Drop the “To get to her, you need to go through me” tough-guy act with our daughter’s dates.

57585073You’ve all seen them. The pictures, the posts, the memes with a father and his infant / young / teen daughter. Sometimes the father has his arms crossed with a scowl on his face. Other times he’s holding a gun with the same menacing expression. Sometimes there’s even older male siblings practicing being a bodyguard. All of these with the intent to intimidate and be confrontational when it comes to future male suitors for their daughter. “To get to her, you have to go through me first”.

I know, no big deal right? Harmless fun. Only I find these things laughable and ridiculous for a few reasons.

a) It shows that there is absolutely no faith that boys can be raised to be respectful and polite to women (or by default to people in general). Instead of raising daughters to fear men, lets raise our boys to respect women. To have self-worth. To say it’s wrong to go against a woman’s wishes. To stand up to those who do.

b) It shows that those fathers have zero confidence in their ability to raise their daughters. If they truly believed they could raise a self-aware, strong, confident woman then this whole song and dance becomes pointless and unnecessary. It shows no confidence in their daughters ability to be a good judge of who she befriends.

c) It shows that feminism still needs to be talked about. It shows that woman are still weak and feeble creatures that need their fathers with guns to protect them. It shows ownership over someone else’s body and decisions.

Yes I have a daughter. No, I will never bully or intimidate a friend or future boyfriend or girlfriend she brings home to meet me. If s/he is worthy enough in her eyes to bring him/her home, then s/he worthy of my respect until s/he proves otherwise. This thought process of the possessive, over-bearing father is outdated and rooted in insecurity.

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That Similac Ad: A rebuttal of sorts.

MomWarsI know everyone on earth has seen it, laughed at it, cried because of it and inevitable got into some debate from it. I’m not going to get into the psychology of the ad itself as it’s been discussed ad nauseam. I will however briefly explore a wider realm of detriment it imposes: a disguised attempt to end The Mommy Wars. I’m not a fan of the term, but I’ll stick with it since it’s universally known as that.

I’m going to dive in about the meatier battles within the war. If you use a stroller over baby-wearing, then roll on. Disposables over clothe? Not worries. Formula vs. breast? He’s being fed, right? How you chose to birth or whether you work or not doesn’t matter. Even though some hold merit over others; these are all the smaller ‘to each their own’ type battles. But under this same umbrella would fall the bigger, more detrimental practices such as CIO (cry-it-out sleep training), corporal punishment and circumcision; which definitely do not fall into the ‘to each their own’ hat when science has proven otherwise.

Imagine for a moment, that all discourse on parenting practices ended. That would mean studies on the effects of these harmful practices would halt and anyone speaking against the act would be deemed a judgmental asshat. Yes, there are those extremists who sling mud and run off at the mouth on all sides, but a majority of those are simply presenting information in an attempt to inform, not belittle. This often comes across as attacks to those that are sensitive or have quilt from utilizing them.

A complacency in allowing inadvertent (yet sometimes purposefully) harmful practices would be the suppression of further discussions and sharing of pertinent information vital to future generations; which is a grave disservice. I would never, ever say “It’s okay that you struck your child. You love them.” Or pat someone on the back and tell them it was good decision to allow their child to scream themselves to sleep; we’re all just parents after all. I will never condone the circumcision of your son; a practice routinely done mainly in the U.S. and is largely falling out of favor (most of the world condemns the U.S. for it). How can I condone any of these things when they have been proven to cause harm? That’s not ‘mommy wars’; that’s fighting for the well being and rights of our children. That’s being pro-child.

This ad is eerily similar to one with the photo shoot of the various moms holding opposing signs together in harmony, and now the granola add. In light of these two campaigns anyone who speaks out (on either side) is frowned upon; further suppressing information. As is anyone that doesn’t particularly like the campaigns. ‘How can you not like them and their message?’ they’ll scream. Let us not forget that Similac is a for-profit company that is combating a large breast feeding movement, which is potentially cutting into their margins.

I say let’s keep the discussions going, keep sharing the information and parent on. Let’s stop the bashing, name-calling and mud-slinging during these discussions. It is true: we do all love our children and want the best outcome for them.

Spot the difference.

Imagine a scenario if you will:

You are walking around in a department store and you hear a man raising his voice. Curious, you seek out the source of the voice. Turning down an isle you see a man scolding his wife: “Put that back on the shelf! Now!” Stunned the wife stood there “But, but…” was all she could manage to say. Just then the man struck the woman hard across her face and once on the thigh. “I said put it back!” he continued as he forcefully turned her toward the shelf.

Now consider this:

You are walking around in a department store and you hear a man raising his voice. Curious, you seek out the source of the voice. Turning down an isle you see a man scolding his 5 year old daughter: “Put that back on the shelf! Now!” Stunned the little girl stood there. “But, but…” was all she could manage to say. Just then the man struck the child hard across her face and once on the thigh. “I said put it back!” he continued as he forcefully turned her toward the shelf.

Now I fail to see why one family member is protected under domestic violence and punishable by law and one is considered an acceptable disciplinary technique. Both involve the same action taking place against a family member, both leave emotional and physical harm to the recipient. Yet it’s accepted practice to violently reprimand our most defenseless, voiceless, trusting members of our society; our children.

