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The Impact of Premenstrual Syndrome on Womens Parenting Lynn Barry, MSW, Director Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse Leslie Tutty, Ph.D.,

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Presentation on theme: "The Impact of Premenstrual Syndrome on Womens Parenting Lynn Barry, MSW, Director Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse Leslie Tutty, Ph.D.,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Impact of Premenstrual Syndrome on Womens Parenting Lynn Barry, MSW, Director Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse Leslie Tutty, Ph.D., RESOLVE Alberta, Faculty of Social Work Betty Thomlinson, Ph.D., Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary

2 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Advisory Committee w Dr. John Pearce – Alberta Childrens Hospital (Child Abuse Service) w Robbie Babins–Wagner, MSW – CEO, Calgary Counselling Centre w Irene Jackson, MN – Grace Womens Centre, Foothills Hospital w Fay Hodson – Region 3, Calgary Child and Family Services (Child Welfare) w Kendra Nixon, RESOLVE Alberta

3 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Acknowledgements w Funders: The Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse The Institute for Gender Research, University of Calgary w Research Assistants Janie Christensen Chris Arrowsmith Nathalie Forrest

4 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Literature w 5-7% of women suffer such severe PMS that it incapacitates their daily coping (University of Pennsylvania Medical Centre, 1991). w One significant daily activity for many women is parenting. w Research has linked PMS with: irritability and interpersonal problems (Marean, Fox, Cumming Cumming, 1998); anxiety (Picone & Kirkby, 1990); impulsivity (Howard, Mason & Taghavi, 1994) w suggesting the impact of symptoms on families.

5 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w Very little research has been conducted on the interplay between PMS and parenting w As early as 1986, Brown & Zimmer called for research on the effects of premenstrual syndrome on children and the marital relationship. They expressed concern about a group of women in their study who reported loss of control, child battering, self injury and accidents.

6 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w Mohan & Grewal (1990) in India found that children perceived mothers with severe PMS as poorer in the areas of academic, social, recreational, demonstration of love, and personality development, compared to mothers with few PMS symptoms. w In 2000, Robinson & Swindle reported that of 92% women with severe PMS symptoms, 77.6% identified relationships with children as an area in which PMS symptoms frequently or always interfere.

7 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Research Design w In-depth qualitative interviews (40 women) w Parenting Stress Index (Abidin) for parents with children under the age of 12 years) w Stress Inventory for Parents of Adolescents (Abidin) for parents with teenage children w PMS Checklist w Demographic form

8 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Ages of Women – of 40 women

9 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Racial Origin – of 40 women

10 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Marital Status – of 40 women

11 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Educational Level – of 38 women

12 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Occupation – of 37 women

13 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Number of Children – of 40 women

14 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Ages of Children – of 76 children

15 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Duration of PMS Symptoms in days – of 37 women

16 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Physical Symptoms – of 68 responses

17 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Emotional Symptoms – of 129 responses

18 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations w I just couldnt deal with it. And knowing the whole time that you are doing stupid things that you just, Why am I doing that? Its just like somebody else is in there…like youre crazy…an awful, awful feeling…. w Some days youre driving in traffic and pms-ing and you want your machine gun so you can kill all the stupid people in the world! You know…?

19 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w I get pms for about two weeks before my period actually starts. It starts off kind of mild -- the last couple of days is different. For those two weeks Ill get tense, irritable, like the least little thing will make me really angry, and its much harder to control that anger. And then for one or two days before, Ill get really sad and every little thing makes me cry, I mean just little things, just a sad thought and Ill burst into tears.

20 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w One time …I dont know what set me off….I was stuffing a turkey and I got so mad I just grabbed the turkey and just threw it across the kitchen. And um…we have Corel dishes and it hit the bowl and …they just explode! These poor kids must have been so scared. And months later I was picking Corel pieces out of the window ledges and oh, it was…awful. I cant even remember what happened but I dont know why I snapped but something must have set me off.

21 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Mothers Reaction to Children - of 130 responses

22 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations wFor that week, just wondering when Im going to snap and, when shes not even doing anything, all of a sudden like, just Ill drop something or, something and Ill just blow – ballistic- and Ill go, Where did that come from? w When I have pms - Ive got way less resources than [normally], much more emotional triggered. I have this gut reaction of adrenaline that gets triggered when this three year old whines. So when it is whining and stuff, you know, I have many fantasies of hurting my children.

