Recently the New York Times ran a blog post titled “Skipping School for Vacation: Good for Families, or Bad for Students?” Whatever the opposite of burying the lede is, the Times did it. In the first two paragraphs they recount one mother’s recent run-in with her local educational authorities:
In the article “Taking My Kid Out of School for a Family Vacation Shouldn’t Be ‘Illegal,’” Jeanne Sager recounts the time she took her daughter out of school for a family vacation, and the school responded by labeling those absences “illegal.” Ms. Sager wrote, “I hate my kid’s school and the state education department for making me feel ashamed of spending time with my daughter,” adding, “I think there’s something to be said for education outside of the classroom, and certainly something to be said for the value of family time.”
While the label “illegal” does not confer any actual legal implications in Jeanne Sager’s case, plenty of school districts do employ the term in its literal sense. Some states give schools the authority to impose fines for truancy, and others allow parents to be charged with misdemeanors if truancy becomes chronic. In Britain and the Netherlands, truant officers are posted at airports and train stations to ensure parents don’t attempt to take children on vacation during the school term.
The Times goes on to explain the pros and cons of taking kids out of school for family vacations, based on the perspectives of teachers and parents, completely ignoring the troublesome practice of declaring vacations “illegal.” It is the latest, perhaps inevitable development in the ever-expanding limits on how parents are “allowed” to parent.
Of all of the words in the English language that grate on me most as a parent, it’s the word “allowed.” I first heard it with regard to childbirth. I was told by my OB that I was not “allowed” to eat in labor, without anything resembling a convincing reason. In the book Expecting Better economist Emily Oster breaks down pregnancy myths and prevailing wisdom, tackling the issue of eating during labor:
The basic fear is gastric aspiration, and it’s related to why you shouldn’t eat, in general, before any operation. If you are under general anesthesia and you vomit, it is possible to inhale your stomach contents into the lungs and suffocate. Pregnant women may be at more risk than the general population for this. In general, this definitely is dangerous, but you might be wondering why this is an issue in labor. Even if you have a C-section, aren’t you usually awake? So wouldn’t you know if you were vomiting? Is this still an issue?
To figure out the origin of this restriction, we actually have to go back to a time (the first half of the twentieth century) when C-sections were typically performed under a general anesthetic. The source of the ban on food during labor is a 1946 paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors reported that of 44,016 pregnancies at the Lying-In Hospital in New York from 1932 to 1945, there were 66 incidents of gastric aspiration and 2 deaths from suffocation. The authors suggested withholding food during labor.2 Fast-forward 64 years: a lot has changed about labor and medical practice in general. C-sections are now performed with local anesthesia 90 percent of the time, so you are typically not asleep. Moreover, even if you are under general anesthesia, our understanding of how that works has improved a lot. The estimated risk of maternal death from aspiration is 2 in 10 million births, or 0.0002 percent.3 Yes, maternal mortality is terrifying. But to put this in perspective: this cause accounts for only 0.2 percent of maternal deaths in the United States, mostly among very high-risk women. The perhaps scary truth is that you’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the hospital than from this cause. In a review article from 2009, researchers looked at almost 12,000 women who ate and drank what they wanted during labor. Even though some of these women did need emergency C-sections (one of the few times when you might be under a general anesthesia), there were no problems reported associated with aspiration. This is true even for the 22 percent of women who ate solid food.4 And yet the ban on food remains.
I took my business elsewhere three weeks before my due date, switching my care provider to a midwife who didn’t “allow” or “disallow” anything; she left me to deliver my child in the way in which I saw fit, as long as it was medically safe.
We’ve been hearing the word “allowed” with regard to parenting decisions a lot recently. Parents in Maryland were investigated by Child Protective Services for letting their children walk home from a nearby park; apparently they were not “allowed” to do so. Another parent recently confessed to the blog Free Range Kids that she too had faced the wrath of CPS in Maryland, and now has a misdemeanor on her record, in addition to six months’ probation. Her crime? She left her ten-year-old and baby in her car for a ten-minute run into the grocery store, another parenting decision a mother apparently wasn’t “allowed” to make. These kinds of stories are becoming increasingly common.
Parents, schools, and caregivers are taking these stories to heart, deciding against giving children a measure of independence out of fear. According to the blog Free Range Kids, there’s little reason to fear. Crime of all sorts is lower now than it was in previous generations.
When the parents in Maryland found themselves the target of a CPS investigation, many of my fellow parents commented on Facebook that they had contacted their local police department to find out at what age they allow (there’s that word again) parents to leave their children home alone and at what age the state allows children to walk alone.
Schools tell parents they are not “allowed” to have their children leave school without an adult escort, leaving families to hire babysitters or curtail their workdays to walk their kids a few blocks home from school.
Contra the officers of the state, there should be only one party in a position to “allow” children to be home alone or to walk alone for time periods and distances that have always, until now, been considered reasonable: the parents. Society might be trying to take away parents’ ability to parent, but that doesn’t mean that parents should surrender their rights willingly.
Just as I did not need to be “allowed” by my OB to labor in my own safe manner (proven to be safe by statistics), I do not intend to let the public school system determine if it’s “legal” to take family vacations or when a child is permitted to walk alone in their neighborhood. Nor should the police be involved in cases of reasonable parental discretion.
If a school does not “allow” my family to make basic child-rearing decisions, there are alternatives. As for the legal crackdown on parenting decisions, I will not allow them to shape how I parent. I refuse to raise my children in an illogical and unnecessary cloud of fear. And I should not even have to dignify with a response the suggestion that my family vacation is “illegal.”
