Parenting Bloggers Help Raise Public Awareness of ACEs

Parenting Bloggers Help Raise Public Awareness of ACEs

Over the last six months, Stress Health has partnered with parenting bloggers from Georgia to California to spread the word about childhood adversity and its impact on children to readers across the country.

As part of this campaign, parent bloggers learned more about research on Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. Some used what they learned to write poignant accounts of personal trauma and resilience. One mom who served in Afghanistan wrote about the ghosts she battled after turning in her combat boots for a diaper bag. A mother in upstate New York discusses the ongoing challenge of parenting with ACEs.  And a north Georgia blogger traced the mystery of her husband’s frequent, disruptive moves to the long shadow of childhood abuse:

“Growing up, my husband had a very dysfunctional household. His dad was a bad drinker and would beat his mom and also yell at all the kids. Because of his instability, his family moved around a lot. His dad had a bad temper, so if he got upset at work, he would just quit, come home and tell everyone to pack what they could in the car. Then they would leave everything else behind and go somewhere new. This chaos forced them live in hotels, motels, and the projects; they were even homeless in the woods.

 “My husband was always switching schools and never had a chance to date in high school or have friends. He became very antisocial, and then as an adult, he started following the pattern of his father. He would move away quickly if someone offended him and just start over with the clothes on his back. After all the years of moving in his childhood, he had accepted this as normal.

 “When we first got married, even we started moving around a lot. In a year’s time, we had already lived in more than five places. It took years for him to start getting rid of the baggage that his toxic stress had given him…But I am happy to say that now our daughter has lived in the same town her whole life….”

She and other bloggers were gratified to learn from Stress Health that the right kind of care and support can help mitigate the impact of toxic stress and help children bounce back. In the blog Embracing Imperfect,  for example, a mom whose daughters have disabilities talks about six science-based ways  to make children secure and connected.

The campaign produced more than 85 stories distributed in blogs nationwide. Besides personal stories about ACEs, bloggers wrote primers about toxic stress as well as ways parents can prevent or reverse its effects, focusing on the areas of sleep, exercise, nutrition, mental health, mindfulness and healthy relationships. The reception was enthusiastic and heartfelt, with one reader writing to thank the blog author for “this incredible information that I’m hearing for the first time.” Some mentioned they had never heard of toxic stress and were stunned that it could undermine kids’ growth, learning, behavior and immunity and even affect their genes.  Among the campaign’s posts:

  • Nashville mom Scarlet Paolicchi discusses how to recognize symptoms of toxic stress in her Family Focus Blog
  • In their popular blog Evie+Sarah, two military wives write the joy – and stress — of homecoming day as the long-awaited ship carrying their husbands pulls up to the pier: “It’s two minutes of perfect–it’s my husband dropping to his knees and my kids running toward him in a scene repeated in every military homecoming film. Now that he’s home, the stress is over, right? Not at all….”
  • In A Nation of Moms, a mother in upstate New York discusses the special challenges of parenting with ACEs
  • In the blog Airman Turned Mom, a mom in southern California talks returning from Afghanistan, self-care for her PTSD and the struggle to prevent toxic stress in her kids
  • In Whimsical September, an Alabama blogger talks about how excited she is to be spreading the news about ACEs, toxic stress and interventions.

“The impact of ACES, trauma and toxic stress is a true public health crisis,” says Jabeen Yusef, vice-president of engagement for the Center for Youth Wellness and director of its Stress Health initiative. “The reason we began the blogger ambassador program was because we know good parenting is the most powerful intervention to prevent or reverse the long-term effects of toxic stress. And who better to enlist to spread the word than parents themselves? That’s why we invited these ‘mom bloggers,’ who are already helping other parents figure things out, to learn more and write about ACEs and ways to mitigate the damage they can cause.

“We want to thank all the bloggers who participated in the campaign for their honesty and authenticity in sharing their stories,” she concludes. “In coming together to share the news about ACEs and explore solutions, they’ve done an incredible job of raising public awareness about the impact of toxic stress on our children and our society. Their voice and communication has to be part of this program — we cannot do it without them. “