Archive for September 2013

How did you get dad so involved?   2 comments

So, mini update. I get this one a lot with mums (who see my baby in a carrier on dad’s chest cooing away). How does one help get dad (This also goes for second mum, step parents, and so on) involved? A lot of the time fathers really don’t know where they stand with the tiny baby and mothers have very strong ideas about how they want things done.

The most important factor here is trust – trust that dad will figure it out. The relationship between babies and their caregivers is unique to each care giver. The key is to provide for the baby quickly and with affection; as they get older giving them time and love and responding to their needs. There are many different ways to do this and the best way to find out what they are is abandonment – leave dad and baby to it. Be there if he wants help, but he is on his own. Settling the baby is between them, and your confidence and trust bolsters theirs.

Another factor is keeping the relationship unique. Having something that each of you does between you and the baby – something that reinforces the relationship’s unique nature. Something that says ‘I am important as more than just ‘a person’. Often dads feel shut out of baby rearing because they just do the same things everyone else does. Sometimes people get a bottle so daddy can feed the baby too – the truth is that that falls short of what is needed here. Daddy needs to be ‘the one who reads at night’ or ‘the one who takes baby for adventures in the kitchen’. Daddy needs something unique. It can change, but there always has to be something that says ‘daddy’ to baby. As they get older there can be games and stories between them – but having something unique between them (just as you will have unique things between you) cements a stronger bond.

I have found a few books for dads to read that help with young children. I personally recommend “My Love Will Be with You” by Laura Krauss Melmed, and “Daddy Cuddles”/”Daddy Kisses” by Anne Gutman. These are books which paint fathers as figures of affection, something which is difficult to find in children’s books which often relegate fathers to figures of activity. It can help fathers be more comfortable in an affectionate paternal role.

Push for the time now, and let them have it. All children need face-time, dedicated time, with their individual care givers to be at their best. And this can really help.

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Don’t they know this is America?   Leave a comment

There’s a poem I think most of us know the last four lines of at least. I’ve been thinking about it lately. It goes:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

That’s what I think of when I hear the words “United States of America”.

At least, it was.

You see, I have been here for four and a half years. Not very long, all things considered, but long enough to have encountered a problem with this ideology.
People here – and I do mean here, where I am living right now – seem to feel that huddled masses are all ok… as long as they are white, English speaking, and christian. I hear things all the time. A 50 year old women mimicking Cantonese. The word ‘chinks’ used in polite conversation. ‘Go home’ shouted from a car window as a woman in a turban walks along the street.
This is normal. Somehow the idea that America was founded on the ideology of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seems to exclude those who conform to a different norm. I hear ‘Don’t they know this is America?’ a lot. I may be an outsider, but from my perspective the problem is that these people who use such casual racism have failed to realise that they are in America. The melting pot. The country founded with colonies and immigrants from the world over. Many places have strong cultural differences that they have kept from the very beginning.

This America is a place built on the ideal of ‘E pluribus unum’ – from many, one. America was founded on many ideals, the principle of which was freedom. A freedom which many Americans seem to feel only appropriate if it is the freedom to speak, look, and believe as they do. This seems so far removed from the America that Americans themselves have been selling for generations that I find it hard to reconcile the ideal with the fact.

Why is it so easy to dismiss those who are different as less? Why is it ok to joke, insult or even harass them? I find it sad. America is supposed to be more. It could be more. It should be more.