23 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w I tend to be a bit scary and they become afraid of me. Just, just in that Im just volatile you know. w Interviewer: So when you say youre telling her off for things, do you mean youre scolding her more? No, screaming at her. Screaming at her is the word for it and shes got to plug her ears now all the time. Mommy, why are you screaming at me, why are you yelling at me? I also force her practically to eat the food and then shell puke it up, mind you.

24 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w I spanked him on his bum really hard and he started crying and I said, Ill give you something to cry about, and I spanked him again on his bum. I remember feeling that I could just keep spanking and spanking him. I knew I wouldnt kill him or do something bizarre, but I didnt know if I could stop spanking him. Interviewer: But you did stop. I did, and then I held him tight. What kind of message is that sending to your child – youre screaming and spanking and then youre hugging him.

25 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w I used to break my pots, I used to smack them so hard on my kitchen counters. But I kept thinking,hit the counter and not my kids. You know, cause I didnt want to be my mother again. And it probably saved my kids. Im sure if I ever got loose on my kids, I would have hurt them. I never hurt anybody – husband included- but Ive broken a lot of things over the years instead of hitting my kids.

26 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w I tap his hand so he knows. Its a light little tap. Physical ….but see, my taps get a little harder at PMS. Like this…instead of like this (demonstrating). Never – Ive never hurt him. But sometimes I am scared that I will hurt him. I just remove myself.

27 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w I gave them the wooden spoon, both of them. They had been screaming, fighting and I kept trying to get them to calm down and to stop – mommys not feeling good. Finally, I just ran and got the spoon, and ran into their rooms and grabbed their hands. I was like, wap, wap and they both just looked at me and started screaming.

28 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w Susie would not sit on that toilet. And it drove me nuts! Thats one of the things that I remember because it was either throw the potty or throw…her, and I took the potty and I just …and there was pee in the potty so I remember, I didnt even clean it, it was so bad. I called my mother-in- law and said, I cant do it today.

29 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Childrens Reactions to Parent – of 88 responses

30 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Mother Reaction to Child POST PMS – of 44 responses Be positive/Change back to normal 41.0% Overcompensate, be more lenient 31.9% Feel guilty 11.4% No change 9.1% Apologize and explain 4.6% Doesnt answer question accurately 2.3%

31 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w I struggle with the guilt thing. Often I do this retrospective, oh, its the third day in a row weve sat around the house instead of having gone out somewhere. I dont know that Ive catalogued it this closely (laughs), but I suspect that I over- correct, that Im trying to compensate. And instead of lets get back to normal, its, these children have put up with me being crazy for two weeks, wed better be really nice to them.

32 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Child Welfare Involvement w No 74.4% w Yes 25.6%

33 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Child Welfare Status – of 10 women Status – investigation to close3 Status- investigation to open support2 Status TGO/CA/in care3 Service provided status unknown 2 Not prepared to discuss1 CW involvement as child1

34 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations w Years ago I called Childrens Aid and reported myself. There was a little boy I was watching and he [son] told him to put his finger in his cigarette lighter. And I would never fathom, they were only little, but I didnt kick him with force. But I took my foot and pushed my son on the butt and said, get walking. I just wanted to cool down. I remember calling Child Welfare thinking, Jesus, you just cant do stuff like that. I was obviously my own worst enemy but I thought I was doing the right thing.

35 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w The PMS got me there [psychiatrist] to begin with, Im sure of it. Well, my kids learned to [dis]trust people a long time ago after the former head of psychiatry determined that I was emotionally unfit when we went to a few things related to PMS. It was because of PMS…Interviewer:PMS related things that he tried to take your children away? Well, I went to him because it was affecting my parenting. I wanted good role models, they were supposed to provide me with them. (Her children were all later removed by child welfare.)

36 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Partners Response to Womans PMS – of 56 responses

37 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations w Well, he doesnt respond very well to it, not at all. Half of the time he reacts to it and then I react to it and you know, I told him last time, You know, you could be the mature one and just walk away and not put up with this. But no, you have to get into it and put more into it and then it explodes for both of us. w He runs! w Its like…I have no idea whats going on here, Ill see ya in a week, ten days, you know…so I get angry and withdrawn.

38 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Womens Reactions to Partner

39 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w For a while every month I wanted to leave – I wanted to divorce my husband cause he was the biggest creep in the world. And then finally when I started keeping a calendar, I would wait until I had my period and then once the period started I would think Oh you know, hes actually not bad, hes quite a nice guy! and then I realized the pattern and I started stopping wanting to leave every month because I thought Okay, if I feel like this only three days a month, its not worth it.

