A friend sent me a copy of Louise Story's New York Times article describing the new generation of bright, college-educated women who are chosing shortened, delayed, or part-time careers so they can give their best to their families. A quick Internet check tells me this story has already been blogged and overblogged, so I won't spend much time on it. (The article ran exactly one month ago—my friend is one of the rare breed who still cuts articles from the paper and mails them, and I am not as prompt as I should be at getting to my reading material.) Nonetheless, I can't resist a couple of comments. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 10:00 am | Edit
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I once read that a child should learn "at the rate determined by her own happy hunger." (I believe the quotation is from John Ciardi, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.) It is delightful to observe Jonathan’s voracious appetite. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 at 9:18 am | Edit
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Score one more for mothers. When you sang to your baby, rocking and bouncing him, or danced with him around the room, others may have said you were being silly. You may have thought you were just trying to keep your baby from crying. But what you were really doing was giving him his first music lessons. A Canadian study has shown that being moved to music helps babies learn rhythm. Just watching you dance is not good enough, by the way; the baby must dance, too.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 3, 2005 at 9:00 am | Edit
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When Terri Schiavo dies, there's going to be cheering, and I don't understand why. I know there will be cries of exultation because of the commentary I've heard, and the rude jesting, even from as mainstream a production as National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Perhaps people make light of tragedy in self-defense; I know my family was able to find humor even as our father lay dying. There was, however, an enormous difference: our humor was suffused with an undeniable love for the man and a determination to do all we could for him. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 8:21 am | Edit
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News reports are trumpeting findings which, if true, show that our society has fallen even lower than I had thought. A study of almost 1000 Texan women found that they ranked watching television high on the list of activities that give pleasure, while taking care of children was low—almost as low as doing housework. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, December 3, 2004 at 9:12 am | Edit
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A study of German babies showed a higher risk of food allergies and diarrhea for those born by Caesarean section. The healthy, full-term babies were all exclusively breastfed for the first four months, during which time no such effect was seen. However, blood samples taken at 12 months showed that C-section babies were twice as likely as vaginally-delivered babies to have allergies to five common food allergens, including eggs, cow's milk, and soy protein. They were also 46% more likely to suffer from diarrhea during the first year.

These findings are consistent with previous research which demonstrated the importance of intestinal bacteria in the development of a healthy immune system. Babies who experience a normal delivery pick up vaginal, intestinal, and perianal microbes from their mothers. The risk to babies born by C-section includes not only deprivation of normal microbes, but also exposure to the unnatural microbial ecosystem peculiar to a hospital environment.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 10:33 am | Edit
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...to make a man. Or at least it improves the odds significantly, according to a study by Dr. Karen Norberg, a clinical associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "When parents were living together before the birth of one child, that child was 14% more likely to be male than when the parents were not living together before the birth," she reported, according to an article in today's Guardian.

Charles Darwin noted similar findings in 1874, giving some credence to the article's statement that this "is certainly not an effect of any bias from parents against daughters." Otherwise one could easily imagine single mothers preferring to raise daughters; not everyone, but enough to skew the statistics. Sex-selective abortion is frowned upon, but that doesn't prevent it. And it can have a huge impact.

Just ask the Chinese.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 7:25 am | Edit
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A study of premature infants suggests that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord can reduce the need for blood transfusion in babies who are born too soon. A delay of only 30 seconds to two minutes was sufficient to provide significant benefit.

This news led me to search out a much more exhaustive discussion of umbilical cord issues, covering everything from conditions where immediate separation is necessary, to cord blood collection, to the "lotus birth," in which the placenta stays attached until the cord falls off the baby. Parents, midwives, and a few doctors speak out on issues that I had no idea were issues when I gave birth a quarter of a century ago. The concensus of this group is that delayed cord cutting is beneficial for full term babies (and their mothers) as well. Most of the debate seems to be between cutting the cord after the placenta stops pulsating, and waiting until the placenta is delivered.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 7:35 pm | Edit
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When they put the sugar back into baby food, I should have known it was a bad sign.

