Just. As. Important.

“As long as the baby is ok…” “… and, more importantly, the baby…” “The baby is the most important…” “doesn’t matter, baby is fine so you should count yourself lucky…” “ah well, baby’s here now and thats all that matters….

I’ll improve on this blog post eventually. But for now, this.

BABIES ARE NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER HUMAN IN THE ROOM! They are JUST as important. Other People and their wellbeing matter too. The Mother’s health, wellbeing and happiness is just as important as the baby’s. OTHER PEOPLE MATTER. Is this the only reason to birth girls – to create more vessels that don’t matter to create even more that won’t matter? Babies that are all important on day one – to the detriment of every other person’s wellbeing; sometimes inccuring in those people permenant disability and death – suddenly become worthless things themselves, facing their own “at-least-the-baby-is-ok” mutilations?

This is not right.

Babies are NOT. MORE. IMPORTANT.

They are JUST. AS. IMPORTANT.

No where is it more pronounced that women are on the bottom rung of society than at this moment – a moment all the more torturous to be disregarded because it can be and is for many the most empowering and magical moment of their lives.

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Child – led Childhood

Demand Feeding. Baby Led Weaning. Child Directed Study. At what point to we just hand in the towel and say “fine, raise yourselves, you’re so good at it!”

Thing is, though, that might not be such a bad idea.

My role as a facilitator in antenatal sessions isn’t to teach, but to provide a framework where parents can discover for themselves what they need to know for their parenting journey. This is so preferable to teaching – parents are all individuals and being able to cherry pick the most important pieces of information for them personally and as a couple ensures that they receive exactly what they need (if I’ve done my job right). This saves me having to teach 100 different things too, otherwise there is no way I could provide for every parent that comes to me (there isn’t the time!). Many, of course, outright ask questions expecting answers; usually I would signpost, occasionally I’d answer. But the information they uncover for themselves is largely the bits they remember the most. And it means they, as couples, can make decisions together – and lay foundations for their family life.

My homeschooling experience is almost identical. I have a framework, but it is my sons who decide what they want to discover, how they want to learn it; I support them and come along for the ride, there with the knowledge of how to find out the information. It is the skill of learning how to learn that I am ‘teaching.’ This would be the same in an ideal school. Child directed study is becoming part of many curriculums.

Should my parenting be any different? Am I there to tell them what to do, how to be; even who to be? Or am I supposed to, like above, provide the framework so they can grow themselves up? A Child led Childhood.

Research is consistently showing that allowing babies from birth to determine their day (feeds, sleep etc.) increases cognitive development throughout childhood, lowers risk of obesity, increases dexterity , improves speech development, social development… They do better with adults being catalysts and support for their development, rather than directly interfering with it by being parent led. Why should this stop out of babyhood?

This can sound extremely bizarre to adult ears. How can children possibly understand or know what they need?

I wonder whether many adult’s reluctance to hand over the reigns is their own internal power struggle saying that they should be in charge.

Oppression is the powerful majority controlling lives and removing rights to the powerless minority. The movement of ‘Childism’ is one which argues that kids need to be respected as human beings, and to treat them as people of unequal worth to adults, and to dismiss their perspective or experiences due to differences in their in size, experience and power is to be discriminatory, oppressive and abusive to children.

April is Child Abuse month, where we look at child trafficking, neglect, pedophilia, child slave labour, domestic abuse and every other horror perpetrated towards children in one big umbrella of abuse. Perhaps it should all, like murders and abuses of other minorities, be called crimes of prejudice. These, like violent and abusive acts towards POC and the LGBTQ community are named as acts of homophobia and racism, should be named as acts of childism.

That is the extreme end of the scale. Ordinary Parent led parenting is nothing like abuse. But perhaps the beginning of solving childism is for all parents to trust their children to occasionally make some decisions about themselves for themselves. Maybe, letting the kids take the reins every once in a while on their own lives wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

They can’t do a worse job of parenting themselves than adults have thus far.

