March 24th, 2010

baby slings

There was some news recently after the CPSC warned that some slings used in certain ways (and they weren't a whole lot more specific than that) might be lethal to babies. That's so attachment parenting promotive and helpful. (<-- Sarcasm.) On the one hand, duh. On the other hand, let's just put them in the strollers that are completely unproblematic, right?

In any event, more recent coverage:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/baby-slings-pulled-market/story?id=10184555

suggests that the problem was some slings made by Infantino. I don't know that I've seen these specific slings in use, but if I haven't, I've seen something just exactly like them, and they looked a lot like carrying the baby in a big, plushy handbag. Not precisely attachment promoting and also a little creepy looking. Apparently Consumer Reports pushed on the CPSC and there is, furthermore, a lawsuit in progress.

I don't know that there's a moral here. If there is, it is probably something depressing like, if the product enables you to sort of forget you are toting a baby around, it might result in problems.

finally reading the Vachons' book

_Equally Shared Parenting_ starts out with a little tale of the authors and how they wanted to share everything equally and how they looked for other people who were or had done this and failed miserably. Their research strategy pre-first-birth and between births made me chuckle: yeah, _duh_, you go to a mommy's group and you are going to see stay-at-home mothers. You go to a daddy's group and you are going to see dads who are not very involved. I'm not sure what they expected, but I avoided these groups because I'd heard from all my friends who were coparenting (intentionally or otherwise) what a disaster most of those groups were. The only exception I heard about were the PEPs groups in Seattle, and I stayed away from those because of my age-peer-allergy.

I'm still hazy on precisely when the Vachons had their first kid, but I'm fairly certain there were books out there about how to do this before their first was born. Looking through their website, I found this list of books:

http://equallysharedparenting.com/Resources.htm

They did (eventually) find some of the books I immediately thought of when I started reading their book. But it was eventually -- after the book and the blog existed, and only because people told them these books needed to be in the resources.

Welcome to re-inventing the wheel. In their efforts to maintain their position that they were first and/or early on this, they are focusing on fine distinctions such as whether the emphasis is on gender neutrality, or "I would simply alter Mahony's grand plan to focus on true equality that stems from respect, love and each parent's desire for a balanced life.", a statement that I'm inclined to think misrepresents Mahony by conflating Mahony's ideals with Mahony's strategy for achieving those ideals.

I suspect that this is going to rankle throughout the book -- the reinventing, the our-idealism-is-better-than-your-idealism. But that's okay. I don't mind complaining. ;-)

ETA: I cannot help but feel that promising that everyone will get enough sleep and get to keep up on their hobbies is, um, somewhat delusional.

ETAYA: A brazen spin on heteronormative language:

"Throughout the book, we generally refer to parents as "husband and wife" or "he and she."... This is not meant to exclude unmarried parents, same-sex parents, other nontraditional families, or specific men and women who don't hold classic gendered attitudes. We hope you will be able to translate our standard language to fit your family type." Wanted to appeal to the audience that holds "classic gendered attitudes", figuring that earlier books had the gender-neutral crowd covered? Or perhaps it was just too difficult to work through their language issues -- so the reader gets to do the work instead? Oh, just, yay. Not.

ETA still more: "Does a student who dreams of becoming a doctor begrudge having to study anatomy?" Is that a trick question? Because I've definitely heard complaints from people going into medicine about exactly that.

accounting

I read Pepper Schwartz' book years ago (and several other books about equality in intimate relationships, altho at that time I was only interested in the adult relationship, not the parenting aspect) when I was trying to understand how couples managed money. I knew I couldn't stand the way my parents did things (my dad made the money so it was his money and my mother got an allowance -- and it took years for her to have a credit card or access to the bank accounts or anything), and I divorced my first husband after trying a variety of other things. (Shopping addiction is an ugly, ugly thing, and I am not a patient person.)

In the end, I adopted a, hey, my money is my money, your money is your money and I'm happy to discuss who pays for any given thing. I did not see any obvious reason to change this when I got married a second time and shared expenses like rent when we were in Seattle for a year and a half or the mortgage now present an interesting special case of an expense that is genuinely shared and big enough to not just disappear in the haze of consumer spending. We're still treating it as a special case, which is why whenever I read a sentence like this:

"And while Jim made more money than Michelle...he would not have more say over how the family spent money."

I have to think for a moment, because in my world, families don't spend money. Individual members of the family spend money -- often on things for the family -- but the family doesn't actually exist as a financial unit around me. Then I remember, oh, yeah, in _this_ family, purchasing and other money decisions are constrained not by money. They are constrained by other things: where do we want to live, what kind of vacation are we all prepared to attempt, how much plastic crap do we want to have in the house, is R. willing to replace the couch yet, etc. So while Jim making more money doesn't mean he gets a veto on how the family spends money, me having more money doesn't mean I get to buy whatever the hell I feel like buying.

Reasonable. And the summary is good: "all important decisions must be arrived at together".

explain this

I understand that it was traditional for a woman to care for her aging parent and/or her husband's aging parent, if such a parent is taken into the home as they are declining. I actually get that. I even understand that managerial tasks associated with aging/ill/disabled relations in skilled nursing care almost inevitably devolve, to this day, to the woman in the extended family with the least remunerative career.

"With Tom's mother requiring constant care in their home, they carefully watch the power balance so that her presence does not become Shankari's primary duty. In fact, Tom maintains primary responsibility for his mother's care by purposeful decision."

I actually know a couple of relevant cases, but the women and the families involved are atypical. Really, really, really atypical. Anyone else know of a family that took in an aging parent who required constant care vs. coming up with _any_ other strategy? Just letting Tom's mum live with them was a huge sacrifice (and we can see that because later in the same paragraph we learn that "their plan is to move to Shankari's native India to be closer to her family" when Tom's mum is no longer living with them) on Shankari's part. I don't think Tom gets any see-everything-is-equal credit here at all.

Perhaps I'm a wee bit sensitive here.