Friday, June 20, 2008
Dads vs. moms
I have enjoyed reading both the essay on "Kicked out of day care for no reason" (March 2008) and the perspectives of the people who wrote letters in response.
Since I believe that men and women bring great gifts to raising children, I take issue with one letter writer who said Mr. Frederick did not respect the day care system and its need to keep children safe.
First, as Mr. Frederick said, the issue of men and kids is not confined to day care. The events he described just happened to occur in a day care.
Second, I wonder if people would fear for children’s safety if they were sitting in the lap of another child’s mother? From my experience, the answer is clearly no. I often see mothers hugging and holding other people’s kids and have yet to see anyone object. Certainly, none have been reprimanded for inappropriate touching. So, I have to ask: why do we fear for children’s safety when they are around a man?
Kids need dads
I am writing this letter in an agreement to the letter titled "Kids need dads" (May 2008). I would like to say to the writer that you are absolutely right.
Just so happens I am a single African American father who is raising my two biological sons, ages 14 and 13. I am proud to boast that my sons are both honor roll students, Chris, 14, at Holy Trinity High School, and Maurice, 13, at Northwest Institute of Contemporary Learning.
I once again agree and reiterate that "Yes, kids do need their dads." Certainly it is not to take anything away from the role of mom. I have the most highest respect for all mothers but especially those single moms who are striving to do everything they can to help make their own child or children to be the best they can be.
I must say that first with God’s help and a real genuine commitment to my own two boys, I believe in my own way we’re making an impact and difference by example. Finally, I encourage all men who are fathers to step up to the plate and be a real man. Take care of your responsibility by helping to rear and raise your own. You might just be surprised and feel like me that almost nothing else can compare.
The Rev. Van Lee Tiner
Gender doesn’t equal threat
If you haven’t had enough of the "sexual predator hysteria" discussion, I’d like to add my two cents.
While I appreciate Mary Novosad’s concern (Feedback, May 2008) for the safety of children, I believe she missed the point of the essay "Kicked out of day care for no reason" (March 2008). It isn’t that men like Mr. Frederick (and me) don’t appreciate the need to keep kids safe, we just don’t appreciate the fact that our presence is perceived as a threat to kids merely because of our gender. Consider school policies like this one a friend recently related to me: female student teachers are allowed to give breaks to teachers and take over the class, but male student teachers are not allowed to be alone with the children. Should we not be offended?
Don’t self-diagnose a child
Years ago, the diagnosis was ADHD, everyone had it. Now it seems to be autism. The "spectrum" has become so vast that it’s likely all of us would fit somewhere on it.
I am a developmental therapist. When a child is evaluated to see if they qualify for therapy in the early intervention system, many of the parents automatically think their child has autism. There are so many issues that children may have and so many things we don’t understand about brain development. A lot of these children likely have sensory issues only, or processing issues, developmental (cognitive) disabilities, even non-verbal learning disabilities or low tone that may have some resemblance to autism, but it’s NOT autism.
I think the thing I found most upsetting about the article, "Early signs of autism?" in the May issue of Chicago Parent was the fact that the "warning signs" of autism on page 68 were pretty much the same warning signs we might have seen for childhood stroke (an article in the same issue), cerebral palsy or other neuromuscular issues. I just think people are too quick to diagnose a disability that has no medication and few specific therapies before the age of 3.
A child can qualify for therapy and be seen as soon as there is a percentage of delay or if a child is considered "at risk." Even if they don’t qualify, a child can be re-evaluated or monitored if a parent has significant concerns.
The article is right on one point, the pediatricians often don’t know or understand and the parents do. Early intervention is guided by the parents’ concerns and therapists and case workers will trust a parent’s instincts where a pediatrician may not.
Let’s not self-diagnose autism. Let’s get these kids in therapy for the areas where they have delays and deal with the diagnosis from a neurologist at the point when the different delays come together and point, without a doubt, to autism.
Early identification (for risk factors or delays) and early diagnosis (such as autism or ADHD) are two different things.
Mutual respect, mutual safety
We applaud the millions of Illinois drivers who willingly share the road with bicyclists. They safely pass bicyclists on the road with three feet or more of space, which is now the law in Illinois and nine other states. Most drivers show the utmost respect, follow all the traffic laws and yield the right of way.
Many drivers also show their support by smiling and waving when they see bicyclists on the road. These drivers help make bicycling safe and fun for us all and provide encouragement for others to take up bicycling as well.
The vast majority of Illinois drivers don’t think it necessary to honk their horns, shout "get off the road," shake their fists or drive perilously close to bicyclists to intimidate them. They know this behavior can lead to road rage, crashes, injuries and even fatalities. Some drivers try to justify their aggressive actions by pointing out that bicyclists flaunt traffic laws, run red lights and stop signs and ride three or more abreast while impeding the reasonable flow of traffic.
There is no argument that some bicyclists do fail to follow traffic laws, which reflects badly on the entire bicycling community. If we as bicyclists want to be accepted on the road by more drivers, then we have to be good citizens on our bikes as well. Mutual respect means mutual safety.
Outreach director, League of Illinois Bicyclists