Progress is often a tidal creek, not a river. Advancement is not inevitable. We gain in one era, or in one area, and lose in another.

The late 1970’s and early 80’s were good years for having babies in America. Women had rediscovered that childbirth is a good thing, a normal function, and were dragging their doctors along with them. Hospitals scrambled to keep up.

We were the rebels, the revolutionaries. The children of the 60’s grown up. Our parents had been cheated by medical and cultural “advancement,” giving birth under anesthesia, flat on their backs on a delivery table, their legs unnaturally elevated. Labor was often artificially induced, and the cesarean section rate was high. Once born, the babies were whisked away to nurseries, tended by professional nurses and fed commercial formula. As soon as possible their diets included solid food—commercial baby food, loaded with sugar and salt to suit the mother’s taste. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, September 19, 2003 at 9:03 am | Edit
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When adults want children to do something—put on coats, take a nap, etc.—they often say, “Let’s put on our coats, okay?” or “It’s time to take our naps now, okay?” That “Okay?” is a bad thing to say. Our lives with children would go better if we could learn to give up this way of talking.

The trouble with this “Okay?” is that it suggests to the children that we are giving them a choice when we really are not. Whatever people may think about how many choices we should give children, children should at least be able to know at any moment whether they have a choice or not. If we too often seem to be offering choices when we really aren’t, children may soon feel that they never have any. They will resent this, and resent even more our not saying clearly what we mean. By giving what we intend as a command and then saying “Okay?” we invite resistance and rebellion. In fact, the only way children can find out whether or not we are offering a real choice is to refuse to do what we ask. It is their way of saying, “Do you really mean it?”

Many adults feel that in saying “Okay?” they are only being courteous. But this is a misunderstanding of courtesy. It is perfectly possible to be firm and courteous while making clear to someone that you are not offering a choice but telling them what you want to happen or is going to happen. When I visit friends, I expect to fit myself into their life and routines, and count on them to tell me what they are. So they say, “We get up at seven o’clock,” or “We are going to have dinner at six-thirty,” or “This afternoon we’re going to this place to do such and such.” They are not asking me whether I approve of these plans, just letting me know that they are the plans. But they are perfectly polite about this.

John Holt, Teach Your Own

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 25, 2000 at 5:49 pm | Edit
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We adults destroy most of the intellectual and creative capacity of children by the things we do to them or make them do. We destroy this capacity above all by making them afraid, afraid of not doing what other people want, of not pleasing, of making mistakes, of failing, of being wrong. Thus we make them afraid to gamble, afraid to experiment, afraid to try the difficult and the unknown…. We destroy the disinterested (I do not mean uninterested) love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards—gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys—in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else…. We kill, not only their curiosity, but their feeling that it is a good and admirable thing to be curious, so that by the age of ten most of them will not ask questions, and will show a good deal of scorn for the few who do.

John Holt, How Children Fail

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, January 20, 2000 at 3:10 pm | Edit
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One day my sister wrote, "I am busy, but I can't figure out why I have nothing to show for it. I do a lot of driving and a lot of errands. (I really need to organize myself.)"

This could go down as the universal plea of the modern woman, if not all womankind. We blame ourselves (“I need to get organized”), our kids (“Juggling the needs of four kids is impossible”), our jobs (“Of course I can’t manage everything; I’m working 40 hours a week!”), our husbands (“Can’t he see I’m floundering? Why does he just sit there, staring at the TV?”)…but mostly we blame ourselves. A friend of mine once said that guilt is written right into the motherhood contract. I’m convinced that one major reason women like to work outside the home is so that, at the end of the week, they can say, “See, that’s what I accomplished!” Even if the job’s not going well, at least there’s the paycheck to point to. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, March 15, 1999 at 8:35 am | Edit
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