As I recall my middle-class childhood in the 1970s in a small campus town, my fondest memory is coming back from school to a warm lunch and my mom asking me how my day at school was. Our lives were filled with events with neighbors and family.
Things have changed for our children today! According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, 80 percent of mothers with school-aged children (ages 6-14) participated in the labor force in 2010-11, and 60 percent of mothers with preschoolers also worked part-time or full-time that year.
As an orthodontist, there is another alarming set of statistics that warrants mention. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Orthodontists, kids with buckteeth, gaps in their teeth, crowded or missing teeth are more likely to be the target of bullying. The participants of this study reported an improvement in emotional impact, and bullying, after orthodontic treatment.
Parents are struggling to meet the ever-increasing demands of workload and the necessary attention to their children. So, now more then ever, living in a nurturing community is vital to the development of a healthy child.
We at Kihei-Lahaina Orthodontics have resolved to join the "village" that can help support the parents that need it. This year, we started our Gift of a Smile Program to help underserved children with severe teeth problems to get the smile of their dreams. The recipients of this year's gifts are Talen Kataoka from Pukalani and Ja'ie Victorine-Dyment from Hana. They will be treated in our office for no charge.
The home remains the springboard from which these kids start their wider social interactions. However, community-based services - a "village" - can help support the parents when they need it to establish the healthy balance between nurturance, discipline and opportunities that are so crucial to a child's welfare.
For more information on the Gift of a Smile Program, please go to www.KiheiOrthodonticsMaui.com.