that my kids are kind hearted, empathic, and relatively adventurous eaters for their age.
What has been the most challenging?
Acknowledging that I get frustrated, angry, and impatient. I am way more impatient than I previously thought. And, I yell more than I am proud of – the kids know this is what I am "working on" and that we all have our growing points.
What would you want to share with a new parent out there? Any helpful tips?
Let go of the embarrassment and shame that sometimes comes along with parenting. I’d say most of what we see in our kids is normal. I vividly remember my son biting a friend when he was 3 years old. I overreacted and banished him to his room for way too long for his age. I acted out of embarrassment and lack of understanding. My daughter (and third child) also was a "biter" briefly and I didn’t bat an eye. By ignoring (and not reinforcing this behavior with attention), it seemed to pass much more quickly.
What do you like about raising your family in Milton and what do you wish was different?
I love the support we found here. And, I love we can ski, hike, walk to good restaurants, and feel like Milton has moved from a sleepy, little town to one of vibrancy and access.
What is your favorite, family friendly recipe?
Lentil Soup with Bacon and Herbs (adapted from Bon Appetit, 1996)
½ cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
½ packaged of bacon, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
7 cups (or more) canned chicken broth
2 cups dried lentils (about 12 1/2 ounces)
2 large fresh thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
Combine onion, celery, carrot, bacon and garlic in heavy Dutch oven. Stir over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Uncover; add 7 cups broth, lentils, thyme and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.Transfer half of soup to processor (or not, I often skip this step and opt for chunkier soup); cool slightly. Puree until smooth. Return puree to Dutch oven. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more broth, if desired. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Combine parsley and chives in small bowl. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle parsley mixture over and serve.