Another Mothers’ Day thought from Story People by Brian Andreas:
A poll shows a majority of people support extending Paid Parental Leave to 26 weeks.
But do those supporting it know the answers to these questions?
1. How many people receive PPL?
2. How many people receiving PPL earn more than the average wage?
3. How many people receiving PPL earn the average wage or less?
4. How many people receiving PPL return to week when it’s finished?
5. How many people receiving PPL get an extension of the government-funded period from their employers?
6. How many people receiving PPL require it for basic living expenses?
7. How many people receiving PPL use it to fund extras?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but do know people earning well above the average wage who receive PPL.
It is the only benefit I can think of, except superannuation, which isn’t means tested and I can’t think of any other benefit which gives more to wealthier people than poorer people.
The benefits of time together for parents and babies are unquestioned but is paying for that the responsibility of families or the taxpayer, especially for wealthy recipients?
Two or three decades ago cot deaths were sadly not uncommon in New Zealand.
When my sons were in hospital in Dunedin a lot of research was being done and protocols were established to protect babies.
That is now routine advice – put babies to sleep on their backs and don’t share beds with them.
But not everyone gets the advice, or heeds it. I’ve noticed several stories in recent months of babies dying when sharing beds.
All are tragedies and this is more than tragic:
An East Coast couple, 31-year-old Sybil Harrison and Elray Marsh, were sentenced to intensive supervision in the Gisborne District Court yesterday. They admitted they put 10-week-old Elray Jr in bed with Ms Harrison after she’d been drinking heavily in 2011.
The death followed an incident with the couple’s baby daughter just a year earlier, who died in similar circumstances. . .
The death of one child from a preventable cause is a tragic mistake.
The second is tragic and there is no suggestion it was deliberate, but how could anyone not learn from the first tragedy?
Apropos of this case is a report which says 50 infants have died from suffocation:
The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee says it’s becoming clear a considerable proportion of deaths that might previously have been attributed to sudden unexpected death in infants (SUDI) have occurred because of unsafe sleeping situations.
The research found that of 79 cases of unintentional suffocation between 2002 and 2009, 50 involved infants who died where they were sleeping.
The overwhelming majority – 96% – of the deaths were of children under one and they were often caused by what the report calls overlay by another person. . .
These were preventable deaths.
Auckland couple Ian and Linda Williams thought they had made an informed decision against immunising their three children because of concerns over adverse reactions.
But they regretted their decision when middle child Alijah contracted the potentially fatal disease just before Christmas, and was put in an induced coma on life support at Starship hospital.
They immediately immunised their other children and wrote to Alijah’s school to warn parents who had not vaccinated against the disease and others such as whooping cough.
“It was me that put my son in this situation,” Mr Williams said.
“Parents like us make the decision to not vaccinate on very little factual information about the actual consequences of the diseases – massive pain, disability and death – and a lot of non-factual, emotive information from the internet stating inflated figures on the frequency and severity of adverse reactions and conspiracy theories about ‘evil’ doctors, governments and drug companies.” . . .
This is another example of arguments based on emotion rather than science.
Mr Williams, a food technologist with a science degree, believed much of the information that convinced him and his wife not to vaccinate was misinformation and myths.
“Believing myths about vaccines is not the same as getting the facts. And that is the core problem.”
Auckland Regional Public Health clinical director Dr Julia Peters said parents who did not immunise their children were making choices with potentially far-reaching implications for society.
They should think about whether they might infect someone without the same level of defence as them, for example, someone with cancer or a baby who was not yet immunised. . .
Herd immunity requires most of the herd to be vaccinated.
Those who don’t immunise their children put them and other vulnerable people at risk.
My mother nursed people with polio, tetanus, whooping cough and other debilitating and potentially fatal diseases which were common before mass immunisation.
That they are rare now is no excuse not to vaccinate. the Williams’ family’s story illustrates the risk is still there.
If you follow the link above you’ll see a list of myths about immunisation and the rebuttal.
A teacher was telling me about the challenges of dealing with pupils and cell phones.
It’s not just that they’re used at school but that they’re used through the night so pupils don’t get enough sleep.
“Too many parents aren’t prepared to make the rules and be the grown-ups in the family,” she said.
Janell Burley Hofmann isn’t one of those.
She gave her son an iPhone for Christmas and with it was an 19 point contract which began:
Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.
I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected. . .
You can read the other 14 points here.
Hat tip: The Lady Garden
Something on which to ponder if you’re making resolutions for next year:
The most important thing you leave behind is the stuff that turns into treasures when children find them.
And on the bag: stuff that’ll be worth something someday when people’s priorities change.
