Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Handle Christmas

Simple answer: The same way that you handle Diwali.

Long answer:

I've been looking over the annual "Christmas debate" posts elsewhere, and doing assorted eye rolls. Here are my basic guidelines:

1. While it may be part of the general culture for many people, it is still a religiously-oriented holiday. The fact that an atheist may still celebrate it doesn't change that. Some people will not want to celebrate it for religious reasons, and that should be respected.

2. Speaking as an observant Jew - I have no problem with other people celebrating Christmas as their holiday. Don't pretend that it is a secular thing on my account. I just want the fact that it is not MY holiday to be respected.

3. If I know for a fact that someone celebrates Christmas, I may wish them a Merry Christmas. Back in September, I also wished my Muslim legal assistant an Eid Mubarak. If I happen to be aware of the holiday that someone is celebrating, I'll give that person holiday wishes when the holiday is actually celebrated.

4. If I don't know whether a person celebrates Christmas, and Dec. 25 is approaching, I will often just say "enjoy your holiday". To me, a government-mandated long weekend = holiday.

5. Chanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas. It is a minor Jewish festival, and it came early this year so it's over. My big holidays are in September/October and April. Nevertheless, I'll accept Chanukkah greetings with a "thank you".

6. If a friendly client happens to wish me Merry Christmas, I smile and say "Same to you." I assume that it was meant in a friendly way. I would only get annoyed if they went on and on about the "war on Christmas" or otherwise got preachy. If they ask specifically about my plans, I either say, "nothing much, we're staying in town", or "we're Jewish, so my husband is working his shift and I'll have Chinese food and a movie with the kids", depending on how much time I have to talk.

7. Yes, Christmas carols do sound nice. However, they are certainly religious, and therefore my kids don't know them. [I'll hum along in secret, just like I do with Duran Duran songs, because they both remind me of my 8th grade Glee Club experience.]

8. Snow is not Christian. Really, it's not. Jingle Bells is not a Christmas song. Winter Wonderland is not a Christmas song. When I once spent Christmas is New Zealand, I discovered that they associated Christmas with the start of summer. I also remember being really disoriented when I visited Bethlehem - in my mind, I also pictured "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" playing when we visited my grandfather in his chalet in the mountains north of Montreal over the Christmas break, so I thought of the town as being a snow-covered village in Quebec. Needless to say, the hot and dusty Middle Eastern reality was a bit different.

9. No, I don't need to start celebrating Christmas because "I'm in a Christian country now". My family has been here for over 100 years, and we are just as much a part of the country as anyone else. Would I expect my non-Jewish neighbours to start celebrating Passover, just because we live in a predominantly Jewish area?

I had to pinch myself while reading this:

Seriously, people? Lack of a Santa visit to a preschool prompts a "what is this world coming to?" Are there NO real problems in your world (like, say, rampant xenophobia)?

10. Please don't give out "Jesus is the reason for the season" cards unless you are prepared to get a "Pagan worship of the winter solstice is the reason for the season" card back. [I had no idea about this until an evangelical Christan friend told me that she didn't celebrate Christmas because it wasn't actually Jesus' birthday, but was a way of co-opting the Pagan holiday of Yule.]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jenny Peto's thesis: visiting 2 websites apparently equals research

I don't expect U of T to censor their students so they avoid anything controversial. I just expect them to uphold normal standards, and not give a student a pass just because they embrace a cause with the support of a thesis advisor.

You can read her thesis here:

I had always thought that a Master's thesis required some real work, including research. In fact, here are the thesis guidelines for OISE (which is part of the University of Toronto):

They note that the thesis should embody "original investigation" and "will constitute a contribution to knowledge of the field".

Apparently, in Ms. Peto's case, original investigation means glancing at two websites, since actually talking to anyone would be too onerous for her as a part-time student, as she explains on page 12.

