Saturday, February 26, 2005

Found this site recently, thought I'd share. Seems very respectful of children and also recognizes the specific difficulties parents face. Practical tools to learn, and booklets to order. I might buy some to share in my childbirth classes. Gotta go to bed now.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Climb and punishment

At the park yesterday, I witnessed a parent do something that seemed to me incredibly strange. On the playground were two extensive jungle gyms for climbing, sliding, etc. One was larger than the other, obviously set up for older children, but not so complicated that your average younger child would be unsafe.

Our homeschool group was at the park together, but we came at the same time as a group of older schoolchildren, so most of our children chose to wait out the crowd (by playing games on the lawn) before clamouring onto the playsets. At this point, the majority headed to the larger one.

A little girl, age three, had been playing in close view of her mother on the smaller playset when she saw the other children, including her elder sister, head for the larger. She decided to follow them. Her mother immediately instructed the little girl to come back to the smaller playset, and when the little girl hesitated, the mother threatened her with a "time out." "Okay, Mommy," she reluctantly responded (obviously playing on the smaller playset was better than sitting on a bench). The mother looked at me, smiled and said, "That's all I wanted to hear."

(After I recovered from shock over the ridiculousness of the exchange, I wondered if the little girl had some kind of disability that was not apparent to anyone but her mother. Not ten minutes later, my two-year-old and a friend's one-year-old were climbing up with the rest of the "big kids" on the "big kid" jungle gym. No injuries during the entire two-hour park visit.)

Potential disabilities notwithstanding, what rational person threatens to punish a child in order to keep her from possibly skinning her knee? And what kind of parent gets pleasure from the submission of a child derived via threat of such punishment?

We don't have many of that kind of parent in our group. They generally stay home where it's safe, and they don't have to be embarrassed by their need for control and dependency on threats and punishments. Because it's clear very quickly that most of our children are free to play, with or without shoes as they like, on the grass or in the sand, whether or not they've eaten their lunch first, and with mom or dad only as close by as necessary -- usually to push them on the swings or catch them jumping, or cheer them on as they tackle a new physical challenge. No one ever gets a time out -- or any other punishment. Only the littlest ones need to be reminded that no one likes to have sand thrown at them. The older children always look out for the younger when the parents are caught up in conversation or other siblings. And everyone has a fabulous time.

I am so blessed to be part of a group like ours. I hope the new mom finds it refreshing, too, and decides to let her daughter risk the steps up to the big slide someday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Speaking of health care...

We've been doing a lot of reading the last few weeks since being struck again by nasty winter viruses. Head cold turned bronchitis turned severe sinus infection... and then just as I was starting to feel better, I poisoned myself with cold ham and spent an entire weekend going between the couch, the bathroom, the bed, and the bathroom.

But as my house fell apart, and my boys went stir-crazy, I managed to feed my brain, and even my soul with some interesting, intelligent writing. I'm currently in the middle of "Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God" by Brennan Manning, "How Would Jesus Raise a Child" by Teresa Whitehurst, "The Book of Learning and Forgetting" by Frank Smith, "The Highly Sensitive Child" by Elaine Aron, "The Middle Mind" by Curtis White, and "Affluenza," which I mentioned in my last post. Of those, "The Middle Mind" is the most intelligent, "Affluenza" is the most interesting, and "Ruthless Trust" is the most nourishing.

Other stuff: Started new childbirth series last week with one hospital-bound couple, should be interesting. AND... two new babies born this week! My friends Kelley and John are proud first-time parents to baby Jack, born Feb. 8. And baby Rebecca Michelle was born on Valentine's Day! to proud parents Kate and Ken and big brother James. The boys and I are planning to go visit Rebecca and family in their new home in Palmdale as soon as possible. Congratulations to all!

So-called "health care"

Scott began an interesting discussion on our local unschooling list about the relationship between capitalism and school, and it led to a question about socialist health care. I responded, and then realized I may as well post it here, too!

Partial post I responded to:
"While I have always admired some of the socialist programs such as health care offered in Canada and some European countries I personally don't want to give up my PPO. However if we were all willing to subscribe to national healthcare then some of us may not get as good of care but the general populace would. So then what?"

My reply:
I believe true choice is only an illusion in our
current health care system. Most Americans neither
qualify for public programs nor can they afford a PPO
plan -- so they're stuck with the limited choices of
an HMO, or nothing at all. Those with no insurance,
or insurance that won't cover all their medical needs,
are then charged far more as individuals than
insurance companies would pay for the same services,
sending many Americans into permanent debt just to
stay alive.

There is no limit set on how much the
industry can charge for so-called "care" -- or on the
kind of debt collection practices they can use against
those patients whose refusal of treatment would equal
death. The stories I've read are literally sickening
-- but the situation is only one example of how a
belief in unlimited growth and greed (Reagan
economics) has left the majority without basic needs
covered. Personally, after our mortgage refi goes
through, our monthly health insurance costs will be
higher than our mortgage payment -- for a basic PPO
plan for healthy people. And yet, if I got pregnant
again and wanted midwife care and a homebirth, none of
that cost is covered by our insurance. (Why this is so
is complicated, but also comes down to the effects of
capitalistic greed.)

I don't have the perfect solution, and I cringe at the
thought of government dictating my health care
choices, but I also believe that evidence-based health
care will not be fully achieved until for-profit
insurance companies are no longer calling the shots --
until *the structure of the system* values life and
health more highly than the bottom line. That seems
impossible now, but only because we've been taught
that there are only two solutions to any one problem
-- and that the United States of America has already
chosen the better one.

One of our goals as unschooling parents is to ensure
that our children don't learn that lie -- that their
minds remain open to and become skilled at creative,
informed problem-solving. Because the future is only
bright for those who can imagine it being better.
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