Friday, March 28, 2008
Kudos to Steve Frederick for having the courage to say what many of us have been thinking ("Kicked out of day care for no reason," March 2008). The sexual predator hysteria is truly out of control. When my daughters and I play at the park, children we’ve never met often ask to play with us because we’re having a good time. I’d love to say yes, but I don’t. When so many people think any man who even looks at their child wants to molest them, it isn’t safe.
Men needed in kids lives
Blocking men out of children’s lives is abnormal and abusive. Steve Frederick’s description of the suspicion a man faces when interacting with children struck a familiar nerve with me. Mindless prejudice is infuriating.
It was brave of Mr. Frederick to speak up: "Why are you defending yourself?" is a common reaction. The accusations are communicated in the way that girls bully—implications, whispering rumors that can never be confronted or resolved. Rational conversation about identifying abusive behavior or protecting against it becomes impossible when someone harbors a personalized suspicion that they feel obliged to defend and justify.
Child abuse is shockingly common. I see parents berating children for normal childlike behavior every single time I go to a playground. Why do women hurt children’s feelings over mismatched clothing? Making ourselves a safe and supportive context for children is difficult—it requires strict insight and difficult change. Unreasoned prejudice loosens guilt about one’s own limitations, by creating a distracting scapegoat to be "better than."
In my experience, many women have not yet learned that it is normal and healthy for men to like children. Dads may even have some answers moms want. Gender prejudice affects the whole family. Awareness of the problems working women face has greatly improved, but we are just beginning the discovery of men as good child care participants. Without men in their lives, children lose out. I am grateful to Mr. Frederick and Chicago Parent for bringing it up.
Having the right to be dad
I feel personally offended every time I hear a story like the one Steve Frederick told about getting kicked out of day care. Women (and many men) need to do some serious soul searching. Women have demanded that they not be confined to traditional female roles and scorn men who resist their efforts to be whatever they choose: doctors, lawyers and CEOs. But many of these same women are unwilling to let men out of their breadwinner role and into child care. Those men who try, as Mr. Frederick found out, are too often viciously slapped down and accused of being "weird" or being "child molesters." As a result, our kids are suffering. Having won the right to do what they want, women need to let men do the same.
I thought the issue the dad brought up in "Kicked out of day care for no reason" was an important one. Dads are important and should be actively involved in their kids’ lives at home and at school.
My daughter had a male teacher in second grade. I was nervous at first. I came for all the parent volunteer days and could simply see this was a person who was good at teaching second grade. My daughter then went on to have a male teacher for many following grades.
There are men out there who are good teachers at the elementary level. I think boys in our society don’t always see good male role models close up and I think dads should get to visit their kid’s classroom.
I hope the article in Chicago Parent raises awareness so that dads can make brief visits to their children’s classrooms.
Breaking bad stereotypes
Michelle Sussman’s article on breaking kids’ bad habits ("Ew, Gross!," February 2008) was somewhat informative, but incredibly sexist. The key to breaking a boy’s habit of nail biting is to "engage him with a puzzle or LEGOs to keep his fingers moving" or "encourage him to wear gloves." Meanwhile, girls are supposed to get manicures and "focus on an upcoming event." In other words: Boys should be distracted with activity, girls should put their focus on looking pretty. (This on top of the horror of your daughter’s hair-chewing leading to "split ends or damaged hair." Oooh … split ends!)
Didn’t this kind of thinking go out with the 1950s? Do we really need Chicago Parent magazine to reinforce outdated gender roles for our kids?
Thank you for the wonderful article on ADHD and diet/nutrition (Good Sense Eating, March 2008). The best line in that article was "Medication is only one piece of the management of ADHD." How true! I have an almost 9-year-old son with ADHD. He has been medicated since he was 5, however we do many other things to help him, and us, manage besides the meds. He swims for an hour a day, three to four times a week. We eat very healthy. We have no screen time on school days (although this gets harder when he has homework on the computer). We have very early bedtimes that we enforce at all costs. We have a great team of a pediatrician, psychiatrist and counselor that work together and communicate with each other and us. My son has been on the same dose of his meds for three years. That tells me that the other strategies are helping him cope and we don’t need to keep upping his meds. That said, there are many kids for whom meds are the only way to get through their day and I am glad we have medication for those people. Your article does a good job of pointing out other ways to manage in addition to meds.
Commenting on parenting
It was a sad article about Christopher ("Finding the strength to let go," February 2008), but at the same time it was embarrassing to read about this black women bringing eight out-of-wedlock children into the world to suffer in poverty without fathers, seemingly without shame. All of us black women are not that ignorant and out of control. I have three with my husband—not to say that that makes me superior (it does not)—but eight out-of-wedlock children is ridiculous.
Editor’s note: The story stated that Christopher’s mother was a single mother, not that her children were born out of wedlock.
Easter Seals a great resource
Thank you for your recent article, "Speech Delay: When To Worry" (Health Matters, March 2008). It succinctly summarized the basics of infant/toddler speech development. My son is (expressive) language delayed and he is currently receiving therapy through an Easter Seals appointed SPL (Speech Language Pathologist). Although your article does not mention Easter Seals as a resource for parents, I wanted to promote awareness of this excellent, non-profit organization. Our family has been extremely pleased with our interactions with Easter Seals. They are a professional, caring organization that promptly coordinated my son’s care. The initial assessment and all therapy takes place in our own home, which is unique and extraordinarily child-friendly. Not only are services affordable, but finances are coordinated with existing state programs. I urge all parents in need to contact Chicago area Easter Seals’ offices. I will never throw away those stickers and solicitations for money again. What an exceptional organization.