Contact me: mary @ marywiddicks dotcom

Recent articles on Psychology and Mental Health

 
 
The Power of Attitude Inoculation     For Elemental on Medium

The Power of Attitude Inoculation

For Elemental on Medium

How parents can immunize their children against peer pressure and bullying

With the popularity of such television shows as 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, the topic of teen depression has seized the minds of parents — and for good reason: A recent study shows that the rate of major depression among teens (ages 12 to 17) increased 52% between 2005 and 2017, with as many as one in eight experiencing at least one depressive episode in the past 12 months. One explanation, of course, is the rise in cyberbullying, which is strongly linked to depression and suicidal thoughts in teenagers.

When I got dumped, I didn’t hide my heartbreak from my kids     For The Washington Post

When I got dumped, I didn’t hide my heartbreak from my kids

For The Washington Post

remember the pain of your first breakup?

It’s that existential Armageddon when you’re absolutely certain that no one will ever love you again and that you’re going to die alone and miserable with 14 cats. Because 13 would be bad luck. Well, I’m a 35-year-old single mom of three, and I wish I could tell you that heartbreak gets easier with each passing year, but it doesn’t.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Parenting     For The Washington Post

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Parenting

For The Washington Post

The ancient behavioral theory I’m hoping will help me connect with my frustrated 4-year-old

Have you ever contemplated the word “but” and why it exists in the English language? It’s a contradiction, a counterargument, and syntactically discounts everything preceding it. In a debate, it is a shorthand way of saying, “Everything you just said is wrong. Now listen to me.” Now try saying that to a toddler, and see what happens. Chances are, you just got pinched, shouted at or bitten. Children spend most of their days feeling powerless. When they don’t feel heard or validated, they get angry. They fight back.

 

Recent articles on Parenting

 
 
Are cloth diapers really any better for the environment, your wallet, or your baby?    For The Goods on Vox

Are cloth diapers really any better for the environment, your wallet, or your baby?

For The Goods on Vox

The Great Diaper Debate, as it’s been christened, is ultimately more about how parents want to present themselves than anything else.

The first time I heard about cloth diapers was from my mom. It was in the middle of one of her back-in-my-day speeches, sandwiched between chopping firewood while eight months pregnant and the getting stitched back up after delivering a 10-pound baby (without pain medication, mind you). According to her, diapering a baby used to be something akin to wrestling an alligator; there were frantic limbs pinning down wriggling bodies, sharp pins being stuck into skin, and explosive consequences of not getting it right the first time.

Mr., Ms., Mx.: How kids can show respect without using gender-specific language    For The Washington Post

Mr., Ms., Mx.: How kids can show respect without using gender-specific language

For The Washington Post

Until recently, I never thought about the fact that Miss and Mister are strictly binary gendered terms.

I was raised a typical small-town child of the 1980s and ’90s. I wore stirrup pants and neon, crimped my hair and watched “The X-Files” like David Duchovny was going out of style. Apart from my appalling fashion sense and eerily spot-on taste in men, I was a well-behaved and respectful child. It would never have occurred to me to call my teachers, coaches or even other parents by their first names.

Celebrate The Small Things     For The Washington Post

Celebrate The Small Things

For The Washington Post

Un-birthday, anyone? Celebrating the little things can help kids become happier adults.

Now, statistics prove that you’ve one birthday. Imagine, just one birthday every year. Ah, but there are three hundred and sixty-four un-birthdays! Precisely why we’re gathered here to cheer A very merry un-birthday to you.

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Un-birthdays. It’s nonsense, right? After all, that’s the point of the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; he’s mad. But what if in this case he has a point?

I Let My Kids Talk To Strangers     For The Washington Post

I Let My Kids Talk To Strangers

For The Washington Post

Why I let my kids talk to strangers…

A recent viral social experiment ignited questions about the safety of young children. The video depicts a man successfully luring 4-year-olds away from their parents with the promise of puppies. When the parents were interviewed, most responded that their kids would never talk to or leave with someone they didn’t know, even though most of the children did just that. Cautioning children about the dangers of talking to strangers didn’t make them any less likely to fall for the clichéd ruse.

