Thanks for Dave Jaffe I had to let you know how much I enjoyed Dave Jaffe's last column (August 2003). After enduring another stress-filled day with a toddler who likes to decorate with Pepsi, clients who keep calling me with a disease I like to call "I have a problem and now it's yours, so fix it," as well as a home network (that I don't need, but just want) that I can't get to work, I laughed my a** off sitting on the couch. Thanks for the break! CHRISTINE DRUMM, Channahon, Ill.
Thanks for Liz DeCarlo I want to thank Liz DeCarlo for writing (September 2003) "When your perfect child is not quite perfect." My wife is a more regular reader of this magazine but I enjoyed this and thought it brought a lot of issues to the forefront. My 4½-year old son was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive/anxiety disorder about a year ago. It has been a blessing and a very hard pill to swallow for myself as he is on a regular dose of respirdal. The strides that he has made in his dealings with other kids are amazing and we are truly blessed with a vast network of help. Some of the help was hard to come by but it is there. People do need to trust their instincts and search for the right situation. While I believe there is still a stigma with mental issues and over-labeling kids (which I still sometimes struggle with myself), the acceptability and help available is vastly improving. Thanks again for such a wonderful look at these special children. RANDY BOOMGARDEN, Lisle
Keep midwifery program We are saddened to learn of the University of Chicago Hospital's decision to close its nurse midwifery practice this year. We urge the hospital to reconsider.
The University of Chicago nurse midwife practice sees 4,000 low-income women every year, many through the teen clinic. These low-income women will lose access to this valuable service, further limiting the options of safe health care for disadvantaged women.
Many of us who have used or intended to use the service support the nurse midwives' compassionate manner and birthing philosophy. We personally experienced their dedication and exceptional care during the births of our own children.
Midwifery's model is that pregnancy and birth are a normal family event, not a complicated medical procedure. Midwives monitor births and aim to minimize technological interventions. If it becomes medically necessary, their patients have access to highly trained specialists in maternal-fetal medicine and neonatalogy at the U. of C.
It is our understanding that the hospital's director of obstetrics, Dr. Arthur Haney, made the cut in order to focus on high-risk obstetrics and the midwifery practice does not fit in with his vision. Dr. Haney states that the midwives' malpractice insurance has doubled in the last year and he cannot afford to subsidize the program. Surely there are all sorts of ways to cover the costs of births. The private patients of the midwives have health insurance, low-income patients have public aid and foundations send grant money.
Births with midwives cost less overall than those with obstetricians/gynecologists. While we appreciate the economic challenges hospitals face, we hope that the University of Chicago will not forget the needs and preferences of its surrounding community. Parent Support Network of Hyde Park, Chicago Dina Weinstein, Isaac Skromne, Deb Hass, Nikki Alter-Bryant, Pamela Mearsheimer, Ainat Margalit, Dianna Germany, Sherry Emery, Jacquie Fulop, Liz Bakwin, Ser Jackson, Cathy Bowers, Michele O'Toole, Erika Drezner, Sally Wolcot, Alexandra O'Brien, Charles E. Jones, Brigitte Raumann, Kerry Brock, Amanda Woodward, Amy Millikan, Jennifer L. Humayun, Stephanie Levi, Sara Fagan, Ken Bigger, Sach and Sarah Diwan, Janice Cincotta, Nancy Gift, Hagar Dickman
Writer wrong on SB 101 I am writing in response to Leslie DuFresne's so-called Christian perspective on the passing of SB 101 (September 2003). Instead of being horrified at the attempt to include a person's sexual orientation as protected class status under the Illinois Human Rights Act, I suggest Ms. DuFresne look at the long list of acts that have been perpetrated against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) humanity. If she did, she'd realize that if it weren't for "Christian" people acting upon such feelings of horror, GLBT folk would not need protected status. GLBTs are not intolerant of Christians or Christian doctrine. In fact, many are themselves Christian. Why should Christian doctrine against homosexuals be upheld by the law? Are not church and state supposed to be divided?
The passing of this bill is long overdue. In response to her question: No, this country is not supposed to be about tolerance of only one point of view. That's exactly what this bill hopes to convey.