Being somewhat of a foodie of the kosher variety, I find the online review service Yelp indispensable when choosing where to eat. To be fair to restaurants, Jews can be somewhat discerning (read: picky and somewhat cranky); thus no restaurant I’ve ever read the reviews of totally came off smelling like roses. The best reviews on these kosher restaurants, though, are not from Jews, but from non-Jews who accidentally stumble upon kosher restaurants and all of their quirks. To keep kosher means to abide by certain rules of the Jewish faith. For the purpose of this post, it’s only necessary to lay out those which apply in restaurants:
Milk and meat are separate: In reality, this means in a kosher restaurant they only serve meat or dairy, never both. If you order a cheeseburger in a kosher restaurant, one of the items is a “fake” — either the burger is made of vegetables or the cheese is made of soy.
No pork or shellfish: If you’re looking for a shrimp scampi or bacon, you’ve come to the wrong place if you’ve chosen to eat in a kosher restaurant.
There are a lot of Jews: You would think this goes without saying, but in a kosher restaurant, you will find yourself among a lot of religious Jews. Observant Jews are only able to eat in kosher restaurants, which are not nearly as numerous as non-kosher; thus, when choosing a place to eat, Orthodox Jews tend to come in groups as there are few options to choose from.
1. House of Dog in Boca Raton, Florida
It’s somewhat incredible that someone can live among so many Orthodox Jews in Boca Raton and be completely ignorant of what Orthodox Judaism is, and what it entails, but this woman has managed the impossible. I recently visited House of Dog and the menu now has small notes on it to indicate that the bacon isn’t really bacon and that the cheese isn’t really cheese. I shared this review with my husband and we laughed, wondering if the menu was altered because of people like this woman. Outside of what appears to be some latent anti-Semitism on her part, I was also confused when I first saw the House of Dog menu, wondering if it was actually kosher because cheese and bacon were listed without any clarification.
There’s no shortage of media representations of childbirth, between television and movies. The scene, which has played out for as long as babies have been “born” on television, is fairly cookie cutter: the woman’s water breaks and there’s a mad dash to the hospital — otherwise the baby will be born in a stalled elevator. The woman screams in pain, begging for drugs, and then out comes a beautiful, usually clean baby who cries immediately before being wrapped and placed in mom’s arms.
As with all mainstream media representations of real-life events, writers and producers take a lot of liberties with the scene and how it plays out in real life. Since having a child myself, I often wonder if anyone on the writing or producing staff has ever been present for the birth of a child, given how diametrically different these moments are in real life.
The way childbirth is portrayed isn’t just inaccurate, but also fuels a false perception in our society of childbirth as scary, dangerous, and often negative. Several aspects of how childbirth plays out on screen also affect how real life couples may process their own experience in the moment. So what can a couple expect out of the birth of their child? What does the media get wrong? This list is just a start:
1. Babies come out pink
One of the scariest moments for any parent who has seen enough babies being born on television is the color their child comes out. While some people may be ready for the goop and slime that coat a baby’s skin, the color of their skin usually comes as a total shock, even if intellectually one has been made aware that often babies don’t come out flesh-colored or pink right out of the womb.
On the series Parenthood, which, unsurprisingly, has seen quite a few births over the course of the last six seasons, the youngest son of the clan, Crosby Braverman, had a daughter with his wife Jasmine. She came out looking like this:
The very first moments a baby comes into the world, before they’ve had an opportunity to get oxygen into their bodies, a baby’s skin tone, regardless of race, is often a deep shade of purple, which can be petrifying if unprepared, which most parents are. Those first fleeting moments are usually forgotten in the haze of new parenthood, but it’s a shame that most first-time parents find themselves scared for their child’s safety and well-being before the cord has even been cut. Better images would go a long way in changing our image of brand new human beings, highlighting what can be normal in healthy childbirth.
I love, love, love a good deal. I follow half a dozen deals blogs on Twitter (here’s my list, my secret weapon). And I pride myself on never, ever paying full price on anything. Black Friday is one of those days that usually isn’t worth getting out of bed for (or throwing on your skinny jeans after a big meal). There are a few exceptions, and I’m here to tell you what they are. Are you shopping for a conservative in your life and can’t decide what to get them? Here’s some gift-giving ideas:
1. For the academic
Do you have someone in your life who has been eyeing the Victor Davis Hanson series in the PJ Store? Or perhaps someone who is just a history buff? We have three different VDH series on sale this Cyber Monday on World War II, the Odyssey of Western Civilization and The Western Story; all three will be 30% off this Cyber Monday! The guide to WWII is a six-part lecture series and both the Odyssey of Western Civilization and The Western Story come with eight lectures and eight accompanying e-books. They’re sure to expand the mind without drastically shrinking your wallet.
2. For the news buff
Do you know someone who loves to spend an afternoon or weekends catching up on current events or the latest music news? While few smaller conservative publications are participating in Black Friday sales, it’s still worth taking out a subscription to magazines like Commentary, National Review, and The Weekly Standard. The website DiscountMags has other subscriptions for magazines like The Atlantic, Rolling Stone and Food & Wine, all at a drastic discount. Keep an eye on their site — their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are always spectacular.
3. For the fashionista and fashionmister
I first heard of Sword & Plough because of a Kickstarter campaign they were running to get the company off the ground. Successfully funded, they are now running a full shop and will be releasing new designs for Black Friday and will be offering 10-15% off for these designs (all the ones on their website are backordered and thus won’t be discounted) on Black Friday in addition to free domestic shipping over $100. Sword & Plough have several different components that make them a great company to order a new bag from:
- We empower veteran employment by working with companies and non-profit organizations that employ veterans as sewers and manufacturers, and we ask our partners to scale with us by hiring veterans to meet the growing demand for S&P products.
- If the fabric doesn’t have a cool story, we won’t use it. We recycle thousands of pounds of military surplus that would otherwise be burned or buried. Because our bags are made from repurposed military gear, they are also water, fire and UV resistant!
- Our goal is to emotionally and physically touch civilians in their everyday lives. We aim to remind them, in a beautiful way, of the challenges our country and veterans face, and the power that every person has to help.
Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day I have one wish: for Americans to mark these solemn days with as much respect and seriousness as our greatest allies in the Middle East, the Israelis, honor their heroes. Today is Veterans Day, and yesterday was the anniversary of the U.S. Marines Corps. Across the United States, we will honor in some strange ways the sacrifice of those who served in our armed forces in peacetime and during war, with sales on linens and kitchen goods being among the most common. On Memorial Day in the United States, a day in which Americans are given the day off to memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our freedom, we for some reason “celebrate” with beers and BBQ. The juxtaposition between how Americans and Israelis mark the day is stark, and provides lessons for how we can improve how we honor our troops and those who have given their lives for our country.
In Israel, Memorial Day is called Yom Hazikaron. It falls on the day before Israel’s Independence Day — Yom Haatzmaut. The two days are linked — the day of sadness and introspection leads into a day of celebration. This linkage of the two lends additional importance and gravitas for Memorial Day. One day in the future, hopefully soon, generations of Israelis will grow up not knowing war or conflict. For these Israelis, the pairing of Memorial Day and Independence Day will help explain how it is only through sacrifice that freedom and independence come. The feeling of pure elation on Independence Day is felt through the country and celebrated in a multitude of ways, including dance parties in the streets of major cities, like Jerusalem. Israel is a young country, and each generation has faced war. The celebration of the existence and very survival of the Jewish state is one taken seriously by Israelis and Jews everywhere.
On Israel’s Memorial Day all places of entertainment — amusement parks, golf courses, movie theatres, nightclubs, and bars — are closed. It’s understood that this is a day of solemnity, not fun. While schools and most workplaces are closed, it’s not treated as a “day off” by Israelis — it’s a time to truly honor those who have made Israel’s existence and survival possible.
It’s not an easy time to be Jewish, though there have been few moments in world history where it has been. A recent unscientific poll conducted in Europe found that 40 percent of European Jews hide their religion. The only thing surprising about that statistic is that it isn’t closer to 100%. The sour news out of Europe is never-ending: an arson of a synagogue in Belgium, a Swedish woman savagely beaten for wearing a Star of David, a deadly shooting outside of a Jewish school in France. The list, sadly, goes on, and on, and on.
Unfortunately for antisemites everywhere, Jews have a great deal to be proud of, and always have.
1. We’re wicked smart
Despite being just .2 percent of the world population, Jews have won 22 percent of the Nobel prizes awarded. From the 1920s until the late 1960s, Jewish students were either totally excluded or subject to quotas in Ivy League universities in the United States. Why? The schools had been admitting the best and brightest, and there were just too many Jews in attendance. Bloomberg reports on the Jewish quotas found in the United States,
Harvard, Yale and Princeton, up until the very early 1920s, had an exam-based system of admission. If you passed you were admitted. If you failed you were turned away. If you were in the gray zone, then they might admit you on conditions but basically, if you passed, regardless of your social background, you would be admitted. That was precisely why the system was judged to be no longer viable because too many of the wrong students, the “undesirable” students — that is, predominantly, Jewish students of East European background — started to pass the exams.
When I tell people I’m an Orthodox Jew I often get two types of responses. From conservatives: “Wow, that’s so cool, I really admire that commitment and sacrifice. Tell me more about it!” And from liberals: “Wow I can’t believe you’re a Jewish conservative. What’s it like being Jewish with all of those redneck antisemites?” I tell group B how wrong they are by explaining the reactions I get from conservatives 99 times out of 100. But I don’t set the record straight with conservatives often enough about my faith. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s a choice I made (I didn’t grow up religious or necessarily even Jewish). I didn’t make this choice because I’m a martyr. I made it because it is an intensely logical religion, and one that sets the stage for a strong marriage and family life. Before I get into how and why, these are the three basic tenets of Orthodox Judaism:
No, this doesn’t mean the food I eat has been blessed by a rabbi. Judaism is a collection of laws, and the laws on what Jews can eat are plentiful. If something is kosher, it simply means that it has been made in accordance with these laws, with a Jewish supervisor ensuring all the rules were followed. Orthodox Jews don’t eat meat and milk mixed together, animals for consumption are killed according to Jewish law, and many categories of food (pork and shellfish being the most famous) are not allowed. The image above is a popular selection of the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of kosher symbols in circulation. Check your packaged food for some of them; you’ll be surprised how much of what you eat is actually certified kosher!
Raising kids these days isn’t cheap. New calculations from the USDA estimate that for the average family in America, it costs $245,340 to raise a baby. Parents will tell you many things about raising kids — that it’s exhausting, life-affirming, fun and often overwhelming — but they will never tell you it’s cheap. Even the most careful savers won’t make it off easy, but with some flexibility and an eye on your bottom line, it’s possible to minimize the cost of having a baby in your house tremendously. Here’s where to begin:
(Photo: Author breastfeeding at a reststop on a road trip with my daughter)
1. Breastfeed and minimize formula purchasing
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy or fun, but few can deny that it can save big bucks in formula costs. Babies need either breastmilk or formula for the first year of life, and formula costs can really add up over time. If your baby has a sensitive stomach, specialized formulas can cost even more. I’m a big breastfeeding advocate, as I’ve written previously here at PJ Media, and cost is a big reason why. Because I breastfeed, I have fewer costs associated with feeding my baby, no formula and fewer bottles, and no bottled water.
If you’ve found a brand of formula you like, ask for free samples and coupons from friends, your pediatrician and from the companies themselves. While I exclusively breastfeed, I like to keep a canister around our apartment in case I get hit by a bus. I asked my pediatrician, who gave me several, and I also wrote messages on social media to several formula companies, who also gave me free samples. Keeping formula in the house is a known “booby-trap,” which is what breastfeeding activists have indicated can get in the way of a healthy and long-lasting breastfeeding relationship. Despite this, my morbid need to always be prepared led me to keep it in the house regardless. I knew I was determined not to use it, and over ten months into my daughter’s life, I haven’t ever opened a canister.
