Activism

I’ve heard a lot of buzz around the internet about how Michelle Obama is pushing her liberal¬† breastfeeding agenda on the poor helpless women of America. Apparently it was some kind of vast left-wing conspiracy just because she made some fairly mundane remarks about breastfeeding the same week the IRS finally made up its mind that if penis pumps could be considered tax-exempt, it was only fair that breast pumps be fair game as well. I’m actually rather conservative and I find the whole thing silly.

After seeing Tide’s latest line of television commercials, I am beginning to believe Tide hates families.

First, you have this one, where the mom lies to her daughter about stealing her shirt and staining it:

And don ‘t forget the one with the whiny teen who doesn’t get her $100 jeans:

Then you have Daddy not only lying to Mama, but getting the kids involved in the deception as well:

And now the “short skirt” commercial, that is just full of disrespect all around:

Do a simple search on Google and you can find multiple incidents of YMCAs across the nation discriminating against breastfeeding women. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and it’s time they stopped. Their justification for this discrimination usually takes one of two tacts– either they claim it violates their “no eating in the *insert area here* rule,” or they claim that it violates their dress code because the mother is showing her midriff. Nonsense. Sometimes it’s prompted by a complaint by another member, to which I say, too bad. If you don’t want to see someone breastfeeding in public, don’t watch. We nursing mothers would actually probably prefer not to be stared at by complete strangers. But more often than not, it’s an uneducated employee who presumes to speak for the masses and the innocent children by claiming “no one wants to see that.”

You may have noticed the recent backlash against babywearing and baby carriers in the news.¬† As they’ve also done with the so-called dangers of co-sleeping, the media has taken a few facts, shaken them up with a lot of hysteria and myths, and come out with a sweeping indictment about a practice which has been done safely for centuries.

Babies have an innate and natural need to be as close as possible to their parents. This is nature. It’s biology. It’s a fact that hospitals have long recognized, encouraging mothers of premature infants to have skin-to-skin contact with them as soon as possible. It’s a fact mothers have long recognized, not because of any study or book, but simply because nature compels them to hold their babies close.

A few weeks ago I posted about multiculturalism and anti-bias education in my post Beyond the Brothers Grimm. I’ve been continuing to think about the topic, and have come to realize that before we can begin looking out at the world, we as parents, as educators, and as human beings need to first look inward and explore our own thoughts and conceptions about our culture and heritage. Facing our own beliefs, prejudices, and uncomfortableness is necessary before we can begin to look at others’ experience with awareness and with empathy.

I invite you along on this exercise, an examination of culture of sorts.

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In the early years, much of Waldorf education is centered around Grimm’s fairy tales, and I understand why– the Brothers Grimm bring a lot to the table. Archetypal figures, clear cut examples of good and evil, beautiful descriptions that allow children to create a picture in their hearts and minds, these fairy tales have captured the hearts of parents and children alike for generations. Beyond that, they are part of our collective heritage and hearing them gives children a cultural literacy that is sadly falling by the wayside in our society.

I know all of our hearts go out to the people of Haiti, especially the smallest of the small, the babies. And often, when we think of babies, we think of bottles and formula. I would beg you to think before you send donations of formula to Haiti. That isn’t to say formula donations are always bad– formula donations would be welcomed by foster care agencies, domestic abuse programs, and adoption centers, to name a few. But to send a finite amount of formula to a country torn apart by natural disaster, with filthy and unreliable water supplies, is not helping babies. This well thought out article explains the dangers of sending formula to Haiti.

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“Once on this Island” is one of my all-time favorite stories. Great score, beautiful music, powerful lyrics, all attesting to the incredible power of a good story told. What’s not to like?

In our family, we tend to approach Advent with an eye towards social justice. At a time of year when we’ve just celebrated the bounty of the harvest and counted all our blessings, it seems practically criminal not to look towards those who do not live in plenty and who seek justice.

Are you a leader in a homeschool group or a teacher? You can order “Starting Small,” which teaches how you can help color a young child’s perception of equity, cooperation, and citizenship.

From the description:
This training kit for early childhood educators profiles seven innovative classrooms in which teachers are helping children practice fairness, respect and tolerance.

“Starting Small” includes:

  • 58-minute film featuring Vivian Gussin Paley
  • Companion text in PDF featuring classroom profiles, reflection prompts and activities

You can order the materials here.