Alas, even that bit of web-surfing proved to be a bit too much for her. She describes the March of Remembrance and Hope as being Jewish program for non-Jews. Apparently, she missed the fact that it is run through the Canadian Centre for Diversity - a non-denominational group. They were less than thrilled with the thesis. As quoted in the Toronto Star:

“She makes unwarranted claims and false statements about our philosophy, our goals and objectives and our methodology. . .We were shocked and offended to read the thesis,” said Carla Wittes, the centre’s programs director. “We are a non-faith-based organization concerned with educating people about the dangers of discrimination, and the Holocaust is obviously a prime example.”

She doesn't particularly seem to focus on the information that she does bother to pick up from the websites. Testimonials from a Rwandan-Canadian and Aboriginal-Canadian, for example, must be part of a plot to instill white, male Zionist values. She is oblivious to the irony of her work - she claims that it's bad for white Jews to teach about tolerance, but yet she feels that the comments of non-white trip participants need to be filtered through her (white, Jewish but anti-Zionist) worldview instead of actually speaking to them and allowing their own voices to come through.

The self-centred approach is repeated when discussing non-European Jews on page 86. Peto wonders how such a Jew would experience the trip, since she doesn't plan on actually speaking to one. Well, my husband is an Iraqi Jew, and we were on a similar trip together. No, nobody said that the trip is limited to white Jews. He wasn't bothered by Eurocentrism on the trip, but does have some issues with the fact that the "Israeli Apartheid" crowd often seems to forget that non-white Jews exist, that Sephardic Jews and even some Muslims were also victims of the Holocaust, that Nazi influence spread across the Middle East during WWII and that it directly led to the June 1941 Farhud (progrom) which killed 141 Jews in Baghdad, and that his father was also a refugee when he fled Iraq for Israel.

I should also add that our Anguish to Hope trip in 1993 (by the same organizers as March of the Living) DID deal with non-European Jews. We visited an aborption centre for new immigrants, meeting with and learning more about the recently-arrived Ethiopian Jewish community, and also met with Yemenite Jews in a Project Renewal community. We became friends with one girl from that community and kept in touch when she came to Canada for university. Of course, Ms. Peto didn't bother to find out such details.

Speaking of an ego-centric approach, the first section of the thesis is a rant by Ms. Peto against her Orthodox Jewish upbringing and (understandable) rejection by the community for her anti-Israel activism. Perhaps that would be appropriate for a coffee group, a memoir or a therapy session - but not a thesis.

On page 90, she assumes that the March of the Living is putting down Holocaust victims for being weak. She doesn't bother to find out about the testimony of survivors who accompany the trip - if she did, perhaps she would have learned about women like Anna Heilman, who accompanied our trip and described the her role in the plot to smuggle gunpowder to the sonderkommando, who used is to blow up a cremetorium during their revolt.

On page 97, she assumes that participants will never see a Palestinian. On our trip, we met with Arab-Israelis in their homes through Givat Haviva for a very frank and open discussion.

On page 98, she wishes that participants would use the trip experience to fight racism. Perhaps she did not notice the very first post on the March of the Living websites' participants section, which ends with a description of how 2 participants became Darfur activists.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two approaches

Approach #1

A fellow whom I will call Blogger A believes that heretics are bad. Very bad. So bad, in fact, that he gives tips on how to "out" them that include electronic tracking devices, and putting night vision cameras in a child's bedroom. When he thinks that he has discovered one, he thinks that it is productive to make comments out of nowhere like "Do you like [crude name for male organ]?", to call a young woman's home, to use such lovely terms as "fat", "whore" and "liar", to make a slew of sexually-based allegations and finally to suggest means of committing suicide. He seems to belong to the Torquemada school of thought.

