You are tuning in for Nepotism Week at The New Family Podcast. I’m marking the occasion of this show hitting triplet digit episodes by having on some very important people in my life. Today I’m so pleased to be joined my best friend, Mary Vallis Cowan. Mary is an editor at the Toronto Star, a national newspaper award-winning journalist and she’s the mother of two lovely kids, Maddy and Henry. She and I talk about the critical role that friendship plays in our quality of life, in our mental well being and in our ability to parent.
Thank you so much for joining me on this very special episode of the podcast. Our 100th! I can hardly believe that we’ve reached this incredible milestone, and right around our one-year anniversary! I wanted to do something to mark the occasion of this 100th episode. So my special guest today is my mom. Yes, given this show is all about sharing the experience of family and of parenting, I thought it made perfect sense to invite the person who most shaped my own upbringing, and who I turn to for advice about raising my own kids. We’re joined by mother, grandmother and entrepreneur Cathline James.
When my guest, Jamie Scrimgeour, first became a step-mom to three kids, there were times when she’d hide crying in the bathroom with a glass of wine. But today she uses the lessons from those challenging times to help others be great step-moms. Jamie is a Life Coach with a Certification in Stepfamily Dynamics. She talks candidly about her stepfamily life on her blog, The Poptart Diaries, and helps provides online support through her group coaching program The Kick-Ass Step-mom Project and her online Facebook group The Kick-Ass Stepmom Community. She shares the key principles behind great step-parenting as well as the common stumbling blocks step-parents face along the way.
My guest on this episode has an inspiring story to tell about overcoming a difficult situation and learning to thrive. Alicia Graham is a mom of two, step-mom to two and entrepreneur from the little ski town of Rossland, B.C. in the Kootenay Mountains. When Alicia’s marriage ended in late 2014, she was in a bit of a bind. You see, Alicia had been a stay-at-home mom for close to a decade, homeschooling the kids for some of that and mostly not working outside the home. With a sudden financial need and a big gap in her resumé, things were pretty tough. But in a short time she’s turned that situation around and reinvented herself as an entrepreneur. Her story is just the kind you need to hear when you’re going through a personal crisis, not just one brought on by separation and divorce, but by any change in circumstance, by a change of heart about your life’s work or any other of those things that throws a wrench into the machine of life.
I’ve been looking forward to this episode for some time now. My guest, Amanda Jette Knox, was actually on the show way back at the beginning on Episode 3: Parenting a Transgender Child. And at the time she shared the experience of discovering that the child she knew as a son was really a daughter, offering us an important look at what it takes to parent a transgender child is a loving and supportive way. But what she couldn’t reveal at the time was that her family was going through another important change, too.
My guest on today’s show is Dr. Claire Arrieta, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary and co-author of a new book called Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Our Children from an Oversanitized World. In it she and her colleague, Brett Finlay, make the case that we’re raising our kids in a cleaner, more hyper-hygienic environment than ever before. They outline how this is having a profoundly negative impact on kids’ immune systems and a contributing to a host of chronic conditions ranging from allergies to obesity. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Dr. Arrieta also offers concrete steps parents can take to ensure their kids have healthy immune systems. Hint: Throw out your hand-sanitizer!
I have long marvelled about how anyone who has a job can manage to get through an IVF cycle. My guest for this episode is Mary Wong, a traditional Chinese medical practitioner and author of a new book called Pathways to Pregnancy: Personal Stories and Practical Advice for Your Fertility Journey. Over the past 20 years, she’s helped thousands of couples conceive by bringing together Eastern and Western Medicine, and she’s been an advisor to the Canadian government on infertility and adoption. Mary and I talk about how people who are experiencing infertility can better manage the incredible juggle of fertility treatments with responsibilities at work and how workplaces can shift to adapt to be more supportive.
New dad and fellow podcaster Jama’l Chukueke joins us on the show for this episode. When he became a father in early 2015, Jama’l embarked on a journey to learn as much as he could about being a good father, seeking the advice of dads he knew and admired. Realizing that other dads were likely in search of this same wisdom, Jama’l decided to create an ongoing dialogue through his podcast and website, Diversity Dad. Today he’s determined to be a beacon of light for dads in the African American and Latino communities to overcome the negative way they’re portrayed in the media while accepting some responsibility for this reputation and rising to the occasion as dads. This often involves striving to do better than their own fathers, who may not have been consistently present during their upbringing.