Pumping can be a chore, and while breastfeeding can save money, that often comes at the cost of a mother’s time, especially if she’s working. Even if full-time pumping isn’t possible, keeping up a woman’s breast-milk supply can minimize formula costs, if it’s impossible to totally eliminate the need to buy formula. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing, and any feeding that can be made with breast milk instead of formula can help save a family money.
Insurance companies and FSAs (I get into that more later in the post…) can also help ease the cost of breastfeeding and pumping. Most insurance companies, as part of their increasingly expensive plans, offer breast pumps to anyone interested in ordering one. Contact your insurance company to see how to go about ordering one through them at no additional cost. Breast pumps aren’t “free”; they have been mandated to be covered by ObamaCare, which has increased insurance premiums across the board. While a breast pump through your insurance company isn’t “free” in the traditional sense, it does come at no cost to the mother. If your insurance company for some reason doesn’t offer a breast pump, or the pumps they do cover aren’t what you’re looking for, look into if your or your husband’s office has an FSA plan available. An FSA can pay for many costs related to childrearing, including a breast pump and some basic supplies (extra valves, tubing, etc).
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, there are plenty of resources available to help ease any trouble you may be having. La Leche League is a wonderful resource, and most of the leaders are certified lactation consultants. They can help for free during meetings, and many will come to your house (sometimes at a cost) to help one-on-one. Even if they do charge for their services, getting off on the right foot with breastfeeding from the start, even if it costs several hundred dollars, can save many more hundreds of dollars down the line. The hospital you delivered at should also have nurses and perhaps even a hotline to help you address breastfeeding issues as well. If you do have to pay for a lactation consultant, inquire with your insurance company if they cover it. If not, this is another example of where an FSA can come in handy.
By now you’ve probably seen 1,000 ice bucket challenge videos auto-play on your Facebook newsfeed by now. Everyone is doing it — kids, pets, celebrities, politicians, you name it. Yesterday I heard my neighbor do it on our front porch, but as I heard him explain, they didn’t have a bucket, so he used a “very cold” can of Coke instead. I’ve seen a few outtake lists, where instead of people having a bucket of water poured over them, the person pouring instead had the entire bucket full of water dropped onto their heads — it was painful to watch, I can’t imagine how painful it was to experience. The challenge has some haters, namely people annoyed at how many of those taking the challenge aren’t donating, and are instead wasting water. This meme popped up in my newsfeed this morning:
To which I say: Lighten up. The ice bucket challenge has gone viral like no other charitable cause I’ve ever seen, and has netted millions of dollars for ALS charities, over $15 million at last count (compared with less than $50,000 during the same period last year). I have no dog in this argument: I haven’t done the ice bucket challenge personally (please don’t nominate me, I’m poor and really dislike cold water), but I really applaud those participating and donating.
Being an enthusiastic natural birth proponent, I’m a member of a good number of Facebook groups for moms interested in natural birth. In one of the home birth groups I’m a member of, women began to discuss having an “unassisted birth” also known as a “freebirth.” My interest piqued by craziness on the Internet, I did a quick Google search (don’t look at the Wikipedia page if you’re at work or around wandering eyes). An unassisted birth is just what it sounds like: a birth, usually at home, alone or with one’s partner, not attended by a professional midwife or doctor. If you’re thinking “Boy, that sounds dangerous!” you’re right. A leading blogger of the “Freebirth” movement in Australia, Janet Fraser, buried her stillborn baby girl in 2009. The baby in all likelihood would have been born totally healthy had she had a home birth attended by a licensed midwife or in a hospital with a doctor and nurses present. The death spurred an inquest in which the coroner concluded “the child had died because the only people she had elected to be present at the birth – her partner and her best friend – could not deal with the complications of a cord entanglement.” That birth story, which happened in March 2009, has never appeared on the Joyous Birth website, still run by Fraser.
This case is an extreme example of members of this movement of women who, for any number of reasons, plan to have their children without the assistance of medical professionals. Being an super professional journalist absolute voyeur, I joined every Facebook group I could find on Unassisted Birth to give you insight into these women and their motivations. Here are some things I learned, in list form, of course:
1. Money is a factor.
Not surprisingly, many women in the group explain that they are having an unassisted birth because they cannot afford to have a midwife attendant at their home birth. Most home birth midwives’ services aren’t covered by insurance and none are covered by Medicaid, leaving women with the choice of a hospital birth or an unattended one. Others state that they have no medical insurance, which would make an out -of-pocket hospital birth astronomically expensive for even a middle class family. The United States is the most costly place to give place in the world, with the average vaginal birth clocking in at $30,000 and the average c-section costing $50,000.
I admit it, I’m a “lactivist.” What is a lactivist, you ask? I’m someone who believes in the power of breastmilk, who thinks breast is best, who will grin and bear it through pain and difficulty in order to breastfeed my child. Unfortunately, those like me have earned a bad rap over the the course of the mommy wars. Those who fight in the mommy wars have one thing in common: these women believe the way that they raise their children is how all women should raise their children. The mommy wars started between women who went back to work versus those who decided to stay home, but has expanded to every realm of childbearing and rearing, with breastfeeding as one of the hottest topics. Many in the lactivist camp shame mothers who can’t, won’t or don’t breastfeed their children for a myriad of reasons, all of which are deeply personal. This is where we part ways. It takes a lot of energy to raise my daughter. I have none left over to worry about how other people choose to raise their children.
Several lactivism pages over the past few weeks are abuzz over the above image, which is part of a student advertising campaign at the University of North Texas. The students are promoting the passage of HB1706, a bill in the Texas legislature that will protect women from harassment and discrimination if and when they decide to nurse in public. I might lose my lactivist membership card for saying this, but this isn’t one of those motherhood issues I can get worked up about. Personally, I breastfeed in public, with and without a cover, depending on if I think my daughter will stand it, depending on how discreetly I can do it, depending on how hot it would make my daughter and I to put her under a scarf or blanket.