This fellow, though extreme, is real. He's not entirely alone. The Westboro Baptist group would likely agree with his methods. So would those who would like to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Approach #2

Actually listen to what someone is saying, even if you think that it is heresy. Realize that people with proper brain function will ask questions. Encourage them to do so. Correct blatant misinformation, and provide sources so they can access proper information for themselves. Reach out on both an intellectual and emotional level. Show respect and love and concern for them as human beings. Be a positive role model. Have a sense of humour. Invite them for dinner, and make an awesome chicken soup. If someone has been hurt or misled or exposed to horrible attitudes, acknowledge that experience and the fact that it was wrong, and don't be afraid to criticize those behind it. Show a better path. Accept that someone needs to go on their own spiritual journey, at their own pace. Reject fanaticism, especially if someone's view of all religion and religious people has been tarnished by it.

If you have ever felt alienated from religion or questioned major beliefs, I want to hear from you!

Which do you prefer, Approach A or Approach B? Which of those have you experienced?
Which would be most likely to have a positive effect on you? Which would be most likely to push you away?

Polite comments welcome. Crude comments or SPAM will be moderated.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Low expectations and moronic parenting

Read this:

Now, the other posters on the board largely echo my feelings: hitting a baby is NEVER okay, don't excuse it, and take some responsibility as a mother for your choices.

If there is one thing that I will teach my daughters, it is to have high expectations for the men that they will marry. It's a message for everyone. When you are getting into a relationship and planning to spend your life together, you know to know, with rock-solid certainty, that no matter what happens, you and your future children will be safe. You need to know that your partner will always love and treasure your children, and would never, EVER do anything to mistreat them.

When I had our firstborn, my husband learned to care for her the same way that I did. We were in the hospital together, took basic instructions from the nurse, and then figured it out because that's what parents have to do. Books and courses won't always tell you what to do with a baby that won't settle between 1 and 5 a.m., or a baby that has a massive poop so explosive that it reaches her neck while you are traveling, or a toddler that vomits on your head in the middle of the night, etc. You deal with it, and you make sure that the other parent is someone capable of dealing with it too.

I'm happy to report that I have that sort of confidence in my husband. He may be tired or lack patience in other situations, but it was crystal clear that our children were/are his life. When our firstborn wouldn't settle, he would take her and gently start crooning "Can't Help Falling in Love" and other songs to her. Another time, he got her to settle by gently rubbing her tummy. I've seen my brothers-in-law act the same way. They always showed that they were patient, gentle men who were just meant to be daddies.

That brings me to my next point. This lady, and those like her, need to take the blinders off. You just can't say that a man who is "not violent or abusive" spanks a 5 mo old baby. Open your eyes, and stop making excuses. Lots of people get tired in the middle of the night. Lots of people hate the sound of non-stop crying. Lots of people don't always know how to stop the crying. None of that is an excuse. Decent parents deal with the frustration and know that there are some lines that you just don't cross. You shouldn't HAVE to explain to the father of your child that spanking a baby is wrong.

I was doing child protection work before I had children, and had a few "boyfriend beat the baby" cases that broke my heart. I'd hear moms say that he did it because he was frustrated because she couldn't have sex for 6 weeks, or because he couldn't stand the crying. I'd correct them, saying that he did it because he was obviously violent and immature, and needed to be locked up away from children.

UPDATE: At page 39, the situation starts to make more sense. Mom shares that she herself was physically and sexually abused until the age of 17 - which seems to explain both her insistence that the husband was "not abusive" and her idea that she wanted to be in total control over the baby even before the birth. I hope this is a wake-up call for some major counselling for BOTH of them. It also reaffirms my view that it is important to not just condemn abusive behavior, but to ensure that children grow up with functional, non-abusive role models.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

To be a "Menu Jew"

"Cafeteria Catholic" sounds cool, but Cafeteria Jew doesn't have the same alliteration, and besides that, most cafeteria food sucks.

So, since I'm a bit of a foodie and I like things that rhyme, I've come up with the new term "Menu Jew".

What is the basic philosophy of the Menu Jew?

1. Before concluding that you don't like something, find out if you were really having the most authentic and properly presented thing.

One pet peeve of mine is people who say that they hate Indian food, but have never had anything other than stale yellow curry powder. Taste the real thing, cooked decently, before you diss it.