What kind of American are you, Ms. DuFresne, to insinuate that our government wants to condone harmful acts against its population? Only individuals unclear on the concepts could possibly confuse consensual homosexual acts and sexual crimes. Let me help clarify: Most sex crimes are born out of anger. Most homosexual acts are born out of love.
As a lesbian, I should not be a part of any special interest group any more than you should as a Christian. STEPHANIA KOLIARAKIS, Chicago
Senators must act on TANF Seven years ago, the national welfare program was dramatically changed. With welfare reform came mandatory work and lifetime limits on benefits for those on welfare. At the time, there was uncertainty regarding whether welfare recipients would be able to meet the new restrictions requiring work activities in exchange for their cash grant.
Since then, millions of women have left welfare, many of them for work. Typically, welfare leavers earn about $6.50 per hour, or roughly $13,500 annually. Few have jobs that include health insurance or sick/vacation days; yet, women took these jobs because they did not want to be dependent on "the system."
Often welfare reform is touted as a success because caseloads are more than 50 percent smaller than 1994. Though this is one measure of success, another measure is whether these families are economically self-sufficient or continue to live and work in poverty. Low-income workers have been hard hit by the weakened economy. These workers do not have savings to help them through the bad months; they often are ineligible for unemployment insurance because of eligibility restrictions.
Yet there is a federal program waiting to be reauthorized by Congress that helps millions of low-income families and workers. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families deserves to be reauthorized. This vital program provides essential funds to states to provide work-related support to low-income families. States need this program-minus the unfunded mandates that would be imposed by the House bill-to continue helping families struggling to make their way off of welfare to work.
The Senate must be urged to reauthorize this program, but not impose even stricter work requirements while providing less funding for vital work supports. There is an old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Let's hope our senators are wise enough to heed that warning. SUE ARMATO, Midwest Partners, Downers Grove
Story biased against guns I read "When Handgun Danger Hits Home" (October 2002) by Tracy Binius and although I did find the article informative, I felt it was quite biased against guns and gun owners.
As a parent and a teacher I can appreciate the concern for the safety of our children. But I also understand how easy it is to instill prejudice in children just by our choice of words. We put in so much effort teaching our children that they should be tolerant of different viewpoints and lifestyles. We use politically correct language and avoid being judgmental, but can we do the same when it comes to guns and gun owners?
The fact is that guns can be purchased and owned legally in this country. They can also be used safely and appropriately. A large percentage of American households own guns, this has been the case since colonial times, even before the Bill of Rights was written. Americans own guns for sport, hunting or self-defense.
Your article stigmatizes guns and gun owners. It says, "with all the guns around it is not surprising that children are killed and injured every day" and "the easiest way to keep kids safe from firearm injury at home is to not have guns…". However, firearm accidents involving children do not occur simply because a gun is present in the home, but because of the carelessness of the gun owner.
The article says, "doctors [should] ask whether there is a gun in the home…and counsel patients that the best way to avoid unintentional injury is to not have one." But in reality, many families own guns and will continue to do so. A thorough physician should address home safety in general. This could include safe storage of medicines and cleaning solutions as well as firearms.
The author states: "There is no tracking mechanism when someone purchases a gun to know whether their hometown bans handguns, so families can choose to keep a gun in defiance of the ban." But not everyone who is purchasing a gun intends to keep the gun at his primary residence. Perhaps the person might keep the gun at his vacation home, business or gun club.
The gun debate is a cultural issue. Many anti-gunners see themselves as somehow enlightened, progressive and intellectual, and they tend to view gun owners as backward, inferior and uncultured. And if we teach our children about "gun safety" from this point of view, we are also teaching them to stereotype people who legally own guns as somehow being inferior and bad. And some of these gun owners that you are stereotyping could be your neighbors, friends or even relatives. MARK FIGUEROA, Hammond, Ind.
Spanking is violent discipline Usually I'll recommend the Piepers' advice, but I think their answer to "Spanking" in the July 2003 issue offered an unrealistically simple solution and leaves a vacuum for parents who struggle with nonviolent discipline of their children.
