Unintentional balance

August 6, 2019

When I saw this on Twitter on Sunday I wondered how long it would be before someone took it down.

I took a screen shot and when I checked back shortly afterwards the tweet had gone. It was replaced by another with a photo of Justice Minister Andrew Little who is introducing legislation legalising abortions.

No doubt someone realised this photo was an inappropriate one to accompany such a story.

But it, unintentionally, gave a little balance to the debate by illustrating the intellectual inconsistency of one of the pro-abortion arguments – that it’s just a bunch of cells, a fetus, not a baby.

How can it be a baby when, as the photo shows, it’s wanted and loved but not a baby when it’s not; a baby if it is lost in a miscarriage and that is a reason for deep grief, but not a baby when it’s an abortion; or a painful experience when a baby dies in utero and a simple medical procedure getting rid of some cells when it’s aborted?

It can’t but we’re unlikely to see much if any discussion of this in the media, if coverage since the news broke is anything to go by. Everything I’ve read or heard so far accepts a woman’s right to choice with no consideration of a baby’s right to life.

There is an irony that Newshub’s exclusive breaking of the news showed some balance, albeit unintentionally, with that photo because as Karl du Fresne points out  anyone looking for it in coverage of the debate shouldn’t hold their breath :

. . . As the abortion debate heats up, we can expect to see many more examples of advocacy journalism for the pro-abortion case. Overwhelmingly, the default position in media coverage is that the abortion laws are repressive and archaic and that reform is not only overdue but urgent.

But at times like this the public more than ever look to the media for impartial coverage. Is it too much to expect that journalists set aside their personal views and concentrate instead on giving people the information they need to properly weigh the conflicting arguments and form their own conclusions?

That accidental photo could well be as close as much of the coverage  gets to impartiality and balance on this issue.


How old’s old enough?

August 1, 2019

Coroner Tim Scott said that a six year-old should not have been walking to and from school by herself:

Carla Neems was five weeks’ shy of her seventh birthday when she was fatally struck by a rubbish truck outside her Gisborne home on May 2, 2017.

In findings released on Wednesday, Coroner Tim Scott said it was “unacceptable” for Carla’s parents to allow her to walk to and from school with her older siblings, and children her age should be accompanied by an adult. . . 

Coroners have a job to do which includes making recommendations that might prevent future fatalities but there is no such thing as completely safe and blaming her parents for Carla’s death is heartless and wrong.

If six, nearly seven is too young, how old id old enough for children to walk a few hundred metres without an adult in tow?

This was a tragic accident which Carla’s family, their friends and the truck driver will carry for the rest of their lives but it should not be used to further curtail children’s incidental exercise and freedom.

If children can’t walk safely to school, address what makes it dangerous, don’t blame parents and provide yet more reasons for children to be mollycoddled.


That’s not how not to be a dickhead parent

June 21, 2019

Kate Forster gives her guide on how to not be a dickhead parent:

  1. Don’t be a Tiger Parent. Don’t demand they practise until they hate the thing they’re learning. Just because you didn’t get to learn the violin doesn’t mean they want to. They will hate it and you in equal parts in the future and hold it against you. Start saving for therapy now if you continue this.
  2. Don’t push them at school. Get them to pass and teach work ethic. My kid just passed her final year but focussed on her passions. She is now going to graduate with a double degree and is starting her Masters in what she loved since she was small.
  3. Don’t go away on holidays and leave them behind. They remember. This will come up in therapy. It’s called abandonment and it’s gonna bite you in the bum one day, hard. Real hard. Keep adding to the therapy fund if you keep doing this too often.

I’m not so sure about number 3 – most parents were couples before they were parents and there’s nothing wrong with a little time away without children providing they are well looked after in your absence and you also have holidays with children.

4. Don’t lecture your kids about not drinking when you drink every night in front of them.

Children learn more from watching what you do than listening to what you say.