Similarly, don't judge your religion by what another religion says about it, or a random blog, or a statement by someone who is frankly clueless. Put in the effort to do the spiritual equivalent of finding the best Indian restaurant.

2. Acknowledge that not everything that is authentic will be palatable.

From time to time, you may encounter the spiritual equivalent of haggis.

3. Let me taste the real stuff, and don't Gerber-ize it.

Baby food makers often mash and puree food, sometimes adding in starch or salt or sugar because they claim that babies won't eat the stuff any other way. I'm not sure that's a great way to feed babies, and I'm positive that adults shouldn't be treated like that.

So...don't decide ahead of time that concepts need to be dumbed-down, or that you won't show the original sources, or that you won't discuss all of the viewpoints on an issue, or that you need to alter stuff from the original because I wouldn't like it. I'm a big girl. Feel free to review or comment on the offering, but let me chew on the real stuff.

4. Sometimes fusion works, sometimes it doesn't.

Butter and mayo on a Montreal smoked meat sandwich is just wrong. So is Chrismukkah.
Guacamole on challah, though, works quite well. So does Judaism and liberal democracy.

4. It's the restaurant's job to present the full menu. It's my job to select what I consume.

We can talk about what constitutes the range of Jewish belief - ie. what should be on the full menu. Ultimately, though, there is another question: as an adult with G-d-given free will and intellect, what am I choosing?

All a matter of perspective, I suppose

I had a good chuckle reading this:

Seriously, someone thinks that 26 degrees F is "bitter cold"? Not even close, in my books. This mom also thinks that temperatures just above the freezing mark demand a hoodie and hat PLUS a winter coat. My kids and I would melt.

Then again, maybe from her POV I'm a wimp, because I have no tolerance at all for heat.

So, I can some this up by saying it's all a matter of perspective, based on what you are used to experiencing. That said, if it's obvious that the original poster lives in a place like Ontario, Canada, where cold weather is the norm, why on earth would you think that your "26 is bitter cold" comment is remotely relevant.

Anyway, for what it's worth, my son went to school today in runners. It's around 26 degrees, and he's just fine.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

...On the other hand - some blame is sometimes warranted

I recently found this abstract:

It's from an academic paper examining the press coverage of the inquest into the death of Jordan Heikamp. The tone suggests that the press was blaming his poor mother for not conforms to ideals of motherhood instead of searching for societal problems.

Well, I happened to have been following the inquest rather closely at the time, and read most of its press coverage.

Yes, Renee Heikamp was portrayed as a "bad mother". I'd argue that it was an accurate description. The evidence was that she declined a placement at an appropriate maternity home, didn't want breastfeeding advice, didn't bother to read the instructions when making up bottles of formula, didn't bother to take her newborn baby to the doctor, lied to her social worker and said that she take the baby to the doctor and reported that he was gaining weight, and most of all, failed to notice that her baby boy was starving to the point of being just skin and bones.

To repeat: this was NOT a case where a mother didn't have access to proper food or medical care or community support.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to use blame to avoid tough issues

Let's say that there are some serious issues in your societal. Want to feel like you are addressing them while avoiding any responsibility whatsoever? Play the blame game!

Are there women who feel overwhelmed by pregnancy? No problem - just join the endless abortion debate! You can yell and scream for years without lifting a finger, let alone providing better services, protecting women from domestic violence, having better maternity leave policies, or providing social and financial support. As an added bonus, you can find those who argue with a straight face that men should be legally allowed to walk away from any unwanted pregnancy without paying child support "since she could just abort".

Are there parents (particularly moms) who feel torn between home and work? Again, no need to look at putting practical solutions in place. Just have an endless stay-at-home vs. working mom debate, complete with nasty name-calling and rhetorical flourishes. Brownie points for animal references, like comparing daycare to a dog kennel or saying that if you wanted to get out of the house, you should have a cat instead. On the other side, try to use images of maximum sloth and financial irresponsibility. If you continue long enough, no one will need to deal with parental leave, or funding childcare, or putting before and after school care programs in place, or any other flexible or creative alternatives.