This is Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s young daughter, a mere 13-year old Willow, in bed with a 20-year-old shirtless man (Moises Arias, of Hannah Montana “fame”). The couple have told TMZ through their back channels that they’re okay with the image, trusting that their teenage daughter is mature enough to not cross any lines. The photo seems much more scandalous than it appears to be. Apparently Willow was in a room with several friends, including Arias, a longtime family friend of the Smiths. Arias happened to be shirtless, but it doesn’t appear there was any funny business taking place before or after the photo was taken. It was merely an “expression of art,” so she claims.
I’m a conservative woman and an Orthodox Jew, yet despite that, I am surprisingly in disagreement with FishWrapper‘s take on the scene:
Apparently, Willow and Moises here go way back: they’ve been close friends for a long time. So they probably hung out when Moises was 19 and Willow was 12, and when Moises was 18 and Willow was 11. … you get the creepy picture. And this has always been fine with Willow’s parents because they feel like Willow is totally mature enough to do basically whatever she wants. And that obviously includes inviting, for whatever reason, a 20-year-old shirtless adult man to lie with her in a bed, and that is awful.
Why is it so hard to just take care of your children? In what universe should any 13-year-old be granted the ability to make all of her own decisions? Maturity varies from child to child, of course, but that’s the whole point: she’s still, regardless of anything, a child. And this is simply unacceptable.
So, hey, Will and Jada, do you think you could do your children a favor and actually parent them? Maybe just a little. At least enough so that they won’t be subjected to atrocities like this.
Are they they worst parents in the world? Maybe, maybe not. However, it takes an incredible amount of self-restraint for the Smiths to react in public as they have. No matter how the Smiths may have felt about the image, they would have had the best publicity response by responding how most Americans have, with abject horror. Willow’s parents, being savvy media personalities, are well aware of how they could have best recovered their reputations as parents.
A great deal has been written about the benefits for babies — that it’s easier on their stomachs, better for their brains, a boost for their immune system — but very little has been written on the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers. In the United States only 16 percent of babies are still exclusively breastfed by six months, despite the recommendation of all pediatric associations that babies should be breastfed up to one year of age. After three months of age less than 40 percent of babies are still breastfed. The first three months of a child’s life are the most difficult for parents in every respect, including breastfeeding. New mothers are overwhelmed by the demands of their newborn, the initial pain and difficulty they may have nursing, the inconveniences associated with it including pumping in order to separate from the infant and leaking milk day and night. Why should new mothers stick with it when there’s baby formula conveniently located in every grocery and drug store? These are the reasons why breastfeeding is worth it for mothers too:
Even though finding formula is convenient in any store in the United States, whenever parents go out, formula, bottles and often bottled water need to be added to the already heavy diaper bag. If you’re like me, adding yet another necessary item that can be forgotten to my bag is the last thing I want to do every time I leave home.
I’m never one to tell anyone to divorce their spouse. I’m a big fan of marriage. With that being said: I really hope Boomer Esiason’s wife takes a long, hard look at the man she’s married to.
The controversy started when Mets second basement Daniel Murphy asked for a mere three days paternity leave to join his wife who recently gave birth to their son in Florida. The three days is written into his collective bargaining contract, and while it is technically allowed, apparently few fathers in major league sports take advantage of any paternity leave. On a morning radio show today Boomer Esiason, explained to his morning show cohost Craig Carton, how he would’ve handled the situation:
“Bottom line, that’s not me. I wouldn’t do that. Quite frankly, I would have said ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.’”
In short, Esiason would have told his wife to undergo major and medically unnecessary abdominal surgery in order to avoid three days of missed work. The surgery would make her recovery exponentially more difficult and painful and would complicate future pregnancies. Esiason isn’t a doctor or soldier, he’s a retired NFL quarterback who is under the unfortunate impression that what he does matters enough to put his wife through a painful and unnecessary medical ordeal in order to save himself the flack now hitting Murphy.
Unfortunately for Murphy’s wife, the c-section was necessary, and Murphy flew down to spend time with his wife and newborn son for several days while she recovered. To his credit, he pushed back against criticism, as did his manager Terry Collins.
While Mike Francesa, another radio host, used the situation as an opportunity to rail against paternity leave — declaring it obsolete and unnecessary — we should be cheering paternity-leave policies like that of the MLB and question why it’s only three days long. While discussing the controversy Murphy explained why taking the paternity leave was important to his family,
“We had a really cool occasion yesterday morning, about 3 o’clock. We had our first panic session,” Murphy said. “It was dark. She tried to change a diaper — couldn’t do it. I came in. It was just the three of us at 3 o’clock in the morning, all freaking out. He was the only one screaming. I wanted to. I wanted to scream and cry, but I don’t think that’s publicly acceptable, so I let him do it.”
We always hear from conservatives how important it is for fathers to be in the picture. It’s time for the men of the conservative movement who overwhelm Twitter with their sports talk during every big game to put their money where their mouths are and come to Murphy’s defense. Murphy took advantage of paternal leave that is written into his contract for a reason; he used the time to signal to his wife and child that they are his number one priority, despite his high-powered career. That declaration should be met with praise, not mocking or scorn.
Photo credit: AP/Evan Vucci
As Ukraine burns, our attention has unfortunately shifted away from the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, a potential revolution over a decade in the making. The New York Times gave a good quick summary of the situation today for those unfamiliar with the country:
Behind the outpouring is more than the litany of problems that have long bedeviled Venezuela, a country with the world’s largest oil reserves but also one of the highest inflation rates. Adding to the perennial frustrations over violent crime and chronic shortages of basic goods like milk and toilet paper, the outrage is being fueled by President Nicolás Maduro’s aggressive response to public dissent, including deploying hundreds of soldiers here and sending fighter jets to make low, threatening passes over the city.