My farmer was in a supermarket queue with a police office on Christmas Eve.
He asked if she was looking forward to a quiet day the next day.
She said the morning was usually fairly peaceful but when over indulgence of alcohol kicked in as the day wore on it could get busy and unpleasant.
Our Christmas Day couldn’t have been more different.
We spent it with extended family, relaxed and happy all day.
We don’t exchange gifts with our siblings and stop giving to nieces and nephews when they turn 21; we keep the food simple and share the preparation and clearing up.
We enjoy each others company, laugh lots and end the day at least as close to each other as we were at the start.
Yet another reminder to count my blessings.
The family of the little girl who was raped in a Turangi camping ground last year has issued a statement saying thank you to New Zealanders:
“Christmas time is approaching. It is a time of joyful family gatherings in snowy Europe or at the beach in New Zealand.
However, for us – and some Kiwis – it will also be a time of dreadful memories.
One year after the drama, our daughter is fine. She recovered quickly and enjoys her first year at school, playing happily with her friends. Time passed by quickly and helped us get back to normal life. When her two new teeth finally grow, it will be even easier not to remember.
The memories fade, but we will never forget the incredible support from the hospital staff, police, organisations and most of all the support of individual people in their letters, emails, toys and donations. We will never forget the warmth and hospitality of the families who hosted us through the weeks after.
In these conditions trust in people returns quickly. You Kiwis are just special!
Keep it and cherish your uniqueness.
The family would have been forgiven for feeling bitter and never wanting anything to do with New Zealand or its people again.
This message demonstrates grace on their part. It also shows that good can come from evil and can beat it.
It would be easy to despair about the awful things that happen, but the best counter to that awfulness is for good people to do something.
Brian Rudman approves of Fonterra’s plan to extend its milk in schools programme to the rest of the country after the success of the pilot in Northland.
But then he quotes, and agrees with, Hone Harawira:
“Feeding society’s hungry children shouldn’t be left to well-meaning companies and charities. Feeding the 80,000 children who go to school hungry is the Government’s responsibility.”
No it’s not. The responsibility to feed children lies with their parents.
If they can’t, or don’t, and there is a company which sees a need, and also an opportunity for advertising and promotion, there is absolutely no need to call on the government and taxpayers.
Gwynne Dyer asks if we should worry about falling sperm counts and concludes:
If this decline in sperm counts is caused by environmental factors, then it can almost certainly be reversed eventually by doing enough research and then eliminating those factors. In the meantime, however, we are passing through the astounding total of seven billion humans beings, on our way to nine or 10 billion.
That’s far too many for this finite planet, and a rapid decline in the birth rate, even to below replacement level, would be a good thing.
But if there is a population problem, and that is debatable, is it one of number or distribution?
Birth rates in few if any first world countries are high enough for replacement let alone growth.
Hat tip: Tracey who left the link in Sunday’s Open Mic post.
The bereaved parents club is one no-one asks to join.
Today its ranks have been swelled:
A gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children between ages 5 and 10, in a shooting on Friday morning at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City, the authorities said.
The gunman, believed to be 20, walked into a classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where his mother was a teacher. He shot and killed her and then fatally shot 20 students, most in the same classroom. He also fatally shot five other adults, then killed himself inside the school. One other person was injured in the shooting . . .
It is against the natural order of things to outlive your children.
It is difficult enough to make sense of the death of a child as a result of illness or accident.
Today so many families, and the teachers and other children who witnessed the horror, are faced with the impossible task of making sense of a senseless act of violence.
The pain is not yours alone she said & you will see it in their eyes when they do not think you are watching.
How long will it take? I said & she put her hand on my chest and we did not speak.
. . . The study from the University of NSW shows young adults are riding the gravy train at their parents’ homes and relying heavily on their mothers to do the housework.
Associate Professor Lyn Craig and Dr Abigail Powell used data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to compare the domestic work done by 5512 people aged between 15 and 34 living at home with that of their parents.
It found 97 per cent of mothers did daily housework, compared with 81 per cent of fathers.
Young women, at 74 per cent, contributed far more than young males, with only 54 per cent of them helping out with household chores.
Young men did seem to start pulling a bit more of their weight once they turned 25. . .
Plus ça change . . .
Although one difference with this generation of young people is that they are staying at home longer.
But the story doesn’t say whether the parents are working outside the home when doing the domestic work for an adult family would be far more demanding than if they weren’t.
Nor does it say whether the parents are willingly looking after their offspring while they study and get established in their careers or if they feel imposed upon.
However, for their own sakes and that of their offspring and the people they might live with in the future, parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are house trained.
