Monday, December 19, 2005
Thank you I recently immigrated to Chicago from the Philippines. I have two kids, ages 2 and 4. One day, I chanced upon a copy of Chicago Parent magazine ... and boy was I glad I picked up that free copy.
Being new and recently uprooted from the home I have known for 30 years, I know nothing about Chicago and the places I can bring my kids to. Back in the Philippines, my kids were very active: art class, Gymboree, music class, petting zoos, etc. Now that I have found Chicago Parent, our days are all planned out. I have a schedule of where to bring my kids during my day off, starting yesterday with the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights Parade. My kids had a grand time with Mickey, Pluto, Donald Duck and the rest of the Disney characters that graced the parade.
Thank you so much. CELINA RAMIREZ-MANLAPID Norridge
Divorce discussion helpful I was touched by Susy Schultz’ column (November 2005) about her very personal situation with divorce. It was very courageous of her to share her personal challenge. I want to applaud her on her approach to a very difficult life situation. She helped people to realize that the process does not have to be adversarial, causing negative fallout for the entire family. The realization is that although Ms. Schultz and her spouse will no longer be partners, they will always be parents to their children.
It is difficult to imagine while going through a painful process that there awaits opportunity. However, I know from my personal experience that change inspires growth. I never would have created the Oasis Experience or my private practice if it had not been for my own personal experience with divorce. I now derive great reward from assisting others and knowing I have helped them to transition through one of the most challenging transitions of their lives.
I hope Ms. Schultz remembers to take care of herself so she can be a positive role model for her children. Remember, "self-care is not an act of self-indulgence, but an act of self-preservation." LINDA LUCATORTO The Oasis Experience Inc. & Personal Coaching for Transitions
Public schools slighted I graduated from a public school, as did most of my family and friends. Ten members of my family, including me, have taught in public schools. I am writing in regard to the series about private, independent schools. I read the reader essay titled "Giving up on public education" and the staff piece titled "When public school does not work" (December 2005).
I respect and understand the decision to pursue a private, independent education. However, I am disappointed that the magazine chose to present such negative titles and experiences with absolutely no mention of the many reasons public education is necessary, effective and often preferable.
Essayist Kim Moldofsky proclaimed she was "part of an angry, frustrated group of parents who’d been mistreated and misunderstood." I request that you follow this series with another about why parents should believe in and support public schools and why public schools work. DIANE SIEGEL Chicago
Writer missed the point So who said anything about not recognizing the "value of supporting our children’s sense of humor and optimism"?
Alice Cahn of the Cartoon Network (letters, November 2005) is totally missing the point. Toddlers should not be watching television. Period. You’re telling me I have no sense of humor because I don’t want to plunk my baby in front of a TV? No.
Believe me, I hear my daughter giggling and laughing pretty frequently, and yes, it is delicious for a parent to hear his or her kid laughing and enjoying life, and, get this, I don’t need to turn on the television to hear her laugh.
So while I agree with the bulk of what Cahn says—"kids who develop a sense of humor are smart … can learn to create and appreciate humor … " this is not the point. No one was arguing against humor—it was an editorial against small children watching TV, and furthermore against the Cartoon Network marketing directly to these small children.
In that same issue, David Kleeman wrote in a letter to the editor: "Can there be anything wrong with giving little kids something to laugh about?" Well of course not! But I think you also missed the point of Susy Schultz’s editorial (October 2005), which is that there shouldn’t even be programming for this extremely young audience.
Just keep the wee ones away from the TV for a couple of years. Is that so impossible? Believe me, there are plenty of funny things in 3-dimensional life, and they don’t need to come from a TV. My baby finds it hard to play with, rattle, stack or chew our television. KAREN KITTO Oak Park
Pre-K TV not the answer I agree with Alice Cahn, Cartoon Network’s vice president of programming and development, that force-feeding young children academic skills can "rob children of their childhood" and that preschoolers need plenty of time to play and enjoy age-appropriate activities. Why she thinks, however, that the solution is to plop children down in front of Cartoon Network’s new block of preschool programming is beyond me.
It is disingenuous and dangerous to equate a "let’s let kids be kids" attitude with "let’s encourage kids to watch more television." There is plenty of evidence that television viewing can be harmful to young children. And the time that young children spend with media—often several hours a day—is time that could be spent playing actively and developing a sense of humor by interacting with the world.
If Ms. Cahn is so concerned about the academic pressures on young children, perhaps she could spend her time working to rid our schools of high-stakes testing rather than finding new ways to deliver the coveted preschool demographic to marketers.
JOSH GOLIN Program manager Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Boston, Mass.
Let’s respect others’ decisions The issue of elective Caesareans is a controversial one right now (Chicago Baby, fall 2005). I found that out the hard way. I had one.
Having no exposure to the issue prior to my pregnancy, I had no idea that what I considered to be a very personal decision would soon become one that people felt comfortable openly criticizing me for.
Don’t worry, I’m not out to convince you that elective Caesareans are right (or wrong). If my experience has taught me anything, it is to respect the intelligence, decisions and privacy of others.
However, I want to share my story with you so that we may, at the very least, come together to respect and support the pregnant women in our lives so that they may be strong, confident and competent new mothers.
I considered an elective Caesarean because I believed it would be the safest way to deliver my baby. I wanted a controlled delivery. I did not want to wait through hours of labor for something to go wrong. And I didn’t want to labor only to end up with an emergency Caesarean.
I needed help thinking through my questions. Unfortunately my obstetrician’s response was anything but considerate.
"I don’t believe in performing elective Caesareans" she said, "and this is a teaching hospital and the practice is prohibited."
I felt as though I had been slapped in the face. Was this the trusted ally who was supposed to support me through my pregnancy?
Friends and colleagues provided no support. I was stunned by comments.
Sitting in the bookstore pouring over pregnancy and parenting magazines, I read article after article labeling me selfish and arrogant, "too posh to push."
I was most hurt, though, by the reaction of my family and statements such as, "Oh honey, now why would you do that?" and "You aren’t still considering a Caesarean, are you?"
I sought out a new doctor—someone who would listen to my concerns, answer my questions, consider alternative methods if reasonable and help me make an informed decision.
My new doctor did not advocate elective Caesareans. However, he discussed the issue and made sure I was adequately prepared to make an informed decision.
The deciding factor was safety. I was willing to assume the risks associated with the procedure if I could, even slightly, increase the likelihood of an incident/injury-free birth.
Though my decision had been made at 37 weeks, my daughter, Ellie, was in a breech postion and refused to turn, so a second opinion was not necessary and a Caesarean was scheduled.
As long as women are informed and compassionate physicians are involved, those decisions should be respected, even if they are not accepted.
KIRSTEN HAMMOCK Chicago
Clarification With the story "Finding the right toy" (December 2005), we should have run a picture of this boy, Michael McDonough, 6, of Chicago. His mother, Rose, was quoted in that story, which was about the National Lekotek Center, which reviews and lends toys to kids with special needs. Instead, we ran a picture of a different child playing with Lekotek toys. We regret the confusion.
Want more parenting news sooner? We alll want to have more fun with our kids. But how do you know whether to take them to the new movie or head downtown to the theater?
We’re here to help—by reviewing new movies, theater shows and events. Whenever possible, these are "kid-tested" reviews, meaning we took a kid and asked both child and parent to offer a grade (from A to F).
The way to get this information is to sign up for the Chicago Parent Weekly E-News Update at www.chicagoparent.com. Then check your e-mail on Thursday for our top picks in Chicago and the suburbs.
And, yes, we know Chicago Parent Weekly E-News Update isn’t the best name. So send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 9, and you could win a prize.