More recently, I've been watching the growth of the financial chaos variation of this. Are there families drowning financially? Apparently, this means more debate! We can all throw around blame for having kids, blame for being materialistic, blame for being too selfish to support everyone else, blame for having the wrong priorities, blame for lacking faith....and this will nicely delay any demands that may be made for real changes based on financial reality.

Separation of Church and State: why this Orthodox Jew supports gay civil rights

Since so many people seem to be confused by me and my position on gay rights, I thought I'd post a basic explanation.

Simply put: I support a separation of church and state.

I don't want the government passing laws simply as a basis for enforcing religious beliefs.

I also don't want the government telling me what to believe, or telling my rabbi what to do.

Make sense?

I've often used the line, "male homosexual sex is as morally bad as eating bacon-wrapped shrimp", and gotten a collective "huh?" in reply.

Yes, Leviticus has some harsh things to say about (male) homosexual acts. It also has harsh things to say about cross-dressing, and eating pork or shellfish.

Now, as an Orthodox Jew, I'm not going to argue that Leviticus is total garbage. On the contrary - I deliberately avoid eating pork or seafood.

I believe in religious freedom. If I want to follow Leviticus, that is my right. I don't feel that I have to defend my dietary restrictions to others.

On the other hand, I don't go around picketing Red Lobster. I don't carry signs saying "God hates shrimp". I don't protest the fact that advertisers see fit to air commercials with bacon at times that Jewish children can see them. I'm still close to my mom and sister, who think that bacon-wrapped shrimp is delicious. When I was looking to hire a law clerk, I didn't ask candidates for their views of shellfish. In short, I worry about my own religious observance, and see no need to shove my views down anyone else's throat. I have no right to assume that anyone else really cares what MY holy book says.

Combine the two together, and it's not just a cowardly mishmash, as some would suggest. It's something much greater: a formula for tolerance and religious co-existance.

As others have pointed out, tolerance is not the same as acceptance. It gets criticized because it doesn't seem nearly as warm and fuzzy. I would argue that it is actually more powerful. Acceptance is about expanding what you approve. Tolerance is what you need when you reach the limit of acceptance, and get to the point that there won't be agreement or approval. It means that everyone has certain rights and society needs to operate according to certain rules WHETHER OR NOT we happen to approve of someone.

So, the question of "what do you think of homosexual acts?" can be "who cares?" Unless you want to shoot the breeze on theology, it's just not relevant.

By the same token, living with tolerance means that I don't need to concern myself with what anyone thinks of the fact that I don't accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour (nor, for that matter, do I believe that Mohammad was the latest and greatest prophet). I can demand my civil rights anyway. I know history and current events well enough to know that this isn't something that I can take lightly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How does your religion impact the rest of your world view?

What is the impact of various religions on the thinking of their members, in areas that don't necessarily seem to have much to do with religion?
[Note: I previously posted this on the Babycenter Religious Debate Board]

I'll give some examples from Judaism:

- the traditional strong emphasis on religious study morphed into a very strong emphasis on secular studies

- just as Jewish texts are never simply read and just taken literally, at face value, but are debated and analyzed to death, there is a tendancy to take the "analyze everything and accept nothing at face value" approach into all other areas

- since Judaism focuses so much on Jewish law, there is certainly no stigma to be "legalistic". To the contrary, becoming a lawyer in the secular world seems natural

- strong notion of using one's own experience of oppression to fight for the rights of others who are oppressed. The idea is biblical ("do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt"), but the mindset is still very strong today even among secular Jews (eg. "do not restrict the legal rights of gays, for you know how it felt when the Nazis took away your rights")

- since Judaism has so many rules, there tends to be an understanding of other religions that have rules. There is also a willingness to fight for minority religious rights, even by secular Jews, since restrictions on practices were often a tool of oppression against Jews [which explains why my agnostic/atheist Jewish mother, who worked as a teacher, was constantly explaining to her non-Jewish colleagues why they shouldn't expect Hindu students to eat meat or JW students to do Xmas activities or Sikh students to take off their turbans or Muslim girls to take off their hijab...]