I have finally developed a clear personal philosophy against all violence, including hurting others physically to "teach" them and using anger as a weapon to control them. However, when it comes to disciplining children, I-and countless others-have crossed the line and given in to a powerful urge to control our own through the wrong means. Why? Because sweet-talking and distraction often don't work when you need them to.
I agree with the Piepers' philosophy of "loving regulation" to manage children's behavior, but their suggestion that parents deal with their disobedient son and "move the cookies ... pick him up and hug him when he cries, and offer him a healthy snack" assumes that the child accepts correction in a docile fashion and that a hug magically brings peace. What if it doesn't? I hug my children out of sympathy when they cry tears of loss or pain that last a reasonable length of time, at a reasonable volume. However, this 4-year-old subject of the spanking question may tend to deteriorate quickly into loud whines, name-calling ("dummy" is not a nice thing to call Mom, and it gets worse) and other badgering that has nothing to do with the cookies, and is not necessarily related to hunger. To me, hugging a child who is using noise as a weapon to control me does not feel like effective discipline.
As for prevention, a mother cannot predict or understand every reason her child will misbehave. Even a 2-year-old seeks control and can sometimes act so unreasonable that all the logical actions you recommended will not stop him from driving his parents nuts. Telling the parents to hug and spell out rules to a child whose misbehavior just continues to escalate despite their love and patience does not sound like good advice. Why should his parents fume silently behind a serene expression and prepare dinner while he whines, knocks over chairs and throws his carrot across the room? Just wait until the family grows and you add fights between siblings to the mix. What will they do then?
Your answer is missing something to actually replace the spanking. The parents need to: 1) set a consequence for repetitive misbehavior that still allows the child to maintain self-respect; 2) deter misbehavior that results from enforcing the consequence and 3) give themselves a needed respite from relentless demands.
I use timeouts with my three, ages 7, 9 and 14, having learned from a great book and video (1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, by Thomas W. Phelan). They work much better than spanking. I give the child a deadline in which to correct his own misbehavior. Timeouts, when properly used, allow me to follow my own philosophy of non-violence while also maintaining a feeling of healthy control over the kids. Consequently, I feel less angry and less likely to become distracted by the many tactics they use to either get what they want or punish me for not giving it to them. Even better, my husband and I both agree on timeouts. Controlling our kids' obnoxious or dangerous behavior does not sound as appealing as "lovingly regulating" them, but it does include effective consequences (or punishment, if you will).
I wish I had known all this when I had a 4-year-old. I used to spank and lose my temper, but decided that's not the type of person or parent I would like to be. I harshly reminded myself (wrapped a big rubber band around a finger on my offending hand and left it there for days), and have not felt a need to spank or slap in years. I feel less anger and fewer regrets. I have forgiven my parents for their angry outbursts and now fully understand the frustrations that drove them to lose control and hurt us. With this understanding, I both condemn their violent actions and strive to always follow my conscience to do better. CHRISTINA MENCHACA, Chicago
Please tell us... In November, we want to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions. Tell us what your family does to make this holiday memorable for your children. Deadline: Oct. 6. In December, we'd like to know how you get your kids to say thank you. Do your kids write thank you notes? Do they make phone calls? Does it take a battle to get them to cooperate? Deadline: Nov. 3. If we run your response, we'll send you a $10 gift certificate. We'll print your first name, the town in which you live and the names and ages of your kids; please provide us with your full address and phone number for verification purposes only. Send all submissions to: Sandi Pedersen, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: (708) 524-8360. Kids in the kitchen In November, we celebrate our biggest holiday with food, so we would like to see what your kids can cook up. Send us pictures of kids in the kitchen. Deadline: Oct. 6. In December, our thoughts turn to snow-and all the fun kids have playing in it and building with it. Send us photos of your kids building snowmen. Deadline: Nov. 6. Send all submissions to: The Gallery c/o Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. Provide the first names of everyone in the picture, the children's ages, and the town in which you live. Include a phone number for verification purposes only. Sorry, we can't return photos. Digital photos must be submitted by e-mail: email@example.com.