many citations and documented research.
Plus, much useful info for pregnancy and birth choices.
GIVING BIRTH NATURALLY
I hate Bratz dolls. I really do. Everything about them bugs me, from their huge heads to their gigantic eyes loaded with makeup, to their sultry lips, next-to-nothing clothes, and overly sexualized bodies. As the mom of an innocent and pure four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I especially despise the shallow messages implied in the marketing of Bratz dolls, the skewed concept of beauty they encompass, and most of all, I hate the fact that millions of little girls seem to be infatuated with them.
When my daughter came back from a birthday party with a Bratz loot bag and told me all about those really cool dolls that she couldn't wait to own, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that someone had thought it was appropriate to give any Bratz paraphernalia to a four-and-a-half-year-old girl. I was furious that in a society where more and more young girls grow up hating their bodies and start dieting at an early age to fit some unrealistic ideal of beauty, some parents would allow Bratz dolls and other similar accessories into their daughters' worlds. I was especially distraught that Jaime was instantly attracted to the dolls. At the precise moment Jaime declared she wanted to own Bratz dolls, I declared war.
Over the next couple of months, I was relentless in the battle. Whenever the word Bratz was uttered, I reciprocated with, "Ugly," "Mean," and "Bad." I told Jaime I would never buy her a Bratz doll. Period. End of argument.
Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy to discourage Jaime from her interest in the dolls. You see, I have a very spirited daughter who is both stubborn and passionate about what she likes and cares about (some say she takes after her mother). So instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue, we both locked down on our positions, and our conversations were far from productive. It usually sounded like this:
Jaime: "Bratz are so beautiful."
Mom: "No, they're not. They're ugly."
Jaime: "No, they're not. I love them and I want one."
Mom: "Yes, they're ugly, and I think they also look mean. I will never buy you one."
Jaime: "No, they're not. They're beautiful, and I still want one."
And so it continued until one of us (usually me) tired of the conversation.
This battle of wills lasted a few months until the parenting genie decided to hit me with one of those powerful light bulb moments. In the middle of one of our familiar arguments, I suddenly realized that the more I hated the Bratz dolls, the more determined Jaime would be to love them. I needed a much better strategy to get through to Jaime and to win this fight for good.
I also realized I wasn't being an effective role model of communication for Jaime. In my fear that Jaime would grow up with a concept of beauty that would prevent her from growing into a self-loving and self-confident young woman, I had forgotten how to use powerful communication skills as tools to help her develop inner wisdom, inner strength, and self-esteem.
With the best and most loving intentions, many of us often try to shield our children from what we believe are negative influences, things and issues that can harm them or hinder their development. Some of us choose to ban television or certain programs, video games, toys, books, foods, or other things in this effort to protect our children. But when we do this, are we really fulfilling our role as effective parents, that of the guide whose sole purpose is to prepare children for adult life? How can we raise children into confident adults ready to face life if we have only exposed them to selective bits and pieces of what we hope life to be for them?
Let's face it: life isn't lived in a bubble. As nice as it would be, it's simply not realistic to expect kids to transform into smart-thinking, independent, successful individuals if they haven't grown up exposed to the full picture of what the world is really about?the good, the bad, and the ugly?and if they haven't been given the tools necessary to make sense of it all.
From my conversations with Jaime about the Bratz dolls, I also realized that beyond failing to communicate effectively with her about the dolls, I was actually imposing my biases on her. I wasn't explaining much about my issues with the toy. Worse, I wasn't listening to the reasons why she was so drawn to the dolls. Instead of modeling communication and listening skills, I was simply imposing my biases.
What I discovered was that my fear of the power of these dolls over my daughter was preventing me from truly preparing her for the world. Fear is a powerful motivator but not necessarily the smartest one. So I decided to take the power back into my own hands by letting go of my fears of negative influences in my daughter's life and seeing them instead as opportunities to teach Jaime powerful life skills: critical thinking, communication, listening, and the ability to debate effectively and to make informed decisions.
Whenever the Bratz (or any other negative influences) make their way into conversation now, our dialogue has metamorphosed into this:
Jaime: "Mom, did you see these Bratz dolls in the catalogue?"
Mom: "Let me see. Wow, which one do you prefer?"
Jaime: "I like this one because she has long hair. I think she's pretty. Which one do you like mom?"
Mom: "I think I like this one better. She looks like a very kind person and I think that makes her look beautiful."
Jaime: "You're right mom, she does look kind and beautiful, but I still like this one best."
Mom: "That's OK. I'm glad you can explain why this one is your favorite."
With each of these conversations, I press Jaime to explore her likes and dislikes. I encourage her to think about her world and communicate her views effectively. I provide her with a different perspective. I show her that it's OK to disagree with me, and that I don't always agree with her either, but that I respect why she likes something and that I'm proud that she can explain her reasoning. When we disagree on a subject, I make sure I listen to her arguments, and that she listens to mine. I teach her respect by listening and thanking her for explanation. I play devil's advocate to make sure that she can truly explore different sides of an issue before making up her mind.
In other words, I am raising her to be an adult who will think for herself, have the confidence to debate her points of view, have the ability to be compassionate and respectful of others' opinions and, most importantly, who will always think critically about issues rather than passively accepting them.