- communal obligations. There are Jewish teachings about the amount that one is obligated to give to charity, but very strong communal organizations were supported by even secular Jews

- food and feasting! Judaism requires certain feasts on certain holidays. Even Jews who do nothing else will often still do this - the Passover seder is the most enduring Jewish practice. There is a definite urge to get together with family and friend and prepare huge quantities of food.

- Music and dancing are mentioned in the Bible as expressions of joy (see descriptions of the Israelites at the crossing of the Red Sea, or of King David). No big Jewish event (wedding, bar mitzvah, etc.) is complete until there is a frenzy of dancing, including people being thrown up on chairs and hoisted up, even among secular Jews.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Confession time: music the kids made me like

I would have happily continued to spend life in a retro 80s bubble....but I have kids who are now tweens. They recently took control of the radio in a bloodless coup.

Most of the music drives me batty, but occasionally, in spite of myself, I notice that I like something. I'm not SUPPOSED to like new stuff, and I'm certainly not supposed to like things with inappropriate lyrics. I'm a respectable, religious mom, after all.

But dang, these songs are just way too catchy, and I like the attitude.

"So what" (Pink) - just awesome
"If I Had You" (Adam Lambert)- gets me singing and dancing
"FU" (Cee Lo Green)- rude but hysterical, ironic blending of old-school Motown soul and modern attitude
"I've Got a Feeling" (Black Eyed Peas) - overplayed, but still a great anthem, and it's so cute to see the kids' reaction to hearing "mazel tov - l'chaim!"

It could be worse. My little niece and nephew decided that they like the corus "hotel, motel, Holiday Inn", even they they don't have a clue why the rest of the lyrics are so bad. They just enjoy the Holiday Inn during family road trips.

Now, I just need to ask my 11 year old to teach me how to download these songs onto the iPod and arrange them into a good workout mix. Yes, I also rely on her for advice on modern technology. Did you know that on Yahoo email, there is a "talk to the hand" smilie? I've sent thousands of business emails without it, but one of my first emails from Daughter #1 had it. I laughed so hard that our argument was forgotten.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No, a uterus is not a public viewing gallery

Crazy Babycenter post of the day:

It drives me a bit bonkers, as a mother and a family lawyer, to hear this discussed in terms of RIGHTS.

An ultrasound is a medical procedure, people.
It's not spectator sport. It's not a form of prenatal visitation.

The answer to the question "who should be there?" is simple. Whoever the mother wants. Period.

For some of mine, my husband was by my side, and I was grateful for his supportive presence. I can't imagine NOT having him there when our first miscarriage was diagnosed, or when we got confirmation after a scare that the second pregnancy was indeed viable and healthy. These were deeply emotional times for us. He didn't get there by demanding "rights". He got there by being my totally supportive rock, and showing that the well-being of the baby and I was his absolute top priority.

For others (and I had to have quite a few), he wasn't there. While I preferred to have him around, I realized that medical procedures aren't about having a fetus perform for an audience. It was about getting medical care, and that couldn't always wait for my husband to be available. It was a medical and scheduling issue, not a larger statement on future attachment to a child.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tarek Fatah

We heard Tarek Fatah speak last night and bought a copy of his new book, The Jew Is Not My Enemy. He's a great, powerful speaker, with the courage to speak his mind regardless of whether it fits with anyone else's party line. I'm looking forward to finishing the book as fast as I can.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And you wonder how we get eating disorders....

My 8 yr old had a birthday party on the weekend.
I discovered that one of the girls was crying, in part because she thinks that she is fat.
Another girl told me that she wouldn't eat pizza, but would have some whole grain pasta, because she "didn't want to get chubby". I asked her who told her that, and she replied "my mom".

