Thursday, April 9, 2009

More pearls of wisdom from the web...

The title of the article below immediately caught my attention. As I read, I thought about how true much of what the author had to say was. Today's world is different than the one I grew up in. I knew my neighbors and watched most of their kids at least once a week. I learned that it was (and now have confirmed) an awesome responsibility to care for children. I also worked in a daycare setting for a few years and I still don't feel like I was prepared for parenting our daughter!

I had high hopes that the pediatrician could address my concerns about nutrition, sleep and development. Alas, I have been very disappointed in her approach to all of the above. Even though she is a trained professional, I feel as though she sometimes knows less than my husband and I do about parenting (and she has several children). I know that our daughter will develop at her own pace and is slightly delayed due to her early arrival into the world. I feel that it is unfair to compare her to a child that is the same age but born full-term, especially when it comes to her nutritional needs. During our last visit to the pediatrician, we were told that our toothless daughter could "handle" eating teething biscuits! How would that work? Last time I checked, neither Jason or I had the ability to chew for her!

I am very aware that parenting is a "hands-on" learning process. There is no manual but there is a test each and every day whether you are prepared for it or not. I invite you to be my guest and read the article below. How much of this do you agree with? How much don't you agree with? I find it very interesting that this article was written by an anthropoligist for "LiveScience". She has finally given me the "pearls of wisdom" about parenting that I have been looking for since our daughter came home in October.

Why We Fear Parenting

By Meredith F. Small, LiveScience's Human Nature Columnist

Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University and is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness." Her Human Nature column appears each Friday on LiveScience. [Human Nature Column Archive]
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Meredith F. Small.
Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University and is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness." Her Human Nature column appears each Friday on LiveScience. [Human Nature Column Archive]

Several years go during a "well child visit," a pediatric nurse asked me a question about my then 18-month-old daughter:

“How many words does she have?”

“I have no idea,” I responded, baffled by the question.

“We like them to have 15 words at this age,” she snipped, clearly disapproving of my failure to keep track of my daughter’s vocabulary.

“You should talk to her in more complex sentences,” she advised, assuming I would take her advice and initiate some decent conversations about black holes or the meaning of life with my toddler.

Instead, I burst out laughing.

As an anthropologist who has studied childhood across the globe, I know that some kids take their own sweet time to talk and that all kids eventually catch up.

I was also amused because the nurse had easily slipped into the role of expert in the arena of child behavior, and she expected me to listen and learn.

And no wonder.

Although the parent-child relationship has been working smoothly for millions of years, today’s parents are quivering masses of indecision and self-doubt. Why are we so afraid of parenting?

Part of the self-doubt comes from a simple change in demographics.

Since the turn of the century, the birth rate in the United States has been steadily falling and in the 1960s, with the introduction of the birth control pill, it dropped dramatically. Most families now have two children, many couples don’t want children at all, and neighborhoods are no longer teeming with kids.

As a result, few grown-ups have had experience with little brothers or sisters. Teens used to learn about kids by babysitting, but these days adolescents are too busy with scheduled events or school work, or they want a job with better pay and less hassle. And so they grow up with no child care experience at all.

Today's parents pigheadedly refuse to look for advice from people in the know — their own parents. No, no, we want to be “better” parents than the previous generation, so why ask them?

And so we turn to “experts,” that is, parenting advice books and pediatricians.

Those books are bestsellers written by doctors, nurses, child development researchers and parents. They all purport to know the “right” way to bring up children and they all exude confidence. But most of what comes between the covers is, well, folklore; these books are simply cultural documents that echo currently accepted ideas about bringing up children.

What we get from pediatricians is also suspect.

Parents go to the pediatrician begging for advice about sleep, feeding, toilet training and discipline, and they want the baby doctor to tell them how to bring up the baby. But a three-year pediatric residency is hospital-based and residents are trained to treat sick children, not normal kids who refuse to eat their peas. No pediatrician learns how to get a healthy baby to sleep, or what to do when a child cries, or what makes little kids smile.

They don’t even learn how to diaper a baby.

Where, then, can we turn when faced with the challenge of being a parent?

We might simply look inward. If parents stay close to their kids, listen and pay attention, use common sense and stay flexible, chances are they’ll know what to do, even if they make a few mistakes along the way.

Being a good parent isn’t that easy, but it’s also not that hard.

As Dr. Spock wrote 60 years ago, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University. She is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" (link) and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness" (link).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A day like no other....

