Monday, October 25, 2004
Chicago Parent is declining I was astonished and infuriated to see “When your doll’s in pain” (October 2004). It was little more than an advertisement for the store in Naperville. I assume the store owner is a friend or relative of the staff, or a major advertiser in the magazine. I can’t think of any other reason for such a biased, narrowly focused bit of promotion masquerading as journalism.
There are certainly other businesses in the Chicago area that sell and repair high-end dolls (a quick look at the Chicago Yellow Pages found two, and a Google search found four others). You could easily have had an article about how doll-repair businesses work. But that would have required actual research, which perhaps was more work than your journalism student/interns want to do.
I have seen a steady decline in the quality of the magazine over the past year or two. I don’t know whether it’s due to the change in leadership, budget cuts or what. But the quality of writing has noticeably declined. Many of the articles seem thin, poorly edited and organized; and there are many typographical errors in every issue (it appears that you’re relying on a computer for spell check, and never have human eyes read for content). And now this.
I’ll keep reading, as there are still articles of value in each issue. But I’m terribly disappointed. JAN STEMPEL, Chicago
Nukes are safe As a nuclear engineer, and parent of Hannah, 2, and Nicholas, 3 months, I understand children are more sensitive to radiation than adults, but Dr. Helen Caldicott’s leap to nuclear plants causing them harm is without factual basis (“Nukes and kids don’t mix,” October 2004).
The National Cancer Institute’s well-accepted study of 90,000 cancer deaths from 1950 to 1984 of people who lived near nuclear power plants revealed no increased rates of cancer. That is but one of many studies that have provided similar results. Even the accident at Three Mile Island 25 years ago, with its minor release of radioactivity, did not cause any increases in illness. We know that a major accident is unlikely to harm children.
What we do know is that closing nuclear plants will certainly result in negative health effects. The electricity they would have provided in our area would now come from burning coal, a major source of air pollution.
Health studies have definitively linked that air pollution with real increases in illness and premature death; indeed, your own publication linked air pollution to asthma (October 2004). No energy source is perfect, but for now nuclear power is an important and safe source. TERRI BRAY, Naperville
Healthy snacks can be ‘cool’ I’d like to comment on your reader essay, “Sneaking zucchini into snack competition,” by Sandy De Lisle (September 2004). First, as a mother of two young soccer players, I’m furious with the quality of snacks passed out after soccer games. These snacks totally negate the benefits of playing sports in the first place: teamwork, exercise and a strong, healthy body.
Second, why does De Lisle cringe when she brought carrots and water as a snack? She should be proud of not following the mass of sheep who don’t care what goes into their children’s bodies.
De Lisle writes that the parent who brings the junkiest snack is deemed the coolest, which is, of course, also a reflection upon the coolness of her child. How “cool” is it when the “cool” kid, age 9, weighs as much as an adult? How “cool” is it when the “cool” kid can’t make it through a quarter of the game?
I’d rather she stick to her principles, not regret them. There are plenty of healthy snacks that are “cool.” Parents are role models and should act accordingly. CARLA KLAUSLER, Naperville
You can refuse vaccinations Regarding Susan Dodge’s article “Doctors urge preschoolers get all vaccines” (September 2004): Since we continue to hear reports of adverse reactions to vaccinations, it’s time parents become fully informed.
All vaccines have package inserts from the manufacturer that state the possible side effects, risks and precautions of the vaccine. However, parents of those being vaccinated rarely see these inserts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has admitted that medical literature has convincing evidence that serious brain damage associated with mental retardation can be induced by pertussis vaccines. Also, vaccine laboratories in New York admit they cannot guarantee there will be no adverse reaction to the vaccines.
Under Illinois state law, parents who have valid reasons for exemptions, either medical or religious, are entitled to an exemption. Legally speaking, physicians must not coerce parents to get their children vaccinated. If they do, they run the risk of violating their patients’ most fundamental right to choose or refuse. GRACE GIRDWAIN, Burbank
Don’t neglect children I have been to Hawaii and it is a lovely place with lovely people. But I must disagree with some points in Susy Schultz’ column, “Ohana values” (September 2004). I used to be very concerned with fame and fortune. I am 34 and have a 2-year-old daughter. After she was born, I went back to work because we “needed” the money. I recently quit due to my mother-in-law (free daycare) being unable to continue. Since then I’ve battled doctors’ bills, my husband being laid off and low self-esteem.