3 years ago, I remember thinking about how much I loved my little girl's free spirit and thought about how I would hate to ever see it crushed by anyone suggesting that she was too plump. Thankfully, she's still that great mix of sweet and tough, but it's so sad to see these girls around her, and I can't help worrying about how it might affect her.

Years ago, I had a friend who nearly died of an eating disorder. Have we not learned anything?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Doing away with the abortion debate: a common sense approach

At Just One Life, there's no anti-abortion propaganda, no cajoling. There are only questions about what the family needs in order to feel comfortable raising a new baby. Sometimes it's just a matter of money. Other times, they need services, counseling or other kinds of assistance, said Rabbi Martin Katz, the group's New York-based director.

from here:

This seems like it would be the perfectly obvious approach to take.

Pro-choice and pro-life are not oppposites.

Take the enormous effort and resources that go into the "great abortion debate", especially in the United States, and redirect them by simply asking women considering abortion what they really need. In other words, give them a real CHOICE so that they are in a position to choose LIFE.

Anyone willing this instead of engaging in endless battles and protests and demonizing?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The whole "how could you send your baby to daycare" debate

You know this debate.

Around the time that my eldest daughter was born, it took the form of Dr. Laura comparing daycares to kennels.

It's still going around, taking lovely and sensitive approaches like this:

Now, I'm not going to go through every single argument about daycare. I am, however, going to add some perspective and a few questions.

1. Are we looking only at what a mother is doing Monday-Friday, 9-5, or are we looking at what both parents are doing, 24/7?

Does having one parent stay at home mean that the other parent is virtually absentee?

Do we care about what is happening during all the time that the parents ARE with the child? For example, my eldest started daycare at 8 mos., for 9 hours/day. The rest of the time, she was with me. Constantly. She was still nursing, she co-slept, and we almost never went out without her. Looking back, I actually remember far more about her babyhood than I do about that of her younger brother. I stayed home with him until he was 14 months, but he - bless his heart - spent most of it sleeping.

2. If spending the first year with a baby is that important, shouldn't government and workplace policies reflect that? Why attack the moms?

I'm Canadian, so it's pretty clear to me that if you guarantee someone's job while they are off and ensure that they will continue to have medical coverage and give some benefits so they can pay some bills - they will often choose to stay home with a baby. Funny how that works.

3. Shouldn't we be asking "what is in the best interests of the child and family in this particular situation, given all the factors?" and not "isn't there any possible thing that you could do in order to stay at home?"

Yes, there are choices in life. Let's take a look at whether choosing to live in a safer area, or pay for a child's schooling, or have the means to afford proper food and health care, or working to build up a career that will allow longer term flexibility, etc. can be worthy goals for some families - and maybe benefit the children just as much as having a parent physically present.

4. Why would we assume that family members are always better care providers than trained professionals?

Yes, sometimes grandma is the perfect childcare solution. Sometimes, though, she may be abusive or alcoholic or just clueless. Why is there an automatic assumption that family is better? Shouldn't we take a level-headed look at EVERYONE who cares for our children?

By the way, those Dr. Laura comments did bother me...until I learned to turn off the radio, and focus on my daughter instead. I saw her laughing and having a good time, I saw that my husband and I had far less stress since my new job allowed us to pay our bills, and I realized that no one else's opinion really mattered.


This isn't a blog about all of the minute personal details of my life. I don't think anyone could care less.

This isn't a blog about political gossip. I couldn't care less.

This is about that spot where the personal and political collide.

As the old feminist line goes, "the personal is political". Conversely, the political realm can affect us personally.

This is about what makes us all tick.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the past posting on various message boards, which was ultimately frustrating because I didn't "own" my writing, and constantly felt as though I was repeating myself. I also didn't have patience for petty arguing. Hopefully, those who followed me previously will enjoy this, and add a comment.

Comments may be moderated. No spam, no libel, no hate, nothing obscene please.