Julie Silver, MD
Dr. Silver is a mom of a 17-year old son and 13- and 9-year old daughters, a Boston area physiatrist, and the award-winning writer of more than a dozen books, including After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger. www.JulieSilverMD.com
How many children do you have? I have a 17-year old son and 13- and 9-year old daughters.
What’s your specialty? I’m a physiatrist.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Discipline is about many small, gentle corrections done all along the way in a child’s life. When the focus is on loving corrections, the big discipline often doesn’t need to happen
What has surprised you most about parenting? That every stage is wonderful. I love my teenagers and their funny, teen behavior. I love watching their immature brains developing.
It saddens me when I hear mothers say they don’t want their kids to grow up and become teenagers. It’s so much fun watching them grow up! And it’s so much fun to have teenagers.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? Teaching your kids to eat well is a huge blessing in their lives. It’s not a punishment, but rather a privilege to grow up in a home where your parents feed you well.
After I was diagnosed with cancer, I really changed our diet. I realized that kids get used to eating whatever is put before them again and again. My kids eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but it wasn’t their natural inclination. They like a wide variety of fruits and vegetables because I put different fruits and vegetables in front of my kids again and again.
One strategy I use is that the first thing I serve each supper is a plate full of vegetables. If my kids say, “Mom, I want the pizza.” I stall and say, “It’s coming. I’m getting it ready.” This way, they eat vegetables first, when they’re hungry.
Another technique I use is we only have dessert one night a week. But instead of emphasizing the fact that we don’t have dessert Monday through Saturday, I play up the fact that Sunday is Dessert Night!
For Dessert Night, I prepare some really special desserts, and my kids are allowed to eat as much of it as they want. But before that, I always serve a meal that they enjoy. That way, they fill upon fruits and vegetables and really don’t eat that much dessert anyway. My family has actually become quite famous among our friends for desert night.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? My son was born very premature, and he really had a hard time exercising when he was young. He didn’t have great endurance. Instead of pushing our son to exercise, my husband and I encouraged him to spend just 15 minutes a day moving, such as riding his bike. My son knew he just had to put in his 15 minutes, but more of than not, he did it much longer.
A few years ago, my son started to have back pain from carrying his heavy schoolbag. I sent him to a personal trainer, and he loves it! Now he plays two sports in high school. Helping my son become more active was a very gradual process, and we gently encouraged him all along the way.
How do you recharge your batteries? It’s important to take the time. I remember one day when my daughter was a few years old, I was heading out on a walk, taking the time to exercise. She was standing at the end of the drive way crying, “Please come back and play dolls with me.” My husband and her brother were both home, but she wanted Mommy. I remember looking back at her, wondering what the neighbors would be thinking as I turned my back on my daughter crying.
Even though I felt badly leaving my daughter, I hoped that I taught her that it’s important to nurture yourself. I hope I stop what I’m doing to play dolls often enough that when she sees me take some time out for me, it’s ok. I mostly nurture others, but I hope I’m showing my kids that it’s important to nurture yourself, too. That’s a life lesson I hope they carry with them.