President Maduro is the successor to Hugo Chavez, a man loved by the socialist Left in Hollywood and the fringes of the Democratic Party. Most observers place the blame for the situation in Venezuela at Chavez’s feet. While Chavez and Maduro have the same base of support and the same policies, Chavez possessed a political ability to keep tensions at a simmer, unlike Maduro, who has seen them boil over. As we watch dozens of Venezuelans die in the streets, struggling to save their country from the brink of disaster, this is a good opportunity to point out who on the Left in the United States helped legitimize Chavez during his time in power.
1. President Barack Obama
During the Clinton administration, amid negotiations with Yasser Arafat, the White House became consumed with hugs; specifically, how President Clinton could avoid Arafat’s famous bear grip handshake that would become a full-on embrace. There’s an amusing anecdote about how the White House practiced and choreographed how Clinton could avoid appearing too chummy with Arafat in front of the cameras (“Clinton would squeeze in underneath the biceps and block him.”). Why did Clinton’s staffers spend hours practicing how to avoid an Arafat hug? Because they knew that optics matter.
This is a lesson that President Obama has yet to understand, and this photo, widely circulated around the globe, including inside Venezuela, lent Chavez enormous clout.
A divorce is never funny. Despite that, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the coverage of Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s separation yesterday. CNN, Entertainment Tonight and People magazine quickly added the couple to their picture slideshows of the most “shocking” splits in Hollywood.
The first time I heard of Thicke was when he famously, or should I say infamously, took the stage with Miley Cyrus and added the word “twerk” to our national vocabulary. After watching Thicke perform a semi-pornographic dance with a young woman in front of millions, I assumed he was single. When I heard he was married, I wondered when this announcement regarding a divorce would be coming. Of the twerking, Thicke’s wife Patton unconvincingly said:
The key part of the above statement is “any more” — implying that it did affect Patton at one time. News of Thicke’s wandering eyes and hands (seen above) circulated as well. Patton continued to deny that the behavior of her husband was affecting her marriage, and outlets covering her remarks seemed to actually buy it, given the coverage of their separation.
What about the split is so shocking to the media? Thicke and Patton had been together for about twenty years, having met in their teen years. ET bemoaned in their coverage of the breakup that “few Hollywood couples have been together as long as they have.” Twenty years. That’s apparently record-setting for those writing about the couple in the media.
During the Olympics, NBC News deemed the lifestyle of an American skier ”alternative.” What was so trailblazing about his life choices? He had married “young” and had a child at home, all before the age where most Americans find themselves kicked off of their parent’s insurance plans.
Somehow the media decided that the dissolution of Patton and Thicke’s marriage — punctuated by groping and tweaking — was somehow shocking, while simultaneously deeming a young marriage where children entered the picture earlier rather than later “alternative.” If we held the media, not to mention Hollywood, up to the standards of the rest of the country, we might not see quite as many “shocking” splits like these in the future. Instead, we might see more “alternative” couples marrying young, with the intention of staying together.
Image Via NY Daily News
Has Steven Ertelt left LifeNews and started blogging for the gossip site TMZ? A story posted early this morning about the tragic death of a celebrity couple’s unborn son at 20 weeks gestation is a surprising example of a celebration of the sanctity of life in the mainstream media.
Shayne Lamas and her husband Nik Richie went through every parent’s worst nightmare last week: the death of a child. Lamas went into severe distress and lost the 20-week old baby she had been carrying. TMZ reported on the death using words not normally utilized for the unborn. He, not it, was described not as a fetus, but instead was accurately called what he was: a beautiful little boy whose life was cut tragically short.
Shayne Lamas and husband Nik Richie not only tragically lost their 20-week-old unborn baby last week … Nik was put through one of the most heart-wrenching moments a father can bear — having to name and hold the baby after it died.
TMZ broke the story … Shayne suffered a rare pregnancy complication last week and underwent an emergency hysterectomy to save her life and stop the massive bleeding. In the process, she lost her baby.
Nik tells TMZ … a few days after the baby died, a social worker from the hospital, along with someone involved in the religion affiliated with the hospital, came to him and asked if he wanted to know the gender of his baby. He said yes, and they told him the baby was “a beautiful boy.”
But then Nik says, he was asked if he wanted to view his son to get closure. Nik says he nervously obliged and was taken to a room where his son lay. Nik says they asked him to hold the baby while they prayed.
A sad story, and an interesting one considering the glowing press coverage of Wendy Davis’s fight to ensure the demise of babies of a similar and even older gestational age.
How is it that the loss of Lamas and Richie’s son is a tragedy, and the fight to stop the heartbeats of other babies his age remains a moral obligation for those on the Left?
To describe babies up to 24 weeks (6 months) as “just a bunch of cells” while at the same time reporting that Richie was asked to fill out a birth certificate for his deceased son is an exercise in mental gymnastics that only the Left is capable of pulling off. One cannot mourn the loss of a 20-week old baby while at the same time cheering a woman who advocates for his destruction. Somehow, the Left pulls off this hypocrisy, time and again.
The late Andrew Breitbart knew that the battle for America’s soul is waged as much in pop culture as it is anywhere else. Stories like this about the tragic death of this young soul should be widely disseminated by those on the Right, and rightfully mourned. The more those of us in the pro-life community can put a human face on the unborn, the better. The battle for life isn’t just in courtrooms, doctor’s offices and Capitol rotundas; it’s taking place every day on sites like TMZ.
At a Shabbat (Sabbath meal) this past week, conversation veered into the political realm, as it often does when my husband and I are guests. We began to discuss the likelihood of Hillary Clinton running, the papers recently unearthed by my former colleague Alana Goodman, and about how Bill’s wandering eye could impact Hillary’s campaign. Around the table were three young people, ranging in age from about 9-17. Adult participants in the conversation soon realized that it was impossible to conduct a conversation about the Clintons with children present, and soon, the mother (rightfully) asked for a complete change in subject. Before doing so we reflected how sad it is that a president’s legacy cannot truthfully be discussed with innocent ears listening.