Originally published in October of 2008:

The title of my blog used to be "My Adventures in Adopotive Parenting" which was deceiving because it implied that only "adoptive parents" have new adventures when they begin to parent. As you and I both know, this isn't the case. However, as an an adoptive parent in an open adoption relationship, the challenges and adventures are slightly different than those faced by those that have biological children. How many biological parents have to wait 6-9 months before they can legally say what a child's legal name will be? How many biological parents have to have a home study done before they become parents and after as well?

Our adventures in parenting began well before Friday but Friday was the official hospital release day for our daughter. I have to say that Friday was the most unique day in my life. Friday was the day that our lives changed forever because after 3 + years of waiting and praying we are finally parents to a beautiful baby girl !

Although this is a very exciting a new adventure for us, it is also frightening too. There is no manual to tell us how to parent a child. We really thought about asking a nurse to come home with us! What is so scary is that the only guide that we have is our intuition. Our only other guide is our deep faith that we will do a great job raising this precious child who is a gift to us.

Our daughter (still a very strange term to use!) was born a preemie and has been in the NICU for a few months. She is a beautiful little girl who we knew was meant to be our daughter from the first time we saw her tiny face covered with ventilator tubes, oxygen feeds and her chest with apnea monitor feeds. It's strange how our love for this child has grown in our hearts. I often marvel at how much in love with this child we are. We would do anything for her. I have found that my motherly instincts have kicked in and I feel even more protective of her, my husband and our dog.

Before we became parents, we never dreamed that being sleep deprived would be so awesome ! After 12 years of marriage, a 7 year old dog with liver disease and various other life circumstances, we're still able to navigate the waters of "new parenthood". God truly is amazing. I truly believe that you reap what you sow.
Posted by New Mom at 5:55 PM 2 comments
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Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm still following the Madonna adoption saga....

I leave you to decide what you think about this ruling. Here's the latest from :

Madonna's adoption rejected by Malawian judge

* Story Highlights
* Official: The decision came down to residency requirement
* Critics say pop star is taking advantage of "archaic adoption laws"
* Most Malawians, however, back Madonna and want her to have the baby
* Madonna has three children already, include a boy she adopted from Malawi in

(CNN) -- Madonna's petition to adopt a second Malawian child was rejected by a local judge Friday, an official said.
Madonna is pictured leaving a court in Malawi late last month.

Madonna is pictured leaving a court in Malawi late last month.

"The decision came down to residency requirement and the fact that the judge believes she was being well taken care of in the orphanage," said Zione Ntaba, a spokeswoman for the Malawi Justice Department.

"For the Malawians, the fact that the child is at an orphanage, is being taken care of and is going through the school education system, that does qualify as the best interests of a child," Ntaba added.

The 50-year-old pop star had filed a petition to adopt a girl, Chifundo James, 4, whose first name translates to mercy in Chichewa, the country's national language. She has three other children, including a son she adopted from the southern African nation in 2006. Video Watch more about the court's refusal »

The rejection follows weeks of criticism by human rights activists, who said Madonna was using her fame to circumvent a residency requirement for foreigners adopting in the country. Do you agree with the decision?

A coalition of local nonprofits from across the country accused Madonna on Thursday of taking advantage of a weakness in the country's child protection system. Days earlier, the charity Save the Children UK had urged the American singer to rethink the adoption and let the child be raised by her relatives.

Local media have reported that the child's teenage mother died days after she gave birth to her.
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* Malawians support Madonna's adoption

"This is a triumph for the children of Malawi," said Mavuto Bamusi, the national coordinator of Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee.

"Inter-country adoption is not the best way of providing protection to children ... they should grow up in familiar cultural and religious surroundings," Bamusi said, adding that "supporting children from outside our country only helps five of the 1.5 million orphans we have."

Despite the controversies, a majority of Malawians were rooting for the adoption.

Marilyn Segula, a presenter at Capital FM, which broadcasts in at least five cities, including the capital, Lilongwe said Thursday that 99 percent of callers wanted the adoption to be approved.

"People are saying: 'Why are these [non-governmental organizations] pretending to care now? If anyone wanted to amend the law, they should have done it with other adoptions.' "

The recently divorced singer was married to British filmmaker Guy Ritchie. She has been involved with Malawi for several years and made a documentary, "I Am Because We Are," to highlight poverty, AIDS and other diseases devastating children in that country. She also co-founded a nonprofit group, Raising Malawi, which provides programs to help the needy.
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