Random Thoughts


I was surprised to see the family bed debate hit prime time on CNN yesterday.  It is a topic of intense personal-impact and very little societal impact.  Whether or not a family co-sleeps warrants the topic of hot-debate just about as much as whether or not a Mom chooses to babywear.  It’s intensely personal – purely a family choice.

But on CNN, Psychologist Lawrence Shapiro stated that the family bed, “is not giving children what they need”.  He goes on to explain that kids really should be sleeping in their own beds from two years on.   And many medical ‘experts’ mirror his opinion, stating reasons like, autonomy for the child, space for the parents, fostering individuality and positive sleep habits, and the list goes on.  Autonomy at 18 months of age?  Now that comment, I disagree with… but that’s a whole other post, isn’t it?

As for me, I don’t take a stance for or against co-sleeping because our family does what is right for us, and I cannot worry about what other families do. If I did, I’d be insanely nosy, and – truthfully, I’d go crazy.  What strikes me odd is that National News programs feel the need to critique attachment parenting practices like this, yet, issues like children spending hours de-tached from their families in daycares and schools, and the over-obsessive media-culture our kids live in are left untouched.  I mean, really?

Do we co-sleep?  No.  Not if I can help it.  We use many attachment parenting methods, but the family bed was never one of them.  For me, sleeping with our kids past newborn/infant stage just did not work.  I almost lost Audrey off the side of the bed when she was tiny due to lack of sleep and delusional night-time nursing.  Personally, I felt (and still feel) our kids sleep much better on their own.  We did have a bassinet/crib in our room for a long time with our two youngest (up to 5-6 months?) but not in our bed.  Our eldest was in his own crib, in his room, at one month old because he was such a loud sleeper and I was such an over-anxious new Mom that I was getting NO sleep.

When our kids are in our bed, no one sleeps.  They toss and turn and talk and giggle and whine and drive me and my husband crazy.  The two of us have never been able to understand how people claim to sleep BETTER in the family bed.  It just isn’t the case with our family.  Do our kids crawl in after a bad dream or for a cuddle?  Sure.  Do we sometimes cuddle our kids to sleep in their beds?  Sure.  But most of the time, it’s just Wes and I in our own bed, and we’re very happy about that.

For us, fostering our quiet time and time alone is crucial – especially with three babies really close together.  That is our sanctuary, our space, our time to be in each other’s arms.  Also, I home school our kids and spend extensive amounts of time with them everyday.  Were I to sleep with them too, I honestly fear I’d lose my mind.

Now, I’m sure a co-sleeping parent could give me a long list as to why sleeping with their munchkins WORKS for them… and I don’t mean to make this seems like and anti-co-sleeping post, as it’s not at all.  I’m simply taking the spin from our family perspective.  (If fact, I’d love to hear from you in the Comments!!!).

It does offend me when co-sleeping parents say things like,”How can you deprive that closeness?”.  It bugs me because it insinuates that, by having my children sleep in their own beds, I’m somehow depriving them of something.  I don’t feel I deprive my kids of anything – and certainly not love, attention, and affection.  In our home, if we co-slept, I feel I’d be depriving our kids of a proper sleep and a happy Mommy and Daddy.

Here’s the clip from CNN.

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I’m thinking about all the teachers getting ready for school tomorrow and felt inspired to write a little prayer for them:

For all the dedicated educators who guide children in discovery – may you find joy and purpose in your very important task.

You, the teachers, who spend hours at night preparing for the next day – driven to inspire the children around you.

You, the teachers, who invest unbelievable amounts of your own money and resources into your classrooms and schools to ensure students are enriched and engaged.

You, the teachers, who offer guidance and love to students who trust you…

Who listen lovingly when no one else will…

Who inspire and enlighten.

May you never lose sight of the impact you have on the future of our nation and on the hearts of children.

May you have strength for the task, patience in the trying times, and perseverance that flows from the knowledge that there is a ‘bigger picture’.

May you be blessed this school year with all you need to be a positive and unforgetable leader in the lives of your students.

WHY!?

I thought it was bad enough that I was seeing 7 and 8 year olds wearing string bikinis this summer.  But now, I’m seeing them on infants.  I found a site this week and couldn’t believe there were actually pictures of babies (newborns to toddlers) modeling string bikinis in various poses.  (I am not listing it here or linking to it for fear of linking the wrong kind of people to the site).

As a society at large, we are grossly in denial of the direction we are headed.  Kids (mostly girls) are being sexualized at younger and younger ages.  Heck, there are even pole dancing kits for primary age girls!  And in response to my concerns about these topics, I’ve heard comments like, “clothes don’t sexualize kids – people do,” and “only a sicko would look at a little girl that way”.  Well, those statements are both true and false.  Actually, both people AND clothes sexualize kids – and in this case, babies.  And, sure, mostly only sickos look at kids in a sexual way, but, when we dress our kids up like little under-dressed women, even the everyday man (or woman?) could see them in a sexual light.

To “sexualize” is to give sexual association to something.  When you are putting something “sexy” on your child, you are associating the idea of ‘being sexy’ with their tiny body.  Period.  Don’t try to sugar-coat it.  Whether you think it’s sexy or not doesn’t matter, society has made it so, and therefor, it is.

So many parents (and obviously the manufacturers and marketers of such products) are incredibly misinformed if they don’t think there are a lot of creeps out there, right in your neighborhood.  Child porn is the largest and fastest growing industry online and worldwide.  And, yes, sick adults do lust after very young children – it’s reality.  It’s up to us as parents and consumers of children’s products to boycott companies who make inappropriate attire for kids.