For how long can this mother shield her children from the topic? If Hillary runs, perhaps only a few more months. With the Clintons back in the news, pundits will be (and should be) discussing how ready America is to relive the sex scandals of the ’90s. Anyone who believes that Bill has learned his lesson need only look to Anthony Weiner to understand that old dogs can’t, and won’t, learn new tricks. Bill’s wandering eye, both in the past and, in all likelihood, the future, will be a topic of conversation for as long as a Clinton occupies the White House.
It’s that time of year again. For those of you in brand new relationships with something to prove, it’s called Valentine’s Day. It’s filled with dinner, chocolate and roses. For those of us who have been there, done that with our current partner, it is called February 14th. For those who are unattached, who either became so recently enough for it to still be raw or who have been so for a significant amount of time, it’s called the Day of Bitterness.
When I was single, I never treated it as a day to lash out at friends who were in different stages of their lives. Why? Besides the fact that it’s hard enough for me to retain friends, I did so because it’s extremely unattractive to be hostile to those you love simply because they are happy. Not being in a relationship does not automatically preclude happiness, and despite my being single, I still worked to make sure I was happy.
This year I’ve decided to fight back, on behalf of the couples everywhere. I am not sorry for being married and having a baby. When a friend recently posted a Facebook status complaining that everyone in her high school had been having babies, I responded on behalf of young mothers everywhere (recall how I don’t retain friends easily):
My advice to singles this year is: buck up and enjoy your singledom.
I know, you’re sick of hearing that, but seriously, enjoy this stage in your life. Make a drastic life decision without consulting anyone first. Move, take a new job, make chicken soup instead of tacos on Tuesday. Even though you may feel jealousy pangs, know that your coupled friends are jealous of your ability to be totally spontaneous and go out for drinks with friends on a weeknight just because.
The grass is always greener, yada yada. Buck up, quit complaining, and go get drunk this Friday night. Not a wallowing kind of drunk, but the kind of drunk where you won’t be woken up at 5 a.m. by a hungry infant or dog that needs walking and you’re happy about it kind of drunk. A positive outlook on this year’s Day of Bitterness may help you end up celebrating Valentine’s Day next year.
Pop quiz: Which star appears to be losing out on work because he’s an out gay man? Haven’t heard about him? It appears that in some parts of the entertainment industry, namely the rap world, it’s still okay to be homophobic. Entertainment Weekly reports on rapper T-Pain’s comments on his fellow rapper, the openly gay Frank Ocean:
“I think the radio is getting more gay-friendly,” said the Auto-Tune champion/noted boat enthusiast. “I don’t think urban music is getting more gay-friendly because if that was the case, Frank Ocean would be on a lot more songs. I know n—-s that will not do a song with Frank Ocean just because he gay, but they need him on the f—ing song and that’s so terrible to me, man.“
The rap world has long been known for its hostility towards the LGBT community, but it has been given a pass due to the fact that the majority of its stars are African American. While the American media gleefully points out the homophobia of every other subsection of the country and its residents, Americans of color continue to be given a pass.
During the controversy in California over Proposition 8, the Mormon Church was vilified for showing a financial interest in the outcome. The New York Times blamed its passage on the Mormon Church, but the Washington Post exposed the true culprits:
All five of California’s most populous counties — Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino and San Diego — voted in favor of Prop. 8 even as Obama was carrying four of the five in the presidential race.
Los Angeles County — the state’s most populous — is particularly interesting to look at. In LA County, Prop. 8 won a narrow majority of 50.1 percent. But, President Obama carried the county with a whopping 69 percent.
The discrepancy? African American voters, who were overwhelmingly in favor of banning same sex marriage (70 percent supported Proposition 8) even as they supported Obama even more heavily (94 percent). And, to a lesser degree, Hispanic voters followed that same trend — backing Prop. 8 by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin while giving President Obama 74 percent.
In an ironic twist, these voters who came out to vote with such enthusiasm for the first African American president were also responsible for passing Proposition 8. Perhaps it’s not so ironic, given the fact that President Obama had yet to “evolve” on the issue.
Other minorities are also apparently allowed to make homophobic remarks in public. The Bachelor’s Juan Pablo, who was quoted last month calling homosexuals “perverts,” has largely skated through the incident unscathed. While he has had to comment on the statements over the past month, the show is still on the air and no punitive action has been taken by ABC. Despite the comments, Entertainment Wise reports that he was greeted with cheers and screaming fans at Good Morning America yesterday. While the media has spent a good deal of time this week exposing Pablo’s womanizing ways on the hit show, the statements about “gay perverts” have slowly fallen off the nation’s radar.
What would the media reaction be if a country music crooner made similar comments or was quietly blacklisted? I think you know the answer.
The New York Times has come to a surprising conclusion. This:
isn’t sexy. Really. It took a feature-length article in the magazine to explain to readers that when men act less like men, heterosexual women want to have sex with them less. Despite women being told that they want men more involved in traditionally female household tasks like cooking, cleaning and childcare, when men actually do so, wives find their husbands considerably less sexy.
Another “surprising” revelation: equality in a marriage, especially in the bedroom, was a major turn-off for women.
A desire for equality, and the lack of desire that equality can create, may make scientific sense, even as it challenges conventional wisdom. As Daniel Bergner has written in his book “What Do Women Want?” and in this magazine, many studies show that women often report fantasies, like those involving submission, that tend to be inconsistent with our notion of progressive relationships.
The word “submission” was used four times in the piece, a radical concept for radical feminists.
Last month Candace Cameron Bure, of Full House fame, set off a firestorm when she suggested while promoting her book that the secret to her marital happiness was the fact that she let her husband take control.
“I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work,” the actress writes in her book.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post,Cameron Bure explained what she meant.
“The definition I’m using with the word ‘submissive’ is the biblical definition of that,” she said. “So, it is meekness, it is not weakness. It is strength under control, it is bridled strength.”