The younger that starts the easier it is for everyone.
Plunket, like most other submitters on a proposed extension to paid parental leave emphasises the benefits if children have more time to form an attachment to their families.
The benefits for children and parents of extending PPL aren’t under question.
What is up for debate is whether taxpayers should pay for it and none of those in favour have yet been able to give any good reasons for that.
Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass this afternoon was sparked by:
* Word fun at Grammarly.
Scroll down to page three to seen the difference between fighting with someone and fighting with someone.
Below that you’ll find bookworm problem # 37 – pronouncing a word incorrectly because you’ve read it but never heard it spoken.
I was in my 30s before I learned that badinage was not pronounced ban dee age (as in bandying words).
I was well into adulthood before I realised it was halcyon and not halycon which I pronounced haley con through an association with Haley Mills and happy, summery times.
* Smothery mothering in is too much mothering bad for you at the Virginia Quarterly Review.
Why do these studies look at mothers or children but not both together and why do few mention fathers?
* Women master cookery at the age of 55 at the Telegraph – hmm, this means I must be in my culinary prime which I’m not sure I’m happy about.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says there is no excuse for child abuse.
“There is no justification for the vile maltreatment, neglect, and abuse of children that has too frequently led to tragic consequences”.
“It does not matter how poor or rich you are – no child should ever be placed in danger. This is one time to put politics aside, and do what is important, in ensuring all our families are supported to care and protect their children”.
“Printing wads of money will not save the lives of our babies”.
“The Māori Party has always said that the situation of over 270,000 children living in poverty is intolerable; and we must work together to create the jobs and opportunities to bring more income into the home.
“But we should all be on the same page with these two issues. Child abuse and treatment must be addressed and the White Paper is a good step in that direction. Whānau poverty must also be addressed – absolutely”.
“But the two are not mutually exclusive – there are well off families who treat their children with contempt; there are also many families living on limited incomes who treat their children as taonga”.
“Like many in my generation, as children we didn’t have a lot to go on, in terms of the material wealth of our household. But we were rich in the support of our extended family. One of the glaring differences between then and now is how difficult it can be for our young parents, isolated in the city, and lacking family around them. Our collective challenge must be to ensure all our families are supported, no matter what their circumstances.
“Whanau, hapu and iwi need to prepare for their tamariki to be returned. We must pick up on the momentum and begin the process of Whanau Ora and ensure our people have capability. This will require the right supports and training in place – much as is already in place with foster care”.
“I had hoped that this might be a time when right across Parliament we could unite in a common call to support our families to fulfil their responsibilities. I resent the interpretation that child abuse is the practice of the poor. Truth is, while those with sizeable salaries can often hide the extent of the harm done, abuse, neglect and trauma can and does occur across all demographics”.
“Let’s be united in our concerted campaign to insist that there is no justification for child abuse – to abuse and neglect your children is not acceptable and never will be”.
She is right.
Poverty is a problem but it isn’t the cause of, or excuse for, the neglect and maltreatment of children.
That isn’t restricted only to the poor. However, children whose parents are on welfare are more likely to be abused and the Opposition parties which have criticised the White Paper have also opposed measures the government is promoting to get those on welfare who could work to do so.
The White Paper on Vulnerable children launched by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday contains more than 30 proposed initiatives to target the 20 to 30,000 children in need.
State intrusion in the lives of its citizens requires caution and safeguards.
But when the people who should be caring for their children don’t, the right of the children to protection trumps that of the carers’ right to privacy and autonomy.
People taking part in today’s national day of action against welfare reforms are taking offence where none is intended.
The reforms aren’t directed at people in temporary need who are doing their best to find work.
They’re not aimed at people who will always require assistance nor at those who are already looking after their children well.
It’s aimed at people who could work and don’t and at those who take money for their children but don’t care and provide for them as they should.
I have only second-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be brought up in a family where parents don’t put their children first, ensure they have the health care they need and make the most of opportunities for education.
This correspondent to The Listener (not on-line) has first-hand experience:
I wish the Government had introduced the new conditions for receiving a benefit when I was a child (Politics, September 22). Then maybe I wouldn’t have had a childhood plagued with preventable illness, illness that has continued to affect me into adulthood.
Perhaps I would have gone to school. Maybe even learnt to value education and understood what it meant for my future. Maybe i would have stayed at school and gone on to university. Moved up the socio-economic ladder. Perhaps I would have felt someone cared about what happened to me.
Unless you’ve lived the life, you don’t understand it. Beneficiaries are in a different category of citizen. they lose themselves in the day-to-day dysfunction and chaos of their lives; their children’s health and welfare are often not a priority.