Although I’m pretty convinced their creators do not have harmful intentions for our daughters, their naivety to the seriousness of sexualizing babies and photographing and posting them online is unfortunate and extremely angering.  These precious little ones have no say in who looks at and lusts after their bodies.

Many people I talk to think I’m too ‘out there’ and that I worry too much about ‘the small stuff’.  I would challenge that when we have a society where CHILD porn is the fastest growing online industry, millions of little girls as young as 4 are trafficked in the sex-trade business every year, and children are being raped and molested every day – issues of sexualizing babies is a VERY big deal.  And it is just that.  Whether we like it or not or intend to do it or not – it is what it is.

Ways to take a stand –

1. Dress your baby and children in appropriate swimwear.

2. Do not buy from companies that make or distribute products that sexualize young children.

3. Write a letter.  If you truly want to voice your concerns, write to the manufacturers of such products and voice your concern.  If enough Moms stop buying and enough Moms speak up – maybe these products will fade and be replaced by more age-appropriate clothing.

Everything starts with the “small stuff” – and to some, babies in bikinis is “small stuff”.  But, I’d challenge: If as Moms we’re ok with our infants looking “hot” – where on earth do we go from there?

*Frustrated.*

In case you’re wondering, to me – appropriate baby girl swimwear looks like this:

A couple nights ago, as I washed dishes, I was consumed by an over-whelming sense of gratitude.   Normally, doing dishes and cleaning the house happens at about 10pm for Wes and I.  So, needless to say, I’m usually not too thrilled about the task.

As I was wiping the counter tops, I randomly started thinking about the Mamas out there who don’t have a kitchen.  Mamas who can’t wash dishes in the sink because there is no running water.  Mamas who may not even have dishes to do because there was no food to cook.  And then I started clearing plates and looking at all the waste the kids had left behind.  My eyes well-up as I think  that the amount of food I scrape into the green bin could be enough to feed a starving child a bigger meal than he’ll get in a week.

How dare I complain or grumble when I tidy up at the end of a busy day?  How dare I.  I am BLESSED.  I have so much more than I’ll ever need.  I can run warm water to wash our dishes.  I have a warm, clean kitchen filled with artwork from our kids, spices, teas, delicious goodies, and happy family memories.  I have electricity.  I have a fridge full of healthy, fresh food I can reach in and give my child when he is hungry.  I have clean drinking water to offer my daughter when she’s thirsty.  I’ve never had to feel my heart break while I watch my children cry in pain because they are starving and their Mama has no food to give them.

This may not sound like the kind of thoughts that would fill me with anything but extreme sorrow.  And I do feel sorrow – I weep for all the families who live in poverty and especially those Mothers who simply cannot provide the basic necessities for their children.  I pray for them.  I pray for our Sponsor children and their families and their communities.

And I thank God that I am so, so blessed.  Joy and thankfulness fill me.  I want this feeling to last.  I want to live in light of all I have, not all I don’t have.  Oh, Lord – help me to remember all the Mamas who have so much less than me, and to never ever take a simple task like ‘doing the dishes’ for granted.  The simple fact that I can and need to do the daily chore of ‘washing up’ makes me deeply and immeasurably blessed in so many ways.

The latest marketing ploy from Huggies has me twitching as I type.  Huge ads sprawl text like, “Make a Little Fashion Statement” and “Fashionable Diapers for your Baby”.  Seriously?  Last time I checked, I wasn’t concerned with whether my little ones’ diapers were ‘cool’ but rather, whether they kept them clean and dry.

Here’s a look at some of the advertising being used –

A link to the commercial on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=sQ0M9CBEkw0&feature=related


Some might say I’m uptight, but I think we need to take a more critical look at this campaign and what it means.

There’s something pretty creepy about using sex to sell baby diapers.  I have a serious problem with a commercial that insinuates women are ‘checking out’ a toddler because he looks so ‘good’ walking down the street in his hip nappy.   Many Moms have mentioned being thrilled that along with going short or pant-free, their babies will also avoid that awful ‘diaper line’ problem.  Huh?  Are we really this shallow as parents that we are concerned about our child’s diaper peeking up over his jean shorts?  Yikes.

In ads like the TV Commercial and the second print ad I posted above, you’ve also got babies being dressed up as and made to look like adult men.  Adult men who are attractive, sought after by grown women, and even possibly ‘sexy’.  If you can’t see it, you’re not taking a close or critical enough look.  With a society that is moving towards sexualizing younger and younger girls and boys –  campaigns like this can’t be ignored or bought into so easily.  We need to take a step back and refuse to contribute to these kinds of messages (IE: don’t buy them, consider not buying Huggies, or even send a letter to them if it bothers you enough).

On a very logistical note, there are several Mom Blogs with claims and comments posted that these diapers are actually leaving blue stains on babies’ legs and clothing.  This is concerning and I wonder what dyes are being used and if they are safe to be nuzzled next to a little one’s sensitive skin for hours at a time.

I also have a hard time with products that encourage parents to ensure that even their infants and toddlers are indeed, “in fashion”.  As the campaign tag-line suggests, do our babies really have to “look cool while pooping”?  Why are we placing so much emphasis on the way these tots look?  Do we really need to start the anxiety (mostly in the parent’s need to have baby measure up) THIS young?  What’s going to be next – diapers with brand names like GAP and Abercrombie printed on the bum?   C’mon!  Has Huggies completely gone off the deep-end or am I the only parent who is seriously concerned for a society that stresses about needing our baby diapers to look “chic”?!

*shakes head*