I’m Jealous of My Ex’s New Girlfriend, And That’s Okay     For What’s Up Moms

I’m Jealous of My Ex’s New Girlfriend, And That’s Okay

For What’s Up Moms

I Hate To Admit It, But My Ex’s Girlfriend Is Good For My Kids

I have a confession to make: I’m jealous of my ex-husband’s new girlfriend.

Yeah, I know: Who isn’t? But I’m not talking about the typical you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-‘til-it’s-gone discomfort we all feel when someone who we loved moves on; it’s been nearly two years since my ex and I split, and that particular wound has finally begun to heal. No, this feeling is a completely different animal. I’m talking about the kind of bitterness and anger that blurs your vision and gets steam whistling from your ears. It’s Daffy Duck-level jealousy, and trust me, it’s not flattering.

A Tale of Two Births     For Brain, Child Magazine

A Tale of Two Births

For Brain, Child Magazine


A Tale of Two Births: How the U.S. Fails to Deliver Adequate Postpartum Healthcare

My daughter was born on a snowy Saturday morning. We were released from the hospital Monday, and as is the case for most new mothers in the U.S., my husband returned to work the very next day, leaving me alone to care for our newborn daughter and our two- and four-year-old sons. At three days postpartum, my bones ached as I stepped out of the car and onto the frozen pavement of the parking lot at my doctor’s office. My deflated uterus contracted under the strain of the baby’s car seat; I braced myself against the car to keep from slipping on the icy ground. For a moment I thought I might not make it the 25 yards from the parking lot to the door. I remembered the hospital’s recommendation not to lift anything heavy for a few weeks, and almost laughed. If only that were possible.

The Double-Edged Sword of Divorce     For Grown and Flown

The Double-Edged Sword of Divorce

For Grown and Flown

When it Comes to ParentinG Divorce Changes the Conversation

I remember life before divorce: the endless stream of weekend activities, game nights with couple-friends, and sometimes heated arguments about whose turn it is to get up early with the kids on Sunday morning and who gets to sleep in. All married couples have that conversation in one form or another, right?

I’ve had the kids all day while you were at work. It’s your turn.

I need some “me time.” Just take them for an hour.

It’s too much.

It’s not fair.

And then one day the conversation changes.

The Cult of Perfect Motherhood     For PopSugar

The Cult of Perfect Motherhood

For PopSugar

What I Learned In My Quest to Be the Perfect Mother

A few years ago, without intention or malice, I joined a cult. Sure, it wasn't the kind of extremist organization where we dressed all in white, packed our bags, and drank the Kool-Aid — to be honest, Kool-Aid was most definitely NOT allowed. Way too much sugar.

What started out as my natural desire to give my children the perfect childhood, excel as a mother, and embrace my new role as a homemaker ended with me sitting alone, in the dark, among the ruins of a my daughter's failed first birthday party snapping pictures of the mess, desperately trying to capture the fun I was supposed to be having. I was officially inducted into the cult of perfect motherhood, and I wanted out.

 

Recent articles on Books and Writing

 
 
The Things That Scare Us     For Bustle Books

The Things That Scare Us

For Bustle Books

Why Do So Many Women Read Thrillers? Because It's A Safe Space To Own Their Fears

It’s Friday night. Finally. The smell of dinner still lingers in the air. The sun has barely gone down, and I’m in bed. I pull the blanket over my head so just the light from my Kindle screen glows around me. I’ve been waiting for this moment all week, ever since I started reading Underdog, the latest suspense novel by indie author Kristen Mae. My breath fogs up the screen and I can’t swipe fast enough to cut the tension. My phone rings at exactly the moment the main character’s phone startles him in the book, and I nearly fall out of the bed. I answer.