Lesley Burton-Iwinski, MD
Dr. Burton-Iwinski is a mom of 20- and 18-year-old daughters and a 14-year-old son, a retired family physician, and a parent and teacher educator with Growing Peaceful Families, in Lexington, KY.
How many children do you have? I have 20- and 18-year-old daughters and a 14-year-old son.
What is your specialty? I am a retired family physician. I still have an active license and have maintained my board certification, but after a move to Kentucky in 1998 I slowly realized that I was not going to be able to do everything as well as I wanted to. I had taken a parenting class from one of my patients back in Georgia in 1994, and I decided to become certified myself. My vision was to create a supportive community of parents who wanted positive discipline tools, communication skills, a sense of team, and more peace in their homes. I don’t think of myself as an expert, but as an encouraging companion on the journey. Two weeks ago, I signed the lease for a gathering place of my own in downtown Lexington, and I’m looking forward to reaching out to parents from all walks of life.
What is your favorite parenting tip? It isn’t so much what you do that is important, it is how you are while you are doing it that matters.
What has surprised you most about parenting? That there wasn’t one single thing I learned in medical school that prepared or helped me for this adventure.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? It starts in the grocery store. If I buy healthy food and don’t (or only rarely) buy other food, they tend to do very well. Just because they are campaigning for a giant container of cheese balls from Sam’s Club doesn’t mean you have to get them. When the children were small, I tried to make the snacks look fun. Bunny Salad was a favorite (half a pear with raisin eyes, carrot ears and a yogurt tail). I think it was Erma Bombeck who complained that her children didn’t eat anything that didn’t sing and dance on TV.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? Again, at 50 I can’t say I did a good job at this, but if I had it to do over, I would try to plan more family walks, hikes and bike rides. Usually one of us parents would do one of those once in a while, but the other parent was always home doing some “essential” nonessential like bills or laundry.
How do you recharge your own batteries? When I had young children, I didn’t. Eventually, I developed anxiety and depression, largely as a result of taking care of everyone else except myself. Perhaps I was unconsciously waiting for someone to step up and take care of me. In any event, the journey back from that place was long and difficult, but with help I made it. After I turned 40, I began to get to know myself, and I learned that I need solitude and silence. I need to remind myself constantly to slow down, be mindful, and live in the moment. I try to spend 30 to 60 minutes a day now in quiet prayer. I also go on an overnight retreat several times a year. The hardest part of this was helping my husband understand that I wasn’t running away…..I was gaining life and energy and perspective. Being able to learn what I need and want, and then asking for that is a newfound skill that I am savoring. Not only am I more peaceful and purposeful, but my family has also become that way. I used to think that if only everybody would just settle down that I would have peace. I learned that when I settle down, peace has a chance. A.J. Muste said, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” To that I say, “Amen!”