By taking the power back from the Bratz, I have learned to be a proactive parent, not a reactive parent. I am role-modeling to Jaime the importance of confidence in one's opinions and the value of respect. I have developed trust and faith that with the right tools, Jaime will grow up to be a confident, self-empowered young woman even if it means that I won't always agree with her choices. Just as the loving gardener would do, I am letting Jaime blossom by gentling guiding her growth.
Emmanuelle Goodier is a doula and childbirth educator near Ottawa, Ontario and the proud mom of three smart, spirited, and powerful little debaters.
I never cease to be amazed at the ignorance surrounding this topic among parents about to give birth. Cutting off the organ of an infant seems to cry out to a parent to RESEARCH it before making the decision... But too many people (50%) in the U.S. still blindly go into this choice with no background knowledge on the extreme decision they are about to make... I ignore and delete most list-serv messages sent my way (constantly annoyed at the ignorance and pettiness of the conversations) but this particular topic is just too important to ignore. So here is my response from today's list-serv round-robin:
I would HIGHLY suggest people investigate ALL aspects of circumcision -- AND the many purposes and functions of the foreskin BEFORE their baby arrives. There is a LOT of good information out there -- as well as videos you can watch of circ being done. The U.S. is thee ONLY nation in the world that circumcises for NO medical reason. Our rate is now 52% of baby boys in the U.S. being circumcised (as of Jan 2008) but this is still far more than Canada (9%) England (3%) and most other developed countries (1-2%).
NO HEALTH ORGANIZATION IN THE WORLD recommends this procedure be done. And there are many, many reasons for this.
It is a very painful procedure for a brand new baby boy when he has just entered the world and cannot be administered numbing drugs. Working in L&D, many babies are seen crying so hard that they slip into comas. They cannot handle this terror.
The tissue removed (tissue that is exactly the same as if we cut off a baby girl's clitoral hood at birth) HAS purpose and function both in infancy (lubrication, natural antibodies, protection of the glans/head, tactile stimulation) and in adulthood (lubrication, antibodies, glans protection, and increased sexual stimulation with partners).
Circumcision removes the skin with the highest concentration of nerve endings of ANY male body part. It constitutes 1/3 of the newborn penis. And it can never be replaced.
If a boy/man wishes to be circumcised later in life, he is then able to CHOOSE this for himself, and be fully numbed for the procedure.
As more and more parents learn just what is involved, it is not surprising that people come to see this as a human rights violation, genital mutilation, and infant abuse. It is simply NOT something most parents would choose to do to their newly loved infant if they were fully informed and aware of the implications.
Resources for further information on this topic are linked here: Are You Fully Informed?
PLEASE research this for the sake of your new little loved one.
Yet what are the "givens" for the human who births not in a barn, but in a "modern and advanced" hospital? In many cases, 100% the opposite! Usually a minimum of a dozen strangers pass through the world of the laboring mother in her first 12 hours in the hospital—security officer, patient transporter, triage secretary, admission clerk, triage nurse, resident and/or doctor on call, admitting nurse, first shift nurse, break nurse, additional nurse at delivery, doctor or midwife plus possibly students, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, etc. Bright lights in the triage and labor rooms are challenging to dim. Mothers are tethered to monitors or IV poles and are moved through a bright hall with unfamiliar sounds to a new room in a building devoted to illness/trauma that most have visited once briefly if at all. They receive poor quality "clear liquids only." They are exposed to voices of others in the hall or chatting by the attendants during contractions and endless disruptions throughout! But then, do we ever find that we have an offspring experience "unexplained distress?" Of course, and at frightening rates! Yet, oddly, many of these disruptions are promoted as minor inconveniences or necessary to "protect" the baby.
Curiously, while veterinarians commonly have to defend interventions in light of the additional cost and the risks associated with interfering with nature, providers caring for human mothers within the medical system more commonly are forced to defend why they did NOT intervene! Consider the high rates of inductions, epidurals, artificial rupture of membranes, immediate cord cutting, cesareans and the vigorous defense necessary to fight for anything different, especially if time is involved (time to go into labor, to progress, to push, to allow the cord to stop pulsation or to get "done" bonding). I've recently seen outstanding CNMs and obstetricians sacrifice their own political reputations and suffer departmental reprimands for births with great outcomes where they protected the mothers' yearning for privacy, allowed extended pushing time with great vital signs or, during a healthy normal birth, followed their intuition and honored the mother's begging to check heart tones frequently by hand during pushing instead of what the mother considered the massive intrusion of wearing the monitor belt. Interventions are considered to be the ultimate protection from litigation in human care, yet they contribute mightily to the high rates of distress in mothers and babies!
In animal husbandry, the first line of defense for protecting the unborn is to protect and nurture the nutritional needs and comfort of the birthing female. In the case of institutionalized birth for humans, however, in spite of evidence to the contrary, the norm is to act as if the nutritional needs and the comfort of the birthing mothers are of concern to, at most, the marketing and public relations department! It's an affront to common sense that as a society we are currently more accepting of the needs of foaling mares, whelping poodles and high-producing cows than of our birthing humans. From the high rates of fetal distress, meconium staining and breastfeeding problems, the consequences are clearly devastating to our infants, just as any decent horseman would predict.
"I'd take birthing in a barn over birthing in a hospital any day..."
Posted by Creeping Starfish on Jul 6, 2008