“And, listen, I love that my man is a leader,” she said. “I want him to lead and be the head of our family. And those major decisions do fall on him. … It doesn’t mean I don’t voice my opinion. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. I absolutely do, but it is very difficult to have two heads of authority.”
“In my marriage we are equal … in our importance, but we are just different in our performances within our marriage,” she said.
For these statements the former child star was lampooned by feminist sites like XO Jane, which mocked the concept of gender roles that Bure and social conservatives defend:
I had the pleasure of listening to Phyllis Schlafly explain how feminism was ruining women: liberation turned women into confused sluts and emasculated men (clutch all of the pearls!). It was, of course, both an all-purpose salve and a blame game: If your marriage wasn’t working, that was your fault for rejecting biblical womanhood. Reject instead secular notions of gender and equality, celebrate your femininity, be submissive, and live happily ever after. And do it, even to the detriment of your family.
Conservatives are lampooned daily for their supposed anti-science views. Now that science has reinforced the importance of traditional gender roles within households, will progressives continue their push for total marital equality? If so, conservatives will have the last laugh… all the way to the bedroom.
Over the last day, two interesting stories have emerged from Hollywood heavyweights pushing back against the political correctness police that have become pervasive within their ranks. The Hollywood Reporter discussed the first instance:
Jared Leto came under fire from a heckler Tuesday, who said the Dallas Buyers Club actor didn’t deserve to be honored for his work in the film.
“Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award,” said the unidentified woman, who attended the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award tribute honoring Leto and three others who gave breakthrough performances in 2013.
“What do you mean by that?” Leto asked, to which the heckler said, “You don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you’re a man.”
“Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?” Leto asked, rhetorically. “So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can’t play a straight part?”
Leto was accused of being a “trans-misogynist” for being… a man who dared play a transgender part. It wasn’t enough for him to positively portray a transgender character; the bar can never be too high for Leftsts trying to force our culture into being as politically correct as possible.
An amusing piece in The Nation last week highlighted how even feminists in the thick of the online activism world have had it with walking on politically correct eggshells:
On January 3 … Katherine Cross, a Puerto Rican trans woman working on a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center, wrote about how often she hesitates to publish articles or blog posts out of fear of inadvertently stepping on an ideological land mine and bringing down the wrath of the online enforcers. “I fear being cast suddenly as one of the ‘bad guys’ for being insufficiently radical, too nuanced or too forgiving, or for simply writing something whose offensive dimensions would be unknown to me at the time of publication,” she wrote.
On Tuesday Roger L. Simon had a fantastic piece here on Jerry Seinfeld’s pushback against the PC-police as well. Seinfeld bemoaned how “PC-nonsense” had directly impacted casting on SNL years after his own show was lampooned for not being adequately diverse.
While their rebellion is just the tip of the iceberg, Leto and Seinfeld deserve applause for their refusal to play along to the Left’s ever-expanding definition of what is politically correct. If no step is far enough, Hollywood may soon come to the same conclusion as many online feminist activists and just quit trying.
Over the weekend, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment of an apparent drug overdose. Immediately, stars and fans began to express their remorse over the loss of an incredibly talented, Oscar-winning actor. One star, however, bucked the trend. Supernatural star Jared Padalecki tweeted:
He very quickly deleted the tweet after massive backlash, “clarifying” his stance by saying, “I didnt mean PSH is stupid or that addiction isnt a reality. I simply meant I have a different definition of ‘tragedy’.”
It’s a shame that Padalecki buckled to the outrage police, because he was one of the few prominent voices calling Hoffman’s death what it was. While Hollywood and the media were mourning the loss of an actor, three children — aged 10, 7 and 5 — lost a father yesterday.
Hoffman’s friends and family were alerted to something being amiss yesterday morning when he didn’t arrive as scheduled to pick up his children. During the subsequent investigation by the NYPD it was found that Hoffman had 50 bags of heroin in his possession at the time of his death, with TMZ assuming that the star was planning to go on a long binge.
With all of the adjectives thrown around regarding Hoffman’s death — tragic, sad, and so on — I would suggest a politically incorrect alternative: selfish. Hoffman, despite battling his addiction, and beating it for decades, plunged back into drug use, falling hard off of the wagon. The night before the star was set to spend the day with his young children, he purchased dozens of bags of herion, about to go on a bender that would end up taking his life. It’s no secret that heavy drug use can lead to death and that drug addicts don’t make for great parents. Despite being a father, despite the plans he had made to spend Sunday with his children, Hoffman planned to spend his Saturday night on a binge. While it’s appropriate to mourn the loss of a talented actor and father, it’s also time for Hollywood to stop making martyrs out of the fallen drug addicts in their midst.
Last night during the State of the Union, I was amazed to hear President Obama say the following:
We [Americans] believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation. And next week, the world will see one expression of that commitment – when Team USA marches the red, white, and blue into the Olympic Stadium – and brings home the gold.
The cognitive dissonance between the first sentence and the second in that paragraph is mind blowing considering the situation for the gay community in Russia currently. The Mayor of Sochi, where the Olympics are about to take place, recently “reassured” the world that there weren’t any gays in his city. The situation is dangerous for Russians and visitors alike, as Russian President Vladamir Putin has put out a warning not to spread “homosexual propaganda” to any gay attendees or participants at the Games.
President Obama has chosen not to attend the Olympics, nor will he be sending his Vice President or wife for the first time in U.S. history. His administration has, however, named two gay athletes to the American delegation. Presumably the Presidential boycott and the fact that the U.S. delegation contains openly gay members is enough to express to the world that we hold this commitment to equality dear, though that has never been explicitly expressed. Apparently that’s enough.
If President Obama wanted to do more than pay lip service to gay rights (I would say the right to not be beaten in the streets in Russia counts as “gay rights”), he would be explicit in his opposition to Russia’s draconian anti-gay laws. Instead, he makes proclamations about his newfound support for gay marriage while using the American gay community as a fundraising cash cow.