40 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Womens Needs from Partner during PMS – of 32 responses

41 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations w I guess it would be helpful if the kids were taken to a deserted island for a week. That would be helpful. w I just need him to take her….take her away….just so that I wouldnt have to deal with her. w I need a little more understanding – sometimes hes like I do it on purpose – or that I want to be like that.

42 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Future for Self if PMS continues – of 36 responses

43 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Future for Family – of 36 responses

44 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w If my PMS continued the way it was? Oh my God. I…cant even imagine…(silence) its really hard to go back, you know? And see but…I might have tried suicide ….I dont know…It was.. at the time, it was that, you know, this ends…this ends…this ends…and that keeps me going but oh…it was horrible, just horrible, and to dread every month of your life, because you know its coming again…it was just…..I cant even imagine what my family would be like…..

45 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w If my PMS continued the way it was? Oh my God. I cant even imagine…(silence). Its really hard to go back and see but…I might have tried suicide …I dont know. At the time, it was that, this ends…this ends…this ends…and that keeps me going but oh…it was horrible, just horrible, and to dread every month of your life, because you know its coming again…it was just…I cant even imagine what my family would be like….

46 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003

47 And we especially give thanks that mothers menstrual period is over for another month!

48 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Partners Response to Womans PMS – of 56 responses

49 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations w Well, he doesnt respond very well to it, not at all. Half of the time he reacts to it and then I react to it and you know, I told him last time, You know, you could be the mature one and just walk away and not put up with this. But no, you have to get into it and put more into it and then it explodes for both of us. w He runs! w Its like…I have no idea whats going on here, Ill see ya in a week, ten days, you know…so I get angry and withdrawn.

50 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Womens Reactions to Partner

51 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w For a while every month I wanted to leave – I wanted to divorce my husband cause he was the biggest creep in the world. And then finally when I started keeping a calendar, I would wait until I had my period and then once the period started I would think Oh you know, hes actually not bad, hes quite a nice guy! and then I realized the pattern and I started stopping wanting to leave every month because I thought Okay, if I feel like this only three days a month, its not worth it.

52 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Womens Needs from Partner during PMS – of 32 responses

53 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotations w I guess it would be helpful if the kids were taken to a deserted island for a week. That would be helpful. w I just need him to take her….take her away….just so that I wouldnt have to deal with her. w I need a little more understanding – sometimes hes like I do it on purpose – or that I want to be like that.

54 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Future for Self if PMS continues – of 36 responses

55 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Future for Family – of 36 responses

56 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w If my PMS continued the way it was? Oh my God. I…cant even imagine…(silence) its really hard to go back, you know? And see but…I might have tried suicide ….I dont know…It was.. at the time, it was that, you know, this ends…this ends…this ends…and that keeps me going but oh…it was horrible, just horrible, and to dread every month of your life, because you know its coming again…it was just…..I cant even imagine what my family would be like…..

57 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Strategies Tried for PMS – of 116 responses

58 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Treatments Tried – of 44 responses

59 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Quotation w There would be days when I was in my bedroom crying, and my husband asked me what was wrong, can I do anything and its,nobody in the world can do anything.' After a few months, that was enough of that. I just didnt want to do that anymore. The nice part about PMS is that you can look back on it and say, Oh my God, that was horrible. But when youre in it, youre sad, your life is sad…your whole life is sad and thats just the way it is and dont anybody talk to me about it cause thats the way it is. I dont do that anymore with Prozac.

60 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 Implications from the research w Many parents and children need additional support during PMS. w PMS may be a predictable risk factor for child abuse in some families. Child welfare workers should ask women if PMS is an issue. If it is, apprehensions could be avoided and in-home support used in a more cost effective manner for specified days of the month. w Understanding the effects of PMS on parenting is important for clinicians and public health nurses.

61 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w The fact that over one-third of the women interviewed were not using any treatment for their symptoms raises questions about the availability of information about different treatment options. w Work against the stigma of acknowledging that PMS can severely affect some women.

62 PMS and mothering--RESOLVE Research Day 2003 w Actions on the part of medical authorities are beneficial for women who fear theyre on their own when it comes to their premenstrual problems. It is hoped that womens organizations, the medical and others will join in contributing to dialogue that alleviates the misinformation and stigma associated with PMDD. (Society for Womens Health Research, 1999)


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