But I have learned to live with less and to live on less. I have come to view motherhood and wifehood as very important and worthwhile. This is all due to faith in God (and better money management). Our children are very important. I see so many people buying fancy homes and cars, and putting their kids in daycare so they can afford their own stuff. Casting kids from one activity to the next until they are exhausted. Never sitting down to a family meal.
Where I live there are numerous children in gangs, contemplating suicide and having babies. I don’t believe that our jobs need to be more sympathetic toward the family. It is our responsibility to decide what is more important. Cathy Miller, Joliet
TV as a way to exercise A few months ago I wrote a letter suggesting that TV could be used in conjunction with exercise games. This would be perfect for the girls in the North Carolina study (“No place to play=obese black girls,” October 2004).
It wouldn’t cost them any money. They could make their own decisions on what to do or not to do. If they had success in maintaining or losing weight, they might be more apt to try more conventional fitness regimes for even better results. James Reyes, Chicago
‘Arthur’ teaches good values I am a consistent reader of Chicago Parent and generally enjoy most articles. Even when I disagree with a writer’s viewpoint, I have found the articles well written. However, “What are they watching?” by Dave Whitaker (September 2004) included an incorrect statement and was biased.
It is obvious by the writer’s erroneous description of one particular episode of “Arthur” that he did not properly research. Whitaker incorrectly describes one episode where he states, “One of the show’s characters was struggling to learn how to play the harmonica.” In fact, the character, George, was actually learning how to play the guitar. While this may seem like a small incorrect fact, Whitaker spends the first half of the article criticizing “Arthur.” If he cannot get his facts correct, the article lacks credibility.
In Whitaker’s failure to research and write his article, he seems to have misunderstood the important lessons taught by “Arthur.” The show is about typical, albeit flawed, 8-year-olds who talk and act their age, make mistakes and learn from them. Contrary to Whitaker’s description of the show’s “cozy wrap ups,” the show is about the process by which the troubled character learns how his or her behavior is inappropriate. An effective tool for teaching kids appropriate behavior is pointing out other children’s inappropriate behavior.
The impact of Whitaker’s ultimate statement that parents should “be choosy” is diminished by his inaccurate description of “Arthur.” Whitaker states that each parent needs to “do [their] homework.” Unfortunately, the writer has not done his homework in regard to “Arthur.”
I think most parents would agree that we need to be careful about what our children watch on television. Perhaps the results of a poll concerning what parents find to be appropriate for kids in varying age groups could be something that could be included in a future issue of Chicago Parent. I look forward to reading the next issue. Elizabeth Klapman, Northbrook
Beware of haircuts A note to mothers: When hiring nannies from foreign countries, there are obvious differences in culture that affects the parenting.
A major one for some mothers is that first baby hair cut. In other cultures, it is not a big thing to give the baby its first hair cut. A nanny from another culture might determine the child’s hair is a nuisance and just cut your baby’s hair without checking with you.
If this would be an issue with you, please let your new foreign babysitter know that she will not try to cut or trim that hair without first checking with you. Nancy Waweru, Waukegan
Try asthma exercises Your articles on asthma (“If we are the epicenter, where is the action?” October, 2004) was interesting, but made no mention of the breathing exercises that I used to cure my own asthma.
These exercises are described in a small book written by Paul Sorvino (the actor) called How to Become a Former Asthmatic (a hard book to find). I remember very well how to do the exercises. Ray Ellis, Aurora
About letters Chicago Parent welcomes letters from its readers. In order to publish a letter, we must have the name and phone number of the writer, and the name of the town in which he or she resides. Please send letters to: • Susy Schultz, editor, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302 • Or fax them to Susy at (708) 524-8360 • Or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We may edit letters for space or clarity. We will not divulge the addresses or phone numbers of letter-writers or forward messages to them.
In the (September, 2004) article on lead abatement and mitigation, we incorrectly characterized lead poisoning among Chicago children. The city has the highest number—not the highest percentage—of lead-poisoned children in the nation. The Chicago Reporter and Chicago Parent regret the error.