Texas Parenting News
Are you a Texas vet?
Military veterans returning home and rejoining their families can face many challenges. Assistance is available from federal, state, and community organizations and often includes help for spouses and children. Here’s a sampling.
Veterans.portal.texas.gov. The State of Texas offers information about benefits, education, employment, health, and other topics available through the Texas Veterans Commission, the Texas Veterans Land Board, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other agencies.
Find out about job search assistance, home improvement loans, diabetes treatment, survivor pensions, and long-term nursing care by clicking on the links provided. Or call 1-800-252-VETS (8387).
www.texvet.org.This resource offers links to hundreds of organizations and agencies, particularly local ones, related to veterans and their families. You’ll find such resources as the Child Crisis Center of El Paso, which provides emergency shelter for children from birth to age 13; Camp C.O.P.E., which helps children cope with their parents’ deployment or injuries; and Military Moms of Texas, which provides care packages, send-off and welcome-home events, Green Santa at Christmas, and other support to military families.
In the right-hand column of most pages on the website is the Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, for anyone experiencing emotional stress, feeling depressed, or considering suicide.
TEXVET is an initiative of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
Texas Veterans Legal Assistance Project
This program provides free professional legal assistance to low-income veterans, their spouses, their dependents, and surviving spouses of deceased veterans. The focus is on veterans with disabilities who live in rural areas of the state.
The program can answer common legal (not criminal) questions about benefits, discharge, housing, employment, bankruptcy, probate, and other issues. It can also make referrals to private attorneys and community services, where appropriate. All services are provided by telephone. To obtain help, call 1-800-622-2520.
To qualify, your income must be at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or you must be 60 years old or older.
Texas VLAP is a program of the Texas Legal Services Center, www.tlsc.org, and is funded by the Texas Veterans’ Commission, www.tvc.texas.gov, and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, www.teajf.org, founded by the Texas Supreme Court to enhance access to justice for low-income Texans.
Lawyer Referral Information Service 1-800-252-9600
If you do not qualify for free legal aid, you may call the State Bar of Texas referral service about getting a 30-minute consultation with an attorney for $20. At the end, you may discuss further representation and cost.
Free legal clinics for veterans are offered in all major Texas cities as well as a few smaller cities such as Galveston and Midland-Odessa. For a calendar listing of places and dates as well as other resources, see Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, at the Lawyers Giving Back tab, at www.Texasbar.com.
The State Bar, the professional association for Texas attorneys, does not provide direct legal services or match individuals with attorneys willing to offer free legal services. Funding for the information referral service comes from attorney donations and is in high demand.
HEROES for Children of Military Families
HEROES (Help Establishing Responsive Orders and Ensuring Support) is a program of the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General’s office.
The goal is to address paternity issues, provide relief in cases where military service injuries have affected compliance with court orders, and offer positive co-parenting solutions to families.
The program is funded through a grant from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.
For more information, see www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/ofi/index.shtml, or call 1-512-460-6400.
Mom versus Dad: Banish the stereotypes
In much of our media as well as popular culture, Mom is portrayed as the expert baby caregiver, and Dad, as the dummy. It’s time to banish those stereotypes.
That image reflects the 1950s white middle-class stereotype of the bread-winning dad and stay-at-home mom. But even then, most fathers competently fed their babies, changed diapers, played with their babies, and soothed them through illness and injury.
Over the past half century, as more moms moved into the workforce, both parents have increasingly shared the baby-caring role. What’s more, larger numbers of fathers have become the stay-at-home caregiver in recent years. The last Census, in particular, showed that a third of fathers with working wives provided the primary care for their children. See www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/children/cb11-198.html.
Stereotypes of moms and dads are part of larger stereotypes about women versus men. Those stereotypes are outdated, hurt women as much as men, and send the wrong message to our children.
How can we help erase the stereotypes?
Review our own concepts and attitudes about the roles of Mom and Dad in baby and child care. Do we buy products or laugh at jokes that reflect those stereotypes?
Monitor our words and actions when encountering a dad and baby in the park, in church, at the grocery store, at school, and other places. Do we unwittingly greet them with words like “Hello, Mr. Mom” or “Ready for Mommy to come home?”
Respectfully express our displeasure to the manager, manufacturer, or broadcaster when finding stereotyped images. Ask like-minded friends, relatives, and co-workers to do the same.
Support caregivers, teachers, and administrators who interact with children in positive ways with regard to both genders and who provide non-biased books and learning materials.
Remember that no parent is perfect. We all make mistakes in child-rearing, and we make amends by apologizing and changing our behavior.
Pregnant? Feed yourself and your baby well
A mother’s nutrition during pregnancy has a huge impact on both mother and baby. Overeating and consuming high-fat, high-sugar foods can lead to the mother’s obesity, which can result in diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating too little and too poorly can affect the baby’s size and development, which can endanger the child’s health and survival.
Proper nutrition, however, contributes to mother and baby health. Although no one can guarantee a problem-free pregnancy or a strong baby, a few simple steps can set mothers on the right track:
Eat a variety of foods from each food group, especially whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Limit oils and solid fats.
Eat regular meals and snacks.
Drink at least eight cups of water every day.
Avoid soft drinks. Exclude alcohol entirely.
Check with your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin.
Plan to breastfeed your baby.
Do you qualify for WIC?
Families that meet income guidelines may qualify for a supplemental nutrition program, WIC. Originally aimed at women, infants, and children younger than 5 years old, the program today is open to all kinds of families rearing young children, including married and single parents, working and nonworking parents, fathers, grandparents, foster parents, and legal guardians.
Because nutrition is so important, women ideally should enroll in WIC as soon as they find they are pregnant.
WIC offers the following:
nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products;
breastfeeding education and support, including breast pumps for mothers returning to work or school; and
referrals to other health providers, including counselors and social workers.
You can find the nearest WIC clinic by contacting your local health department or going online to WIC at www.dshs.state.tx.us/wichd/.