My two definitely do a much better job of it than me.

 

 

Article on demand feeding milk and child development http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/13/eurpub.cks012.short

Article on baby led weaning and child development http://www.naturalhealthquincy.com/uploads/pdf/971.pdf

Article on child directed learning – http://alternativestoschool.com/articles/benefits-self-directed-learning/

Article on childism http://ideas.time.com/2012/04/26/childism-the-unacknowledged-prejudice-against-kids/

Breastfeeding and politics – a rare post based entirely on opinion

Breasts are political.

I grew my two without ever having input from number 10, but now they are here, they are of great importance to the political world at large.

Whether they are ostentatiously sustaining other people near Mr Farage, or being used as soft porn additions to family papers, they are in no doubt a dividing source of political fodder.

But why? What is so important about these strategically placed blobs of fat interlaced with ducts and blood vessels?

SEX. My blobs are SEXY. I have no say in this, this is what I’m told. Your blobs are sexy too. And, like all sex things, they should be nowhere near children or open spaces without male stipulated permission, and they should be for the sole use of men.

The thing is, I don’t think my blobs are sexy. I mean, I am sexy – I’m genetically interesting due to a diverse gene pool, I’m relatively young compared to most of the population, I’m even featured, indicating fertile ovaries, and I show no outward appearance of illness, indicating good breeding stock. Isn’t that the most perfect dating profile you have ever read?

But my blobs aren’t part of that. And, historically, they weren’t for centuries. The dressing up of them was initially designed to mirror the hidden hips and buttocks – which, unlike boobs, are indicators of healthy breeding material (you should see my hip fat working it, baby).Breasts only look like they are good for sustaining young once full of milk; as any peer supporter will tell you, size of boobs or nipples is no indicator of how well they will feed baby. It’s the insides that matter – and for the vast majority, the outside has no baring on that at all. (There is a tiny group of people who you can visably see didn’t grow adequete tissue inside from the outside, but it doesn’t make the breast unattractive. Inny or flat nipples can cause latch issues, but not milk production faults-and they can be managed for successful breastfeeding journeys.)

This isn’t just a breastfeeding thing either. All breasts turn into mum breasts after pregnancy. Breasts are a natural and beautiful maternal thing, much like a buddha belly (where ’em with pride, ladies) and should be seen as a secondary sexual feature that comes from mothering. Like… the harsh tone mums develop when yelling at small people running away from them toward danger, the stare they inherit from their respective lineages when children are doing something their mum literally just told them not to, the way they can drink cold tea an hour after they made it without complaint… That is where ‘boobs’ should be listed.

They are part of mummyhood, and much like the belly, the stares and the yells, they should be there whenever children need them to be.

If your lover person/s feels they wants to include any of the above in sex, and indeed if the mother wants to, that’s between them. None of those features are to be immediately assumed to be sexual objects on their appearance, and are not the business of anyone else.

How is any of this political?

It comes down to the issue with the SUN, and with Mr Farage. What are women for, and what is their place? Because, to them, it’s not as equals. The world is not equal for women, and all the time it isn’t, women’s different body parts will be used to beat them back into the place people in power feel they ought to be.

The ‘Green Surge’ has included a great many Facebook friends of mine; be they of breastfeeding, volunteering or homeschooling communities – all people with originally vastly differing political stances. Why? Because The Green party’s agendas and policies for women are vastly more attractive than the policies of other parties. Could breasts be a deciding factor in the upcoming elections?

Until the world is as easy to manoeuver for old, trans, black, gay, poor, disabled, muslim women as it is for young, cis, white, straight, rich, able, protestant men, the world will be unfair, unjust, and the people at the top will do everything they can to stay there – their livelihoods depend on it.

And that means boobs in papers, and mothers being told when and how they can breastfeed babies.

And, therefore, breasts will continue to be political territory.

How will you use yours?