But it was #5 to which I said a vehement no:

5. Don’t tell your kids to not try drugs. They will. You can’t stop them. Educate them about safe choices instead.

Taking it for granted your children will do something that is illegal, harmful, even potentially life destroying; and that could restrict career and travel choices, isn’t how not to be a dickhead parent.

Not all young people will take drugs. The best way to ensure they don’t is by your own example and by ensuring they know the dangers and consequences of taking illegal drugs and that they have the skills and confidence to make the right choices before they need to.

There is no 100% safe choice when it comes to taking drugs and a parent who lets their children think there is, is letting them down.


Lumsden maternity crisis

May 29, 2019

Three day stay

May 13, 2019

National MP Louise Upston has a Member’s Bill to support new mothers:

The first few days after giving birth are some of the most important, but can also be the most challenging for new mums.

“National is proposing that new mums should be entitled to three days of care after giving birth, and that support should be available after each child.

“At the moment, new mothers have 48 hours of care funded by DHBs, but we know that they’re often encouraged to leave as soon as possible. This sort of pressure can cause additional stress in what is already a stressful time.

Many aren’t just encouraged to leave, they’re told they have to leave and often just an hour or so after their baby is delivered.

That’s not always optimal for those with support from husbands, wider family and/or friends at home and it can be difficult at best for those without support.

During the first few days after birth we know mothers can experience the baby blues, have difficulty breast feeding, can be exhausted and sometimes just need a bit of extra help while they build up confidence.

“We believe mums should have a choice in the kind of care that they opt for, whether that’s in a hospital or at a community or private facility. We would make community care available to all women, no matter where they choose to give birth.

“This policy will cost an additional $16-$20 million. It would also be ring-fenced, meaning if one mother only requires one day in care, her additional two days would be used for another mum who might need a five day stay and the money can’t be put into other areas by DHBs.

Not all mothers will need or choose to stay for three days, some will need more. Ring fencing will give birthing centres the funds to provide that extra care when it’s needed.

“National believes the first thousand days are the most important in a child’s life. We will do all that we can so kids get off to a good start and make sure their parents are supported.”

National went into the 2008 election with a promise to fund maternity services to allow mothers to stay in birthing centres until breast feeding was established should they choose to.

It came from a policy I’d pitched at the party’s Southern regional conference that was received so enthusiastically I was asked to present it to the national conference.

When I got down from the stage Nick Smith told me that sometimes good policy is bad politics and bad policy is good politics but this was good policy and good politics.

National did provide funding for the policy in its first Budget after the 2008 election but sometime between then and now the funding evaporated.

I’m delighted that this Bill will, if it’s passed, reinstate the funding.

The science is clear, breastfeeding is best for mothers and babies, if mothers are willing and able to do it.

The willingness and ability are much more likely in a birthing centre with professional help on-hand than at home with limited if any assistance.

An extra day or two of postnatal care could make a huge difference to the mental and physical health of the mother and consequently the wellbeing of the baby.


You know you’ve got a country mum if . . .

May 12, 2019

Ashley Walmsley pays tribute to country mums in Queensland Country Life:

MUMS – what a great invention.

There’s nothing they can’t do.

Country mums, the ones in regional and rural areas, seem to be able to do all that and a bit more again.

From the paddock to the pantry, the school run to the shearing shed, the tuckshop to the tractor, the saleyards to swimming lessons: country mums are as adaptable as they are knowledgeable. . . .

Some, like 22: She’s used the shovel more for dealing with snakes than pottering in the garden don’t apply in New Zealand. Could you add some that do?


Children Are Like Kites

May 12, 2019

A thought for Mother’s Day:

Children Are Like Kites – Erma Bombeck

You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you’re both breathless. 
They crash.
They hit the rooftop.
You patch and comfort, adjust and teach them.

Finally they are airborne…
They need more string and you keep letting it out.
But with each twist of the ball of twine, 
there is a sadness that goes with joy.
The kite becomes more distant, 
and you know it won’t be long
before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that binds you two together
and will soar as it is meant to soar, free and alone.
Only then do you know that you did your job. 


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