Car Seat vs. Shopping Cart

     We were at Costco and while checking out I saw something that I see all too often. I saw a baby car seat (with baby) perched upon the top basket of the cart. Not just any shopping cart: a mammoth, tall, mass consumerism enabler of a Costco cart. As tall as these things are, the baby was literally eye level with mom. Not only was baby dangerously resting on the top, mom and dad were separated from him while they checked out. Ever been to a Costco? Well, you roll the cart on one side of the checkout while the cashier empties it, and you’re on the other side of the lane. You’d think one parent would have stayed with baby on the other side. You’d think wrong. Both just let the employee pull the cart from the front with car seat wobbling on the top while neither were anywhere near him.
     What could possibly make these people think that was safe?! I see this all the time! I’ve never put TheBoy up there. When he was in a car seat, we’d place him in the actual basket of the cart. I pushed and Mama Peaceful had another cart for our actual purchases. This made safe sense to us, why would not it for others? I just don’t get how someone can think placing your infant, unattached; on the top half of a cart would be safe? Someone could bump the cart and knock over the carrier; it could slip and fall; and I have seen some where the baby is tilted back so far to make the carrier fit that his legs were higher than his head. Hmmm, that seems healthy. How can people not tell that they are NOT designed to fit in carts? They are car seats, not shopping cart seats. See the difference? In most car seat manuals it instructs specifically not to do this, as do the feet flaps in fold out section of shopping carts. Not only that it could void any warranty there is AND could damage the snapping mechanism in the car seat rendering it dangerous if in an accident.
     I’ve thought about approaching individuals practicing this and offer advice. But then again, I’m not outspoken in person and don’t like to create a scene. Besides, have you ever given constructive criticism to a stranger regarding their child? The inevitable I’m right/you’re wrong or “It’s my child” mentality ensues and you get nowhere.
shopping-cart-warning-diagram
Image Courtesy of Google

While I’ve never witnessed an actual fall or injury from said placement, I have heard horror stories about accidents. Is it really worth the risk to have them up there? There are other, safer, alternatives to this widely unsafe practice. For example, place the carrier in the basket of the cart like we used to. If there are not two of you, turn the car seat sideways and that creates more room in the cart so you don’t need two carts. Then there is my favorite, wear your baby! That’s the Peaceful-Papa way; especially during those first few critical months of bonding. I can’t think of an instance when wearing TheBoy hasn’t come in handy. It frees up both hands for shopping, there’s no large, cumbersome carrier to contend with and you get great cuddles while shopping! But more importantly, just practice common sense. I realize we’re a society that mimics behavior, begin a new, safer trend by NOT putting your child-filled car seat on the top where it doesn’t belong.

The Good, The Bad and the Clumsy – A Trip to the Park

     So we start the day with Liam’s first trip to the park.  Mrs. K was obsessed wanting to get Liam on the swings on a beautiful day; and rightfully so. It was a gorgeous day after all. We encountered two extreme opposites of how parenting affects the behavior of children. Let’s take a look.

The Bad
      We arrived at the park at the same time as another family. They all stumbled (quite literally) out of their car.  They were loud and almost appeared to be yelling at one another. The younger boy, maybe 11 or 12 or so; slammed the door shut. The door refused to take part in his antics and didn’t latch. So the boy kicked it, hard, right in the gut; all the while talking smack. It tapped out and latched on the first woeful kick. “Are you kickin’ my door?” yelled the mother. “It wouldn’t shut” he mumbled something foul to himself and then ran off while the parents found the closest bench and sat down to play on their phone instead of with their child. I said something on the lines of control and discipline to Mrs. K.
                A while later the boy came back to the neglectful parents. I heard the whole exchange. It went something like this:
Kid –mumble, mumble “Hey mommy”, mumble.
Mom – “The fuck?! Fuckin’ get out of here! Damn!” – Waves hand irratically and violently at kid to get him away while keeping her face stuck in her phone and her overly huge husbands arm around her, not intervening in the slightest.
                The kid mumbled something followed by the mom telling him to scram. I looked at Shari and asked what the hell is wrong with them? No wonder the kid behaves the way he does. I was blaming the kid for the poor door being abused; now the fault switches to the parents. That’s pretty obvious at this point.

     Here’s a brief intermission with some pictures of Liam on the swing for the second time. It was my first time with him swinging and he was squealing all the way! He had sooo much fun, as was I watching him thoroughly enjoy himself.

 



The Clumsy
     After Liam’s swinging bliss, Mrs. K and I went to the big boy swings just to sit and chill with Liam on her lap. Shortly after we sat, that’s when we were in hearing range of the above exchange. Remember the Bad? Did I mention she had a cigarette in her hand while flailing at the kid?
     Anyway, after the aforementioned exchange, I noticed my right cheek was hurting because I was sitting on my wallet. Adjusting in the swing to accommodate my wallet, the swing slipped out from under my bum and I comically fell straight down into the mulch.
The Good
     Seeing this was a little girl playing on a truck not too far from us; maybe 8 to 10 yrs old. She instantly took steps towards me and immediately asked if I was okay. I waved to her and said “Thank you, I’m okay”. Can you guess what the Bads did? Yeppers, they laughed. What’s that say when a little girl is more concerned for my well-being than a grown couple? I attribute that to the fine parenting for the young girl. Just as I contribute the boys behavior from the Bads.
     I picked myself up, dusted off my bum, adjusted my wallet, and sat back down and finished my swing-date with Liam and the misses; knowing that some faith has been restored in parenting thanks to the little girl.