All the doo-gooders out there tut-tutting about the Government’s decision need to get a reality check. When it comes to a taxpayer-funded benefit, the rights of the parents don’t come into it. the priority should always be the health and welfare of the children.
This is one woman’s experience. It doesn’t mean that all beneficiaries don’t make their children a priority but it does show why there is a need to ensure that the right to a benefit is balanced by the responsibility to look after the children for whom at least some of the money is given.
The apneoa alarm went off in the early hours of the morning.
It had been a while since we’d had a false alarm but they weren’t unusual.
I turned on the light, glanced at Tom who looked as he normally did, reset the alarm and was about to get back into bed when I remembered the nurse who’d taught us CPR saying. “don’t just rely on the machine, use your senses too”. As I turned to check Tom more carefully the alarm sounded again.
This was for real. He had stopped breathing.
I pulled him out of his cradle and began CPR while my farmer rang for help.
The first to arrive was our neighbour who’s a nurse, then our GP who took over the CPR and finally the ambulance.
My farmer and I watched and waited for what seemed a very long time. Just as I was about to ask if it was worth continuing, Tom started breathing again.
Once it was certain he was stable he was taken by ambulance to hospital in Oamaru. We followed and were greeted by a doctor who recorded Tom’s history then asked us how aggressive we wanted them to be in treating him.
It was just a month since we’d been told he had a degenerative brain disorder, was unlikely to live long and if he did he’d be profoundly disabled.
My farmer and I hadn’t discussed what we’d do if something like this happened. However, we agreed that if Tom was fighting for himself he should be given any help he needed but if it came down to treatment which was only prolonging the inevitable without giving him quality of life they should let him be.
The doctor said he thought that was the right decision but there was little they could do for him here and he’d be better with the specialist peadiatric team in Dunedin.
I accompanied Tom in the ambulance, went through the familiar admission process in Dunedin Hospital where he’d been a patient many times, then watched and waited while the doctors and nurses tried to help him.
Finally the senior doctor turned to me and asked the same question we’d been asked in Oamaru. I gave the same answer. He nodded and said they’d done all they could and would I like to hold Tom.
A few minutes later he died.
My farmer arrived soon after.
All the doctors and nurses who’d looked after Tom came to say goodbye to him and comfort us. Among them was a Fijian registrar who said we all make a fuss about welcoming people, it is just as important to farewell them properly.
That was September 9th, 1987.
I don’t always remember the anniversary but today, 25 years on, I’ve been thinking of Tom - a little of what might have been had he lived and a lot of what has been since he died.
No-one asks to join the bereaved parents’ club, the death of a child is against the natural order of things and we don’t expect to outlive our children.
But it isn’t all bad. The deaths of Tom, and seven years later, his younger brother Dan, changed our family and our lives for worse and for better.
A lot of people say they couldn’t cope with what we’ve gone through but few if any go through life untouched by challenges and when faced with them there’s not a lot of choice. If you don’t cope you go to pieces there isn’t any middle ground.
That doesn’t mean we always coped well and there will always be sadness that the sons we loved, lived such a short time – Tom 20 weeks and Dan five years.
But their lives weren’t worthless and it would be throwing away the lessons they taught us if we wasted our lives mourning their deaths and not making the most of opportunities they couldn’t have.
They taught us how fortunate we are to have the love and support of our wider family and friends, that life is precious and that has added to the joy and excitement of the arrival of the next generation.
In the last couple of years we’ve welcomed the birth of an Argentinean grandchild, three great nephews, two great nieces and another great-baby is due this month.
When I look at them I am reminded that life goes on and love endures.
Story People asks how do men know how to be fathers?:
How do they know how to make a feast of a crisp autumn day, a football game, tomato soup & a grilled cheese sandwich? How do they know how to weave a soft blanket of safety when we sleep in the back seat of the car, purring down the long road home?
How do they sift our own dreams out of our promise to be part of the whole world?
How do they know how to teach us fairness, generosity and patience? How do they know how to reach for our hand and when to let go?
How do they know? I think of the men, the good & the great, in my life & it occurs to me for the first time: they don’t. What they know is to love. To love.
They learn, as we all do, along the way.
Every day, all around the world, men become fathers and they will teach their children, one way or another. It’s a good time, on Father’s Day, to love them, our men – to play with them, to laugh with them, to cry, to plan, to dream adventures. This is what they’ll share with their children.
Their children are ours.
You may not remember the time you let me go first. Or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn’t that far to go. Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up. You may not remember any of those, but I do & this is what I have to say to you: today, no matter what it takes, we ride home together. Brian Andreas at Story People
Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers.