Friday, May 22, 2009
Where are all the dads?
Three years ago, my son was born, and, as for every other first-time parent, my life and my world changed dramatically. As I began to learn what being a parent means, I kept my eyes open for glimpses of other men who are the primary caregivers for their families. Not with the goal of joining a "Dads Only" club, but simply for a sense of how people, at least superficially "like me," handled the stress, excitement and periodic bouts of boredom.
At first, Chicago Parent was a welcome window, through which I could see other fathers at their home work. Unlike the national parents’ magazines, whose audiences were clearly meant to be exclusively female, Chicago Parent took visible steps to be inclusive of families like mine. There were articles by dads about parenting, photos of men actively engaged in parenting and even a discussion through the "comments" section about gender and parenting.
Sadly, though, Chicago Parent no longer seems to be interested in representing male primary caregivers. The April 2009 issue shows the following: only four photos of men parenting in the entire issue (three of which are posed pictures, and only one of which occurs before page 53), a lack of any male responses in the "Readers Respond" sidebar, and, perhaps most telling, the new, gender-specific motto on the cover, "Mom tested. Mom treasured." These items are all part of a trend I’ve noticed and show a lack of interest by Chicago Parent in representing families like mine.
Perhaps Chicago Parent could focus an issue around various gender issues in parenting—from language issues (like the difference in tone between "Mom," "Dad," and "parent"), to male and female parenting challenges (changing tables in men’s rooms are an obvious starting point), to safety issues (or perceived safety issues) when a man and his child join an otherwise female-only play group. Even approaches to communication in casual social settings (like parks, pools and play places) could be discussed.
I sincerely hope that Chicago Parent will begin to reverse some of the trends I’ve noted here, in order to offer other new male primary caregivers the valuable views it offered me. Abandoning the "Mom tested" motto would be a simple, but deeply appreciated, first step.
Touched by a mother’s story
I am at work in tears. Not sad tears, but tears of appreciation for parents like Jennifer Wheeler (Happy Mother’s Day to me, May 2009). I, too, have an 8-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder and some days all you want to do is cry. For their present and their future. You cry and then you continue parenting. I cannot imagine how she does it, as a single parent, but I applaud her for her love, strength and commitment to her three sons.
Tamara L. Harding
I was shocked to read that Chicago Parent magazine also fell in line with other liberal magazines by bowing to "the altar of Obama" in its February 2009 issue. The issue asked parents to have their children share three positive things about the new president. Why? I don’t recall this ever being done for any prior president.
Forty-eight percent of the American voters voted against Obama in November 2008 because his negatives way outweighed his positives. Prior to his election in November 2008, could any citizen of Illinois identify at least one positive thing that Obama had done for the state of Illinois?
A redo of the election today might elect John McCain as president. If so, would Chicago Parent magazine still ask parents to identify three positive things about John McCain to their children? I don’t think so. Please keep politics out of further issues of Chicago Parent magazine, letting us parents at least read one magazine that doesn’t sickeningly fawn all over Obama.
Bikers belong on the road
Bicyclist deaths in Illinois often trigger mean-spirited and uninformed remarks about the tragic victims.
Some quickly conclude that bicyclists are always at fault. Their claims: Bicyclists have no right to be on the road. They should stay on sidewalks or bike paths.
These observers should know bicyclists have a legal right to be on the road under Illinois law. Riding on the sidewalk in some communities is illegal, and besides, it’s unsafe. Sidewalks and paths don’t always get bicyclists where they need to go. And for some, bicycles are their only means of transportation.
Bicyclists should obey traffic laws, use hand signals when turning, slowing or stopping, have lights on the front and back of their bicycles for night riding and should always use good judgment.
Motorists have a primary responsibility to operate in a safe manner at all times. That means obeying traffic laws and speed limits, driving appropriately and paying attention for potential road hazards. Motorists also have a special responsibility toward bicyclists. Motorists must give riders at least three feet of space when passing under state law.
Drive and ride responsibly at all times. Our lives depend on it.
League of Illinois Bicyclists, Aurora
Decline of animated movies
What happened to the good ole days of "Bambi," "Cinderella" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?" Recent installments of animation like "Kung-fu Panda," "Surf’s Up" and "Lilo and Stitch" can’t compare. I want to know why today’s filmmakers believe having amazingly loud and colorful effects substitutes for a real plot. Honestly, enough of trying to make animated movies into sophisticated entertainment for adults. Put the kids first.
By the way, I am not some elderly curmudgeon longing for the "good old days." I’m 17, and I look back at my childhood when animated movies had great plots and music. The movies I loved, "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and "The Lion King," were so musically strong they went on to Broadway. Younger kids love music. They are so starved for music today they even embrace the lesser music of "High School Musical." Give the kids their own "Hakuna Matata" to enjoy.
Billboards are promoting the 70th anniversary of the release of "Pinocchio." How many current animated films will still be loved 70 years from now? To stop the mediocrity, I encourage families to stop going to animated films until the quality improves. Watch the old DVDs and write Disney and tell them you want real characters. Wish upon a star for better animated films.