Is childcare a form of abuse?

Author Mem Fox has opened up a controversial debate by claiming that childcare for very young children is child abuse.

According to this article at News.com.au, Mem believes that society will look back on the trend of allowing babies only a few weeks old to be put into childcare and wonder, “How could we have allowed that child abuse to happen?”.

“I just tremble,” she said. “I don’t know why some people have children at all if they know that they can only take a few weeks off work.

“I know you want a child, and you have every right to want a child, but does the child want you if you are going to put it in childcare at six weeks?

“I don’t think the child wants you, to tell the honest truth. I know that’s incredibly controversial.”

It’s a topic that we often choose not to talk about because no one likes to be criticised for the way they bring up their children.

I must admit that I get concerned with the age at which some children are handed over to others for care. I also wonder if career is so important to some people, why they choose to bring children into the equation.

There are always circumstances that will mean that a child will need care from those other than parents at a young age but the care of the very young in childcare centre is becoming a big industry. Parents are planning to have children and then be back at work within weeks.

Whichever side you’re on in the debate, I think it’s a good thing to be discussing. We need to decide if this is the way we want our society to go. Is Mem right? If we haven’t got the time to put into bringing up our kids should we really be having them?

She said a Queensland childcare worker had told her earlier this year: “We’re going to look back on this time from the late ’90s onwards – with putting children in childcare so early in their first year of life for such long hours – and wonder how we have allowed that child abuse to happen”.

“It’s just awful. It’s awful for the mothers as well. It’s completely heartbreaking,” Fox said. “You actually have to say to yourself, ‘If I have to work this hard and if I’m never going to see my kid and if they are going to have a tremendous stress in childcare, should I be doing it?’

“Babies have much higher levels of stress in childcare.”

I’d be interested in your point of view.



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The perfect fit

cadent_1_small.jpgI’m very pleased to say that I now fit my bike perfectly.

After all the years I’ve been cycling I finally got around to getting a professional fitting. I’ve cycled thousands of kilometres and always just set up things like seat height based on what I’d read and how it felt.

I figured that I’d let the professionals help me get the right fit for my new Avanti road bike.

I dropped into Ward Cycles yesterday afternoon, put my bike on a trainer and pedaled away.

Petar from Wards videoed, entered data, checked angles, made adjustments and as it turns out not a lot had to be changed but even with the couple of changes he made I’m now feeling more comfortable on the bike.

I was almost hoping that there would be a few extra changes and that suddenly I’d be able to ride twice as fast. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Though I must admit that it’s good to know that everything’s now as it should be.

I suppose that I now need to face the fact that the improvements from here on in are down to me



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Life is a risk

somersault.jpgAs a parent you like to know that your children are doing their best at school.

What you don’t want to hear is that your child has done something that may get them suspended. So imagine how a Townsville mum felt recently when she found that her daughter was in danger of suspension … for doing a cartwheel in the playground during recess.

According to this story from News.com.au, Belgian Gardens State School in Queensland, Australia, has banned all forms of gymnastics during breaks, including handstands and somersaults.

Kylie Buschgens was surprised to find that her 10 year old daughter, Cali, had been busted and punished for doing something that most of us would consider healthy.

Apparently two teachers took Cali upstairs and forced her to sit down for the rest of the day and not do anything. Principal Glenn Dickson said gymnastics activities were a “medium risk level 2” that posed a danger to children.

Glenn, let me enlighten you. Crossing the road is a risky activity but we can’t stay on one side of the road for the rest of our lives. Life is all about weighing up the risks and benefits of various activities. Yes, there is a risk that children will hurt themselves during physical activity but there’s an even greater risk that these children you’re trying to protect will die of heart disease in later life if you manage to teach them, through your policies, that physical activity is not worth the risk.

I suppose the question is who is being protected here. Is the school trying to protect the children from harm or are they more interested in saving themselves from any possible damages claim?

And we wonder why Australia has a problem with childhood obesity.

Of course it’s not just an Australian problem.

There was a similar case in the USA in 2004 when an 11 year old girl received a one week suspension for repeatedly refusing to stop cartwheeling on her playground at San Jose-Edison Academy.

Do you think we avoid too much risk? Are we playing it too safe with our children? Have you seen a change in the behaviours that parents or schools allow for their children? Are we creating more problems than we are solving?



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The sad life and death of Dolores Aguilar

coffin.jpgWhat do you hope people will say about you when you die? Does it really matter to you?

Sometimes I wonder who’ll turn up at my funeral when my life here is over. Will those who do show up have good things to say or will their silence tell a different story?

I will have no chance to control what’s said when the time comes but I can do something about it while I’m still here by the way I choose to live my life.

Will I leave friends and family with good memories? I guess that’s up to me and the choices I make every day of my life.

I wonder about what kind of difference I’m making to the wider world. Will I be missed by more than those close to me? Will there be those I’ve never met who will be thankful that I was once alive? Am I making a difference through my work and through the the volunteer tasks I undertake?

I was saddened to read the following obituary for a lady who died earlier this month.

Dolores Aguilar
1929 – Aug. 7, 2008
Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Raymond, her son, Paul Jr., and daughter, Ruby.

She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona, and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren, Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayci, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.

Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would write such an obituary but they did. I checked this one out on Snopes just to make sure it wasn’t a hoax.

How devestating to think that this woman could have made such an impression on the world she left behind. How sad that no one thought enough of her to even arrange a service to farewell her.

When they finally shut the lid on the box and send me on my way, I hope that someone will shed a tear. How do you hope to be remembered?



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Oprah’s Sprirituality

tv.jpgI must admit that I haven’t seen a lot of Oprah over the years but what I have seen just serves to confirm that she’s the ultimate television professional.

Her programme, The Oprah Winfrey Show, has earned a number of Emmy Awards and is the highest rating talk show in the history of television.

According to Wikipedia, she has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the most philanthropic African American of all time, and the world’s only black billionaire for three straight years. That’s an amazing achievement for someone who has battled the odds to be where she is today.

Born in rural Mississippi to a poor unwed teenaged mother, and later raised in an inner city Milwaukee neighbourhood, Winfrey was raped at the age of nine, and at fourteen, gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19. Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated. – Wikipedia

More and more these days Oprah’s programme has focused on spiritual themes that have found a very welcome audience amongst her millions of fans. Many say she is the most influential woman in the world, so when Oprah endorses something, millions around the world not only listen, they act on what they hear.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

This week we looked at the kind of spirituality that Oprah endorses and the latest author to have received a massive career boost via Oprah’s television show, Eckhart Tolle. Tolle’s brand of new age spirituality has been embraced by millions since attaining Oprah’s endorsement.

Oprah rejects any idea of there being one pathway to God as being unthinkable. She seems to be on a spiritual search, earnestly seeking answers and taking her vast international audience on the journey with her.

If you’d like to hear what Ross had to say about Oprah and her thoughts on spirituality, just click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.



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